Big Studios Can't Produce Good Horror Games

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Big Studios Can't Produce Good Horror Games

Yahtzee takes on triple-A horror franchises and what they're doing to horror games.

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I feel like nothing said in this article hasn't been said before. I think specifically in Zero Punctuation.

Yeah...Most good horror games are great because of the limitations that get put into them.

...Not to mention that when you have a massive budget for a game, you also usually owe that to someone, so you need to bow to their demands, and make the game appeal widely to recoup the money you put in. All these things work against a horror game.

Also, Yatzee, I don't know if you READ these comments, but if you're looking for an indie survival horror that feels a bit like silent hill, I think Lone Survivor is a good place to start.

http://www.lonesurvivor.co.uk/

It has the psychological bit down pretty good. I'm only about a half hour in, and despite the retro graphics, I'm actually creeped out.

This really makes me ask a question. Does this mean Valve is the only company making AAA games that seems to be capable of making good survival horror games? (Thinking of the employee handbook here.) Because I always thought they should make one (that is not Left 4 Dead, but something more subtle, slow and cruelly nerve-wrecking like basically everything made by Frictional Games). This article also makes me question just how the first four Silent Hill games were made, and how they still remained scary and interesting at the same time. I'll go ahead and believe it was the system's limitation for the first 2 games (maybe even the third too) but the fourth one had the PC on its side too, which was probably not as limiting as a PS2.

Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

Yeah, it's weird how thoroughly big developers fail at making horror games. This might just be because Dead Space's audience wouldn't enjoy an actual horror game - my guess is that they play for the blood and guts, not to be frightened. See also: 90% of horror movies.

I want Yahtzee to talk about Lone Survivor!

I would imagine him being very much into a 2D psychological survival horror!

Some linking for people that read the last 4 words of my last sentence and went "HOOOOOWWW?"
http://lonesurvivor.co.uk/
http://www.destructoid.com/review-lone-survivor-224872.phtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtt0ZezljHk

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Big Studios Can't Produce Good Horror Games

Yahtzee takes on triple-A horror franchises and what they're doing to horror games.

Read Full Article

And sound. Sound, sound, sound, sound, sound, sound, sound.

Why are we so unwilling to use the available technology to exploit the humongous world of sound? Why are all the sound effects so stock sounding, and why are all of the sound environments so homogeneous? Nothing in existence is as effective at creating different sizes and shapes of space as sound. Not even your eyes can see 360-degrees at once, but sound completely envelops you.

And it just always feels like an afterthought to the visuals. Biggest. Frickin'. Mistake.

DVS BSTrD:
Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

This. We can all probably recite the arguments in our sleep by now:
1. It cost money to make a game.
2. The bigger the studio, the more money they are going to put into the game.
3. The more money the game costs, the more money the studio want to make back.
4. Studios will broaden the game until they feel that enough profit can be made from the game to justify the cost.
Therefore, big studios will make broad games that appeal to the common denominator, while indie developers will make game more focused on a specific vision, because they don't need to make as much money to recoup their expenses.

Thunderous Cacophony:

DVS BSTrD:
Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

This. We can all probably recite the arguments in our sleep by now:
1. It cost money to make a game.
2. The bigger the studio, the more money they are going to put into the game.
3. The more money the game costs, the more money the studio want to make back.
4. Studios will broaden the game until they feel that enough profit can be made from the game to justify the cost.
Therefore, big studios will make broad games that appeal to the common denominator, while indie developers will make game more focused on a specific vision, because they don't need to make as much money to recoup their expenses.

Pretty much the truth but if you want a horror game that's from a low developer from japan I recommend corpse party which of course started off as an indie game then got a psp/ios port with full voice overs. For anyone that cares here watch an example from you-tube below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bo7jUMd4yc

This reminds me of an article I read a while back about how developers being force to work AROUND limitations actually led to a stronger product, and that having the limitations lifted actually stifled creativity. Basically, working with limitations DEMANDS creativity, while total freedom does not.

Check it: http://www.socksmakepeoplesexy.net/index.php?a=trigger

The URL may look sketchy, but I assure you it's legit and not-NSFW. It's a personal site and the site's name comes from an inside joke from the webmaster.

