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how to make my horror level design stand out?

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    how to make my horror level design stand out?

    Ok hi everyone, I'm a lone designer/builder/everything else so I was wondering what's the best way to go about making a horror game?

    Firstly I'm not asking about newbie questions like how to use UDK since I know a fair bit but not a pro at it.

    Anyway I'm trying to go for a old school Resident Evil style gameplay while trying to figure out the best techniques to go about it.

    I have been testing out the camera system and attempted to use seamless tiles but none of my work give off a scary feeling.

    Also I have a blog that I try to update sometimes planning to update it again at a later time, maybe later tuesday night/wednesday.

    Check out my blog.

    http://www.moddb.com/games/evilproductions

    I do have to hand something by wednesday for my University but this is a on going project to help me improve my skills to get me into the game industry.

    #2
    well i guess one of the things you could start on is getting familiar with UDKs decal system or such things as blood splatter on the walls and such. another thing is grunge.....make it all dirty lol!

    Comment


      #3
      I believe it's because the assets are still placeholders.
      Do you have concept arts or storyline yet?
      It'll be easier for others to tell you how to get closer to your goal.

      The elements I find scary in games like Dead Space, RE, Bioshock, Manhunt, and many others...are

      1. Sounds
      Sometimes the sound effects were more scary than the visual
      examples: Creepy music, baby crying in the background, footsteps behind you

      2. Surprise events
      examples: Ambush, Giant chasing you, pop-ups from doors and windows, quick moving shadows

      3. Environment and settings
      Make the place look like something bad happened there not long ago. Make it so creepy that it keeps a normal person from going in, but also set a goal to force the player to go in.

      examples: Dark areas that require the use of flashlight.

      4. Player experience
      For some reason, horror games mostly have slow and unresponsive controls. It's frustrating, but I believe it's still part of what makes those game scarier.
      I'm not saying it's required, but don't make the controls feel like an action game or a shooter game.

      5. Ideas that most people want from zombie survival games
      I have heard these ideas over and over before.
      The character should require to eat from time to time and wounds won't heal until you treat them properly.
      So other than escaping from zombies, you also have to take care of the character.

      Comment


        #4
        Something I would like to add; do not give the game a scripted feel. SOmething that I found particularly effective in the Project Zero games (well, the first one, the later ones were not as good me thinks) is that you never knew when a ghost was going to jump you and that they could literally pop up everywhere. This also means you cannot just have a miriad of enemies swarming you in each rooms; careful placement of enemies while giving it a random feel is a good way to induce scares.

        One extremely effective way is to make the player feel helpless. I have played games that were far from horror, but still scared the living **** out of me by simply having some dangerous beasty jump you. In this case the fear comes from the fear of having to loose all your progress. Doesn't sound all too horror, but believe me, it works like a charm. Enemies need to be a genuine threat. Not just boss battles (if there is even a need for those), but ALL enemies should have the player wetting himself.

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          #5
          I find the scariest moments are when you are un-able to attack and are running away from something. Especially for hard bosses, near the end if they were to start chasing the player and you make the player feel as if they almost didn't make it.

          Comment


            #6
            Well for my concept design it looks sort of looks like this at the moment.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TCuo...el_video_title

            I have made some changes to try improve the camera system but that's still work in progress. Currently AI is less important till the level gets the right atmosphere.

            So far my custom textures colliding with lighting doesn't really give me much of a fear.
            Also been trying stuff like placing lighting sounds but I'm not sure if that would or wouldn't be as good as making custom music like this:

            http://www.moddb.com/games/evilproductions/videos

            My main elements for scary are games like Resident Evil classic, maybe games like the old Silent Hill, Alan Wake, the 1st Dino Crisis.

            For me games like Deadspace, Bioshock felt more about action than horror.


            Also I'm going to make sure the player has imited ammo, must scavange for ammo when he goes to different places but haven't decided on a save system yet.

            All links are my own, offically work in progress so feel free to comment on my blog, etc... since need as much as critism as I can get to help me improve my work.

