Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gaming Thread: Nightmare Fuel

Well, I'm still working on a game over at GDL, posting like crazy and burying King of Ferret's posts. So, I'm giving him a bit of a break while he's got a post on top by making a general call here. My apologies to Reverend Rob, who sent in an email earlier that included a request to stop linking to TV Tropes, since he'd like his life back. Sorry about what I'm about to do.

For those who aren't interested in signing up and catching up on my posting spree over there, I've got a platformer-RPG concept I've been developing. The characters are cartoonish animals, but the plot is intended to be a bit serious. I'd like to include a bit of Nightmare Fuel to show that this game will not be meant for kids. Suggestions would be appreciated, especially for a Japanese-style haunted house I'll be including for an early level.

So, I think I'll borrow from the creepy past for inspiration:

Earthbound: Giygas still gives me the jibblies. The squishy devil's machine, the Ness face, each bit of music, especially the creepy track that plays when Pokey reveals Giygas isn't just some monster in an evil machine, but has gone up to Cosmic Horror. I think one thing that just sticks with me is "You cannot grasp the true form of Giygas's attack!" Although they replicate some fairly mundane game attacks, it's the idea that there's something coming at you, it's going to hurt, and you don't know how or why. How do you defend against something like that? It certainly doesn't help that I found out where the scene's inspiration came from.

Zelda: ReDead. Wall & Floor Masters. The Zelda II death & Game Over screens when I was little. Plenty more to mention.

Final Fantasy: Not quite the same, but I don't think I've quite recovered from my first encounter with a Tonberry.

Super Paper Mario: The white death aftermath of the Samur-Guy world. To me it somehow suggested an erasure more thorough than simple death. Oh, and Mimi's transformation. I got my brother to agree when I replayed and showed it to him.

Metroid: When I first started playing the game, I thought the atmosphere was hostile. Obviously Samus taking her helmet off in Norfair would cook her alive, but I think at the time I played the first game, my science classes were getting into the bad atmospheres of other planets, so I thought the entire planet of Zebes was dangerous for her without the suit. The thought extended into other games until I saw her take off her helmet on Talon IV in Prime. Until that implied every planet was 'M-class', I always felt a tightness in my lungs, thinking Samus's energy level was the only thing separating her from toxic atmospheres. Crocomire. That region of Tourain were everything was sucked dry by the now-huge Metroid hatchling. The hatchling itself. Mother Brain's unstoppable power beam.

Metroid Prime: The Game Over screen showing her life support failing. The only other Game Over I watched from Prime was the corruption alternate on planet Phaaze. Metroids were creepy enough before, but reading Pirate logs about how they apparently drain life force without so much as sucking out a single drop of body fluids contributed.

Mario 64: Reading the TV Tropes entry, and someone just had to list that evil toothy piano. Jibbly-jibbly-jibbly...

Portal. Just... Portal.

Just about any game that involves deep water and finite oxygen.

Okay, I'm going to take a few moments to get my skin to stand still on me.

23 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

I wouldn't say Talon IV made me think all other worlds were "M-class".

I knew that it was hospitable to the Chozo already, and that the Chozo had actually been making the planet as such for some time. I also knew that Samus was raised by them, so I figured that it made perfect sense for THAT world to have breathable air.

I'm with you on Super Metroid. That place had acid rain on the surface, choking spores in one section, lava and superheated air in another, and crushing water pressure in another area. The sense of the suit being her only ticket to life support was pretty thick in that game. I got the impression that even Torian wasn't hospitable as the pirates looked alien enough to require totally different resperation.

The one thing I hated about "Zero Mission" was losing the suit. The gameplay was interesting, but it killed the idea of "totally inhospitable environment" in a way. Well, the planet itself likely wasn't good but it didn't make much sense to be wandering around an alien ship with air you could breathe. I had assumed it was as unbreathable as anything else on that world up until that point.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah, the unarmored Samus scene was jarring like that. I do like the idea of Samus having to stealth her way without the suit to make her into a one woman army, but yeah it feels off that she breathes the same air as those abominations.

Dark Jaguar said...

I mean they could have stuck her in a "surival suit" for that part of it, but there were likely... other reasons... for removing the suit.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah. Things are a little different since the original Metroid fans have grown up.