The article is about the SNES Chrono Trigger, but if you want to skip to the stuff that I'm talking about, scroll/search down to the subtitle "The A/V Department."

Even way back in 2007 (the 2007 retrospective thing at GDC), Yatzee mourned the mainstream survival horror genre's lack of subtlety and pacing.

EDIT: It was actually the "Awards for 2008" video. It still shows how big developers can't seem to grasp the actual "horror" ideas.

"For example, I have never been in favour of the process introduced in the Silent Hill movie (and repeated in all Silent Hill games since) wherein the real world transitions visibly into the dark, symbolic Otherworld by way of decay spreading out or paint flaking off from a single starting point."

I'm pretty sure in Silent Hill there is one scene where you see it the change from Real World to Otherworld in front of the character, when the sirens sound.

Large gaming studios can do subtle, but in a world where gamers skip cutscenes because they slow down the action and the preferred form of horror title is shock-and-gore over psychological horror, why would you spend time perfecting it? Ignore subtle and go for the gigantic explosion that makes gamers feel good about themselves for blowing the 8 zombies into chunks in HD slomo.

Its true, I have yet to play a modern, triple A game that even kind of scared me. I mean, sure I can be startled by the baddie jumping out of nowhere but am I scared? No. I think its because fear is what you can't see, not some nasty looking monster. If you make it so you rarely see the thing that kills you, you wind up scaring people. They imagine it in the scariest way possible.

What scares one man doesn't necessarily scare another. How do you scare everyone that plays the game? Make them use their imagination. Why do you think Dead Space was on the edge of stupid but Amnesia was actually pretty scary?

To be honest this isnt yahtze style of EP . Well still good to read .
And Yahtze ... work on the jokes . Your review have gotten very serious and this troubles me .
Maybe Star Wars Kinect will help if you know what I mean .
Did you forgot ? ZP- funny joker EP - serious stuff for the fans .

DVS BSTrD:
Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

Thats where they pull different styles and themes.

Dead Space wasn't terrifying but it was creepy enough and has its own style behind it, a futuristic japanese style if you will. Then there are just down right grim moments such as in Dead Space 2:

Accessbility is only used as the hook, the main part after is what makes the rest of it work.

Lone Survivor recently came out. It's an indie title that basically uses absolutely everything that the first Silent Hills did right. Horror fans should definately check it out. BTW, it totally proves that limitations make games better.

I think an applicable quote here is: "art through adversity". When creators of an artistic property have to overcome or get around challenges and limitations, they often rise above themselves to create something greater than what they are normally capable of. When they have everything they need and more, the creations are often banal, mediocre. This is why musicians often do their best work when they're young, scrappy, and fighting for their lives. Once they get old and comfortable, the music suffers.

A more cynical question might be, are big studios able to produce ANYTHING good, at all? It seems their entire development process, design philosophy, and design aesthetics just syphons all the life, spirit, and creativity out of anything they try to do. I almost get a sense of a mass exodus of talent away from the big studios, as of late.

I don't really think limitations shape good horror games... Silent Hill did good with the fog, but its not like all good horror games had to use similar tricks and explanations to justify technical shortcomings.

I do agree that big games can't be good horror games, though. The reason for that is that they are build with focus groups in mind, and many PR people will often say: "needs more guns, more explosions, and monsters with bigger tits..."

Terminate421:

DVS BSTrD:
Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

Thats where they pull different styles and themes.

Dead Space wasn't terrifying but it was creepy enough and has its own style behind it, a futuristic japanese style if you will. Then there are just down right grim moments such as in Dead Space 2:

Accessbility is only used as the hook, the main part after is what makes the rest of it work.

Dead Space 2 was just plain bad - you had all the weapons and armour of average space marine and everywhere you went there were some candles lit (the amount of candles used in this game was just ridiculous). The only semi-scary part was the return to Ishimura and then they blew it with fight in the most obvious place ever (and it was such a safe to defend long hall ffs >_<}.
Eye surgery didn't creep me out (though I was careful not to miss) and that regenerating thing was more frustrating than scary.

geizr:
A more cynical question might be, are big studios able to produce ANYTHING good, at all? It seems their entire development process, design philosophy, and design aesthetics just syphons all the life, spirit, and creativity out of anything they try to do. I almost get a sense of a mass exodus of talent away from the big studios, as of late.

