Jimquisition: Scare Tactics

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Jimothy Sterling:

Toasty Virus:
Wow, that was pretty good!

What effects processing did you put your voice through exactly?

Thanks! I love doing the Halloween ones and tried to make it special this year.

Effects were pretty layman-level. Just whacked the audio through Wavepad's Chorus and Flanger/Phaser effects until I was happy with what I had.

It was creepy and slightly annoying. But mostly creepy, maybe I'm just being bitchy cause it's early over here. Oh if your looking for a horror movie jim give a peak at sinister.

Well made, and honestly freaked me out alittle.

do you like ghost hunter?

Eternal Darkness is one of my all-time favourite games, and it used a jump-scare very sparingly (depending on your definition, there might have been just one), but to great effect; just as you're at ease, certain that there are no threats in the main mansion JUMPSCARE! that will put you back on your toes.

Eternal Darkness is genius, I wish the other games that cvlaimed to have insanity-meters did half as well as ED. It changed so much of the experience and was tremendously well done. Added to the overall suspense and anxiety of the game, while making replays more interesting.

@jim. Dood, Ghost Train. Ooohwaaaaaa! Loved that show. Jimquisition lately has turned into one part Critique, one part bizarre nostalgia trip. Enjoying it, greatly.

Stop praising Dead Space for being scary, because it isn't.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is scary, because it's not just one stupidly telegraphed jump scare after the other, it's actual atmosphere and LACK of jump scares (read: minimal reliance) that get you. Not always going "BOO!" but most often just "Boo." too. Then the occasional "BOO!" just as you think you're safe.

I wasn't afraid... until Too Human II.

Resident Evil 2 / Police interrogation room + No Music. Licker jumps threw with a very loud crash. Worst jump scare ever.

The best haunted house in videogames is explicitly so; the haunted hotel level in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. You're sent to investigate an old hotel where the building crew doing rennovations is refusing to work because it's haunted. There is no pretence about what is to come. As soon as you get in the front door spooky things happen.

It's full of jump scares, poltergeist activity and half-seen phantoms. It tells a story. It's absolutely fantastic. Buy the damn game, it's on sale! http://store.steampowered.com/app/2600/

Hey hey Jimothy,

While I agree with you on the point that jump scares are not necessarily a bad thing, I do think that taking Dead Space as an example is not exactly a great choice. While the very first jump scare in Dead Space is really great and effective, the more you progress through the game, the less effective it becomes. Roughly halfway through the first one I could accurately predict when the designer thought to himself "I haven't put in a jump scare for two minutes now, need to fix that". Your point is that jump scares can be successful if they are executed skillfully, and I just don't think Dead Space does it very well. They just don't make me 'jump' as they were probably intended. It can only be scary if you don't exactly know WHEN something is going to jump out of the cupboard, and when you do know it starts feeling 'cheap'. Case and point.

I think Dead Space is an awesome game, but not for the reason that it is scary. I like the style and Lovecraftian themes in it way more than the fear-factor.

i'm not big on "Jump-scares" they don't ever actually SCARE me, rather, they just surprise me. i jump, but i don't feel scared, i don't dread the next one, and they just get boring after a while. now i'm sure they have the effects Jim mentioned in his EP on SOME people, just not me personally.

now i've never been a big horror fan, hell i was scared shitless when my older brother played Resident Evil Directors Cut on the PS1, but c'mon. i was like. 8.

last thing i saw that truly scared me, was the needle-pit scene in Saw (Saw 2 i think it was) that's really the only way to really scare me now. play to my phobias (Bees, wasps, hornets, and needles)

Well Most of the time, I find myself agreeing with Jim here, but im not sure that's the case today. It seems he's kicking some hornet's nest without any reason (Although DAMN I laughed with Scare FOE).....

Evidently there is room for jump scares in horror, I dont think anyone can deny that, but I find it is a lot easier to pull off an effective jump scare. A simple Gif image can give you an effective jump scare:
(stare into this spot and you will see the point change color........ BLAM!).
Of course it requires work as well but it can be done very methodically through Action -> prolonged silence/pause -> Frantic action, and it works just fine.

