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> Elements of Horror
BlackMuffin
post Jan 15 2012, 12:11 AM
Post #1


私は、日本語は話せません。
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Chaotic Good




Alright, maybe I worded that a bit wrong, but what I meant to say was that my game Temple of Slendermen (which the Alpha will have to be pushed back to mid-April since I haven't been able to work on it much recently (support it if the game interests you, I'll be more motivated to work on it on a regular basis that way ^w^)) is starting to be a bit unnerving at this point, but not quite a horror game. I'm starting to feel that it isn't scary enough at this point; I'm halfway through the basic mapping and dialogue, and started on some of the puzzles, but I only have a psychotic scream sound file that could actually scare anyone. How do I make the player get some form of horror? What story elements will make the player stop and shiver a bit?

Or should I just keep going and the answer will come naturally?

Any help is appreciated. :3

This post has been edited by BlackMuffin: Jan 15 2012, 12:12 AM


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Ronove
post Jan 15 2012, 01:54 AM
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You shouldn't need screams to scare people. I think what works best is to make the player always on the edge of their seat thinking that something is going to kill them, do something unpleasant, etc. And going with that: it's all about the atmosphere. You could try watching some horror video game videos and try to dismantle the game a bit and try to learn how did said video scare someone etc?
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God Machine
post Jan 15 2012, 10:57 PM
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This is my first ever post on this forum, you should feel good :D

But aneywayz, some tips:

-Make the protagonist as weak and human as you can.
-optimally, have the player alone as often as possible.
-don't show the game's token monster as often.
-the game's monster should be shown to be ultimately powerful and mysterious.
-show what the monster is capable of early in the game, then show the actual monster mid-way into it.
-space out areas where the player should feel scared, and where the player should feel comfortable.
-never use screamers. After a while the player will just expect a loud roar to play after every ten steps and it gets boring.
-leave hints that imply that things are way over your head. Example, you could find a room filled with one-way mirrors, or see a figure run away in the corner of the screen.
-lighting is just about the most important part. Imagine walking along when suddenly your flashlight runs out of batteries. You can still kind of see, so you turn on the nearest light switch, only to have Slenderman appear right behind you. This implies that he was in the room all this time, which creates an uneasy atmosphere.
-time limits. Players will freak out if they're trying to solve a puzzle while they can hear the room's door being beaten down.
-leave things up to the imagination. If you suddenly play a sound clip of some inhumane roaring, the player will wonder what could make that sound. If you have things jumping out at the player all the time, then the game will turn into "OOGA BOOGA LOOKAT ALL DESE MONSTERZ WOOOOOOOOH"
-hint at things to come. At obviously scary parts, change the lighting a little, play some whispering in the background, and subtly distort things. This is slenderman, after all.
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Ronove
post Jan 17 2012, 03:46 PM
Post #4


I do not bite!
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Alignment: True Neutral




QUOTE
-Make the protagonist as weak and human as you can.


Or, make the protagonist strong but no matter what he or she does, he or she still feels powerless. I think that's more frightening than the protagonist being weak from the get go. To be strong but still being powerless is a fear a lot of people have.

QUOTE
-time limits. Players will freak out if they're trying to solve a puzzle while they can hear the room's door being beaten down.


But don't use them too much that it frustrates players (frustrated players mean they stop playing your game). There's a time and place for them and you have to know how to use them well or don't use them at all.
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BlackMuffin
post Jan 27 2012, 11:16 AM
Post #5


私は、日本語は話せません。
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@GodMachine Wow. I think I'll actually incorporate 50% of those things in the game. O_O
Thanks a bunch, I know that would really scare me if it happened in a game. :3


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Fall From Eden
post Jan 28 2012, 03:34 AM
Post #6



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Alignment: Lawful Evil




God Machine has some wonderful suggestions. One that I don't quite agree with, though, is having the player alone as often as possible; that works as the game progresses, but in the beginning, I wouldn't have them alone. One thing that scares people is the sense of isolation; having them start with some decent interaction with others that slowly dwindles over time until they're left completely alone can be quite effective. You could have other characters assist your protagonist in some memorable way, then have the protagonist face a similar situation later in the game with no assistance whatsoever... makes it feel far more hopeless.

I also agree that having a strong character who is nonetheless overwhelmed is a fantastic idea.

The one thing that I haven't really seen mentioned yet, though, is pacing. To me, games are far more terrifying if the tension builds slooowly. For an awesome example of this, play the opening of Silent Hill 2 as James is walking through to the town. Absolutely stunning handling of atmospheric terror when there's absolutely nothing that can actually harm you in any way.

I should also add that there are situations that are, in and of themselves, unsettling or disturbing. For instance, in my game, the player is ostracized from the town he lives in and forced into the woods where he meets a man who lives with the corpse of a young girl as his wife. The player will have to interact with this character often, entering and leaving his cabin, doing things for him because there's no one else around who can help him in any way. But what you have to do can be unsettling at times. This is also a good example of dwindling social interaction: my game starts in a populated town, moves to the outskirts of town, eventually into the woods, and keeps getting more and more isolated from there. Helps with that feeling of being alone to remember that you haven't been. wink.gif

And often, this kind of atmosphere provides enough discomfort in the player to really get under their skin. There are also psychological games that you can play with the main character (for some inspiration, look up solipsism and dissociative fugues).

I'd also add that throwing in limited resources is extremely useful. If your game uses a flashlight, make batteries scarce. If there are weapons, make sure that the player will have to run more often than fight, so on and so forth.

Hope that was helpful. smile.gif


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The Sarcastic Ch...
post Jan 28 2012, 10:03 PM
Post #7


(Self-proclaimed) Champion of the RMVX forum
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Type: Musician
Alignment: Chaotic Good




What I've found to be truly horrifying (probably misspelled that...) is your very own mind.
Make the player doubt their (or in this case the character's) sanity. Hearing strange whispers,
hallucinations, things disappearing and re-appearing can have a very unsettling effect.
Lovecraft did this really well, so I'd advise you check out his stories, as well as Call of Cthulhu
and similar games and books. Remember: nothing is as scary as one's own imagination.


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BlackMuffin
post Feb 11 2012, 02:01 AM
Post #8


私は、日本語は話せません。
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Chaotic Good




(If this is a necropost, I'd like to know. My judgement isn't the best for these things ._.)
@FFE The isolation you mentioned I had already incorporated. Everybody in the protagonist's team gets slaughtered (although this happens very early).


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robbieagray
post May 19 2012, 11:59 PM
Post #9


I am not insane... YET!!! :D
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Type: Spriter
Alignment: Lawful Evil




Now I am just repeating what everyone else has said but one of this best things in horror games is atmosphere. This includes music and lighting as well as the use of ones imagination in game.

For example in my game (the Dark Forest): the player works hard in order to enter into this one room. Currently everyone else has been killed off but the player believes that their may have been survivors who locked themselves up in this one room.

So when the player finally gets into the room. Unfortunately it is dark and so the only way to progress is to turn on the lights...

After turning on the lights the player discovers that everyone in the room is dead. But what probably makes the scene even more creepy is that despite the lights being on they are flicking at an irregular pace.

Hope this gives you some ideas. wink.gif


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