            Comment


              #7
              I love the Resident Evil style static cameras, it's a real nice touch. Only thing I'd say is don't be afraid to put them at more dramatic angles every now and then- almost birdeyes, right on the floor tilted upwards towards the main focus of the room and so on. Play through the original RE and you'll see a lot of these.

              As for making a game scary, it's a massive combination of elements. As Oni mentioned, sound/sound effects are very crucial here. Long echoing footsteps down a coridoor, doors creaking, whatever. An obvious tip if you're still a little lost would be to go watch your favourite scary movies, play scary games, see how they've managed to achieve it and build on their examples.

              Comment


                #8
                Well at moment, I have been testing out zoomed out, in. Had some complaints before about being zoomed too far since it made it hard for the player to see where he/she was moving.

                Also been replaying the original's and not sure but I think I need to decrease the size of the level and zoom more closely on the camera's more often.

                Also I'm assumming I need a lot of triggers to avoid overlapping triggers, plenty of camera's at close area's, noticed in the original's that there's only usually a longer camera when some sort of scene may happen like a zombie breaking through a gate or a crocodile.

                Oh, I'm not sure but does the default character animation or speed make it less scary? (it's default till I get level done)

                Comment


                  #9
                  I know it will work against your original idea, but I have to add that adding fixed camera perspectives only work when not being the dominant camera type. If you are trying to instill a sense of fear, the fixed cameras have the annoying habit of giving the player a decent overview of the room, thus diminishing the sense of danger.

                  Third person is very effective here, as it not makes the player look around (which is a necessary thing if you want to work with sound effects and the likes; to cue the player to look into certain directions), but also to keep a sense of danger at all times. Why the third person is more effective for a horror scenario is because you can also use the character mesh to cue the player. For instance, by making the character look at something in reflex; by making a scared character react to the environment you can further instill a sense of helplessness.

                  Obviously, that doesn't mean you should have a dynamic cam at all times; a fixed perspective has its uses as well. Just use it with careful consideration. For instance, when you have been running around with a dynamic cam all of the time, if you suddenly switch to a fixed overhead view, you will immediately put focus on the area above the player (even though you do not need to make use of that; just the possibility by itself can already do quite some "damage"). Subtle manipulation is key to frightening the player.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by cridia View Post
                    I know it will work against your original idea, but I have to add that adding fixed camera perspectives only work when not being the dominant camera type. If you are trying to instill a sense of fear, the fixed cameras have the annoying habit of giving the player a decent overview of the room, thus diminishing the sense of danger.

                    Third person is very effective here, as it not makes the player look around (which is a necessary thing if you want to work with sound effects and the likes; to cue the player to look into certain directions), but also to keep a sense of danger at all times. Why the third person is more effective for a horror scenario is because you can also use the character mesh to cue the player. For instance, by making the character look at something in reflex; by making a scared character react to the environment you can further instill a sense of helplessness.

                    Obviously, that doesn't mean you should have a dynamic cam at all times; a fixed perspective has its uses as well. Just use it with careful consideration. For instance, when you have been running around with a dynamic cam all of the time, if you suddenly switch to a fixed overhead view, you will immediately put focus on the area above the player (even though you do not need to make use of that; just the possibility by itself can already do quite some "damage"). Subtle manipulation is key to frightening the player.
                    I found that the camera being static could be pretty scary aswell, it means you can't really explore this or that corridor without walking straight in there and the static camera being snapped to another.

                    As a child when I was playing RE1 one corridor would be perfectly safe, then the camera would snap to the next corridor and then nemisis would be there and I'd freaking run straight back :P (Although I did this for normal zombies aswell, I found the one or two zombies in every room that were really quite alot more creepier and scarier then todays zombies in games).

