The Common Mistakes of Horror Games

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT
 

That is one thing I loved about Penumbra. The tense music and sounds were constantly keeping you on edge even though half the rooms were empty.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
We don't always want to be silent protagonists jumping around on the furniture while an NPC explains what needs bullets being put in next.

Huh, so it seems you do that too eh? What about throwing objects at NPC's while they are talking to you? That's always a laugh.

Anyway, good article. I find myself agreeing with you much, much more in Extra Punctuation than I do with ZP. Although I guess it is obvious why.

Great article, Yah-man (hey, Yahtopia sounds silly too, ok?)! I agree with your points entirely, though I don't think they'll happen very soon: not everyone has Valve's designing talent :P

Also, I remember having played a game once where you could toggle the frequency of slow-motion when killing dudes. I think it was in the Jedi Knight series (only played Outcast and Academy) that you could do this, though not entirely sure. Also, Max Payne did it well, only involuntarily going in slow motion when you killed the last of the bad guys in the important parts (like, not everytime you killed the last guy in a section).

Which games do you consider to have handled cut-scenes well? My favorite I can remember was Parasite Eve 2.

I want a ticket to Yahtapia

Not G. Ivingname:
Yes, our almighty Yahurer! Tell us the ways, and give us your wisdom! We are not worthy!

All hail Yahtapia!

Someone posting a custom-made "inspirational" poster on this thread in 10... 9...

All hail YAHTILAPIA.

.... You read a scroll of YAHTILAPIA. You are blind.

I agree with the whole taking "control of the camera" bit. I hate it when games don't allow me to discover the area myself.

The music triggering baddies?...It depends. In Resi4 whenever you ran into a Regenerator, it would trigger this fucking creepy tune that really added to the fear. And when you finally killed the bastard the tune would stop and you'd have this tremendous sigh of relief. Without it the Regenerators wouldn't be as chilling as they were. Music that shifts with the gameplay can work very well if it's handled by talented people.

If I may be so bold as to expand on something you said, Yahtzee...

"Cutscenes should never contain action. Or at least, they should never contain action being performed by the playable character which we could have done ourselves within gameplay."

I would amend the above ruling to emphasize that a cut-scene should never be used as a follow-up to the end of a boss fight, wherein the bad guy you just curb-stomped is not actually killed by all the hard work and slaughter you brought down upon him, instead to be offed in a video sequence. Or, worse yet, when you have the villain brought to his knees, and are in unquestionable control of his fate, a post-battle video sequence lets him escape what was certain death.

This is one of the most aggravating and mood-killing things to see in gaming, and it's in a good 9 out of 10 damn titles. Saints Row 2, a game I've been immersed in for the last month or so, is a particularly bad case of this problem. Take for instance the battle with Maero on the rooftop of the Brotherhood hideout. You've pumped him full of countless bullets from afar using whatever weapon you prefer, only to sneak around behind him and try to cap him with a pistol. Instead of that one extra burst from the Gal.43 which would have ended the Brotherhood then and there, you end up in a tussle with a man twice your size (who oddly enough isn't full of bullet holes), fall through the roof, and he escapes. THE FUCK!

Or take the end fight with Dane Vogel. You shoot him mercilessly, yet again, when his health is at zero, he doesn't die, it cuts to a very not-bleeding video of him begging, and you blow him away with your pistol. Is this the fabled Golden Gun from the Bond films, and if so, why bother with all the fighting beforehand, why not just glock the fucker and be done with it?

These "scripted death scenes" invalidate all the gaming you've done, you might as well watch only the cutscenes from Saints Row and skip the gameplay entirely. After all, if everyone is going to die from a pistol I wasn't even carrying, what's the point?

And speaking of cutscenes, the amount of cutscenes should NEVER exceed the amount of gameplay, I'm looking at you Star Ocean: The Last Hope.

This was a great and true article. You managed to give the old Valve a wank, you sly dog you.

I actually an really enjoying the story and enviroments of the game. I am currently on episode four of Alan Wake so I am glad to be able to read this and view the review without spoilers.

I think some of the idea are nice, but I do not know if that linear thinking will change in the near future. I sure hope I am wrong though.

Not G. Ivingname:
Yes, our almighty Yahurer! Tell us the ways, and give us your wisdom! We are not worthy!

All hail Yahtapia!

It's Yahtopia.

