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Sander

putting fear back into horror

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Sander    1332
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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Waverider    169
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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WizHarDx    190
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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Hardguy    244
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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crouilla    122
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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Zanthos    300
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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crouilla    122
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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demigod    122
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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eldee    122
mothman prophecys bored the living crap out of me
i really liked the silent hill series.. the fog
just added to the effect... but silent hill 1- those
little kids in the school! OMG! heh.
anyway- i agree, the resident evil series werent
very scary. Clive barkers undying was really cool.
having to walk through all of those hallways with
the curtains being blown into your path so you couldnt
see.. plus the flashing back and forth between ''visions''
was weird.
plus, i dont know if anybody else noticed, but in one
of the main rooms of the game, if you switched to your
''vision'' mode and looked at a huge painting on the wall
it changed into this evil gory picture.. heh it was weird.
anyway thats my rant and im sticking to it.

-eldee
;another space monkey;
[ Forced Evolution Studios ]


::evolve::

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hmm. well, the whole "evil monsters and madmen" shtick/cliche/montage/whatever has been beaten to death, resurrected, and molested by a drunken priest.

I think the atrocities of human nature is much, much MUCH more horrifying than any of those slasher horror things.

like for instance the Columbine shootings and that recent one in Germany... holy sh*t.

and the holocaust, with those deathcamps... that''s... that''s... that''s really f*cked up. i mean imagine the suffering those people went through... the starving to death, the lies about getting de-loused/showered then getting gassed...

i heard stories about how in those gas chambers the people would climb up the wall to try to breathe through the vent. that, my friend, is horror. frantic, hopeless, cruel, malicious, evil horror.


i don''t want to toot my own horn or suck my own c*ck, but i think i managed to bring a little fear and horror back into gaming with my newest project, World War III: Hell on Earth.

I addressed several fears, ranging from the dread fear reaction to the escape/flight reactio, etc.

one especially creepy part of the game is a scripted sequence where your character is a janitor/maintainance guy on a mars base, and it starts off with you pushing a tray of refreshments into a little cafeteria thing which overlooks the children''s play area where several parents are talking together, discussing the recent nuclear explosions/tragedies on earth, tsk tsk''s and what a shame''s and all. there''s a bunch of little kids running around on the playground equipment, swings, etc. then, a pulse wave (alien radar/sonar wave) hits the base and disables a lot of the electronics in the base, including life support (02,pressure regulation, and temperature). sparks erupt from light fixtures, muffled screams come from all directions, and the parents scream in horror as the little children slump over dead or flop around on their backs, coughing and holding their throats. you can''t hear them, but you can see the expression in their movement (congrats on the f*ckin brilliant animations, Terry). then, your boss'' voice crackles over the intercom, ordering you to go fix the redundant circuit breakers and to grab a mask (oxygen). he gives directions to the maintainance room and instructions on how to fix it, but the parents are screaming "save my baby!" "do something!" etc, so you can''t hear what your boss is saying. anyways, the red emergency lights are on, a lot of the doors are stuck/broken (instead of a tutorial level, i made it so little messages are displayed at key parts of the level. like how to duck/crawl under stuck doors, how to use things liek maps and masks, a brief weapons overview for shooting out the glass of a pressurised room, jumping over objects like dead bodies, etc.) as the player walks through the halls (this is the apartments/living quarters area of the base) they can hear people banging on the doors and screaming for help, and in one area smoke is pouring out from under a slight opening about an inch high in a door, and a man''s fingers are reaching out from underneath. when the player tried to use the panel to open the door, the panel displays the FIRE HAZARD- CANNOT OVERRIDE message. the man isnt even screaming, more like hacking and moaning (a crack voice acting job by moi... whiskey and cigs do come in handy... heh). then when the player gets near the maintainance area, they pass a woman sitting under the emergency o2 mask panel holding a baby, crying. the mask is all ofgged up, but the situation is clear- the baby died, and the mother is holding it in her arms. probably blames herself for the babies death. this goes on until you get to the maintainance area and the level is complete.

the next one starts out as the player playing a female nurse, in a big transportation/luxury ship''s medical bay. they''re told to got get some clean sheets and stuff from the laundry area, which is where players learn the inventory system (quantity of things like how many towle and how many pillowcases, as opposed to how many clips of ammo and how many starter tabs for belt fed ammo, blah blah) well on their way out to the laundry room they pass a big window looking out into space where they see a smaller vessel dock in the loading area of the larger ship. looks like a routine supply load. after the player gets the stuff and is on their way back to the sick bay, a whole bunch of burn victims and radiation sickness-ridden patients are rushed in on stretchers and gourneys. these are the "survivors" from earth. one man is brought in covered in a sheet, which is fresh. the blood seeps through (no, not an animated texture, just clever use of the model. the bloodsoaked version of the sheet is modeled under the clean version and it simply rises up to simulate the effect.) after all this commmotion the floor is ridden with blood smeared footprints, wheel tracks and urine puddles. the texture changes while the player is inside the sick bay dropping off the supplies, and the floor afterwards is visible through a scripted cutscene.

ok, i really feel like an egotistical maniac right now, but i feel i have every right to. i''m just so confident that this project will blow everyone away... probably too confident but hey what the hell...


aw hell just go ahead and flame me.

