Ideas for a really scary game?

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People seem to be rather preoccupied with getting stalked by something as a major factor of gameplay.

I'll always choose this: Lovecraftian horror, because that weird racist fuck got it so right they named a subgenre of horror after him.

but specifically to ideas: Have an aging private investigater come upon a cosmic conspiracy involving cults, weird creatures in the night, bizarre ritual killings and the like.
The kicker?
This is after he's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer that is so advanced it has metasticized to his brain. are all of the homeless people really staring at him? Did that businessman's head just explode and out came this thing of teeth and claws to devour a rat in an alleyway? Is he hearing some eldrich singing that's just around the corner?

Paranoia and uncertainty in an apparently normal yet inherently hostile world would be what makes this scary.

So to begin with, you get health, but each level your health bar gets incrementaly shorter. Eventually you'll need different remedies for different things, like cough-suppressants to let you aim without hacking every ten seconds, or anti-psychotics to deal with possible hallucinations.
You'll be working in a city, gathering clues, copying them and putting them in various places for others to find.

I've got an idea. You're a little boy who wants to play outside, but it's sunday and you have to run away from your mother who relentlessly stalks you to make you put on your little sailor costume.

Soviet Heavy:
STALKER

I am prepared to pay an ungodly amount of money for another STALKER game.

On Topic: My horror game would be really subtle. It would be something relatively mundane initially, or on the surface, but there would be a level of uncertainty in the game; monsters in crowds, but when you look again, they're gone. Shadows of things that aren't there. Movement that isn't your own while you're alone in the dark. That sort of thing. Something that, on the surface, is relatively typical, but once you get to, say, a second or third playthrough, and begin to scratch the surface, you notice how truly horrifying the game-world is.

I'm not entirely sure who'd pull it off, though. And it'd be a risky development.

(Thanks, Cracked.com!)

Edit:

Skoldpadda:
I've got an idea. You're a little boy who wants to play outside, but it's sunday and you have to run away from your mother who relentlessly stalks you to make you put on your little sailor costume.

You. Are. A Genius!

Edit Edit: I had this idea while watching Stargate SG1 yesterday. It would be an Indie Game, and nothing to big budget. You have no weapons or way of defending yourself whatsoever. You are placed in a randomly generated maze, at the centre, and have to find your way out. However, a Minotaur (or some other Monster) is dropped in the maze with you, but you aren't told when or where. There could be, say, three difficulty modes. Easy gives you a small maze and one monster, normal gives you a medium-sized maze and two monsters, while hard gives you a very large maze and three monsters to run from.

A game that will have you questioning what is real and not (within game boundaries of course). You know those hospital scenes in The Darkness II? They were actually scary because I was starting to doubt which reality was 'real'.

Something that focused on that the entirety of the game would be amazing.

A Raging Emo:

Soviet Heavy:
STALKER

I am prepared to pay an ungodly amount of money for another STALKER game.

On Topic: My horror game would be really subtle. It would be something relatively mundane initially, or on the surface, but there would be a level of uncertainty in the game; monsters in crowds, but when you look again, they're gone. Shadows of things that aren't there. Movement that isn't your own while you're alone in the dark. That sort of thing. Something that, on the surface, is relatively typical, but once you get to, say, a second or third playthrough, and begin to scratch the surface, you notice how truly horrifying the game-world is.

I'm not entirely sure who'd pull it off, though. And it'd be a risky development.

(Thanks, Cracked.com!)

Edit:

Skoldpadda:
I've got an idea. You're a little boy who wants to play outside, but it's sunday and you have to run away from your mother who relentlessly stalks you to make you put on your little sailor costume.

You. Are. A Genius!

Edit Edit: I had this idea while watching Stargate SG1 yesterday. It would be an Indie Game, and nothing to big budget. You have no weapons or way of defending yourself whatsoever. You are placed in a randomly generated maze, at the centre, and have to find your way out. However, a Minotaur (or some other Monster) is dropped in the maze with you, but you aren't told when or where. There could be, say, three difficulty modes. Easy gives you a small maze and one monster, normal gives you a medium-sized maze and two monsters, while hard gives you a very large maze and three monsters to run from.

Also, powerups that can be found around the maze such as a guiding compass that points in the direction of the exit, a shield or weapon that has a one time use that stuns the monsters, boots that give you quicker movement speed, a kind of pendant that lets you sense when danger is near... so many things you could do with such a simple concept.