You will be sent to the gulags now.

So, this has been bugging me a while. I know Yahtzee only said QTE's once, in the last article, but I can't let this one get away again.

Cinematic events that require QTE's... isn't that the boss fights for MOST of God of War? Also an example I really enjoyed was Resident Evil 4; the boulder chase, the knife fight, the lake monster, etc. I couldn't of been the only one that enjoyed those? Anyways, I guess my main point is I wouldn't mind action in cut scenes IF they let us have some part in. QTE's are the easy out, but it's always fun to control character movement that you wouldn't be able to do in the normal game play.

~Rahl

Or at least, they should never contain action being performed by the playable character which we could have done ourselves within gameplay.

Totally agree with that. Especially in Red Dead Redemption, (which I'm now stuck at because I'm forced into a shoot out, and I cannot do it).

I agree. I loved Alan Wake. It's the best game I've played in years. But these comments could make it even better.

As funny as your videos are, I actually like this Extra Punctuation better. This is where you actually sit down and write meaningful stuff.

A recent example of good horror in my opinion is Metro 2033 due to it's bleak setting, dark atmosphere and enemies that may or may not appear or even be alive... the high difficulty helps this mood to.

MasterRahl:
So, this has been bugging me a while. I know Yahtzee only said QTE's once, in the last article, but I can't let this one get away again.

Cinematic events that require QTE's... isn't that the boss fights for MOST of God of War? Also an example I really enjoyed was Resident Evil 4; the boulder chase, the knife fight, the lake monster, etc. I couldn't of been the only one that enjoyed those? Anyways, I guess my main point is I wouldn't mind action in cut scenes IF they let us have some part in. QTE's are the easy out, but it's always fun to control character movement that you wouldn't be able to do in the normal game play.

~Rahl

Have you played Shadow of the Colossus? That game pulled off most of what God of War does with it's QTE-boss battles, without a single QTE. Not identical, but it's a start. An example of how it could be done.

I'm a bit undecided about action in cut-scenes. On the one hand, I wan't to do it myself, on the other, as long as player-input is limited to a relatively short range of commands, the awesomeness of the action is limited.
Sometimes I want to see the character come alive and not be bound by the number of commands I have to choose from. However, whenever you feel that the game takes away an experience you feel you wanted to do, not the pre-rendered character, it's to much. It's a fine line

I submit another flaw in horror games: letting you fight and defeat enemies. Most survival "horror" does this, which is why I hold the genre in contempt.

Enemies that you can't fight are better. Enemies that you have to hide from or run away from. Example: the Puppets in the Shalebridge Cradle. You have to hide from them because otherwise you will die. You cannot kill them. All you can do is hide, and that's actually scary. If you could kill them like normal undead, it wouldn't be frightening.

Wait, so how exactly does the scary music/compilation of disturbing sounds from Silent Hill 2 fit into all of this? Because it plays only when you're being assaulted by monsters, thus highlighting all the dangerous parts in the game. Not like that kills the gaming experience or anything - the slow-ass enemies themselves already do a good job at that by being virtually harmless.

Totaly agree with everything in that.

One thing that anoys me in "horror" games are "jump out scares", they just arnt scary. All they do is make you hop in your seat.

I can relate with this entire article with two games:

- Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Gears of War 2

Oblivion had a beautiful soundtrack and sometimes I gained something that was quite rare in Oblivion. Immersion.. Walking down a forest with a soothining tune was excellent but god, any challenge or excitement was thrown OUT of the window when I heard a heart-pumping song, knowing an enemy found and is trying to get to me.

At this moment, you draw your sword and look around like a maniac to see where the enemy actually is. Because you are prepared, it takes away that 'WTF" moment when you find yourself mauled by some zombified creature.

There were many mods that fixed this issue where you really jumped a little and felt a jolt in your heart when a creature attacked you because there was no cue or warning against it.

Gears of War 2 and it's cutscenes.

As CliffB admitted, the game was masturbating too hard to show off, something I disliked alot. Sure there were plenty of epic moments where you could take the reigns but it still happened a bit too often. I am waiting for GoW3, see if the issue is remedied, the story is told via cut-scenes and the actions reserved for us only.

Here is for wishful thinking.

Great article, which brought up some very strong points. I don't agree with how you judge games, Yahtzee, but at least you offer some solid criticism outside your videos (which are entertaining nonetheless).

