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Columns Here Comes The Fear...

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 25 Mar 2008.

  1. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    http://www.bit-tech.net/columns/2008/03/25/here_comes_the_fear_/1

    It's a dark and haunting day at the bit-tech offices and James Silva is taking to the columns page once more to tell us some ghost stories. How is it that games create a feeling of fear in players and how do horror games generate such a feeling of unease? Jim explains.

    :eeek:
     
  2. r4tch3t

    r4tch3t hmmmm....

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    I feel like that in Counterstrike, then I check, oh no punk-buster, that's why they are "better" than me.

    I agree with the varying of enemies though, I do like knowing the way of killing a specific enemy, but I would like to have some variation, maybe it takes two shots sometimes.
     
  3. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    I know one Horror/Survival game that had be scared of the AI though and thats Condemned 1. Everything is up close and brutal, with enemies laying in wait and retreating cleverly. A one-on-one fight could sometimes take about ten minutes of dodging, feinting, swinging and so on. Or, at least, it did until you got the super-taser.

    The enemy would swear, dodge, duck, dive and move about realistically. Watching where the next blow was going to come from took me a long time to get used to and is one of the main reasons I love the game. Its never a case of someone just shooting at you and the combat always feels personal and involving.
     
  4. Bauul

    Bauul Sir Bongaminge

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    You're right about Doom 3, whilst the atmosphere was perfect the predictable enemies were a real let down. I remember once with Joe running around one of the later levels on God mode killing Hellknights with a chainsaw for fun, before I realised I'd forgotten to turn on invincibility, kind of ruined the suspense of the big, nasty bad guy.

    Basically it comes down to the age-old point of horror: fear of the malevolent unknown is by far and away the scariest thing people are afraid of, and the more you fill a game with it, the scarier it'll be.

    I once played a custom map for Doom 3 which had, as well as the usual bad guys, a custom enemy in it. Thing is, it was huge, and you were armed with only a shotgun at best. Throughout the whole level, you spent all your time running, hiding and fleeing from the thing, without ever actually seeing it (shadows MADE the D3 engine). It induced the kind of pant-wetting tension they managed to so spectacularly fail to achieve in the original game, which is a shame, because this map showed how easy it would have been to have achieved it.
     
  5. adamc

    adamc New Member

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    The point where you said

    "Some Imps will have 100 HP, some will have 500. Some will be twice as fast as others. Players will think twice about charging that Imp with a shotgun if they know there's a possibility he'll just shrug off the shot and slash them in the face"

    Caused me some concern. As a relatively savvy modder, I think that fairness has to come before this element of fear. If enemies are going to vary in health and abilities, it has to be visually represented to the player with different colours, body armour, sound, and animations. Metroid Prime: Corruption did an excellent job of this with slightly aesthetically varied Space Pirates which varied wildly in their difficulty - but the player was aware of this. I think that there's a reason developers don't do what you suggest, and thats because whilst it may induce fear initially, quickly frustration will set in: "It took five pistol headshots to kill that zombie, and this one looks identical, but it soaked up 8 shots then clubbed me to death" sounds more annoying rather than scary.
     
  6. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Half-Life 2 did this too - there's pretty much just the one combine enemy, but with escalating levels of armour to portray difficulty.
     
  7. Jordan Wise

    Jordan Wise Baby called to see the boss...

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    i think that the best way to get 'the fear' out of a game is to keep the survival elements core to the game play, where you ration the resources at hand and judge how passive/ agressive your enemies are. Think about it, imagine 'we don't go to ravenhawe' but with very limited ammo (something that spoilt half life2, i never ran out of bullets) - you would just run from you bog standard zombies and headcrabs or fight melee, but with them fast jumping b******s and the black headcrab zombies you'd go trigger happy. You can get a similar effect with health, i remember that in resident evil 2 i was always very consicous of how many herbs i had.
     
  8. kosch

    kosch Trango in the Mango

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    Nice article a good lunch time read thanks :)
     
  9. TreeDude

    TreeDude New Member

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    RE2 is one of the best games ever. Great story, great gameplay, and a damn good reason to play through a second time starting with disk 2 instead of disk 1. Not to mention it was scary. RE3 was good too, but far too short. I never finished RE4, got to the room with the flame turrets and just could not get past it for the life of me. Maybe I will try again someday.

    Doom 3 was scary at first, but then it just got so repetitive I did not even want to finish it. I need engaging AI in a FPS to stay interested. The original Halo was awesome (the story of the second was a real put off). The HL2 series is obviously great (come on Episode 3, come out already).

    F.E.A.R. was good of what I played, I never did buy it though. They have that pack with all the expansions now for $30. I have been thinking about picking it up.
     
  10. zabe

    zabe Perfect in my imperfection

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    I was so scared by these bird things in Gears of War, and they weren't even part of the game for the most part. The feeling that I might forget to light a lamp and be suddenly attacked by them was so cool, cos I knew I'd die right the moment they came down... which made me be reeeeeeally careful with the light, and still they killed me a few times... oh, that was so much fun...
     
  11. Thacrudd

    Thacrudd Where's the any key?!?