Anyway, I can't sleep in this morning since 1. I posted this entry. 2. My brother comes in to talk about all the music he's found for mixing. 3. I watch and send him a YouTube clip of the battle with Giygas and the creepy non-music I was thinking of asking for him to build on for a scene I have in mind in my untitled platformer. 4. I wake up early and the non-music comes back.

King of Ferrets said...

Creepy, for some reason, means no music. I suggest, when going for creepy, you make no music, and hopefully crunching and slurping noises.

Bronze Dog said...

Oh, yeah. Silence is very off-putting. You walk past a pair of giant doors and find the BGM's turned completely off, you know something's going to happen.

Alfred Hitchcock hated having background music. He believed it gave the audience a release, and he didn't want that.

King of Ferrets said...

Womb levels plus no BGM has the potential for omni-creepiness. Just make all kinds of weird noises, especially digestive ones; the bones of a creature snapping in half during digest probably sounds a whole lot like something crunching through the bones of its prey.

King of Ferrets said...

Y'know, maybe you should make GDL not require invitations to see. The gaming threads over here tend to be a bit bigger than at GDL; possibly because people are too lazy to get invitations.

Bronze Dog said...

Mostly, I want to keep the stuff between blogging friends. Also rather not have ideas stolen in case I come up with something really good.

King of Ferrets said...

Ah, good point.

King of Ferrets said...

Just wondering: Why aren't you borrowing from the Survival Horror genre? Seriously, you should. Eternal Darkness was creepy, and when Resident Evil first came out and I played it, I couldn't sleep for two days. (Then I got to sleep in till 1 the next day, even though I was supposed to be in school. XD)

Bronze Dog said...

Honestly, I haven't really played any. I'm not the sort who likes horror with gorn, though I certainly know how scary things can be when there's always a chance something could jump out and get you.

I'm more Twilight Zone, with horrors that play with your mind. I should probably try some Lovecraft sometime.

Dark Jaguar said...

Eternal Darkness is basically an ode from Silicon Knights to Lovecraft (in spite of his racism, which sadly did make it's way into some of his stories).

That said, the scares in Eternal Darkness, the sanity type, are far too overdone and once you recognize the "gimick" you see right through every attempt to break your mind the game has. A sequel should go for far more subtle scares.

Considering the cartoony nature of things, have you considered the creep factor of the Judge from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? That guy was like the definition of the jibblies when I was a kid.

Bronze Dog said...

You just had to bring that guy up, didn't you?

King of Ferrets said...

What was that about giving me a break? I noticed my most recent one was quickly buried under a mound of TV Tropes.

Bronze Dog said...

Sorry about that. Compulsion this month just keeps on going. I'll see about adding in folds like I did here, so yours will be more visible.

Lifewish said...

I'm a firm believer that it's the plot not the gribblies that really scares people.

For example, Nethack freaks me out. You're carefully crafting this uber-powerful character, equipping him with every protective item going, keeping him out of danger, and working sloooowly up the levels. And then you read the wrong scroll, and your character gets embarrassingly KOed by the sudden appearance of 50 slime moulds.

You want fear? Make people feel that they're gonna lose something if they die. And, in true pigeon-feeding form, make sure that it's possible to die quickly and unexpectedly without necessarily doing anything wrong.

In short, have lots of dark corners and grues. You can't go wrong with grues.

(The pigeon thing conceals a serious point, though. Us skeptics do a lot of discussion of how people's brains work under different sorts of psychological pressure. That's gotta be applicable to game design.)

Dark Jaguar said...

Now there's an idea. You could have some background art that appears near death traps almost all the time, so that people start fearing it, and then start just tossing it in randomly, death trap or no.

stogoe said...

Normally I'm not a fan of sudden and unexpected "And you die" tricks in video games. They feel like the developers are cheating, or like they're punishing you for buying their game.

I much prefer games where I can do stupid things and probably get myself out of dying if I realize I'm being stupid quick enough.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah. Creeping out the player is all good, but these are still games. You still need to make sure it's a challenge of skill, not luck.

Aneesh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom Foss said...

Water fuel? God bless? Boy, is that some misdirected spam.

Bronze Dog said...

Baleeted!

Wonder why it chose here, specifically.