Creating a horror atmosphere.

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Nekohime1989, Jun 6, 2019.

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  1. Nekohime1989

    Nekohime1989 Cat Princess Veteran

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    Just was wondering on what kind of game mechanics would be useful on sprucing up the atmosphere for a horror rpg.
    Edit: Yep. I so should of figured this out ages ago.
    :VXA2:
     
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  2. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    general darkness and a very inadequate light source seems to be a recurring (almost mandatory, I'd say) trope.

    another one I seem to remember from some game I can't quite place (but I can place in one movie: Signs) is half-truths, or incomplete action sequences.
    namely, in Signs, there's a couple of scenes that make the viewer go "WHAT THE FFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!", because they only show incomplete actions, that the viewer can't quite resolve, not *blurry* action that one can't identify, but *visible* (but, incomplete) action that one can't establish as a threat or out of place.
    specifically, "the thing that moves among the crops", "the shadow atop the barn", and "the noises outside the house".
    in those scenes, the thing that causes unrest is half-defined, we never see the complete picture: a foot and a leg that makes it's way into the crop line, in a way that implies a number of things:
    -it moves, so it belongs to a living creature.
    -it had been *outside* the crop line, and in that case "outside the crop line" implies "right in front of the protagonist", with the protagonist never realizing it.
    -it had been right in front of the character, without making any noticeable noise or movement right until the point where it's discovered, which makes it even scarier.
    the thing is right there, but the character (who is *actively looking for it*) doesn't see it, and most importantly, the viewer doesn't see it either, so the viewer finds out about it at the same time as the character, and can relate to the surprise through the expression of the character.

    in the game I speak of, sometimes when entering new areas, a small cutscene moment would play where part of the scenery would shift, or partial images would flash passing by windows or corridors.
    typical "blink and you'll miss it" moment, but never directly aimed towards scaring the player, it's always more of an ambient action, as if it was meaning to say "this place has a whole different idea of reality, and you're way out of your league here".
    I can't remember the title, but I might be able to find it. I'll link it here when I do.
     
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  3. mathmaster74

    mathmaster74 just...John Veteran

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    @Rachnera I made my zombie survival game disable dashing throughout the overhead map and disable escape from battles. I also gave limited inventory options: no stores, controlled drops, controlled map power-ups. I turned MP into "Stamina" and made every skill use require 1 point (2 if the skill was "strenuous") without any regen, so...when your stamina is gone, your skills are gone. Better have items or not need them. This is not meant to frustrate the player (although it tends to). It does create a sense of helplessness. The most difficult thing is the sense of timing. I couldn't pull that off. The player needs to feel safe at first, then things go wonky, then things get harsh and there's a narrow escape to relative safety...until things go wonky again, etc. Maybe you make the player feel trapped/cornered by a rushing enemy, but give the player a stealth option to "lose the pursuer". They still feel helpless, yet they're safe. The enemy leaves with "Must've been the wind" syndrome. You sneak on to a new area. Uh oh. Too well lit to sneak! You find a key. You know the door is back the other way. You turn around. There's the big bad. You move around a table and down the hall...a beeline for the door. The key gives you trouble but the door closes behind you just in time and you feel safe. All's quiet. Then "Pound! Pound! Pound! Scream!" You have to search this new area for a way out of here...etc. It's calm, then adrenaline, then calm, then adrenaline. Some things are tropes: the chase, the hiding spot, the narrow escape, obscured view (night/shadowy/foggy) but tropes can still be effective if used well. Really, horror is all in the presentation and in the audience's perception. What makes the skin crawl? What makes looking over the shoulder a necessity? What keeps people up at night? Fun stuff to ponder. :eek:
     
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  4. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    or,..... *you* are the big bad.


    dun dun DUNNNNNNNN!
     
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  5. Hyouryuu-Na

    Hyouryuu-Na . . . Veteran

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    1. Subtle creepy ambient music. Not too loud and not too low... just there...
    Try to use audio plugins like Java Hut's Audio extension or QAudio (the ones that make it like sound is coming from a direction, fading or getting louder as you get distant or nearer)

    2. Enemies should be very unpredictable. Use a lantern or flashlight and keep it so that the player can't see much outside the light. If enemies come from any direction, it'll be hard to see and that's very scary. Also you can hear their footsteps...

    3. Use save points. Don't let the player save at anytime but arrange autosaves before hard stuff like boss fights or puzzles that can kill or something.

    4. Limit dash. Use a dash stamina plugin.

    5. Stealth and hide and seek stuff are pretty good at creating suspense.

    6. Use a dramatic or slightly cryptic way of show message than just being very straightforward. "I saw a ghost" doesnt sound as good as "I saw something... over there..."

    Just go see a horror movie at night with the lights off. You'll get plenty of ideas.

    I can't think of anything else... Good luck!!!
     
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  6. GLM

    GLM ブラッドシェド © 1989 POLOCOM Member

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    Take a look at the old Virtual Boy game Innsmouth no Yakata (yes, there are actually decent games on that thing).

    It's essentially a labyrinth with a strict time limit, but the way it makes you feel is pretty unique. You're always low on ammo, you're racing the clock and the items and enemies change location each time so you can't memorize the placements.

    One thing I can say for sure is that games where you just run from everything do nothing for me. It just makes you go "oh, I guess I never actually fight anything, so I'm not too anxious."
     
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