Jimquisition: The Survival of Horror

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT
 

Here's how the Games industrie's own internal logic wrongly convinced them that "Horror games are dead"

Step 1; As the HD generation dawned games became more expensive to make therefore the business types were desperately trying to use models to "Maximize profits from each game".

Step 2; They then miss-used their box-factor logic to tack a load of unnecessary features onto horror games. Certain things were seen as popular and a 'guaranteed profit'. Online multiplayer, FPS mechanics, action sequences, flashy graphics and spectacle cut-scenes. All of these are counterproductive to the core mechanics of a good horror game.

Step 3; They made a raft of BAD 'horror' games or games that diluted the formula so much they couldn't even be said to have horror elements. These games were bloated and too expensive. Then they didn't sell very well because they were BAD GMAES.

Step 4; The numbers came back and the publishers, instead of realizing their mistake, thought "Whoops horror games must be dead, we can't sell those any more"

And thus the games industry creates it's own problems by not understanding the games industry, their audience and what makes a good game.

Jimothy Sterling:

Entitled:
It might appear a bit more... professional if Jim would start using other examples for a similar point, instead of always coming back to his own personal obsession of horror games.

There are really a shitload of genres, styles, and themes that the Industry left in the dirt, and that are picking themselves up only in the past years of growing indie publishing. Horror isn't even the most extremely ignored one.

Did you see the way this video ended?

And you still wanna talk professional?

OK, this comment made me laugh more than the video.

OT: I was thinking things through as I watched the video, trying to think of something to say on the subject... then I watched the ending and I forgot everything I was thinking of. All I could think of was that Jim might be afraid of Alien: Colonial Marines, but he's certainly not afraid of making a fool of himself. Don't ever change.

More on the topic at hand though... Amnesia was a huge success because of its low budget and it managed to make quite a lot compared to what it cost. The sad part is that if we were to compare the money it made to the budget of AAA titles it wouldn't even make enough to cover half of the cost and they keep pushing games to cost more.

I've argued this before that survival horror isn't profitable with the attitude that publishers who need to sell 15 billion copies on day 1 in USA in order to call it a success isn't sustainable. It isn't sustainable with the mainstream games either as lots of games still can't make a profit despite great sales.

Among the huge companies I actually look towards Nintendo as a voice of sense since they actually seem to understand that not every game needs a bloated budget to be good. Sadly they're not making survival horror games and I don't think they would have made a good one if they tried.

Zachary Amaranth:
Come now. Isn't it refreshing to see Americans scared of something other than a black guy as President and vegetables that aren't deep fried?

You've got me there.

However: drone strikes on innocent civilians. International wiretapping on people who pose no threat. Imminent starvation. I don't think being scared of a stupid video game or movie is much of a step up from what most of the world has to deal with.

Oh wait, one more final thing to horrify people: LIBERALS! HEALTH CARE!

The BIG reason why AAA studio refuse to invest into survival horror is because they'd rather sink the cash into, what they believe is, a safe bet; ie: COD, Ass creed, MADDEN etc.

When I was in college, my class made a SH game and it set the standards for what, by academic standards, the industry would (at least) invest in.

Here's a sample.

Woow, I did not see that little clip from Jim's sex life coming!

Aardvaarkman:

Zachary Amaranth:
Come now. Isn't it refreshing to see Americans scared of something other than a black guy as President and vegetables that aren't deep fried?

You've got me there.

However: drone strikes on innocent civilians. International wiretapping on people who pose no threat. Imminent starvation. I don't think being scared of a stupid video game or movie is much of a step up from what most of the world has to deal with.

Oh wait, one more final thing to horrify people: LIBERALS! HEALTH CARE!

Neither of you are funny. I'm going to leave this thread and return in a couple of hours. If I see the word "Americunt" or any variation thereof when I get back, I will not be pleased.

Jim, this video contains my favorite thing you've ever said:

...the moronic game industry is stuck in the mindset that if every product isn't the giant cash-vacuum Hobbit-style experience, it's not worth producing.
This is an industry that would rather make no money than some money... that would have nothing if it couldn't have it all.
The potential profit in a horror game is merely good. It's not extreme, it's not exorbitant... and if it's not extremely exorbitant, companies aren't interested.

