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What happened to horror? (Forums : Cosmos : What happened to horror?) Locked
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Dec 18 2012, 5:15pm Anchor

I think the situation is the same in Hollywood movies. It's easier to make someone jump from a sudden "boo" moment rather then building up suspense. It takes creative writing, and creating writing requires talent, and talent requires... well a lot. :)

So in short, it is an economical way to make something "scary". Those examples you gave all use the players' own mind to scare them into a frenzy. Each corner the player had to pass gave anxiety. Indeed it is such a shame. The mind is a powerful thing. It can and SHOULD be manipulated! That's what makes the adrenaline rush so addicting. The suspense should cook off like boiling water then eventually blow the top. That's how I like my scare, anyways.

Dec 28 2012, 3:23pm Anchor

I half agree with you. The random jump scares and loud noises are ways to get a little fear out of you without actually using any creativity. Now... Onto amnesia. Amnesia is NOT the scariest game made, I assure you but I have NO IDEA where you got your description of your first encounter. If you somehow managed to make the word "boo" out from ANY of the monsters in that game you either have hearing better than a cat, or you have hearing worse than my grandpa. I honestly have no idea how you got that word from any of the groans. Second of all, that wasn't a true encounter. You were hallucinating. If you play Amnesia for a while it is diffidently worth it. I'm surprised you didn't like it more, considering you said you liked buildup and suspense.

BTW sorry for ranting/being butt hurt I just really like amnesia XD

Jan 3 2013, 3:39pm Anchor
Servant_Grunt wrote:I half agree with you. The random jump scares and loud noises are ways to get a little fear out of you without actually using any creativity. Now... Onto amnesia. Amnesia is NOT the scariest game made, I assure you but I have NO IDEA where you got your description of your first encounter. If you somehow managed to make the word "boo" out from ANY of the monsters in that game you either have hearing better than a cat, or you have hearing worse than my grandpa. I honestly have no idea how you got that word from any of the groans. Second of all, that wasn't a true encounter. You were hallucinating. If you play Amnesia for a while it is diffidently worth it. I'm surprised you didn't like it more, considering you said you liked buildup and suspense.

BTW sorry for ranting/being butt hurt I just really like amnesia XD


Heh. It's fine. Not liking Amnesia (along with a few other games) often get's me some very harsh reactions. Yours is civil by comparison. I could go into great length about why I don't like Amnesia, such as the inconsistency of the rules and the stupid behaviour of the main character, but that's not really the point.

I don't know if he says boo specifically. Maybe it's a "bleg" or some other rot sounding noise, or maybe even no noise at all. The point is, there is a huge hall, you go to a door, turn around and he's standing right behind you, then disappears in a poof of smoke. No warning, little build up, and it doesn't make sense.

A better way to do it would be to have implied the player wase being followed, and then have the player go down a hallway, find it to be a dead end, but when they go to leave there is a figure blocking the door that runs off when the player sees it. You have set it up, and why they are running off doesn't have to be explained. This also makes the near future more scary, as maybe he went to get friends, or perhaps he's hiding, waiting to leap out and get you. As is, there is an empty hall, the door is blocked, when you turn around, he's standing right behind you with no explanation of how he could be there. He couldn't have covered the halls length without making a noise. He just appeared, and then he disappears. It also ruins any future suspense, as the fickle designer could just magic up a guy at any point.

Jan 3 2013, 4:27pm Anchor

Good point, the game isn't the best, that is true I do enjoy it though and you suggestions are great. OH also +1 for an intelligent response. Most people on here say things along the lines of "haha (insert game i like or question i had here) is so stupid derp de derp" Although spelled even worse and with horrible grammar.

Jan 7 2013, 10:23pm Anchor

"2deep4u" tends to be the typical response I get. :)

Jan 10 2013, 4:13pm Anchor

You know, this reminds me of Yahtzee who does the Zero Punctuation reviews. Amnesia for example (this point starts at ~0:50). I totally agree and think that the horror-genre should be divided into "horror", "survival horror",... on one side and "shocker" on the other.

Anyway.
Look, it's faster and cheaper to make a simple linear shooter like CoD that uses the same plot over and over again, than to create a new one from scratch and build an entire universe around it; in the same way how it is faster and cheaper to make a random monster jump out in a barely lit room, than it is to actually make a game with great pacing.

