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The Art of Horror?

  • Horror games are one of my favorite genre in videogames. There's nothing like jumping out of your seat and screaming you head off. This only happened when I was like 5-10, now I'm not scard of games or movies. (well, besides silent hill 2 and dead space 1&2) I was wondering what scares you guys, this thread will hopefully help me because my current project is a survival horror game called "ORIGINS"

  • Zombie Dogs From Resident Evil 1.When they jumped through those windows i nearly fell of my chair

  • I remember that! Good times...good times.

  • My advice:

    Games and movies don't really scare me. "Scary" just isn't scary. Blood, guts, monsters, zombies... none of that is scary. Yes, most good horror games have that kind of stuff in them, but that's not what makes them scary.

    Sudden jump scares and loud noises also aren't scary. They're merely startling. They're cheap tools to cause a moment of adrenaline. Which is fine, if you use them sparingly. If used too much, or if the timing is wrong, it can be really cheesy.

    Go for creepy instead. Don't reveal your entire story at once. Do it with little clues here and there. Lead the player one way with your clues, then give them a twist later on, BUT DON'T LIE TO YOUR PLAYERS. Red herrings are fine, but outright false information is bad.

    Use a "hook." Examples are the children's rhyme in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Or the "Ch-ch-ch ah-ah-ah" noise in the Friday the 13th series for when Jason is near. These sorts of things, and other music or sound cues, can be pretty effective when used right. The Ratman murals and crazy writing on the walls are another example of a hook. Those little hidden areas really lend a creepy vibe to the game.

    Silent Hill uses a hook as an actual game mechanic with the radio static noise. Whenever you hear it, you know something is nearby, and if you can't see right away then it then it's all the creepier.

    If you're especially good you can make your hook a clue in itself. The game Deadly Premonition does this all throughout. The main character (York) seems to be speaking to an alternate ego or imaginary friend (Zach) throughout the whole game. And every time he asks "right, Zach?" he taps the side of his head with two fingers. He does this repeatedly throughout the game. I don't want to spoil the meaning for anyone who hasn't played the game so I'll make it real small:

    Tapping on his temple with two fingers isn't just a gesture to indicate that he's talking to an imaginary friend. It turns out that the main character, York, is actually the alternate ego and "imaginary friend," and Zach is the real person who's mind is trapped inside. When he was a kid, Zach saw his father shoot himself in the head and was traumatized. The two fingers tapping the temple is a pantomime of pointing a gun at your head, and the words "right, Zach?" were his father's last words right before he pulled the trigger. When you realize that York has been mimicking Zach's father's suicide through the whole game, it's a really friggin creepy moment.

    Additionally, you should show the consequence of failure before attempting a task. For instance, the zombie munching on the corpse at the beginning of Resident Evil. Or something lurking at the surface of the water for a moment and disappearing before having to cross a lake. Or something falling down a chasm you have to traverse, like you accidentally kick a rock over the edge with your shoe or something. Whether they notice it or not it gives the player a subtle "I don't want that to happen to me" feeling while they're playing, which wouldn't necessarily be there if the consequences weren't made apparent. Again, this is a trick that should be used sparingly or else it gets old.

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  • Thanks a lot Deadeye! This will realy help. I hope I can make something scary in a 2d game (if that's possiable) I hope it will be a good game because I'm going to put 111% into this project.

  • Cool, good luck

    A couple more bits of advice:

    Make your hero weak. Badass guys who can mow down hordes of monsters with a Gatling aren't scary. Having to run and hide from hordes of monsters is.

    Also, make your character clueless. One of the major ways that horror games get under your skin is the simple fact that you don't know what's going on. Like I mentioned before, reveal the story a little bit at a time.

    Finally, make your character a small part of a bigger world. This can help deliver a sense of helplessness or isolation. The Ratman dens I mentioned before are an example of this as well... there is stuff going on around you that you won't necessarily be a part of. Those simple little scribbles on the wall make a HUGE impact on the scope of the game. When you see those for the first time it is suddenly about more than just running around with a portal gun. Another way to do this is have incidental characters getting bumped off. Either onscreen or off. Maybe there are other normal people in the game and the monsters go after them too. Or perhaps you meet a friendly character early on, part ways, and later on you come across their corpse. It gives a sense that there is more story happening outside of your frame of reference, and that the situation is completely out of your control. That kind of stuff.

    Anyway, crafting a really good horror game is a huge undertaking. I wish you luck.

  • Thanks for the luck, I'm going to need it. I think I already took some of your advice, the main character can fight but but ONLY WHEN YOU NEED TO. You can have weapons but mostly only melee weapons but you don't want to get close because they can kill you quick and you go more and more insane the more you stay around enemies. It will be kinda like a survival horror/stealth game.

  • Another thing that I think helps make a game scary, try to put in some really dangerous monsters that the player (usually) can't win against without making traps or something. The idea of this is to have sinister creatures that chase the player around at certain points, but are just toying with the player. It's more scary to have to hide/run from something, than line up a few gunshots on it (kind of the like "Clock Tower" game on the SNES, where you can't really kill the scissor guy, but you can hide from him).

  • That's kind of my basic idea.

  • Actually, those zombie dogs in RE1 made me stop playing that game, I was shaking like hell, and since it happens in the first 2 minutes, well..I never played RE1 again. Maybe I should try it out now.

  • I have a similar experience to that. On my 6th birthday, I got the game Silent Hill for the ps1, I was SO excited to play it, but after about 5 minutes into a game, I found myself being eaten alive by zombies in a alley I tried running but it was hopeless. I was terrified and stopped playing. I kept the game because Gamestop didn't come to town until like 2006. It wasn't until I was 11 that I had the guts to dig it out of the closet, stick it in my ps2 and play. It scared me to death although this time I was wasn't running to my mom with snot and tears streaming down my face. GOOD TIMES!

  • being chased by black lion at the begining of another world was very tens . Also we have to care about the character : the more we care the more we scared of loosing him in tense situation.

  • It would be a good idea to make your character have a strong personality, of course he should not be able to easily surmount the obstacles at hand, but it is alot more terrifying if it is a person with a strong will that is having to scramble to survive.

    If the character is too weak, too weak willed, and too stupid, I do not really feel frightened when they get slaughtered, I just feel marginally surprised it did not happen sooner.

    Clocktower on the SNES as previously mentioned actually accomplished this pretty well, sure she was a weak girl, but she was easily recognized as one of the stronger characters, by the other characters in the game too. She also had alot of willpower and was willing to push her body to the limit. The character should be feeling the same adrenaline the player is feeling or it is just pathetic.

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