If you replace "game industry" and "horror games" with any other publicly traded, multinational (headquartered in the US, generally), luxury goods-producing industry and its less than incredibly popular products... this quote still applies.

This is the result of the attitude that any lack of financial expansion is tantamount to failure... an attitude that needs to die if we're ever going to see social progress.

Thank god for you.

Oh my .-.

that was something else... what am I to do about my arousal now?

Anyhow, on the actual topic of the episode. I fully concur that Survival horror / pure horror / scary scare games, are not dead, and should have never been considered dead by the "AAA" side of the industry. I personally love the good old classics, and I'm enjoying the resurgence of them today.

But I also do wonder one thing... Patrick Klepek from Giant bomb, wrote a very interesting piece questioning what could this let's play - horror game - "revolution" cause. While it is certainly clear that watching those videos seems to be quite entertaining for a lot of people, he wondered if it translated into actual sales for the creators, and further success for them.

Technologically, games are getting to a point where it can be truly terrifying to play a survival horror game. And not just fear, but absolute dread. He cited the case of Outlast, which despite positive reviews, has had only OK sales, and he notes that although many people are very interested about watching the gameplay, even more people express that they couldn't bring themselves to play it.
I'm neither here nor there, but I feel that maybe there is a sense that horror games are more popular than what they really are. I mean, with my indie studio we are pre-producing a survival horror game, and we are noticing that the niche might be overflowing.

It's really hard to say, maybe the appeal of current horror games is that they are very enclosed and rather short experiences, in that sense it could make sense that the smaller companies are interested in pursuing them, but they lack the incentive of bigger companies.
All said, I think that The Last of Us was a rather surprising move. Sure, it is not pure Survival Horror, but it is far closer to it than the few last Resident evils. And it went a lot darker than I expected it to be, so it does show that there is a possible interest for that kind of action.

I suppose the next few years will tell.

I was actually half expecting it to wear a David Cage or a John Riccitiello mask, but A:CM works too.

To be honest I'm not a fan of horror games, or horror films, I've never seen the appeal of them, but I do think they need to exist and I would be happy if fans of that genre get something that they really want.

I need a hug after watching that ending. I never knew Jim was a master of tongue-action. Not sure I ever wanted to know that >.<

I can't wait for the game Evil within. And maybe one day (on a Blue Moon) the big named companies will realize that it's okay to make a horror game with very little fighting that scares people. Horror games may be a bit Esoteric but they do sell.

And as for the ending
http://memestorage.com/_nw/23/87899101.jpg

I've seen users banned from these forums for posting less graphic content than that ending. Jesus lord. Making out with Colonial Marines like that is worthy of having its own shock site so I can just link people straight to it.

OT: I'm kinda glad that the AAA industry has taken its claws out of the horror genre for the most part. We've seen what they do to the titles they've kept their claws in, I'd hate to imagine if there were MORE RE6s and Colonial Marines out on the market.

The sack over the head looks really good on you, Jim. The hat on the sack is a nice touch, too. You should wear that more often.

But no more scary soft porn please.

I'm a huge fan of Jim Sterling's body... of work. However, that was one "vertical slice" I don't need in my life. If you know what I mean ;)

OT: I'm a huge fan of Silent Hill of old. No game franchise has so expertly crafted an atmosphere which invokes so many emotions at once. Repulsion, curiosity, suspension, tension, disgust, apprehension, abject fear... and despite all that you feel a compulsion to move forward.

Silent Hill 3 was the pinnacle of fear for me. That hospital.. it, it did things to me... to my mind o.o You need only look at Heather's collection of love letters from Stanley. They get increasingly creepy and not in an ultra exaggerated horror way but in a real-life stalker fashion. You honestly feel like some creeper is going to come after you, like they are following you... right now. Behind you!

But when all is said and done, they are nothing more than text entries. No cheap jump scare, no startling noises or monsters. Just text. Deeply disturbing and wholly unsettling text made all the more potent by the game world. THAT is what I want to experience again.

Should have known he couldn't resist buying the 'Flip me and fuck me'.

besides that Jim Sterling has now official proven that he is a pervert,

I REALLY think "Within" will suck big time and be nothing more than a big lame QTE full of stupid"emotions".
I have no hopes for that game.

