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Columns Here Comes The Fear...

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

  1. thEcat

    thEcat New Member

    1 Dec 2006
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    Interesting article on a subject I find quite fascinating.

    I have to agree with adamc, mixing the stats of a given type of monster just for the hell of it is an annoying and, some would say, cheap game mechanic. That said, if there is a visible indication that the next imp is an uber imp it does raise the level of tension, but when over used, I'm looking at Oblivion here, it just makes me wonder if the devs had run out of ideas.

    I have a problem with single player FPS games in general. Assuming the difficulty level is pitched at or near your ability the simple fact is, no matter where you are in game, there is a way to defeat those around you - after all the game would not go down well if it were unbeatable. You may need to consider your weapon choice, you may need to keep an eye on your ammo, you may need to duck and weave but ultimately you will always be victorious. The net effect is the raising of anxiety, fear is seldom an issue. Note how this contrasts with online play where your opponent may be more skilled.

    Expectation, atmosphere, the unknown. These are the keys to instilling fear in the player. F.E.A.R. mixed things around quite well. A fairly tedious shooter in my opinion (Find Enemy Attack Repeat) the cut scenes and story development built an atmosphere, kept me wondering. At the time I was also playing Half Life 2 and with both finished I had to conclude that while HL2 was the better game, F.E.A.R was the more involving and enjoyable experience.

    Immersion. Now we're talking. Give the player a world they can believe in and a character they can relate to. All highly subjective of course, but once achieved the effects of expectation, atmosphere, the unknown are greatly magnified. Two examples that worked for me are both from VTM: Bloodlines: The Mansion was designed beautifully, twists, turns, puzzles and the memoirs of a Doctor lapsing into insanity; better yet The Hotel, wow, atmosphere so thick you could taste it, I'm deliberately avoiding details here. A level from the Thief series (Thief 3 ?) is highly recommended by others, The Cradle iirc.

    So, a strong connection to the game character, immersion in a believable world, expectation, atmosphere, the unknown.

    For me at least, one game in particular embodies all of the above, at times in spades. It also throws in monsters that are not leveled to your character ie around each and every corner there lies the threat of instant death. It's not a game to everyones liking, it's not a game that everyone 'gets'. While not a frightening game, Morrowind provided more heart pounding, breath holding, heckle raising moments than any other game I've played. Once 'in' the world, in the zone, it also had an uncanny knack of twisting your emotions to fit the situation your character was currently in. A gamut of emotions, not just fear <chuckle> maybe that was just me.

    No, not just me. You see nothing that I've mentioned so far is new. Old ideas, old mechanics known for centuries by the talented select who are able to write a good story.

    At the end of the day a game presents to the player a world in which to adventure. It may be the biggest, brightest (darkest), most lavishly detailed world ever created but it matters little without the player involvement mentioned above. Soap box time:

    Current game industry idioms:

    More pixels = better game
    Bigger guns = better game
    More monsters = better game
    Making the game so accessible it can be played by a one eyed retarded monkey with ******s cramp = better game

    These factors may be good for marketing, generating the initial wow factor but none of the above instills fear or much of any emotion. You want emotional involvement ? Save some money by cutting the polygon count, hirer a good writer and possibly a theatrical director. And don't pay to much attention to marketing departments or game fans (!), trying to tick all the boxes, for everyone is a futile quest
  2. Emon

    Emon New Member

    14 Jun 2004
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    See: Penumbra - Overture and it's sequel, Black Plague.
  3. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

    3 Apr 2007
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    God those games mess me up.
  4. Bauul

    Bauul Sir Bongaminge

    7 Apr 2007
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    I meant to say, I was chatting to a girl at a party on Saturday who went to uni with the script writer for Penumbra. Oh yeah, I have connections!
  5. Blademrk

    Blademrk Why so serious?

    21 Nov 2003
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    The scariest game I've ever played is Eternal Darkness: Sanities Requiem on the Game Cube. Not so much for the setting or even the story but as your playing, and as your characters sanity level drops, strange things keep happening, a bug crawls over your screen, the volume controls appear on the screen and the sound goes up or down or mutes despite no-one touching the remote. You enter a room only to get a reboot screen... for the x-box or the dreaded PC BSOD (this is a Game Cube right?!?) before the game returns to normal. A high powered Zombie rushes at you decapitating your character before you can blink, the screen flashes and your back in the previous room as if nothing has happened.

    The game is truly a mind trip and your never sure if what's happening on screen is actualy happening. track it down if you can (should work on the Wii) it was definitely one of the best (and under-rated) games on the Game Cube.
  6. koajoe

    koajoe PC Gaming master race!

    27 Mar 2008
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    Yeah I wish Monolith would do more scary stuff like AVP2, not that little girl is scary crap. They really knew how to build tension in AVP2, especially with the lighting/ using the flares and your flash light was about to die. The first half of the first level I did not even see aliens but I was terrified from the environment and about what might be. My imagination ran wild and at that point I was my own worste enemy (shooting pipes and wasting ammo). OMG.. AVP2 made me scream at some points.

    AVP2 felt like survival horror on the Marine cmpaign. I find myself wishing someone would remake that game with a better engine (they used lithtech).
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