                    Not that you should change the way you want your camera based on what everyone else has to say, alot of camera types can be equally scary, I guess just choose what scares you/your friends/people testing for you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'd advise in using the "creep" effect. Too few games use it. Instead of having a bunch of zombies/whatevers run and attack to cause panic, it sometimes has an even greater effect having them move slowly in big numbers.
                      To compare, let's take Left4Dead. It's a great game and has a good mood set. But between running around with plenty of amo, killing off zombie after zombie, only the few special zombies are in any way intimidating.
                      Take instead a game were ammo is a bit rarer, and the zombies are plentier but not as fast. So instead of being rushed by a bunch of zombies and have a little shoot 'em up scenario, you're facing a hoard of zombies moving closer and closer, one step at a time. It gives you a sense of impending doom, and you have far too much time to think about it not to let it get to you. It gives a constant build-up and will only have an increased effect over time.
                      Ofcourse having this alone might make the game kind of slow and predictable. Surprise moments are always a key to horror.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Rhiyo View Post
                        I found that the camera being static could be pretty scary aswell, it means you can't really explore this or that corridor without walking straight in there and the static camera being snapped to another.

                        As a child when I was playing RE1 one corridor would be perfectly safe, then the camera would snap to the next corridor and then nemisis would be there and I'd freaking run straight back :P (Although I did this for normal zombies aswell, I found the one or two zombies in every room that were really quite alot more creepier and scarier then todays zombies in games).

                        Not that you should change the way you want your camera based on what everyone else has to say, alot of camera types can be equally scary, I guess just choose what scares you/your friends/people testing for you.
                        That's sort of for what inspired me. Also for me these days over head camera's are overused these days, just don't have any scare value for me.

                        Also I think the main reason my level design isn't scary yet is probably because I need some sort of atmospheric music in the background.

                        Maybe even get the old closed door trick but I wouldn't know how to go about that in UDK since it might end up looking cheesy.

                        Also if you seen clips like this:

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7qXYEByK6Q

                        Even the music would creep me out because it made unsure if something was around the corner, made me always want to check my ammo count.

                        Also my main aim is to get the old fashioned zombies back aka the slow movers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          As I said, the fixed cam has definitely got its ways to scare people and you just named a very good example

                          What I am trying to say is that for something like horror-themed games you shouldn't constrain yourself to one particular cam type. All types have their specific effects and if you are able to combine those effects, I am sure you will get to something infinitely more frightening than if you are just using one.

                          Take for instance Project Zero. It has some glaring flaws, but when it comes to setting the mood, you cannot get much better than this. The game makes use of 3d person, 1st person and fixed cameras. Generally the fixed cameras are used to put focus on something (though it is rarely used to spook the player, so the player won't start to anticipate these instances), the 3d person as general cam and the 1st person as a "fighting" cam (which limits your mobility on foot in change for being able to attack the enemies). Things can get quite hectic when the ghost (the main enemy of project zero) suddenly decides to get behind you, you cannot see the enemy, while a meter (which shows enemy proximity) goes nuts.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Music is a key to some places, especially if it's creepy. But I find ambience to be better in some situations. Say you are in a room underground with pipes everywhere, I'd have it so there was no music and just a loud water drip sound and maybe a generator going or something.

                            Of course you still need music though, just ambience is good for those area between main areas, for a good build up you should have some areas have just ambience and no zombies (or whatever is going in your game) and then next time you have to/do travel through there you are walking through that area and AHH! a zombie is there now and the scary music starts playing suddenly.

                            For an even better effect I'd make it so you pass through this area a few times so the player is comfortable with it, then add a zombie/boss/whatever after the player has traveled through the area a few times to take them out of their comfort zone, preferable at a camera snap to make it more shocking.

                            Wow, I don't usually give this much feedback and advice :S I hope what I'm saying is helping and isn't stuff you already know.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              It's sort of helping. At the moment I am using multiply camera's, planning to add a lot more.

                              Also I thought about using switching between 3rd person, 1st person but I think that might ruin the emotional feeling within the game, might ruin the atmosphere.

                              As for music will I'm testing out different sounds I can use to make a 'scary' type theme, my version is in it's basic form at moment but using stuff like clocktower sounds, stuff like simple piano notes, mix them with some strange sounds.

                              The reason I didn't go for a straight overheard is because I didn't want to go for something like "Red Dead Redemption:Undead Nightmares".

                              Here's a clip:

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZAA3oExo14

                              Seemed like a good design but would end up feeling like 'survivor mode'.

                              My aim was to go for something like this:
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS5vC...eature=related

                              Because my aim was to stick to survival horror,maybe even add some puzzles at a later if I choose to.

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