Jim, you're an interesting game critic/pundit. But you're an awful actor. Please stick to what you know (when you're not blindly insulting your audience for no good reason) because when you do you make interesting videos.

Aardvaarkman:

You've got me there.

However: drone strikes on innocent civilians. International wiretapping on people who pose no threat. Imminent starvation. I don't think being scared of a stupid video game or movie is much of a step up from what most of the world has to deal with.

Oh wait, one more final thing to horrify people: LIBERALS! HEALTH CARE!

Actually, I sort of wonder if games could be used to convey some of these points. I don't know how you'd make people empathise with starvation through a game, but drone strikes seem well within our grasp. I guess the biggest issue would be mainstream consumption.

It's hard to get Americans to care, though. Most of us only cared about drone strikes when we found out they could potentially be used on American soil. Same with wiretapping. And we're such a sociopathic nation that we blame people--even children--for being hungry.

Small wonder I'm feeling uncomfortable while watching your vids and there is someone else in the room with me.

So what was Jim afraid of? I keep trying to watch but somehow I seem to wind up with blank spaces in my mind between the start and video stop.... I gave up. I suspect it might be some kind of defense in my brain shutting out traumatic experiences....

That said I'll say like I usually do that I think removing combat from horror games is, and always will be, a mistake, largely because combative reactions are natural, and trying to design around the idea of not having combat ultimately becomes just as limiting and experience busting as turning a game into a purely action based experience... a shooter with monsters, which is ultimately what roughly half the shooters out there are anyway.

The trick is of course to design combat so it's something you want to avoid, and generally makes you feel like an underdog. The original, great, survival horror games, achieved this by having what were then necessarily clunky controls, combat wound up becoming a chore because it couldn't be any other way, and oddly the "man tank" worked. The transition however as tech improved was to simply try and make combat like everyone else and again, that didn't work
out too well.

I tend to look towards games like "Condemned" as having basically the right idea, as long as they don't wind up turning every scene into a melee brawl. Your looking at fairly decent combat controls, combined with an environment and relative difficulty that generally doesn't leave you feeling like "He Man".

I also tend to look towards the original "Alone In The Dark" (with the now horrible polygon graphics), a game which presented a decent blend of puzzles and combat, with many cases being situations where you might be able to fight past something, but there was almost invariably another way, and there simply were not enough bullets to shoot everything (nor could everything in your way be shot down).

The thing with the combat free "horror" games is that in a lot of cases I feel like I'm playing the old "7th Guest"/"11th Hour" games combined with forced stealth sequences, and less elaborate mini games. :)

I don't know, maybe the guys that did "Condemned", the guys that did "Dark Souls", and a dream team of atmospheric indie horror games should get together and turn something out.

Also some people will probably be surprised to here me say this (again) but other horror games I kind of wish people would look towards for inspiration are the old "Elvira" games, "Legacy: Realm Of Terror", and "Realms Of The Haunting" a whole era of horror gaming that people tend to forget about, which had some really interesting stuff for it's time. "Elvira 2: Jaws Of Cerberus" had a spell casting system where you had to gather stuff from offices and stuff and guess which items fit the requirements to mix which spell, of course there was some bad design where some items could be used for more than one thing, and if you mixed a spell with an item you needed for another spell (which had a very rare or unique component in the environment) you could literally screw yourself. The monsters were also fairly nasty, and I remember going around scrounging spell components to get enough stuff to fight some of the monsters. Not to mention some odd puzzles like using a tuning fork to break a skylight to let sunlight in on a vampire (if I remember correctly). I admit one thing I do not miss though is "adventure game logic". :)

A game with only one Xenomorph.

Hey, that sounds like a really neat idea.

Where you shoot clones and mercenaries...

AND....that doesn't.

One thing I see happening a lot is when TV and film producers try and cash in on what I'm calling "internet success". If it's popular online we can use it, such as interconnected platforms, TV/films based on original online properties, online exclusive shows etc.

As correctly said in this video, horror games are very popular on sites like Youtube so I'm surprised the big companies don't try and ape that success since it seems the automatic response for them in other departments.

Also while not mentioned in this video, the prime Bethesda example of single player only success: Skyrim! But that had its own episode.