I pesonally don't care much about the scare itself, but MUCH MORE about the long lasting unsettling feeling. And this is why, when playing Dead Space, the same jump scares that were effective initially, grew tiresome the further I got invested into Isaac's story. And this is also why a game like Doom 3 for me holds little interest (and i'm not being smug as to say, its artistically inferior or whatnot as Jim implies), I'm just noticing that it relies too much on that temporary high that repeats itself with slight variations, but it doesn't really get me invested or give me an insight on fear.

This in general, is why when I watch straight up horror movies, I don't particularly enjoy them, since they generally strive to you disturbing Imagery, but often dwell on very generic stylistic clichès and can rarely take that seriously. On the other hand, suspense thrillers (although genres often blend and blur) generally focus on giving you frightening IDEA, with or without the media shock, and directs our thought towards what scares us individually. The difference is that this profound fear requires to be constructed diligently, while a jump scare can be effectively created in a single scene.

So yeah, they are not the same, and in my opinion, one takes much more work to pull off psichologic long lasting fear efectively than a jump scare. And there is nothing wrong with that, noone is up in arms about it either...just different resources.

I think one of the reasons jump scares don't work is once you reach a point where you expect them to happen, they kind of lose the fear factor and become just an annoyance. Fear tends to work best when you don't know what to expect...and it's that unknown factor that works best for horror and fear as it's your own imagination that creating the boogeyman. Jump scares just can't bring that because you know what to expect. Something is going to jump out of the closet going "Abloogy-Woogy-Boo", and it won't matter WHAT it is since you already know it's just going to give you a quick adrenaline rush...and that's it.

Personally, this is one of the reasons I hate haunted houses. After the first few jump scares I REAAAAAAAAAAALLY had to fight the urge to punch the next zombie in the face so I wouldn't get arrested. It just wasn't fun or even a good adrenaline rush...it was just a series of pointless annoyances like the current run of campaign ads. THAT IS NOT HORROR!

Don't get me wrong. If they can get the pacing right, I COULD see how good jump scares could work. But I have yet to see it because WAY too many people seem impatient to give the next adrenaline burst to their vicitms so they plie them on and so the tedium begins. What I prefer to see in games is true horror where you don't know what the danger is so at any time you could be doing something normal and then sudd

It's about bloody time some one spoke out for jump scares! I'm a horror fan and I've seen good and bad. The Asian Shutter has GREAT ones in it and then there's everything after the first Paranormal Activity which just re-treads old ground. But they all get lumped together.

Game wise one of the scariest moments actually happened recently during Dishonoured, just before I went into the sewers to get back to the Hound Pits I had to break down some boards to go through a corridor or two. I could hear the weapers but not see them, that was unnerving. Checking all the way I got to the room with the sewer hatch all was silent, I turn around and there were four or five weapers doing a conga straight up behind me, I actually screamed like a girl. That was an effective jump scare and it was all the result of a bit of smart AI just happened to do the right thing at the right time in a game that isn't really a horror game.

Jimothy Sterling:
Scare Tactics

Dr. Jonathan Crane accepts an invite to give the Jimquisition a lesson in fear.

Watch Video

Some fucking hard truths right here. I can see the hipsters preparing their barbed dismissals already.

Couldn't disagree more on Doom-3 and Dead Space.

Dead Space was *meh* because it telegraphed pretty much every single encounter in the entire game.

Doom 3 gets shat on because it's, y'know DOOM 3. Long overdue return of one of the most seminal franchises in videogame history. Trouble is it wasn't anywhere near as good as Doom, or even Doom 2.

Does anybody know which Jimquisition begins with Jim listening to his own self-help tape? I'm trying to find that one =/

Jimothy Sterling:
Not doing what you want it to do is not the same thing as not doing what it was supposed to be doing. It wanted to be horror. It achieved it. It was a good game.

What I want it to do? I think you misunderstand me, old boy.

