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Sander

putting fear back into horror

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Lately there have been lots of horror-type games coming out. Resident evil series etc. I played a few of those and they bore me. Not scary enough. The last time a game really freaked me out was with Jurassic Park. You''d walk indoors (old Wolf3D engine) and follow the pipeline. You knew there were 3 raptors around (since you''ve seen the movie) but you didn''t know where they were. Only 3 enemies in an entire level.... and I freaked out when I ran into the first one. WOW! My aim is to make a game of some sort that will really freak ppl out. Not just the ''standard'' blood&gore action type horror we see today. I want to terrorize people. More like a psychological kind of horror. So: what really freaked you out lately (game/book/movie)? What kind of game could scare you big-time? Any ideas on how to terrorize ppl? Sander Maréchal [Lone Wolves Production][Articles][E-mail]

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Effective scare tactics -

Never show all of what is attacking. The movie Alien made heavy use of strobe effects and shadows, and for the most part only showed the thing's teeth. You never really got a fully handle on what it looked like, and that let the imagination of the viewer scare them more than the content of the movie. Very effective, since different things scare people, and when people want to be scared, they need their imagination to enhance the effect.

Occupy the player with an environment challenge, then let them round a corner to a door in an area with they might breathe a sigh of relief AS they are opening a door or passing into some other area, then make the creature they were worried about showing up to suddenly attack. All of this would be to greater effect if there was some foreshadowing about the creature being around without actually seeing it yet (not footprints or dead bodies, but rumors from someone else or seeing someone frightened out of their mind for no apparent reason)

This one's tricky... strange patterns on the wall, interesting enough for the player to investigate, and then, suddenly the character comprehends a facial visage (maybe an eye), and at that very instant the creature snaps at the player. This could be accomplished with some alpha blending. Ever sow slowly bring the face into being so it looks like the player missed it until he looks again.

That's three, anyway.



[edited by - Waverider on June 6, 2002 11:42:37 AM]

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Hi, I don''t know much about game design and scaring ppl more a programmer myself. BUT I think sound has the most important part of scaring someone because you don''t see it but you can sense it. A brillant example of this was multiplayer doom when someone else had the chainsaw and the sound kept getting louder & louder & louder and that used to scare the crap out me . Also the levels need to be dark & use darker colours don''t use big clown colours like Bright Orange

hope this helped WizHarD

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WizHarDx:
I agree. Sound is the most important thing when making a horror game.

As for the most frightful gaming experience it is without a doubt Silent Hill 1 and 2. Those games really scare you on a psychological level and use sound extemly effectfully.
I have played most horror games and none even comes close in terms of scaryness.

Another tip on scaryng the player is making him/her feel unsafe and expect the worse in every situation.


-------
Me Hardguy.
and here is my game...

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Really depends on the scare.

The original RE was great at the "jump" scare tactic. I don''t care if you say that they bored you (I learned to hate the game mechanics of RE), you can''t say that you didn''t jump off your butt the first time those dogs came crashing through the window in the hallway (I don''t know if this still exists in the remake, but in the original PS version, it freaked me out).

Half-life was good at this, as well... I hate those friggin'' headcrabs with a passion, and after some especially-intense areas, I actually had to shut the game off for a while to catch my breath. Personally, System Shock 2 was a good game, and did a great job as far as sound, but didn''t do much for me on the "scare" level except in a few choice areas.

Clive Barker''s Undying, however, freaked me out. Not only did they do a great scare job with the buildings and creatures, but the atmosphere of the game just helped the scare even more. The first time I read a diary and heard crying freaked me out.

I think that what most "scare" games try to do is work the twitch factor. Freak you out by jumping out and saying "boo". In games such as these, I think sound and timing are most important. A creepy atmosphere can be just as scary, if not moreso (see "The Others" and the last few minutes of "The Blair Witch Project"). In that type of game, atmosphere is much more important than any amount of blood, gore, or jumping... so the overall storyline and world creation is more important than graphics, sound, or scary creatures.

-Chris

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Open spaces get me, and less enemies is usually more in the sense of being scared, having a spooky area, quite large, with a small amount of evil things, induces a bit of "i can hear them.. but where the hell are they..argh! nowhere to hide!.."

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Weird... for some reason after my first reply, this topic has been running through my mind. I guess that the best way to determine how to make a scary game is to determine what makes certain movies scary. Here is a list of movies that I consider scary, and why I do (feel free to add movies, or mention why these are scary). I''ve also added some other stories I find scary:

- Nightmare on Elm Street (the first one -- before Freddy became a joke-slinging dumbass). This one was probably the most scary because everyone has to sleep, so you could never really be safe from him. There''s no way to escape -- nowhere to hide. Plus the fact that he seemed truly evil in this one, and would stalk people before killing them.

- Halloween. Michael Myers in the first one was just a crazy evil stalker. I think the scary thing about him here is the fact that he was human, and stalked the heroine relentlessly for no other reason than his insanity. The scene at the asylum still stands as one of the scariest. The whole fear of this movie is the entire "it could conceivably happen" issue... in later movies, it''s lost because of the fact that now Myers was a Jason-type character who was invincible (and thusly unbelievable).

- Blair Witch Project. I didn''t really find this one scary until the last few minutes -- the scene where the guy is standing in the corner and all of the kids hands on the wall is just one of the most screwed up ever. Not seeing the evil in this case worked well, and it was all psychological horror. Leave enough to people''s imaginations, and they''ll scare themselves silly.

- The Others. This is another case where your mind, and some well-placed sounds make the movie a scary one as opposed to anything you see.

- The Exorcist. I never saw this one as too scary until I saw the later version with the crab-walk. I think the issue here was that it made you feel there was true evil in the world, and the whole concept was just freaky.

Other scary stuff:

Many urban legends use the "narrowly avoided death without knowing" to instill fear. The one where the girl comes into her dorm room, and later finds her roommate killed and blood on the wall reading "aren''t you glad you didn''t turn on the light?" and the one with the murderer in the back seat both never fail to make a shiver run up my spine. I think these are so scary because you don''t realize how close you are to death until you see something later. Oddly enough, I don''t think this has been used much in games (at all, that I can think of), and if done correctly could make things interesting.

Maybe finding a way to use many of these fear elements in a game would make the scariest game ever.

-Chris

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I really don't think that threat of death is much of a fear factor in a game. Most people understand that games aren't real. A character death just means restarting from the last save, or whatever.

I believe that what makes movies scary (since we realize that they are also not real) is that they take a situation that could possibly happen, and show it's effects on someone else (a movie character). The perspective is not first person, all you can do is watch.

It would really take a talented writer to bring character development in a game to the point that people could identify with the situation and characters to leave the type of impression that a truly scary movie can do. If even possible.

Until then, the scariest games are going to be of the environmental, or twitch type of scary.

That's just my opinion.



[edited by - demigod on June 6, 2002 5:48:30 PM]

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