Grasshopper Studios and Platnium Games still have a great track record of producing quality products.

Incomer:

Terminate421:

DVS BSTrD:
Yahtzee they don't lack limitation, they lack appreciation. Mainstream developers feel the need to broaden the appeal to the point where nothing is special about their games anymore.

Thats where they pull different styles and themes.

Dead Space wasn't terrifying but it was creepy enough and has its own style behind it, a futuristic japanese style if you will. Then there are just down right grim moments such as in Dead Space 2:

Accessbility is only used as the hook, the main part after is what makes the rest of it work.

Dead Space 2 was just plain bad - you had all the weapons and armour of average space marine and everywhere you went there were some candles lit (the amount of candles used in this game was just ridiculous). The only semi-scary part was the return to Ishimura and then they blew it with fight in the most obvious place ever (and it was such a safe to defend long hall ffs >_<}.
Eye surgery didn't creep me out (though I was careful not to miss) and that regenerating thing was more frustrating than scary.

Oh come on now. Dead Space 2 was not bad at all. There were differences but the best way is to see it as a metaphor:

Dead Space 1 is to Alien as Dead Space 2 is to Aliens

I have no idea how they'll approach the 3rd one but I hope its great. (I still love the first 2)

I'm not sure Goldeneye was really the best example for a good HD remake, since it wasn't really a remake or port at all; it was essentially a new game. They captured the spirit of the original, but the campaign, levels, etc. were all completely new.

That being said, I think Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection is a perfect example of a game that needed it. Not only did the graphics from all three games benefit significantly from the higher resolution (which is more than can be said for some HD ports), but it seriously improved availability of content that, for one reason or another, might not have been easily available to everyone. Metal Gear 1 and 2, for example, were noticeably missing from The Essential Collection. Also of note, this is the first time MGS3 has run at a buttery smooth 60fps, as Kojima had required for MGS2 and wanted for MGS3, and it makes the game a lot more engrossing. And MGS4 controls applied to Peace Walker?

All around, it's a good collection, and exemplary for how HD remasters should be done. In other words, the exact opposite of what Capcom did with Resident Evil 4.

P.S. Thanks

Vkmies:
I want Yahtzee to talk about Lone Survivor!

I would imagine him being very much into a 2D psychological survival horror!

Some linking for people that read the last 4 words of my last sentence and went "HOOOOOWWW?"
http://lonesurvivor.co.uk/
http://www.destructoid.com/review-lone-survivor-224872.phtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtt0ZezljHk

He does not read comments. You pretty much need to buy it to him in order for him to even care.

you liked Silent Hill 2 already, yeah we get it. jeeeeezus.

I'm pretty sure this is the worst simile you could have used:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Taking the fog out of Silent Hill is like taking the shark out of Jaws.

Except they already did, mostly, and that's what made it so good. It was putting the shark back into the series in the sequels that utterly wrecked the creepy, uncertain atmosphere. The same exact atmosphere that made Silent Hill so good.

totally heterosexual:

Vkmies:
I want Yahtzee to talk about Lone Survivor!

I would imagine him being very much into a 2D psychological survival horror!

Some linking for people that read the last 4 words of my last sentence and went "HOOOOOWWW?"
http://lonesurvivor.co.uk/
http://www.destructoid.com/review-lone-survivor-224872.phtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtt0ZezljHk

He does not read comments. You pretty much need to buy it to him in order for him to even care.

1. He does casually read comments to see general feedback for his arguments. He makes mention of it every now and then.

2. I know the chance of him not reading that is prety high, thus I spoke in third person. Saw how I used "he" and not "you"

3. The whole comment was mostly for EVERYONE, not just Yahtzee. Lone Survivor is a pretty small title with no advertising behind it. So I wanted to bring it up. Stir up some conversation in a thread about horror, especially the difference between indie and commercial horror. About a blog that's about the differences between indie and commercial horror.

