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Here Comes The Fear...

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r4tch3t 25th March 2008, 09:11 Quote
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.
CardJoe 25th March 2008, 11:03 Quote
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.
Bauul 25th March 2008, 11:40 Quote
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.
adamc 25th March 2008, 12:00 Quote
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.
CardJoe 25th March 2008, 12:31 Quote
Half-Life 2 did this too - there's pretty much just the one combine enemy, but with escalating levels of armour to portray difficulty.
Jordan Wise 25th March 2008, 12:58 Quote
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.
kosch 25th March 2008, 14:17 Quote
Nice article a good lunch time read thanks :)
TreeDude 25th March 2008, 15:05 Quote
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.
zabe 25th March 2008, 15:13 Quote
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...
Thacrudd 25th March 2008, 15:42 Quote
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?)
CardJoe 25th March 2008, 16:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thacrudd
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?)

Yep, you just decribed Condemned 1 to a tee.
Burnin' 25th March 2008, 16:50 Quote
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
Burnin' 25th March 2008, 16:56 Quote
Sorry for the question-exclamation mark mix up... My keyboard is in Spanish and I never reviewed the post until I post it
FeRaL 25th March 2008, 18:09 Quote
I wouldn't classify the FPS match an example of "the fear"... I would call it "the anger", "the frustration" or "the unhinging..."
AlohaStitch 25th March 2008, 21:26 Quote
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
Cthippo 25th March 2008, 21:42 Quote
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.
docodine 25th March 2008, 22:39 Quote
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.
csplayer089 26th March 2008, 02:26 Quote
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
Amon 26th March 2008, 02:46 Quote
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.
thEcat 26th March 2008, 05:25 Quote
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
Emon 26th March 2008, 06:06 Quote
See: Penumbra - Overture and it's sequel, Black Plague.
CardJoe 26th March 2008, 08:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emon
See: Penumbra - Overture and it's sequel, Black Plague.

God those games mess me up.
Bauul 26th March 2008, 15:42 Quote
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!
Blademrk 26th March 2008, 16:56 Quote
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.
koajoe 1st April 2008, 23:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amon
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.

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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