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Things that would have made Amnesia scarier
Alardem Offline
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RE: Things that would have made Amnesia scarier

Spoiler below!
More harlem shake.

I actually agree that I'd be more scared in familiar environments - it's one reason why Condemned: Criminal Origins worked so well.

Also, perhaps the presence of inexplicable or explicitly supernatural things would make things scarier. The problem with Amnesia and Penumbra's monsters is that they all have a rational logic behind their origin stories - games like Silent Hill, on the other hand, have far more abstract scares and monstrosities. Doom 3 also managed to be surprisingly effective with its use of invisible ghosts/voices that carry bodies and lead you into traps, becoming far creepier than the demons thanks to the total lack of explanation behind their presence.

There are no ghosts in Amnesia as far as I recall (bar the girl in the first game and Mandus' zombie sons in Amnesia 2), so perhaps the game could have benefited from implementing spectral horrors in addition to the monstrosities. To be utterly frank, the Gatherers/Pigs don't frighten me too much because

1. They're stupid and incapable of communication
2. They're living, material beings, with all the limitations that brings and the possibility that they can be killed
3. They look distinctly inhuman enough to comfortably dismiss as monsters

Ghosts in the vein of Silent Hill 4 or FEAR would be more frightening to me, doubly so in the context of a game where you have no weapons.
11-04-2013, 07:17 PM
Cuyir Offline
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RE: Things that would have made Amnesia scarier

All very well said Alardem.

I think they could have experimented with more psychological and "alternate" scares.

Example, I was playing Siren: Blood Curse a year and a half ago and it had that japanese horror vibe I enjoy. You had weapons (sometimes and as some characters) but that didn't really affect the excellent atmosphere. The enemies were humans but they looked ''off'' JUST enough to be scary. And rarely did I go out of my way to kill them when I had weapons because they were immortal. So whenever I could I just ran or hid from them, because i'd rather have them moving around than ''dead'' on the floor. Can't tell you how many times I was disturbed by NOT seeing the corpse where I'd left it and worrying about it.

But that's not what I meant with experimenting.

The Siren series has a cool little ''gimmick'' in which you can see through the enemies' eyes. It's used as a sort of way to know if they're near, what they're looking at, what they're doing and etc. This gimmick lent itself to two of my favorite, unscripted, videogame horror moments.

In the first one I was just looking through their eyes to see where they were when one of them seemed really ''excited'' and fussy. I kept looking through his eyes, it seem frenzied, looking for something. It kept saying something but it was in japanese (a language i'm not familiar with). All of the sudden I see myself through its eyes when I realize ''oh shit...it saw me!''

In the second moment I was looking through the eyes of a frenzied enemy again. I was nervous but I kept looking. I couldn't see anything in front of it. Some time passed and I kept looking (I was afraid and didn't want to keep moving Sad). All of the sudden there's a silhouette in the thing's horizon. It kept getting closer and closer and closer. All of the sudden the silhouette screams out in terror and it begins trying to defend herself while I watched. It found the young woman I had left behind (to protect her, ironically enough). So it was this really shocking moment where I saw the young woman's near demise ( I sprinted back to her and saved her) through the eyes of the attacker.

TLDR; some/more alternate/psychological scares would have helped a LOT.
11-04-2013, 08:04 PM
Cranky Old Man Offline
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RE: Things that would have made Amnesia scarier

The removal of the story.
Unless they're Silent Hill masterpieces of story, I think stories detract from horror games in general.
While playing Penumbra: Necrologue, I kept thinking back to the Penumbra Demo: You happened upon a hatch in the middle of a snowy wasteland. Maybe it's Greenland. Maybe it's the North Pole. Maybe it's the South Pole. Maybe it's actually the sum of all three, or whatever you find scariest in your head.
Then, underneath, you happen upon some kind of underground site. Maybe it's a bunker. Maybe it's a polar station. Maybe it's a mine. Maybe it's a monster research lab. You don't know, and you don't know how big it is. All that you can do, is pay attention to the walls and environments around you, and deduce your own theory. You do this instead of reading boring leaflets of people working until something scary happens to them off-paper. They can't actually go "OH, no! It's that scary monster! Aaaah!", so all you get are the boring parts of their everyday lives.
...but in the Penumbra Demo, all you needed was darkness in your face. Like two meters in front of your face. ...all the time. ...to the point where you became convinced that the monster lurking down here, was all around you, in the form of sentient darkness, that would pounce at you with shadowy teeth and devour you, as soon as you reached its gaseous belly area.