Makes sense, no? Whole point of a forum, no? That's what I was driving for.

I bought the Silent Hill Hd collection (haven't played it yet though).
Why? Because it's cheaper than buying both the games and a new PS2. I admit I wouldn't bother if the PS3 had backwards compatibility though, as long as the games are easy to pick up.

It's things like this that make me glad I'm not really a survival horror fan. The first time encountering Endermen, or the first night of an unprepared Minecraft player, is scarier than some of the recent survival horror games. The idea of being alone and abandoned, on your own without many resources, only to have that isolation interrupted by something cast from molten nightmare is what gives the most terror, but the concept is hard to do without overdoing it. Shame, really. Kinda makes me wish I was into it more, so that I can be ashamed with you guys.

Terminate421:

Incomer:

Terminate421:

Thats where they pull different styles and themes.

Dead Space wasn't terrifying but it was creepy enough and has its own style behind it, a futuristic japanese style if you will. Then there are just down right grim moments such as in Dead Space 2:

Accessbility is only used as the hook, the main part after is what makes the rest of it work.

Dead Space 2 was just plain bad - you had all the weapons and armour of average space marine and everywhere you went there were some candles lit (the amount of candles used in this game was just ridiculous). The only semi-scary part was the return to Ishimura and then they blew it with fight in the most obvious place ever (and it was such a safe to defend long hall ffs >_<}.
Eye surgery didn't creep me out (though I was careful not to miss) and that regenerating thing was more frustrating than scary.

Oh come on now. Dead Space 2 was not bad at all. There were differences but the best way is to see it as a metaphor:

Dead Space 1 is to Alien as Dead Space 2 is to Aliens

I have no idea how they'll approach the 3rd one but I hope its great. (I still love the first 2)

Dead Space 2 may not be a bad game to you, but to me and a lot of others it unfortunately just isn't that great of a game for what it's supposed to be. It has jump scares, but to someone like me it's not scary in the long term (it gives me no nightmares or horrors to contemplate later) and I usually can't even remember that the game exists until someone else brings it up again. The problem with making horror games that are supposed to be marketed to everyone is that they usually don't appeal to people like me. It relies on gore a little too much which to others is just boring if you don't do it right. Most gore in media can't scare me because it's not realistic. Another problem with Dead Space as a series is that it just lets you still feel empowered enough against your enemies which gives a sense of security, that's not exactly good to have in horror.

If you like the game the way it is that's fine, but you can't claim that the rest of us have to see it as good when it can't scare us like it promises to.

And I'm not sure how either Dead Space is supposed to be like those movies as both of those had a lot more tension than the games did (and I think would have done better with).

"Press x to not die!"
Oh my god, indie developers start working, or we are all doomed, doooomed i say!

I think big studios/development teams and horro games tend to do poorly together because too many cooks ruin the soup (the chunky, reddish tinged soup). Scare by committee basically never works unless there's an awfully influential leader with a vision and team members who know their roles. Hitchcock, Carpenter, Fulci, Romero, etc. were all directors with teams, but their vision and direction was the final word. Too many films and games are ruined when everybody gets a say in how something should be done.

You know what annoys me more than that, when someone types 'an HD...' you don't pronounce it like that do you? Why type it like that!

Anyway, this is stuff we all know, triple games = explosions.

Vkmies:
I want Yahtzee to talk about Lone Survivor!

I would imagine him being very much into a 2D psychological survival horror!

Some linking for people that read the last 4 words of my last sentence and went "HOOOOOWWW?"
http://lonesurvivor.co.uk/
http://www.destructoid.com/review-lone-survivor-224872.phtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtt0ZezljHk

That game didn't really creep me out that much. I can tell it's trying to, but it just really doesn't pull off the subtle atmospheric horror the same way silent hill or amnesia does. Sure I'll nearly cack myself if i walk into a room and there's a monster right at the door, but I mean even dead space could pull that off. And the whole psychological thing seems to fall flat when it gets established from the word go that your guy is probably insane.

I'm not saying it's a bad game, it really is quite entertaining and the main character has just enough human moments (like when you find the ham) to make me invested in his survival, I just don't think it's scary.

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