Your example was Grey. Mine would be Nightmare House 2 (not chapter 1, since it's a remake of NH1).
It started so great. Nice atmosphere, a few subtle "scares" (you know, glimpse "something" around a corner) and very few classical shockers. It was quite good at making me feel uncomfortable. Especially when it changed the environment around me. You only have a bit of ammo and an axe. No problem since there aren't many encounters.
All fine until you meet the squad and the mod shifts focus from horror to horror-shooter, with dozens and dozens of monsters spawning at once.
In the end I still recommend it (if only for the first part).

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Jan 10 2013, 10:05pm Anchor

I liked Nightmare House 2. There was issues, such as the choice at the end. Anyway, I didn't mind the squad stuff, although it was a low point in the game, it was worth it for a few moments such as a scene where you meet up with one of your squad mates, only to find he was a mannequin. It's also fun to let loose after having been using rations all that time.

Jan 11 2013, 2:28pm Anchor

Yeah. I constantly recommend it too. However, I think that the second part just cannot hold up when compared with the first part.
My favorite moment was when you were under the shower and the announcer said:
"We here in Never Lose Hope Hospital care about our patients. I'd like to inform you that...... something is behind you."
I swear to God. That was not funny.

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Feb 1 2013, 1:43am Anchor

I feel gaming is very different. I daresay the difficulty in making a film scary is much greater than making a game scary. There are so many tactics... nay... there are infinite tactics in making a virtual environment horrifying. When I boot up a game like Amnesia or SCP Containment Breach for the first time, and I have no clue what will happen, I'm trembling in my seat the entire time, because my imagination is doing all the work. In any game, if you turn around and see a character coming toward you, it truly feels like a character is... well... coming toward you. Film cannot possibly have the same effect. It takes a lot of chops to make a movie scary. And that rarely ever happens.

Mar 6 2013, 10:35pm Anchor

Surprised no-one mentioned Scratches yet, especially with the Asylum kickstarter? Anyway the build-up for that game is pretty long and though I have barely played it and haven't seen any monsters, I'm already anxious. You find subtle clues when exploring the house that something isn't right at all and that there's something in the basement. The suspense is pretty freaky to be honest.

Mar 25 2013, 2:54pm Anchor

Grey is... a free mod made by amateurs.

Can't really take that one game and use it as a proper example of why horror games have changed.

Mar 25 2013, 6:27pm Anchor
Vcc2cc wrote:Grey is... a free mod made by amateurs.

Can't really take that one game and use it as a proper example of why horror games have changed.


Yes, we can. Being a free game made by amateurs does protect it from most criticism, and as with most mods it's an achievement it got made at all. That doesn't make it immune from criticism however. In the same way a free multiplayer mod can still be imbalanced or have poor maps, a horror mod can likewise be criticised if it messes up the horror aspect.

Grey was not the only example used. Cry of Fear was also used, as was the paid game Amnesia.

ENP
ENP
Mar 25 2013, 6:50pm Anchor

Its all on your perspective on tension .... you would not get scared from a jump scare without sounds and you would not have tension without sound. And after that pop up scare you no doubt fear another.... 

In the end you go into a horror game expecting to be scared, therefore either way jump scare or not you are still getting what you asked for.

Sure the mechanic should not be used extensively as easy it can be to execute ... but it is just another tool that developers are reluctant to use. 

If we look back to old games like silent hill and the older resident evil games what really made them great? .... they had a few jump scares too....

I don't think its just the tension that makes horror .. horror ... its the story!

The ridiculousness of the story behind resident evil and silent hill really tied in the interest of the player, it tied in the tension. 

Horror in some ways is the only genre that can do this right (make a extremely compelling story that is). look at games like the original bioshock, system shock and back to the silent hills and res evils. (even in the book world ... dean koontz / stephen king)

What we should expect more from horror in my opinion is well developed story. 

Cheers - ENP

Edited by: ENP

Mar 25 2013, 7:24pm Anchor

ENP, I think those things you brought up were covered at other points in the thread, so I'll give a quick run down.