Binerexis:

Brainst0rm:
With regards to slow-motion headshots - it's silly, but a lot of people like it. There's a whole honkin' demographic of people that play games just to shoot stuff, and they get a thrill when said shooting gets highlighted. It's like a sticker on an A+ quiz. The sticker isn't good for anything, and might even be said to be a waste of perfectly good paper and adhesive. But we like it anyway.

But is such an attitude really appropriate in a horror or survival game?

I was thinking the same thing. I haven't played Alan Wake yet (I don't have a 360) but one thing that comes to mind with Alan Wake and this comment is that this game's original creator was Sam Lake of the Max Payne Game and its sequel, where some gun shots do that whole bullet time trick to show you a round about to perform lobotomy on some thug.

It sounds to me as though when Creating Alan Wake, he [Sam Lake] tried to bring in a little bit of Max Payne in some ideas, and this is one of those ideas.

No, it is not very appropriate. In an action based game (or in the rare case of Fallout 3) it can be kind of fun, but in a horror game setting (If you disclude Resident Evil 4 as Horror game), it kind of feels like cheating. Sounds to me that if this game was supposed to feel like horror, exploding head shots would be kind of boring, as if it feels its supposed to reward you for killing something as opposed to just fight to stay alive.

True horror is atmosphere, story, randomness of scary events and despair. And product placement. :P

The end part of that rant made me laugh lol

but I do agree about camera thing, if you tell mecwhete the enemy is then I am nowhere near as scared when it attacks me...I know where it's coming from and how long it will take to reach me!

Honestly I think no music would work in a horror game. Absolutely none. Ever. If its just you trotting through a creepy building with no music then you become very aware of your surrounding and every creaking door, drafty window, and sound in nature becomes terrifying.

Also I think we've come to expect music so having none might be rather unsettling.

Also one of the creepiest music moments for me was in world 3-1 of Demon's Souls. At one point about 1/3 through the level you start to hear a woman singing. There hadn't really been any music in the level up to that point and this level already scared the piss out of me but when I heard this chick start singing I was flipping out. Best of all NOTHING happened. There were essentially no threats in the area where you could hear the music. Still scared me shitless though.

I disagree with the point about music. Valve showed us with L4D that signaling an event before it happens can often make that event much more scary. You can't keep a player tense and on edge the ENTIRE game. It would be exhausting. I know L4D isn't horror in the same way that Alan Wake is but I think the hearing the tank music and knowing shit is about to hit the fan is much more scary and much less frustrating than if the first you knew about it was when you got hit by a flying car.

I agree that Alan wake went too far the wrong way. The enemies weren't much of a threat since they ONLY showed up when the music was scary and after the slow motion had showed you where they were. I think a better approach would be to have the scary music creep in before the enemies turn up, and then fade out when all the immediate threat enemies have been dispatched. That way the player has to notice the new music, has a few moments frantically looking around for where the enemies are coming from, and then can't relax as soon as the music stops since there might still be one or two enemies that they missed and could still jump them.

Another solid article, once again justifying my view that you are more than an unreasonable ass when it comes to games. However, if you don't like it when a horror game lampshades the monsters by making the music more tense, why no mention of Silent Hills's radio? It was there solely for pointing out when you were about to be attacked. I happen to have liked it, and I don't mind the music track if it's done properly (that violin in Dead Space being a notable example of not doing it right). I think the dread caused by hearing that music helps add to the horror element, by ramping up the "Oh man, what's behind that _____" to "Oh @#$^% something's about to kill me and I'm low on ammo." An interesting variation I saw... somewhere, was where the music faded out when you were about to be attacked by something nasty. I certainly found it effective, as to this day, even in games like Professor Layton, the music fading out like it does here makes me tense up like I'm about to get jumped.

sooperman:
You know, I think there is a pretty easy fix to make quick-time event suck less; use the actual command. Using Yahtzee's example of the cops shooting at you, a perfectly good quick-time event would have been you pressing L1 + Left, to dodge the bullets. Or in Resident Evil 5, when the zombies are on motorcycles in that arena. Instead of pressing square to shoot the chain, it could have you press the in-game fire button.

Cinematic games are generally always going to have these kinds of problems, but I don't see why QTEs use such flow-breaking button.