Digi7:
Snippity Snip Snip

That's a really good idea; I hadn't thought of that. Maybe there could also be a stealth mechanic? So the Monster can't see you, only smell/hear/feel you, so you can hide in cupboards and so on, kind of like in Amnesia and Penumbra.

Soviet Heavy:
A first person shooter set in modern or near future times. Except unlike the COD or Battlefield model, make it more akin to STALKER or Metro 2033. Actually make combat feel threatening. Homefront hoped to make you "feel" each kill, and failed miserably. But if someone could actually perfect that, make you actually feel how terrifying combat is, that would be an intensely frightening game.

There was a planned game a few years back called Six Days in Fallujah which was apparently aiming to be akin to something like this, but it got cancelled or something due to it being based on a real, fairly recent battle, so to some it was too insensitive and controversal.
But yeah, have a game where the weapons feel like actual weapons and screw up from time to time and ruthlessly intelligent enemies who constantly try to pin you down and flank you and that'd be a start.
-

I think horror games need to be less direct in how they attempt to frighten or unsettle the player, moving away from jump scares and the immediate physical dangers posed by monsters and become a bit more surreal and less immediately obvious. We need more games which kind of affect the player beyond jumping out and scaring them every now and then, instead making us think about stuff a bit more. Horror is a brilliant way to get someone sucked into a setting and thinking about something, but a lot of horror games don't often seem to provide something more for them to think about beyond scary monsters, dark corridors and creepy music.

Give us more games which explore themes and things normally considered abhorrent or might make us naturally feel uneasy and do it on a deep, intellectual level. Stuff like genetic manipulation, primal fears, torture, whatever, but do it without screaming 'uh oh the scary music's kicked in and an evil monster's jumping out at you!' all the time.

A day and night scenario where the location is normal and deserted during the day, but at night it's twisted and horrible. Monsters come out at night but instead of it being a slow process, turning day to night is instant while night to day takes a while, plus have puzzles that can only be solved at either day or night with scarce items. That'd be awesome.

DON'T overuse predictable "shock" tactics to create a "HAH! Made you jump" moment. Those aren't original, creative, or truly scary. I find true fear is based in immersion, a sense of connection with the player, and NOT being a demi-god (no need to eat, sleep, drink, can walk off gunshots, etc). What's more scary: a one-time second of surprise, or potentially hours, even days of fear stemming from a scary environment? If you feel vulnerable and connected to the game, it's much easier to be scared. When you can hide behind some cover for 5 seconds and be fine after losing a limb or getting shot, the immersion is ruined, and there is no real sense of risk. Also, I find the urge to use the supernatural to scare people as not only an immersion-breaker, but also unnecessary. Are humans really so good that there are no cases in which actions of some of our species could set the mood for a horror game?

Currently I'm working on a giant "mod", more of a new game, really, that focuses on free-roaming survival/horror, in a new aspect. It's focused on immersing the player in the environment, and connecting them to the game so that they are wary, scared even, of the antagonists (North Koreans). Where as usually these enemies would be cannon fodder, they now outgun and outnumber you. Since one round either kills or incapacitates 90% of the time, you play much more cautiously, and the need to keep your player fed, hydrated, and rested adds to the challenge and tension, by forcing the player out into the game world to seek necessary supplies. Since the enemies, location, and story are very believable, and could easily happen (or have happened), the player is even more connected to the character and environment.

I want something unsettling and uncanny, modern day setting. No life bar, only nerve bar like in Amnesia.

The horror starts when the protagonist becomes unable to see his family's faces. You get to interact with them and they act like nothing is wrong. The more days pass by, the weirder the world seems. People would go missing, the street starts to fill with horrifically distorted, strangely deformed people, creepy mascots, people whose heads are wrapped with bandages, animals with missing limbs crawling around, old women dressed like young girls... etc.

There would be never-ending dark tunnel, you can walk forever in there but will never see the end, you have to turn back. Meat rain. A house filled with blood-stained dolls... etc.

A Raging Emo:

Digi7:
Snippity Snip Snip

That's a really good idea; I hadn't thought of that. Maybe there could also be a stealth mechanic? So the Monster can't see you, only smell/hear/feel you, so you can hide in cupboards and so on, kind of like in Amnesia and Penumbra.

Yeah, that's a good idea. Make the monsters randomised each time as well, and each monster could have a certain set of attributes. So one could be blind but incredibly fast, one could be deaf but have night vision so you have to sneak past behind it, one can make short teleport blinks, another can crawl on the roof, perhaps one that looking at it drains your health... I think this could have potential if done correctly :)

Look, there is a lot of scary content and imagery to draw upon. Decades of it, or even just the fertile imaginations of modern writers/designers. New frontiers in the macabre are always possible. Content and imagery is not the problem. The problem is structure and mechanics.