I'm talking about general genre and franchise expectations. Would you play Halo if 343 decided that jumping on colorful platforms to get gold coins was the way to go? Even if it was a good platformer?

This is exactly what happened to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Rare wanted to make something different and I respect that completely. However, instead of injecting their ideas into a new franchise, they decided to inject it into Banjo Kazooie. A game that was not about vehicles at all. So, when it finally came out, everyone was very turned off, expecting another romp through huge imaginative worlds but instead, they got a bunch of vehicle challenges in vaguely different looking mechanical worlds.

DISCLAIMER: I LOVED the vehicle building in BK:N&B. The core of the game was absolutely great. The rest of it, however, was lacking badly. And also, once again. Doom 3 wasn't a terrible game at all. Presentation of it all was great and the weapons were nice and beefy. Monsters were done well, etc. The constant annoying darkness and the horror though was what brought it down.

You are right in case of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, the jump scares do give you a feeling of dread with every door and corner but Doom not so much, jump scares requires a weaker character I never saw the creatures in Doom as much more then a target, having little more scare then a game of whack a mole.

Eh, the first zombie was done pretty well. The first baby encounter was pretty fucking creepy as well. Other than that though nothing was particularly special.

the dark and jump scares usually work on me. I never heard of any one calling it cheap though. Guess I can understand why, since after being jumped out so much in Doom 3, it just wasn't as effective later in the game.

The unknown scares me a lot more. Like the Blair Witch Project, it took me awhile to get over. So it's understandable why people prefer to inspire that which I also think is more creative.

Would you play Halo if 343 decided that jumping on colorful platforms to get gold coins was the way to go? Even if it was a good platformer?

Yes I would. I like platformers, and frankly, that'd appeal to me more than a Halo FPS, because the Halo series is something I've been unable to get into yet.

Hell, just look at Metroid Prime. A Metroid FPS? TRAVERSTY! Except it's beloved. It's all about the quality, at the end of the day. Not your expectations of static genres.

This is exactly what happened to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Rare wanted to make something different and I respect that completely. However, instead of injecting their ideas into a new franchise, they decided to inject it into Banjo Kazooie. A game that was not about vehicles at all. So, when it finally came out, everyone was very turned off, expecting another romp through huge imaginative worlds but instead, they got a bunch of vehicle challenges in vaguely different looking mechanical worlds.

But by all accounts, it was a good game. In fact ...

DISCLAIMER: I LOVED the vehicle building in BK:N&B. The core of the game was absolutely great. The rest of it, however, was lacking badly.

There we go. You LOVED the new changes, but the game failed you because you didn't enjoy the rest of it. But that was because you found it lacking, NOT because the changes ... which were the only bits you enjoyed.

And also, once again. Doom 3 wasn't a terrible game at all. Presentation of it all was great and the weapons were nice and beefy. Monsters were done well, etc. The constant annoying darkness and the horror though was what brought it down.

And again, you're pointing to matters of taste, not matters of the game failing on any technical level. The game did not fail because it was a horror game, it failed because you didn't appreciate its kind of horror and the dark palette. Meanwhile, I did, and feel it was a great success.

If you disliked Doom 3, that's perfectly fine, but you're applying a level of objective standards to it that it had no intention of applying to itself.

"...he's scarier without the...WAAAAAAAAA"


"...he's scarier without the...WAAAAAAAAA"


Definitely, Doom 3 is the only game that ever made me shit my pants. (For the record I was holding one in while I was playing Doom 3 but still)

I don't even think the Jump scares need that tense of a set up.

I still have fond repressed memories of Youtube or Newgrounds videos that say "Cool Optical Illusion" then 30 seconds in BAM! scary face... or alternately pancake face, which is equally as scary.

There's no build up, no tension and to me that makes it even scarier.

Thus why jumps scares are 'lazy.' Jim overestimates the amount of work required to pull off a proper jump scare. A jump scare is literally a monster jumping out of a closet screaming "Abloogie oogie whoo" and that is all it is, and they can do the job without any real buildup at all.