I personally don't like QTEs but there was one game that i think did it rather well, and it's about the most "cinematic" game i've ever played. Mass Effect 2. the QTEs were simplay press right mouse button or left mouse button depending on weather it was a good or evil thing. it gave the player that sense of "even though this is a cut scene i caused that guy to get shot." or "I stopped that kid from running off to his death." but it wasn't this stupid press x then a then tap b three thousand times. and if you didn't press it in the time allowed the game still proceeded with a different outcome. I hate games like RE4 where if you didn't tap A to sprint then switch your hand and hit L+R at the same time, that's just annoying and dying forty times trying to outrun a boulder breaks what in game tension there was like a sledgehammer to a glass bust of George Bush.

The best horror games I have played always seem to have less than ideal design decisions. Alan Wake was atmospheric but as Yahtzee says is mired by it undermining itself whenever possible.

Forbidden Siren was horribly tense, but also very unforgiving.
Haunting Ground was pretty unique in the way it played and was presented.
If anyone remembers Call Of Cthulhu : Dark Corners of the Earth, that was full of great ideas but also some bad design. The early rooftop chase was crazy but bits you had to learn by screwing up. Tense though.

Maximinn:
I disagree with the point about music. Valve showed us with L4D that signaling an event before it happens can often make that event much more scary. You can't keep a player tense and on edge the ENTIRE game. It would be exhausting. I know L4D isn't horror in the same way that Alan Wake is but I think the hearing the tank music and knowing shit is about to hit the fan is much more scary and much less frustrating than if the first you knew about it was when you got hit by a flying car.

Hmmm... You do have a point Maximinn, L4D managed to use music to such great effect even though it pre-announced the horde, tank, and witch. But I'd almost consider it the exception that proves the rule. L4D does use creepy music the whole game through, and the crescendo events like a mob rush elevate an already tense situation with feelings of panic. To most other games, there isn't that undertone of danger - monsters are finite in number and not ever-present, and once an area is cleared out, it's "safe". L4D never lets you feel safe, if you sit still, a tank will show or the hoard will come. The blaring, disjointed loud music of such an event is more of a panic-inducer than a warning of monsters inbound.

Yahtopia!

edit: the ironic part is i forgot i had a ZP avatar. so now i just look like a massive fanboy, of the guy who hates fanboys.

Legion:
-snip-

Anyway, good article. I find myself agreeing with you much, much more in Extra Punctuation than I do with ZP. Although I guess it is obvious why.

Because you can understand him better?

Kojiro ftt:

Have you played Shadow of the Colossus? That game pulled off most of what God of War does with it's QTE-boss battles, without a single QTE. Not identical, but it's a start. An example of how it could be done.

Yes, it was an amazing game; loved it (besides the world being way way WAY too big). That wasn't really an action game, more so, it was a puzzle game. And a lot of the action were basically 'invisible' QTE's. Example as, jump away (over and x or something like that) when he's about to squash you. Being finicky I know, but an overall point I was trying to make was the QTE's in cinemas allow your character to be bad-ass and you get to control it!

Also you have a bad argument against me because you didn't prove me wrong. You illustrated that it could be almost similar w/o the QTE's. Yes similar, but you don't get to ninja kick one of the bosses in the face (like you do with the God of War battles) in SotC because that action isn't allowed. You get jump, stab, or shoot. And since you only used the bow when you HAD to, jump or stab. It was good, don't get me wrong, in fact I wish they did another game and improved on their idea on it. But it's no knife fight for your life.

I will give you one point that the QTE's could relate more to your usual actions. Example, the normal 'jump' button doesn't mean 'fend attack from above', instead it would be 'hold up and A' to do that.

~Rahl

I can remember a predecessor to the music shift way back in Usagi Yojimbo for the C64, though if I recall correctly the music changed not when an enemy appeared but when you pulled out your sword. Granted, you quickly learned only to do this in the presence of enemies since cutting up peasants is rather frowned upon (bad for your karma - no really), but it was still player controlled.

Good article, but one thing caugth my eye (guess I'm just dumb, duh):
Yahtzee said at the end that action shouldn't take place in cutscenes.
This was the case (not always, but almost) in GTA IV, which he didn't like.
However, in Saint's Row 2 (which he apparently liked), a fuckload of action happens in cutscenes. Ok, I guess they're meant to establish just how badass the protagonist is, but it's still action in the cutscene.
I've no fucking idea where I'm going with this, but I just had to say it.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here