1- Jump scares are fine when properly set up. In a good jump scare, you are scared because you knew it was coming, or you should have seen it coming. As mentioned in the first post, they don't even require loud noises or flashing images to be scary. The problem with bad jump scares is that it is a loud noise/flashing image for no reason. It doesn't make me scared, it makes me angry. Silent Hill 1 and 2 have these, certainly. Resident Evil 1 and 2 don't, as far as I know. Every noise or scare happens for a reason, and is usually set up. eg. The crow passageway in RE2. You see feathers, the corpse pecked by crows, then they burst in the window. In contrast to modern games (or SH1 and 2) there is just a loud noise that threatens to blow out your speaker for no reason and with set up. It would be as if a airhorn appeared by your ear as you read this, then vanished again. If anything, it kills the tension as at any moment, the fickle designer could have something go "BLARG!" at any moment.

2- I'm not sure what you mean about developers being reluctant to use it. The problem is that it's an overused crutch for lazy people. It's just a loud noise that goes off at semi random intervals.

3- The story is a large part of a horror game, but it's far from the be all end all. Many horror games have the "trapped in a mansion full of monsters" scenario, but I think you would agree that Resident Evil is more scary than Alone in the Dark, and both are more scary than House of the Dead.

Mar 26 2013, 8:56pm Anchor

I think that people need to be enveloped in a horror game to get scared more. Horror can be aided by jumpscares, or great graphics that make the scary monsters even worse, but true horror comes from writing and placement. You can have the best graphics in the world, but if you make your monster fly and fart fairy dust rainbows, graphics don't help. The problem we faced is the huge rush towards graphical superiority, all the call of duties and Gears of wars wanted to become graphically amazing. The horror genre, afraid to be carried away in the dust needed to adjust. Dead Space 1 was scary and so was Bioshock, both had a sense of ever lurking danger. Eventually the player will get something to make them feel powerful. That is why at the beginning of your Amnesias you feel powerless, and the monsters seeming impossible. 

There is an exception to this rule, if you give the player so little power, they feel empowered by the knowledge that either A. this monster cannot kill them or B. this monster is weak. So you give the player weak weapons or limited ammo. Limited ammo is key here, Alan wake scared the crap out of me when I had a pistol and a flashlight.

Ragendar
Ragendar Associate of Madness
Apr 2 2013, 1:46am Anchor

I am here to defend Amnesia.
I believe that the major points of horror games are atmosphere, immersion, and danger.

For a game to be scary, it has to have a suspenseful atmosphere. Amnesia's use of sound, lighting, and imagery to create a sense of dread or foreboding is superb in my opinion. The sounds of Amnesia create a fear of what lies around every corner, behind every door, and at the end of every long hallway. You hear footsteps coming from somewhere upstairs, you hear banging in the room next to you, you hear snarls coming from behind a blocked door, you hear wailing echo throughout the area. Amnesia establishes atmosphere very well.

For a game to be scary, it has to be immersive. Now you know that guy who makes jokes at the logic of horror movies, or when you're at Halloween Horror Nights and that group in front of you has to make fun of the characters around him. These people separate themselves from scary situations. They do not allow themselves to become immersed in the world that the artist has created. In Amnesia, the artist sort of forces you to become immersed. Every action your character performs, is one that you perform. Your character reacts very similarly to how you react, with gasps of breath, small jumps, big jumps, and terror-filled fleeing! Especially when the game forces you to put yourself into dangerous situations such as wading through murky waters being chased by that which you cannot see but will surely hear. Amnesia accomplishes the goal of immersion extremely well.

For a game to be scary, it has to have danger. Provided that the player is immersed, dying is a scary thing. In amnesia, you may feel your pulse rise as you take a hit from a grunt, brute, or water lurker. In the sequences where you are outrunning water lurker, brute, or shadow, it is quite horrifying. The reason I choose to clear out every nearby wardrobe, block doors, and create blockades which I can hide behind is good planning, but also a testament to how well the game describes danger. Amnesia creates a sense of danger.

Amnesia is a great horror game, and I disagree with your assertion completely. You don't actually interact with any enemies (aside from poofers) until suspense has been built appropriately.

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Check out my blog: Ragendar's Blog

Apr 2 2013, 8:37am Anchor

Interesting way of looking at it, but I'd argue that the game/movie is at fault, not the viewer.

Let's look at 2 of the most mocked horror cliches of all. In a slasher film, a character will run up stairs instead of out of the front door, and 2 characters will go and have sex in the middle of the night when they know a killer is on the loose. Both cliches are bad and completely destroy immersion for not only that scene, but arguably the entire film. They are completely at odds with common sense and exist because the writer needs to set up a certain situation. If anything, joke guy is making the best of a bad scene, as at least he is enjoying it through mockery instead of simpley rolling his eyes in disgust.