Something I want to add to this conversation is that most of us confuse 'being scared' with 'being startled.'

Being scared is walking down a dark alleyway knowing there is a strong change that you will be jumped on. Its being in a bad situation and not knowing if you will make it out in good standing - or even alive. Its having to make an important discussion that is make or break, knowing that a 'break' might not be something you can recover from.

Being startled is when your concentrating on doing homework in the school library when someone taps your shoulder. Or when a cat jumps off the road because a loud shiny demon roared by very fast.

The term 'jump-scare' or 'pop-up scare' are misleading as, even when done properly, they don't really scare you, they startle you. The difference in terminology is important.

I gotta say, I've never flat out disagreed with Jim before.

I can understand where he's coming from, but I really can't say that the points he makes can outweigh the cons of jump scares.

The jump scare does work, but only when you don't really know it's coming or after a long period of waiting for it to come.

It worked in RE4 when the zombie of fire bursts out of the locker and made me wet myself, but the moment in the hospital with the doctor in bioshock scared me more because I was expecting something, end up building the moment up to epic proportions, get frightened of the goddamn shadows, and end up screaming and scaring everyone around me because I turned around and saw a body locked in a reaching out position going towards me.

A really great scary game has both...which is probably why Amnesia is so awesome... :D

A positive booster video? I must be getting too jaded, I expect every video out there to be negative. I regret not finishing Dead Space. It was bad for my nerves. Was like "sort of enjoy having my nerves frayed but do not want".

Nice Scarecrow Jim! At first I thought it would be cringe worthy for all the wrong reasons but you did a good job with the look and voice work.

My problem with jump scares is that they get very old very quickly. After the first few, the sting wares off.

The movie "Obsessed" employed them very badly. The woman was looking for the killer in the attic and the music gave us a spike several times. By the time the killer actually popped out, it didn't scare me. I was bored.

I see a common criticism for dead space being that because you could fight back, it took away the edge because they weren't a threat.

To that I answer:

Play it on a harder difficulty then.

You'll definately raise the tension a bit when you're running around the room desperately searching for anything you can possibly throw at the enemy to kill it, cause you're bone dry on ammo.

That was a lot of fun :D

I absolutely despise monsterpops or jump scares. It's not that they can't scare me, it's that a lot of them are so horribly obvious that I get bored of it, quickly. Dead Space especially, did this. It felt forced and it happened way too often. The sequal had a nice go at it in the daycare center and that built up the tension nicely.
Jumpscares makes me feel embarrased to fall for them. I don't get a thrill, just dissapointment and discomfort.

AvP is what scared me the most in the past and I think I speak for a hell of a lot of gamers when I say that the be-beep of the motion sensor is one of the most dreaded and horrifying sounds in history.
The design of the xenomorphs is so perfectly alien(no pun intended) that they look like a literal nightmare and their biological design, the acid for blood, a mouth within a mouth, a razorsharp tail and talons make them undeniably and extremely deadly in a plethora of ways.
They're smart enough to trick you and create tactical advantages, while not being intelligent enough to be reasoned with, unlike the monsters in fx. Dead Space, which are all just skittering mindless creatures, not unlike zombies, whos only ability is to hide in vents and go BOO.

Also, Clive Barkers Undying was fairly creepy, especially when you saw your surroundings change and hint to the horrible truth about the mansion and its previous tenants.
It had a nice mix of jump scares, hints and atmosphere that left you creeped out but not bored.

The way I see it, in order for horror to really work, you need to have something to lose.
It doesn't have to be your life, but sanity, for example, is a nice mechanic. I think this is part of Amnesia, but I haven't played that.
It's used in the P&P Call of Cthulu setting, where you'd get insanity points for seeing various supernatural events.
Only it shouldn't be used as hitpoints, but rather it should dictate the direction or ending of the game. The more insane you are, the more disturbed your gameplay becomes and you suddenly see your allies as monsters and have new objectives, only you don't exactly know that it's happening.


