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Halloween 2014 -- Horror Game Design & Development

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Yesterday, 01-July-2014, I started the design work on a free-to-play Web game to be released on 01-October-2014.  Here are some specifics:

 

Title:  Hide Your Eyes (working title)

Genre:  First-Person Perspective (FPP) Horror/Adventure

Synopsis:  Escape from an isolated forest before nightfall with your sanity intact.  Use your eyes and ears to find your way through abandoned structures, maze-like woods, and away from the ominous presence that grows stronger with the setting of the sun.

Category:  Single-Player

Platform:  Web Browser (Windows/Mac/Linux PCs)

Play Mechanic:  Use audio cues to find clues, items, and locations.  As audio cues are triggered, false/distracting audio cues are instantiated, requiring the player to discern which to avoid and which to pursue.  Proximity to multiple negative audio effects will impact the characters sanity, visualized through rendering and camera effects, and can only be counteracted by "hiding your eyes" -- closing your eyes to reset all of the audio and which also changes the environment (locations, time-of-day, inventory) when you open them again.

Tools:  Unity3D Pro, Visual Studio Pro 2012 and C# scripting, Cubase (5.1 surround audio production), L3DT Pro, Blender, GimpShop, Articy Draft 2, MuseScore (music notation)

Key Features:  Relience on audio and color pallete to create mood and atmosphere. 

 

My hope is to post to this thread as I work through the project.  Three months is incredibly short, so I will be utilizing many third-party assets to create the basic game:

This week I'm jotting down design ideas, collecting inspiration from photos and movies, and sketching out what I can before I start integrating the above tools.  I'll be needing more assets as the design develops and I will list them all as I evaluate and incorporate them.  I've also started sorting through my sound effects library and jotted down some melodic ideas for music.

 

Input, feedback, support, questions, criticisms, devil's advocates, and playtesters are all welcome!  I'll have a private alpha Web build available in August for those interested. 

 

Prototype Environment Screenshot:

halloween2014Environment.png

 

EDIT: Also posted to my Dev Journal

Edited by GoCatGo

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Funny, when you posted you project, I was wondering when you will do so ;)

Anyway, the concept seems nice, feasible, and planning a release of an horror game for halloween is a bit cliché but always right.

So down to your project, I have a few question : 

Are you working alone on this?
As you describe it, closing your eyes basicaly means a game over (or at least a retry)?
Will the terrain be proceduraly generated?

Using the sound for orienting yourself is an interesting idea. But the "Closing you eyes" part seems under-used. Wasn't there a possibility to used the closed eye as a mechanics? For exemple, when you have your eyes closed, you can focus your hearing to illuminate important clues, go through path that you can't see normaly (hidden doors), but you can't see normal element, and the sound are louder and deformed. Or something like that.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more of your project, good luck :D

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Are you working alone on this?

 

Yes, this is a one-person shop.  I hire modelers from time to time, but only on a freelance contract basis.

 

 

 


As you describe it, closing your eyes basicaly means a game over (or at least a retry)?

 

I am not describing it well.  Writing out ideas is difficult because they are fully formed in my head and half-baked on the screen!

 

No, eyes closed is not game over.  I'm shooting for about 15 minutes of gameplay and I would guess, at this point, you'd need to close your eyes around 10-15 times per game.

 

 

 


Will the terrain be proceduraly generated?

 

No.  I plan on spending quite a bit of time making a very specific terrain with paths, buildings, interesting locations, and creepy areas.  The audio sources, their triggers, and some of the game items will be randomly placed based on an array of appropriate locations.

 

 

 


For exemple, when you have your eyes closed, you can focus your hearing to illuminate important clues, go through path that you can't see normaly (hidden doors), but you can't see normal element, and the sound are louder and deformed. Or something like that.

 

Very, very interesting... I like.  I like enough to steal!

 

Thanks for asking some questions -- they really show the defects in my description of the gameplay.  Every flaw that I can fix on the front end makes the final project that much better.  If you aren't catching on to exactly what I want to describe then I know I need to describe it better.

 

 

 


Anyway, the concept seems nice, feasible, and planning a release of an horror game for halloween is a bit cliché but always right.

 

I know, I know... cliché as can be, but I have an excuse!  I moved out into the deserts of Arizona and miss that autumn feeling back in Pennsylvania, USA.  This is a way to get those fall colors and blowing leaves and Halloween feeling back.  Where I live now looks like Fallout: New Vegas twelve months of the year.

Edited by GoCatGo

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I am not describing it well.  Writing out ideas is difficult because they are fully formed in my head and half-baked on the screen!

 

I totaly understand what you means. The product on the screen is merely the reject of our dream :)

 

No.  I plan on spending quite a bit of time making a very specific terrain with paths, buildings, interesting locations, and creepy areas.  The audio sources, their triggers, and some of the game items will be randomly placed based on an array of appropriate locations.

 

Is there a story to follow? Or do you base your narrative on the context and the place?
 

 

Very, very interesting... I like.  I like enough to steal!

 

Please do :D ! On this place Ideas are meant to go from mind to mind. I'd rather be honored to see what you can do with this!

 

I know, I know... cliché as can be, but I have an excuse!  I moved out into the deserts of Arizona and miss that autumn feeling back in Pennsylvania, USA.  This is a way to get those fall colors and blowing leaves and Halloween feeling back.  Where I live now looks like Fallout: New Vegas twelve months of the year.

 

Ahah, it's just a "little" change in scenery :D

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OK, Big Question:

 

The idea is to not have any real "monster" models or anything, but to have audio and visual effects to demonstrate the characters mental/emotional state. 

 

How many visual effects are too much?  For example, manipulating the field-of-view could make some players nauseated, and FoV tricks (the ol' rack zoom) are some of my favorites.  Motion blur, canted angles, and shake can possibly be annoying rather than atmospheric.

 

Can anyone chime in on this?  What's too much?

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Indeed, having to much effect can annoy the player. When I played Amnesia : The dark descent, the camera effect where sometimes too much, especially when you are not as afraid as the effect want you to be.

I think there should be some effects, but you'll have to adjust their intensity and frequency during a playtest. I don't think there is another way.

Another way to put pressure on the player without using a real monster is to use an invisible harmless monster. 

Imagine a big monster that you can't see but you can imagine its presence by the way the environment and the sounds react. For exemple, you can see a door opening, all the light on its way going down, the noise of its feet on the ground, its breath getting closer, the ground becoming red/black under its feets, hate message apparing on the wall around, dust flying, etc...

It should be something that is obviously here, but that you can't see. Something that a player could follow without seeing it,

I don't know if I'm clear ^^'

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When I played Amnesia : The dark descent, the camera effect where sometimes too much

 

What were those effects?  I never got into that game -- I may need to re-download it and get through it.  All the jump-scare shrill-screamin'  YouTubers turned me off of the game.

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What were those effects? 

 

It's been a long time since I last played, but as I recall, there was Blur, loss of some brightness and also camera swaying and control not responding well. And those happen whenever the character's sanity level is low. And his sanity level drop each time he sees something frightening (an explainable door closure, a monster, etc...)

 

I may need to re-download it and get through it

 

I think that this game is a really well made horror game, and could be used as an exemple for any horrror game out there. And it rely more on an oppresive atmosphere that build up the tension, than jump-scare alone. (Well, there is indeed jump-scare, but they are often at the peak of the tension.

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