...this is a recording.

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cyssis    122
Hmm... If you have a PS2 try renting SilentHill 2. It''s probably the best horror game out there. Granted, it could use some changes here and there, but I think they did an excellent job. Give it a shot, it might help with some ideas.

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cdtrrrst    123
Silent Hill pretty much did it for me.

The third person camera forces you to turn around to see what''s coming. And the excellent camera work and the accompanying sound gives it a movie-like feel.

Always remember the radio noise... always...

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Killgore    122
Aliens versus Predator allmost killed me!

Turned off all light in the room so the only light source was the monitor. With the sound hooked up to my stereo the setting was perfect!

Then I entered a marine mission... that motion tracker sure is intense, you run around expecting an alien around every corner but mostly they was not there - but when they actually was there I would shoot after them at random trying to hit it if is was attacking.... That is the most scary gameing experince I''ve ever had.

But unfortunatly I had to stop playing because it was too scary! (or me being to wimpy).

See Ya
Killgore


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Kaizton    122
Build up suspense in whatever way possible.

Methods would different for different games, but lets use an FPS for an example. Sudden noises in attacks work well. Don't have music at all, just maybe a quiet sound of footsteps, and maybe an echo to make you wonder whose steps those are. Breathing, heart beats, and other personal sounds work well. In contrast to these relatively quiet sounds, have the battle scenes be enormously loud. Gun shots could echo almost endlessly, and you don't hear your enemy until they're right on top of you. Have feints, but not too frequent, just enough to keep you on the edge. Have enemies move blurringly fast, and movement outside of battle being slower. This way time will seem to speed up in battle scenes.

Use lots of shadows, mirrors, and other optical illusions and tricks to deceive the player. You could even make multiple images of the same enemy, so you have to guess as to which one to attack. (This would be used when you're wounded - you have blurred double vision). Occassionaly add in a few suspicious sounds resembling that made of the enemies. Have uneven and unbalanced attack scenes. There could be a complete five minutes of frequent fighting, and long waits searching for the opponent. Have multiple open floors and hidden passages, so an opponent can jump you at any time. Have frequent holes in the floor, roof, and wall where an opponent could be waiting. You could give opponents special abilities, such as flying or the ability to walk through some walls. Have intricate scenery, such as paintings in a castle, and monster-filled vats in laboratories. Make your opponents be able to hide in both of these. Have random events such as lightning, and creaks in the floor. Maybe have a sudden chunk come out of the roof sounding like a gunshot to startle you.

Those are just some of the things you could do for a single type of game. Keyword: suspense.

[edited by - Kaizton on June 7, 2002 6:32:11 PM]

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ZealousElixir    256
quote:
Original post by crouilla
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.


--WARNING: The following is a spoiler for Deus Ex. Skip it if you want.

They tried that once in Deus Ex. Just at the end of the Paris level, Gunther Hermann (a partner who turns against you in the later phases of the game) runs up under the helicopter and shouts at you as the ''copter lifts off and flies away. You then encounter and ultimately kill him in the next level.

What made this effective:
*Gunther has a deep-rooted disgust of you because you failed to save his tail one time when he was held hostage (I''m not sure how it turns out if you actually save him from the terrorists)
*Once you discover that UNATCO is in fact a subagency of an international entity of conspiracy and desert them, Gunther remains loyal. You then have to kill Anna Navarre, another fellow agent, who apparently Gunther has some sort of attraction to, and this causes him to swear to hunt you down.

What made it ineffective:
*You aren''t all that well associated with Gunther
*You know that in order to complete the game, you''ll eventually have to face Gunther and destroy him.
*You have no real fear of death because new life is as far away as the ''Load Game'' button.

So, while this added to the plot, it wasn''t terribly effective in creating fear. A lot of manipulating people is controlling what they know and when they know it. As it has been said several times, lack of information causes us to vividly fill in the missing details better than any game designer can.

Later,
ZE.


//email me.//zealouselixir software.//msdn.//n00biez.//
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neatgirl    122
Interesting what people find scary. I played a lot of those horror games, Aliens V. Predator, Silent Hill and, still, nothing scared me as much as Undying. I like the feeling of dread throughout the whole game. You never get a break from running for your life. Undying is a unique (and totally underrated!) game. The zombie/skeletons and howlers are a good example of what''s scary about that game. They look creepy, move in a terrifying way and make a horrifying shriek. You can hear the howlers coming and you know you''re in for it. It works best if you have surround sound on your computer and keep the room dark. Sound is the most important factor, doors squeaking, beasties growling as they''re coming towards you, the loud thump as you''re getting bludgeoned. It''s great!