The difference I find is that horror movies are usually pretty cheap. That is the reason Saw or Paranormal Activity make a lot of money: not because they can sell more tickets than Man of Steel, but because they make a absurd return with a dedicated audience, since they cost pennies. Horror games only work as indie games. I don't want to sound dismissive, but I don't think high profile and horror mix very well. For all the Riccitiello fun we have, at least EA tried it with Dead Space, four times, so he knows how much it really costs.

AAA horror games need to have some production value, as much as any AAA game. Either they do, or they rely in darkness to create a moody ambiance (and there is just so much you can do with it). Anything shorter than that, and we get models and animations like the ones in Colonial Marines. Because of that, they can't really count with a small but dedicated audience (small being the key word there)

Well, like allways, you are right jim.
But i don't understand the point of the video. As you said, survival horror is not dead and new small studios make good games and therefor profit. I think this is the best possible situation. These studios can, without the competition from AAA studios, serve to the needs of the dedicated fans and make good money from it.

So everyone wins:
Gamers get games from little studios that want to produce an experience, not only a product.
Small studios can make money in a "safe" enviroment without big competition.

mdqp:
Anyway, I certainly wouldn't mind more survival horror games, although I feel lately we are missing a "middle of the road" experience, right now either indie developers make no combat horror games, or AAA studios make action packed horror games, but nobody seems to make games where fighting is difficult and discouraged, but possible, with at least a little bullet management.

I think Receiver fits this definition -- if you're not careful you run out of ammo very quickly, the music and audio tapes give a creepy atmosphere, and it's possible to do a "pacifist run", but very difficult.

Zachary Amaranth:

Aardvaarkman:

You've got me there.

However: drone strikes on innocent civilians. International wiretapping on people who pose no threat. Imminent starvation. I don't think being scared of a stupid video game or movie is much of a step up from what most of the world has to deal with.

Oh wait, one more final thing to horrify people: LIBERALS! HEALTH CARE!

Actually, I sort of wonder if games could be used to convey some of these points. I don't know how you'd make people empathise with starvation through a game, but drone strikes seem well within our grasp. I guess the biggest issue would be mainstream consumption.

It's hard to get Americans to care, though. Most of us only cared about drone strikes when we found out they could potentially be used on American soil. Same with wiretapping. And we're such a sociopathic nation that we blame people--even children--for being hungry.

I think people like you and me aren't alone in thinking that. Plenty of us think that. It's just that the people who cause that kind of crap tend to be the loudest and most stubborn. I think we should keep that in mind and remind ourselves that vocal minorities don't define groups.

Eh, I would say Aliens: Isolation would be a failed concept at it's outset. Let me explain.

The fear of a xenomorph isn't that it bides it time to kill you when it's creepiest. They don't. Xenomorphs kill you when you're at your most vulnerable. So a lone person (say an unarmed scientist) would be dead pretty quick. The game would be over in a few seconds in that case so the player needs to be armed and a threat to the Xenomorph. But once again, you only get one encounter with it. Either it's dead and you win or you're dead and you lose. Once gain, pretty short game. This is where the REAL fear of Xenomorphs come from.

A xenomorph is not terrifying in of itself. They kill too quick as they've evolved to to make them really scary. The catch is a Xenomorphs are like a love child between a zombie and a cockroach. Once you're done with the brain bleach I'll explain why.

Done? Good.

As I said earlier, A xenomorph isn't particularly scary. The fear is that when you see one, you can't see the hundred or the thousand around you like a cockroach. And like a zombie, they have one goal: to feed to reproduce, and you my friend, are their lunch. That is what makes the xenomorph truly terrifying. To modify it to act like some malevolent entity that enjoys tormenting the player until it decides to kill it is making it into something that is not a xenomorph. The Xenomorph is a hunter at it's core, and that doesn't go well in a one-on-one with something for a horror game.

The Evil Within sounds like it could be, at the very least, a pretty decent horror game, with Mikami at the helm, I highly doubt it'll be yet another Silent Hill or Resident Evil post 2005 (though I can argue that SH4 was shit and Shattered Memories was brilliant).

I don't want a mainstream industry where Dead Space is considered the most "terrifying" game, especially considering it butchered itself with Dead Space 3, I also know the Metro series exists, but what I mean, is that I'm fed up of shooting galleries with horror themes, I want a slow paced, methodical and cerebral experience like Silent Hill 2 or the Resident Evil remake (though one can argue it's a shooting gallery too, but SHUT UP!), or Lone Survivor, heck, even the Stalker series is a very slow paced, methodical and cerebral experience without ditching out the shooting mechanics.