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    I think to create fear in a videogame, it almost has to be survival. The only fear that I could get from a game would be to fear of dying. In that case, I think a good fear-based game would consist of actually not having a plethora of guns and ammo, just whatever you had in the environment (shovels, wood planks, rocks) and the occasional gun. Where you actually had to think about how to kill the enemies, but not taking away from the enjoyment of killing lots of enemies. Accompanied by dark environments and a large variety of enemies so you didn't ever really know what you were going to run into. R.E. kinda did this for me, but it did not actually pull off a fear-like state for me. I was annoyed by not having enough ammo, and constantly having to run. I don't like to run, I like to kill creatively. (does that make sense?)
     
  12. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    Yep, you just decribed Condemned 1 to a tee.
     
  13. Burnin'

    Burnin' FPS gamer

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    I remember playing some really “scary” games in the past; both Dooms, Heretic, Hexxen, Quake2, etc… By “scary” I mean narrow creepy corridors with pop-up monsters that made you jump off your chair. It was all good stuff… but then you get used to it. Recently Doom3 and FEAR followed the EXACT SAME FORMULA, but with improved graphics, sound and physics. Yes, we have better, deeper and creepier graphics! Yes, we have better, deeper and creepier 5.1 surround sounds! But we’re left with the exact same game play… as someone once said “monster-closed AI”

    Now I’m more than half way through Bioshock (I know, I know… but just got it), and I know all you guys have read the reviews and all… BUT I JUST LOVE IT! And is not that 2k isn’t re-doing some elements from previous “scary” titles, they just tweaked it a little bit and made an INCREDIBLE INMERSIVE experience. And I think that’s the key here.

    Single Player Games MUST have something besides the AI to make you think that you’re really there. Remember Zork Nemesis? Silent Hill? Even though I’m hardcore FPS gamer, I did love those games cause they made you forget everything around you… and just focus of getting out of that awful creepy place. Same as for Bioshock (extra gore added!)

    On the other hand, multiplayer games don’t rally need that… The feeling of being killed several times by the same guy quickly transforms from “scary” to “anger”, then “revenge”, and so on…
    I remember the first time I played BF2142 - Titan mode... I was waiting on top of the Titan for landing enemy pods. All of a sudden, this guy (I don’t remember his name) lands about 5 feet in front of me, takes out his knife and SLASH!!!! No time to think, no time to aim… I just got frozen and he knifed me right on spot!
    I never came back to the Titan that round… I was SCARED TO DEATH of him. As a matter of fact, I never played Titan again until a month latter…

    Bottom line is, you’ll need more than clever AI to be really scared of any game… you’ll need INMERSION! Otherwise people will be more scared of a 12-year old HARDCORE gamers playing death-match than walking through creepy corridors killing zombies or monsters.

    P.S. Love your website and your reviews! Keep up the good work guys… Greetings from Costa Rica
     
  14. Burnin'

    Burnin' FPS gamer

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    Sorry for the question-exclamation mark mix up... My keyboard is in Spanish and I never reviewed the post until I post it
     
  15. FeRaL

    FeRaL New Member

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    I wouldn't classify the FPS match an example of "the fear"... I would call it "the anger", "the frustration" or "the unhinging..."
     
  16. AlohaStitch

    AlohaStitch New Member

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    i think that another game that pulled that out was FEAR, replica soldiers even if they were alwais the same, their tactics weren't, they alwais adapted to your actions and pose a real challenge, making you respect them more than other ai enemies from other games, and even desire after surviving an encounter with them that the next firefight wouldn't happen very soon so you could catch your breath for a while
     
  17. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    Something that adds to the feeling is the powerlessness, sometimes when you leasr expect it. The "point insertion" level in the beginning of HL2 did this well, when you have no weapons and are being herded trhough the train station by sadistic CPs. The tutorial bit where the CP knocks the can off the trash can and makes you pick it up is brilliant. In fact, you have that feeling of fear and powerlessness pretty much through until you get the boat in water hazard.

    Another good example is at the end of E2, where you least expect it. I mean, it's the end of the game, you have every possible weapon, and then the strider arrives and they're all useless and you're running for you life trying to get to the rocket box.

    I think the author is over-doind the pop psychology element, but I agree there is a place for managing the player's anxiety level in games.
     
  18. docodine

    docodine killed a guy once

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    The scariest part of any FPS in my opinion was the level Ravenholm in Half-Life 2. Those fast zombies scared the hell out of me. Even though I consider myself decent at most shooters, if something is barrelling toward me while screaming, in the dark, I'm likely to lose control of my mouse for a couple seconds, and likely shoot a clip into the air. The original Diablo was pretty scary, especially since you can't run, and I only could teleport late in the game. Any game really that punishes you for just running into the fray scares me, or has enemies spawning from impossible places. (Through the floor, always from any shadow, behind me, etc.) In Ravenholm when you see the fast zombies on the rooftops... never seen anything that good since then.
     
  19. csplayer089

    csplayer089 New Member

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    the only games that have been relatively scary to me are FEAR, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and Doom 3 (first 3/4's of the game..the level that scared the CRAP outta me was the "Hell" level because you have to fight the games strongest and scariest demons with crappy guns and low ammo). Also, I cannot forget the first time I faced a chainsaw-wielding freak in Resident Evil 4..wow I was scared s**tless. lol
     
  20. Amon

    Amon inch-perfect

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    Alien versus Preadtor 2 gave me nightmares. Nothing like being a lone marine surrounded by fast, skittering shadows of aliens and with only flares and bullets to guide your way through an Alien hive. Or being constantly haunted throughout the entire campaign by the deafening silence of being stalked by an invisible Predator--his triple laser dots climbing up to your head.

    Utterly unmatched experience in any first-person shooter to date.
     
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