Every word I read in a horror game does three things:
- It takes me out of my own predicament, and puts me into the shoes of some worker who doesn't even have it as bad as me.
- It turns the game into a text game, which makes me sigh from boredom.
- It destroys my deepest darkest fears by setting borders on my imagination.

Penumbra would have been better if there wasn't even a monster in it (although those giant spiders made me unable to proceed without watching a walkthrough). It would have just been me and the darkness and my deepest, darkest fears. Maybe some music and creepy noises to keep me company.

The REAL story, according to me, is in the environment. If it looks believable, like an actual habitat that you can really envision people having lived in, for instance, and an environment that has a clear function, then that's immersion right there. You don't need people writing journals and reports. At most you can give the player the occational ACTUAL report, like "Main Output Drain: 80 GW - Aux Output Drain: 5 GW - Grid A Drain: 45 GW - Grid B Drain: 40 GW - Fuse Replacements Total: 5"
Nothing that would actually tell him anything more than he already knew from watching the environments.

Noob scripting tutorial: From Noob to Pro

04-17-2015, 02:11 AM
Cranky Old Man Offline
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RE: Things that would have made Amnesia scarier

Maybe I can formulate things better, now that I've slept for three hours:
Show, don't tell is considered a superior technique in movies, but it seems less prominent in games.
Half-Life 2 did a great job of showing instead of telling: They made us an eye witness to police abuse, put you in the middle of a police raid, had you explore just what had become of an area after a headcrab shelling (and even these things were all shown from inferior third person perspectives).
Now imagine what Half-Life 2 would be like if you were instead put to roam around non-descript corridors while picking up notes describing these things in text.
That would suck.

Also, there is a huge unexplored depth in level design. If you put the effort of a forensics analyst into your blood splatter placements, then I'm convinced that most people will notice and come to their own chilling conclusions instead of you telling me what happened in notes. Similarly, if you design (or steal) floorplans for your buildings, the player isn't left wondering where they are, what purpose this room has in the story, and what they should expect beyond the next door. The more an environment makes sense, the more "four-dimensional" the space becomes, and the more story it will tell.
Let's say that you have a puzzle where you need to fix the power in order to open a powered door. If you had enough of a reason for the previous locked doors to be locked, then the player would trust the level design enough to notice that this door should open if you press a button. They will then also notice that the lights are out too. Then they will follow signs that point to the generator room, and at this point they will already have the idea in their head, that in order to open that door, they would need to restore power. At least, they would like to restore power in order to see better, and not feel cheated if they overlook the door. With good enough level design, notes and objectives become superflous. Instead they are created as a first person experience inside the players head, creating an immersion that will invite horror directly into the players head.

...but from Penumbra back to Amnesia: This means that you should not be informed that your name is Daniel, or that you have amnesia, or who Alexander is. In fact, Alexander should probably be removed from the game completely. You just wake up in a castle, for some reason, obviously not remembering how you got there or your name. You walk around the mansion and explore more and more dangerous areas. You do this as the player because you are curious and want to be brave, but at the same time you are doing so at your own peril. If some giant worm comes and bites your head off, you feel that you would kind of earn that fate. (Yes, I'm also saying that if you put a huge tunnel lid with worm slime, as an alternate path to a safer one, then I certainly wouldn't complain to suffer instant death for my stupidity. That would be an awesome horror experience, as long as I could read the figurative signs beforehand.)
As you explore more and more of the castle depth, you will first hand marvel at how deep the depths are, and conclude yourself that the mansion is an obvious front for a more sinister operation. Something involving capturing people and experimenting on them, judging by the prison cells and the torture chambers.
You will never be involved in Daniels guilt trip, never concern yourself with Alexander, never have your focus be anywhere else than you trying to comprehend the unknown that you are exploring.
That is fear, ladies and gentlemen. ...and what's better: It won't be Daniel roaming around the mansion. It will be you.

Noob scripting tutorial: From Noob to Pro

(This post was last modified: 04-17-2015, 10:24 PM by Cranky Old Man.)
04-17-2015, 09:34 AM

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