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  1. #1
    Junior amporasexual's Avatar
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    What exactly makes a horror game?

    So, I'm taking Game Design this year, and I wanna know, what makes a good horror game? I plan to make one, tbh.

  2. #2
    Senior Antumbra's Avatar
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    Guess it would depend on what type of horror game you are going for. Jump scares are always a great way to frighten people, but they tend to wear off. I always liked it when the game makes you feel rushed somehow, like something will get you if you lollygag, even if nothing will.

  3. #3
    Senior Viciviser's Avatar
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    Ambiance and overall aesthetic are major factors in horror games. You have to have a setting that induces uneasiness or at the very least a type of unknown element that makes the player a little anxious or on edge. You can go gritty survival, surreal and nightmarish, spooky and decaying, slaughter house, psychological thriller, and so on or some combination of those. Lighting is obviously important. People are afraid when things are hard to see and they don't know if it is far away or right up on them. Music and sound ambiance elements are also important but it really depends on how much of a soundtrack you'd want.

    Once that sort of general setting is down then you go for the details on what is opposing the player. Is it their own torture or demise? Sick and scary people after them? Mutant, demented, or nightmare creatures finding them if they don't keep moving? Maybe there is something tormenting their sanity and they need to find a cure or find the source of the evil within?

    Finally you can solidify some elements that make the game have its own specific style and if there are playable characters beyond first person POV or a silent protagonist you gotta get the nuances of your characters down.

  4. #4
    Regular sayum's Avatar
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    Oh this is my topic. MY TIME HAS COME!
    Here is my opinion on what makes a great horror game.

    Subtly: Its the art of the small things. Things you could easily miss but when you do catch it...chills. An object in a room changing positions when you are not in the room? Surprisingly horrifying despite its simplicity. This category can also be expressed through subtle music cues. There are endless ways to use subtly but basically it beats out in-your-face horror most of the time. Though you do need those heavy moments as well.

    Combat? What combat?: Good horror games give you little to no ability to fight back. Amnesia's combat mechanic? Hide. Five Nights at Freddie's? Close doors and pray. Haunting Grounds? Send the dog at it and run and hide. Silent Hill? The terrible mechanics is what made the early ones effectively scary. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. Condemned did a nice job of terrifying you while you had a gun in your hands but for the most part I have found that a limited combat system aids in the scare factor.

    Story & Pacing: I love story in horror. There are so many ways to do it. The pattern I have noticed is that starting with limited information is a good way to get a player to settle in. Gaining information as you go, bit by bit, until you finally reach that one piece of information that brings it all together and makes you go "Ohhhhh! Now I get it...oh. Oh shit." And then chills.

    Less is More: The less of a thing I see, the more I am afraid of it. Build up to more and more sightings of whatever the 'spooky scary' is.

    That is all I have for now, as far as what makes a horror game to me. I could talk about it for ages though, so if you need a horror buddy to talk to I am SO open to discussing it. The best way to get more ideas is to play more horror games. Write down which ones scared/unsettled you and why. What parts did not work, etc. I plan on making horror games eventually too. Right now, though, I am focused on some visual novel stuff.

  5. #5
    Junior Ahkrin Descol's Avatar
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    Lots and lots of jump scares :v

    Seriously though I find jittery movements and not being able to see the whole of the entity you're supposed to be scared of quite disturbing.
    Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

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  6. #6
    It depends on your view, but personally I think not all horror games need be survival horror. It really depends on how heavily and well said game uses horror tropes. It helps if the level design, creature design if there are any, character design, voice acting and anything else cinematic take as many cues from classic horror cinema as it can while still making them fit that game's unique world. Same with the writing. The writing might arguably be more important. Games like Silent Hill and Eternal Darkness that borrow from everyone from Lovecraft to Stephen King in their concepts and stories tend to get a lot of horror cred from critics, whereas Resident Evil borrows more from scary action movies than traditional horror at times - think Aliens, Terminator type creatures and conspiracies crammed into a setting that's part Hitchcock, part X-Files and part Romero. I mean if you think about it, the term "survival horror" had to be coined in the first place because just "horror game" didn't fit when that had already been done plenty of times and this new genre was, well, new.

  7. #7
    To me it's more about the ambience and atmosphere, and the feeling of being on your own in the environment. Not understanding what's going on adds to the tension.

    Jump scares aren't bad on their own, but when abused they're just cheap and annoying. I believe if the event requires a jump scare to be frightening then it's not really scary at all.

 

 

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