I wouldn't say that publishers are trying to convince people that survival horror is dead, they've simply found that horror-themed action games are more profitable (mainly because the market for action games is much larger). So publishers prefer to make a lot of money from a few expensive to produce games, rather than try to make the same amount of money from a large number of cheaper to produce games (mainly because making a lot of games of the same genre saturated the market, so making a larger number of games is more risky).

Since Bioshock Infinite and Dishonoured aren't short, horror story games their success doesn't prove that short, horror story games will be popular. Especially since both games were most about combat, rather than survival.

Given that Jim predicted that "Remember Me" would do well because it featured a female protagonist it's possible that "The Evil Within" may do badly if it's a badly made survival horror game.

I guess Jim caught the recent Conan video of him playing Outcast, Amnesia and Slender. No?

I expect the horror games from large studios will get better in the light of the above games, that show it can be done on the cheap and done well too. Problem is like fighting games, horror is also a niche genre. Publishers are only going to put so much money in, but they will get pressure for the suited ones to make everything bring in more money.

Problem two is that suits lack the ability to reign in their lofty projections, as some of those at Capcom proved with RE6, (or Square when concerning some of their games like Tomb Raider etc, outside of this horror topic). While I also agree that the trade in value on such games can be hampered, its up to publishers to get create games that don't make gamers trade them in quickly.

Online play and DLC content can play a part here (while season passes take the piss out of every gamers bladder, throwing it in our faces), but the powers that be make the deal unsavoury by hiking up price etc. Once upon a time, they offer better deals. Now it's all about the nickle and dime time. We might buy more DLC, if occasionally we got a bit for free (not a dirty word at all) and paid for the second.

I do find it funny and humbly enlightening that small devs are succeeding where many large devs/pubs are failing. It doesn't all have to be that way, though.

I'm not sure about the The Evil Within. From what I saw in the gamplay vid of it it didn't have much in the way of subtlety (although I guess that's hard to make interesting in gamplay vid since it relies on you being immersed)and there was a lot of keep pressing forward to not die.

I was holding my breath in excitement when I heard there was an Alien survival horror game with only you against one Alien...
and then I hit my forehead on the table when we'd "fight soldiers and clones for the majority of the game"...

Jim is toying with my emotions yet again.

Ishal:
These games are supposed to take the power away from you, that is the point. That is a staple of horror when its done right. A protagonist completely out of their comfort zone forced to cope with situations beyond them. It's the opposite of machismo and gun wank. They call it Flight or Fight, and most people in most situations would run their ass away from these situations or try and hide. Contrary to what other games and some parts of popular culture might tell you, not everyone is fucking Rambo.

Survival horror games are very easy to screw up for two reasons.

1) Like stealth games they're basically puzzle games where the designer has to create a problem (usually a monster in survival horror or a guard in stealth games) and let the player figure out complete a task without getting killed. This type of puzzle needs to reward planning and strategy. However if the solution is action orientated then the game will annoy the player because the game will alternate between action (fast paced) and problem solving (slow paced). This is why stealth sections in action games tend to be abysmal.

2) If the puzzles are too repetitive the player will quickly get bored. However trying to make the game more interesting by requiring the player to use a lot of random items to solve the problems often results in the player either giving up or resorting to game guides. As a result it's very difficult to make a long survival horror game.

By contrast action games are much simpler as you just need new weapons and enemies every few levels. You can also have a levelling system so the player feels like they have a strong influence over how their character develops (something that you can't do in horror games).

The marketing point is brilliant. Pewdiepie is the biggest presence on all of youtube. Know what that means? The most popular youtuber is a lets player who largely climbed to the top by playing horror games. There is your advertising.

What sort of people mainly watch horror games? Are they:

A) People who watch Let's Plays because they don't want to buy the game but want to see what the plot is.
B) People who want to see what a game is like before they buy it (unsure why they'd buy it once they know the ending).
C) People who already own this game but want to watch someone else play it.

If they're not B or C then a high view count won't equate to high numbers of sales. Marketing is only good if it is aimed at the right people.

That...got weird...I mean...just.......

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 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
Register for a free account here