I think this is why the poofers ruined the game for me. Yes, in that moment they were scary, but as soon as that moment was over and I realised what happened, I couldn't get immersed again.

Apr 3 2013, 6:48am Anchor
WhatsinaGame wrote:I think the situation is the same in Hollywood movies. It's easier to make someone jump from a sudden "boo" moment rather then building up suspense. It takes creative writing, and creating writing requires talent, and talent requires... well a lot. :)

So in short, it is an economical way to make something "scary". Those examples you gave all use the players' own mind to scare them into a frenzy. Each corner the player had to pass gave anxiety. Indeed it is such a shame. The mind is a powerful thing. It can and SHOULD be manipulated! That's what makes the adrenaline rush so addicting. The suspense should cook off like boiling water then eventually blow the top. That's how I like my scare, anyways.


Yeah, i'm working on my first horror game and you are right. It's not easy building up suspense.
Here i've build a small trailer: Indiedb.com
But it's not about "Boo", just atmosphere. Horror is just "scary events"... or more?

Edited by: riccardo_deias

Jun 20 2013, 11:34am Anchor
MrFidelmios wrote: Eventually the player will get something to make them feel powerful. That is why at the beginning of your Amnesias you feel powerless, and the monsters seeming impossible. 

There is an exception to this rule, if you give the player so little power, they feel empowered by the knowledge that either A. this monster cannot kill them or B. this monster is weak. So you give the player weak weapons or limited ammo. Limited ammo is key here, Alan wake scared the crap out of me when I had a pistol and a flashlight.


I've run into this problem with a project I'm working on and I decided on a different approach.  Give the player more firepower that's only devastating against previous enemies while current enemies are either considerably stronger or smarter.  This undermines the player's sense of empowerment while rewarding their progress as well as introducing more challenging opponents.

Thoughts?

Jun 21 2013, 12:19am Anchor
RodentSoldier11B wrote:
MrFidelmios wrote: Eventually the player will get something to make them feel powerful. That is why at the beginning of your Amnesias you feel powerless, and the monsters seeming impossible. 

There is an exception to this rule, if you give the player so little power, they feel empowered by the knowledge that either A. this monster cannot kill them or B. this monster is weak. So you give the player weak weapons or limited ammo. Limited ammo is key here, Alan wake scared the crap out of me when I had a pistol and a flashlight.


I've run into this problem with a project I'm working on and I decided on a different approach.  Give the player more firepower that's only devastating against previous enemies while current enemies are either considerably stronger or smarter.  This undermines the player's sense of empowerment while rewarding their progress as well as introducing more challenging opponents.

Thoughts?


Good, I think that is a great way to approach the game from a weapon point of view. Though that's just like an RPG leveling system, you always enter a new area where stuff will kill you. I would counter play this by having an alternating ammo type that will help you against the newer monsters, while being limited. Lets just make up an imaginary horror game, the first level you fight zombies with an axe (weak). Than you are rewarded with a pistol, which obliterates the zombies,  I feel strong and empowered. I get to level 2 and there are few zombies, and a ton of slime monsters. Near a harder part of the level I pick up the only pack of phosphorus rounds, which kill both slimes and zombies. So I basically have 10 rounds to save for whenever I feel, yet at the same time be in constant fear that these are to few to help me win the level. 

I would make the special ammo hidden, and very limited to reward exploration, and more scares.

Jun 21 2013, 12:35am Anchor
MrFidelmios wrote:
RodentSoldier11B wrote:
MrFidelmios wrote: Eventually the player will get something to make them feel powerful. That is why at the beginning of your Amnesias you feel powerless, and the monsters seeming impossible. 

There is an exception to this rule, if you give the player so little power, they feel empowered by the knowledge that either A. this monster cannot kill them or B. this monster is weak. So you give the player weak weapons or limited ammo. Limited ammo is key here, Alan wake scared the crap out of me when I had a pistol and a flashlight.


I've run into this problem with a project I'm working on and I decided on a different approach.  Give the player more firepower that's only devastating against previous enemies while current enemies are either considerably stronger or smarter.  This undermines the player's sense of empowerment while rewarding their progress as well as introducing more challenging opponents.

Thoughts?