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crouilla    122
Zealous:

I love Deus Ex... played it through 3 times, and each time, it was a different game because of the way I played it (next time I play, I'm going in as a tank and killing EVERYONE -- I haven't tried that yet). Gunther runs out in that scene whether you have saved him or not early in the game, because you have betrayed UNATCO by the time you're in Paris. I don't think this was meant to be scary -- more of a foreshadowing.

What I meant by "close call" types of death is if in a game you were to leave a room after talking to someone. Not two minutes later, you go back in, and find the person dead, and there's some indication that the killer was in the room while you were there, watching you, waiting. That's why the "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?" story is so scary -- because you realize through the roommate that it could have been her (you) dead if a very slight thing had changed. (If anyone is unfamiliar with the story, mention that -- I'll be happy to post it).

OK, back to the original point...

I think that Undying works on a couple levels. First is the normal twitch-factor/scary monsters level. Then, it works on the creepy horror level by having things like the books to read (which are the first "color" I've read in a game, BTW. Most of the time, these things are inconsequential -- these ones are actually interesting, though). Then, there's the whole "hidden picture" thing, where you see horrific things by activating the stone... try it right outside the mansion -- the hanging man is a trip.

Having the game penned and overseen by a real horror writer who is familiar with the way visual media works helped drastically. (That's why that Stephen King F13 thing and Crichton's Timeline both sucked -- they both succeed well as writers, but have no clue about making things interesting on a visual level, which is why they need a Spielberg to bring it all together for their movies). Maybe if more games are well-written AS GAMES, there would be many more great games out there.

-Chris


[edited by - crouilla on June 7, 2002 5:24:49 PM]

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Kaizton    122
Heh, my apologies. My computer froze as I was posting, and I clicked multiple times on the post button while it was so. Of course, it just had to annoyingly post the message three times...

[edited by - Kaizton on June 7, 2002 6:33:00 PM]

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Sander    1332
Thanx for all the replies so far. I guess I''ll be reading and gaming a lot the next few weeks/months to check out the examples mentioned.

One thing runs like a red line through all of the posts in the threat: suggestion. Keep the player guessing, use good sound etc. Do whatever is needed to drag the player into the game and make him ''believe'' it. In short: make the player part of the game-world. I''ve been thinking lately of doing it the otherway around: taking the game-world to the player. I''ll explain a little.

WARNING: SPOILER FOR "IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS" AND "THE MATRIX"!

If you have seen "In the mouth of madness" (If not: go see it. great movie) you know that they take the fictional world to the viewer and make it part of the real world. You are actually watching the movie that the movie is about. (As a freaky little side note: The world is actually getting more violent rapidly, like they said would happen in the movie. Makes you think he?!). Same thing goes for the Martix. I''m sure you took a really good look around you when you came out of the cinema. I wonder if such a thing can be done in a game.

One idea I''ve been playing around with is to have the main character have a matrix-like revelation. He realizes he''s only a character in a game, gets pissed and wants to kill you, the player. The main character could be a teenager who recieved threatning e-mails and faxes after playing the game. He explores, finds that the badguy is trapped in his game. plot continues. badguy is defeated in the end but reveals to teenager the plot of his game. teenager realizes he''s only a game character too. and sudently the actual player (you) start to recieve e-mails, faxes, etc (depends on what''s hooked up to your PC). Turns out teenager was playing the same game you, the player, are.

Could such a thing work for a game? Or is this sort of suggestion best left to movies? Could such a plot be made interactive? Would it be scary?


Sander Maréchal
[Lone Wolves Production][Articles][E-mail]

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TheCray    122
Personally, I dont think that would be very scary at all. More cheesy than anything else. Like one of those late 80''s horror movies which failed on every level to be frightening, yet they still made more (for some ungodly reason) and there was always at least one scene of frontal female nudity. just because. *shrug*

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Waverider    169
That could work for a game if the idea of us just being in a simulation had horrific implications, and trying to find out more about that leads to discovering the horrific things that some people are doing based on it. Imagine what it would be like if the morals dictating our society (plus the moralistic force that many of us believe is there independently) suddenly had no more substance because of the lack of the real world we thought was there. Some of us would fall and make our own judgments about what is right and wrong instead of still believing in the use of morals.

That could go pretty deep. In one particular instance then, one group's horrific way of doing things might actually be in the way of allowing things to become "right", and as the player delves to stop it, he must risk going deeper into it. Like the threat of getting so close to something that you become what it is tempting you to be. Maybe there are choices along the way that the player determines their own conviction, and as a result, what they are introduced to because of it.

Really open ended idea. I'd probably have a different idea an hour from now

It could have a strong message about where conviction and morals come from, too. Sometimes we have to do scary things to preserve what we "know" is right.


[edited by - Waverider on June 9, 2002 9:22:40 AM]

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