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How to make horror possible


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#1 Sephiloud

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:01 PM

(Sorry if this is in the wrong category, I'm not sure where to put it)
So, I was just wondering what you all have to say about making a sci-fi horror RPG. The challange is trying to make horror without "omg blood and guts everywhere" or "o gawed demon face comes out of nowhere"....how would you approach this?
I'm new to these forums...so just let me know if I've done anything wrong, alright?

#2 Acetonide

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:05 PM

As far as I'm concerned, horror is all about setting the right mood. Everything from the background music, to the sound effects, to the screen tone and pacing.. Even the silences are important. Obviously you can just go for startling and things popping out at you, but that isn't great..
You may look into some existing RM Horror games like the One Night trilogy.
I apologize for not being able to give a better answer at this time, but I am some what bogged down by other things and rather behind schedule in my own projects.

I hope this helps you at least get an idea on where to start looking for inspiration.

Edited by Acetonide, 28 December 2012 - 03:06 PM.


#3 Sephiloud

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:17 PM

As far as I'm concerned, horror is all about setting the right mood. Everything from the background music, to the sound effects, to the screen tone and pacing.. Even the silences are important. Obviously you can just go for startling and things popping out at you, but that isn't great..
You may look into some existing RM Horror games like the One Night trilogy.
I apologize for not being able to give a better answer at this time, but I am some what bogged down by other things and rather behind schedule in my own projects.

I hope this helps you at least get an idea on where to start looking for inspiration.


Thanks, I'll look into those games
I'm new to these forums...so just let me know if I've done anything wrong, alright?

#4 RyanA

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:45 PM

The human mind can conjure up any number of hells and nightmares, but struggles when making a heaven! Real horror is about one thing and one thing only - Imagination.
Set the mood just right and the player will scare themselves. :3
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#5 Archeia

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:47 PM

Ambience is a huge thing in horror games. I recommend looking over horror games like Ib and Taut (it's rm2k3).

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#6 Quigon

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:27 PM

Ambience. Definitely the ambience. Finding a good middle ground between too much and not enough is probably the most important thing, because horror is a completely personal thing, and what you might find MEGA SCARY might be laughable to someone else.

If I were you, I would pay a lot of attention to the BGS you use in your maps, because you don't want every map in the entire game to have background music. That's a little too much for my tastes, and I think the scariest parts of horror games is the tension. Focus on building that subtly and have a scary pay off in the end and you'll be rolling.

AND DON'T OVERDO JUMP SCARES

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#7 RyanA

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:39 PM

Also, silence can be scarier than music :3
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#8 Quigon

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:44 PM

Also, silence can be scarier than music :3


THIS. Silent Hill does it pretty good.

Edited by atomic, 28 December 2012 - 04:44 PM.

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#9 SLEEP

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:37 PM

Horror is about the unknown. What you don't know can hurt you, and that's scary. You need to communicate this with story and gameplay. Obviously, gameplay needs to still be straightforward and never obtuse, but you need to be bringing new things to the table and keep the player on their toes
Also don't do an evil computer program in your sci-fi setting, that's overplayed and not scary any more. Cliches aren't scary.

Edited by one hundred, 28 December 2012 - 05:38 PM.

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#10 .notsafety

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 09:41 PM

I'd recommend looking up Ib and The Witch's House. both of those make effective use of both auditory and visual resources to keep the player feeling unsettled.

#11 Solistra

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:08 PM

THIS. Silent Hill does it pretty good.


Someone brought up Silent Hill -- it is now obligatory that I respond.

This was actually one of the primary design ideas that Akira Yamaoka brought to the Silent Hill games when he was working as their audio director. I believe he was quoted as saying something along the lines of "silence is just as important as noise," and he is absolutely correct, especially when it comes to horror. Silence is a great tool for building tension, and one thing that horror games rely on more than almost any other genre is the ability to make the player as anxious as possible.

Now, of course, I'll share my own thought about horror in games. When thinking about that tension, think about this: which is worse -- the enemy that lurks behind that door, or being aware of the possibility that there might be one there?

Edit: Found Akira Yamaoka's original quote: "selecting moments of silence is another way of producing sound." Even better than what I vaguely remembered about it.

Edited by Solistra, 28 December 2012 - 11:24 PM.


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#12 Jalen

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:41 AM

Everything Solistra said sums up my feelings perfectly! I love the Silent Hill series, and Yamaoka's music and thoughts on the horror genre in particular. I'd also like to add in my own two cents:

To me, horror games are scary until you die. The death itself isn't scary: it's the possibility of death! Just like Solistra said about about the enemy. What's scarier, the enemy actually being there, or the idea that there might be one there at all? Is the death scary, or the is it the idea that you might die at any second?

This is why Amnesia: The Dark Descent scares me so much, personally. You're encouraged to not look at the monster, you're encouraged to run because you have no weapons to fight with, and you're encouraged to hide like a frightened little mouse. You can certainly look at the monster all you want, but it's much more likely to catch you that way! And not being able to see it clearly is so much more terrifying, because your own imagination of what it looks like is almost always scarier than what it ends up being.

The first time you die definitely diminishes the scare factor: you've experienced it once already, and now you know what to expect. So try to shake it up a little, if possible! Amnesia stayed scary for me because of its multiple enemies. The invisible water monsters in particular were an amazing touch, because again, they take away the player's ability to see.

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#13 Archeia

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:32 AM

There is another one with SCP. The concept of that game is pretty genius to a point that you HAVE TO face the enemy so it won't attack you. And that gives you this amount of stress and anxiety and at the same time, it's like, OMG I don't want to look at this thing ;-; and if your character blinks or turns away at the wrong time, game over. I just thought the reverse psychology was interesting.

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#14 Ravenith

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:53 AM

Gameplay is often just as important as ambience. The scariest game I've ever played, one I'm STILL having nightmares about, was System Shock 2. The game would not be scary at all if it wasn't for the scarcity of resources. ANY of the enemies can tear you to shreds if you become careless, and for the most part of the game you just clobber them with a wrench to conserve ammo...

#15 Celianna

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:19 PM

Also, silence can be scarier than music :3


And what I think is scarier than silence, is using sound effects.

Hearing a random noise, not knowing where it comes from, will drive a player nuts, and hopefully scare them too. Think of breathing noises, a heartbeat, a door swinging open and closed, footsteps etc.

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#16 RyanA

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:37 PM

And what I think is scarier than silence, is using sound effects.

Hearing a random noise, not knowing where it comes from, will drive a player nuts, and hopefully scare them too. Think of breathing noises, a heartbeat, a door swinging open and closed, footsteps etc.


I didn't mean no sound at all, only no music :3

Edited by RyanA, 29 December 2012 - 02:39 PM.

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#17 Celianna

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:01 PM

Yes, I understood. I was only adding examples of what's scarier than silence :)

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#18 Solistra

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:06 PM

Subtle white noise is very effective as well -- wind blowing, a television showing nothing but static....


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#19 RyanA

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:31 PM

Yes, I understood. I was only adding examples of what's scarier than silence :)


Forgive my un-comprehension 3: Also I agree on those Solistra :3

Edited by RyanA, 29 December 2012 - 03:31 PM.

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#20 HighInFiber

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:50 PM

When it comes to horror, it's all about creating atmosphere and ambience. Lighting is generally a great way to accomplish this, because generally the things that scare us the most are the things we can't see. As people have already mentioned, imagination is key in horror. When you create the right atmosphere in a game, the player is ALWAYS wary and cautious. Games like Amnesia and Lone Survivor do a great job of this. They get you once or twice with scare tactics, but it's everything else in the game that has you on your toes.