Good, I think that is a great way to approach the game from a weapon point of view. Though that's just like an RPG leveling system, you always enter a new area where stuff will kill you. I would counter play this by having an alternating ammo type that will help you against the newer monsters, while being limited. Lets just make up an imaginary horror game, the first level you fight zombies with an axe (weak). Than you are rewarded with a pistol, which obliterates the zombies,  I feel strong and empowered. I get to level 2 and there are few zombies, and a ton of slime monsters. Near a harder part of the level I pick up the only pack of phosphorus rounds, which kill both slimes and zombies. So I basically have 10 rounds to save for whenever I feel, yet at the same time be in constant fear that these are to few to help me win the level. 

I would make the special ammo hidden, and very limited to reward exploration, and more scares.


This seems like an interesting new way to approach a horror game. Use caution when given people weapons that aren't that powerful. I know many people have complained about games that give them weapons that don't do anything for them. Most players might attempt to just flee passed enemies and become upset. I recently played The Last of Us and the first part of the game was my absolute favorite. The set up for the zombie apocalypse was fantastic. Naughty Dog made you feel so alone when you played as Joel's daughter. I was a little disappointed that Joel busted in through the door though. I thought they would play on the fear a bit longer. Back on subject though, make sure that that the weapons aren't so bad that they're worthless. Upsetting the player really brings them out of the experience. Good luck on the project! Good job on exploring new paths. :) It's what the industry needs.

Jun 22 2013, 7:49pm Anchor

The Last Of Us = faith restored. Go and play it, it's the best survival horror game I've ever played and I'm a huge fan of the Resi series.

Jun 25 2013, 11:28pm Anchor

Some of the developers in here need to set up a few jump-scares.  They're a bit harder to do right than they get credit for.  To work, jump-scares need to be unexpected and do NOT require sound.

Have you ever walked up behind someone absorbed in what they are doing, then have them turn around and jump at the site of you?  It's all about the unexpected.

Threat and the unknown are your biggest allies in horror.

Speaking of which, I don't really look at zombie games as horror anymore, try though they might. You've got a concept there that's pretty thoroughly explored.  Something becomes a LOT less scary when you put it under a bright spotlight for several years.

Jun 26 2013, 12:14am Anchor
GreatExarch wrote:Some of the developers in here need to set up a few jump-scares.  They're a bit harder to do right than they get credit for.  To work, jump-scares need to be unexpected and do NOT require sound.

Have you ever walked up behind someone absorbed in what they are doing, then have them turn around and jump at the site of you?  It's all about the unexpected.

Threat and the unknown are your biggest allies in horror.

Speaking of which, I don't really look at zombie games as horror anymore, try though they might. You've got a concept there that's pretty thoroughly explored.  Something becomes a LOT less scary when you put it under a bright spotlight for several years.


When you focus your horror around zombies, yeah there is not a lot to do. When you include them, it can make all the difference. In Walking Dead Tell Tale, were you more afraid of zombies, or the people you were with? A lot of the fear, the terror, comes from the player. If a good game/level designer puts their mind to it, they could end up breaking the 4th wall and making the player analyze themselves. To sit back and go "Would people act like this if X happened" is every devs wet dream. Well, actually, I think being bathed in a pile of money while riding a dragon in the Andes would be, but I digress.

Jun 27 2013, 9:51pm Anchor

I think it's important to have a build up of tension but too much and it gets boring. For most of Amnesia you don't come across the enemy very often so the beginning is misleading. Actually there is a lot of tension especially since unlike Resident Evil you can't fight back and your only escape is to run and hide. I mean sections like the water part I genuinely had concern about whether my bladder would hold out. Nothing is scarier in a game than being able to hear your enemy chasing you but not being able to see it and knowing if you make one wrong move you are dead. If you play this game in the dark alone with the sound up and don't shit yourself at least once I salute you. I am a big horror fan and I approached it after seeing them ridiculous reaction videos on YouTube. I had the attitude of pfft this game won't scare me. I had the wrong attitude. Everyone in the house thought I was being murdered at 3.00 in the morning.
I do understand where you're coming from the older horrors did have better story lines and structure but they were often too slow and non of them really made me terrified. Wouldn't it be great to have a game like Amnesia but with an engrossing narrative? I mean I do have to admit the Amnesiac story line is a bit unoriginal. 
I do agree that some modern horror games try to get screams out of the players too hard to the point where it is laughable but I don't think Amnesia is a good example of a modern horror game that does this. I personally really liked the game :s

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