One other thing. Is anyone else absolutely freaked out by flying heads or other stuff in games?
I get a near panic reaction, almost phobic, whenever I see them in games. My heart starts to pound and I feel almost paralyzed when I have to deal with them.
I'm not sure if such a phobia exists, a fear of something that's not real, but it scares the shit out of me.
Medusa heads in Castlevania makes me nauseous, but the ones in Prince of Persia 2 and flying heads in Doom 3 really scare me, to the point that I have to quit and calm down for a while.

Just curious if anyone has experienced something similar.

Good horror will utilize both. Dead Space was about as scary as a week old kitten because it only had one move. Out of the entire game I can only think of one moment which actually scared me; the Invulnerable Necromorph hunting throughout one level. Though on one of the later levels you could hear a weird cult-like chanting noise, which was creepy.

Whereas Silent Hill 2 built up an effective atmosphere using its soundtrack and unsettling imagery; only sparingly using jump scares. And I guarantee they got me, every single time. Because the jump scares were uncommon, there were moments when I was absolutely terrified that something was going to jump out on me, even if it never actually occurred; the Historical Society section being a prime example.

Compare the two games, and you'll see that the scares in Dead Space are mostly cheap and ineffective, whereas Silent Hill 2 consistently hits.

No Jimquisition? Talk about a Straw Man fallacy.

My problem with Dead Space is that the necromorphs didn't look scary: they looked ugly. And they got more annoying than scary.

And this is my problem Doom 3 and Dead Space. when something jumps out the fucking air vent for the 10th time, I know it's going to jump out the air vent for the 10th time, this is my first playthrough and I know exactly what air vent it's going to jump out of, and it's easy to deal with, there is a problem.

Yes, more subtle horror games use them, but that's the point, games like Doom 3 and Dead Space fail because I know I will beat whatever the fuck comes out of that closet when it does come out, I know that EVERY time, WITHOUT FAIL, well, at least in terms punctuality, because other than that these monsters do nothing BUT fail.

This is what makes Amnesia: The Dark Decent so scary, I know I cannot just beat the shit out of it with, I can't even kill it. And another thing, we have the technology, so maybe at least making the scares more random would help, make it so that necromorph jumps out a different vent each time, using a very powerful monster that shows up rarely, and at random, works far better than the standard easily killable dipshits that go down like fucking flies fighting fire. And that suspiciously intact corpse in Dead Space, didn't even scare me the first time, hell, it didn't even SUPRISE me the first time, I just shot it's limbs off there and then.

Meanwhile in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, I was actually scared when meeting the first controller, I didn't expect it, I didn't even bother staying to fight it and just sprinted to ladder out of there.

While I am a giant pansy and have only played Alan Wake, which many will flame me for referring to as a horror (I know, I'm slowly psyching myself up for Silent Hill 2... I just have to go into the attic to look for the PS2....), I'm finding myself drawn towards the genre lately.

Jim, I absolutely LOVED this episode!! You've outdone yourself! I sincerely hope you see this comment and consider doing something like this every Halloween- I'm just annoyed that I didn't see it last week on Halloween itself!

Loved the cues you took from Arkham Asylum- indeed those are my favourite sequences from that game. Shame there's only a handful of them.

I digress- I think Jonathan Crane needs to return to the Jimquisition next year, and basically freak us out again.

Well done on the costuming and the creepy Sam Raimi camera work at the start!!

One thing he fails to mention about Doom 3, aside from you know Hell, is that I remember a lot of the basic game revolved around the player going to delta. Get to the delta labs, go to delta, yadda yadda yadda.

Then when you get to Delta, it's the most messed up place you've seen since. Instead of a dark, slightly smashed up lab, there's blood all over the walls and the floor and every damn place. People don't think about that stuff maybe, but they build it up and the pay off is worth it.

Then when you get to hell, the stakes are raised even higher. Seeing a few Hell Knights come out of the portal is one thing, seeing a hell knight emerge with a wall of fire behind it while the camera does a vertigo shot is something else.

I hope Doom 4 measures up when it finally rolls around.

what was the game at 2.00?

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