The only thing that can now elevate a game with frightening imagery/content to the level of "scary gaming experience" is RANDOMNESS. Unpredictability. A lack of true structure, or a constantly fluid, shifting gaming parameter.

I've presented this very pitch before, on another site. Imagine a game where the sole objective is to survive a nightmare until the character wakes up in the morning. The only hud is a clock that ticks down in the top corner.

Now, introduce a nightmare environment (say, a scary mansion) with thousands of possible parameters. Now, randomize those parameters (think traps, imagery, lighting, physics, gravity, everything), via the clever implementation of an advanced "AI director" (as first exemplified in the Left 4 Dead games).

Apply this randomization to NPCs within the environment. DON'T explain everything. Exercise restraint. There is no coherent story to be found here, no logic, only survival within a nightmare. Surrealism.

Apply this randomization to the creatures that the player encounters within the nightmare. Have thousands of possible templates, encompassing everything from appearance, to sound effects, to abilities and attacks/weaknesses. Allow NPCs, furniture/objects, even the environment itself to transform into these randomized creatures at any time, on the whim of the AI director.

Picture the gravity in a room shifting, the wall of the room becoming a huge gaping mouth, the player scrambling to make it to a door to enter another room, the door sprouting tentacles and teeth, the player scrambling to the opposite door, the next room featuring nothing but tripwires and a vase of roses on a table.

Give the player three simplified gameplay options:
(1) Run
(2) Hide
(3) Temporarily ward (as with fire or water, for instance)

DON'T empower the player. Don't allow the player to kill or combat anything.

Three factors that are paramount:
(1) Randomness
(2) Unpredictability
(3) Frailty (pertaining to the player)

And a fourth:
(4) Inherent replayability, based upon the above.

If a talented team can make something like this, they will have created the scariest game ever made.

Digi7:

A Raging Emo:

Digi7:
Snippity Snip Snip

That's a really good idea; I hadn't thought of that. Maybe there could also be a stealth mechanic? So the Monster can't see you, only smell/hear/feel you, so you can hide in cupboards and so on, kind of like in Amnesia and Penumbra.

Yeah, that's a good idea. Make the monsters randomised each time as well, and each monster could have a certain set of attributes. So one could be blind but incredibly fast, one could be deaf but have night vision so you have to sneak past behind it, one can make short teleport blinks, another can crawl on the roof, perhaps one that looking at it drains your health... I think this could have potential if done correctly :)

I could see it working quite well; again, given the Amnesia engine, with the whole monster detection thing. Perhaps for replayability value you can reskin the Maze itself, as well? So like on your first playthrough it could have the feel of an old Mansion for its textures, then the next it could be like a scene from Alien? To name a few, of course.

Perhaps player created Mazes? Maybe even a character creator, in the sense that you choose your Gender and you then choose a shade of skin colour, but that's it. That'll help with immersion, as the whole thing should be in first person.

To make a truly scary game... well, go all Eraserhead on the player. Give him something surreal, something loaded with terrifying imagery and vague symbolism, that's completely detached from any form of reality and conventional storytelling... and never explain any of that stuff to him.

Captcha: heart break. Yeah, Captcha, just rub it in...

Basically just the Thing. The premise of that film is so perfect for horror. I guess gameplay wise, it would work really well as a Telltale games style thing, talking to people, making tactical decisions whether to split up into what groups, how to treat a situation when somebody has been alone and could be a thing but you don't know.... that kind of stuff. Only difference would be that you would also control movement as some of the best moments in horror games are the adrenaline fuelled panic running away. I would definitely play that.

I would also make it so that bad decisions weren't immediately punished. You could make a bad decision (sparing somebody who was a thing for example) and the repercussions wouldn't be seen until later on. There could be a scoring system for example, and each bad decision gets you a point, and if when you get to certain parts of the game, your points are too high, then something goes horribly wrong. That way you can truly never be sure whether or not the decision you made was the right one, and it would allow for multiple playthroughs.

I still think the best idea iv'e had was when your character is walking thru a hall of Mirrors while Carnival music plays

and in the mirrors you see people running. you walk around a Corner and BAM something Inside the mirror tries to kill you

Perhaps you and a few friends are at a party when everyone is told by some sort of entity that one person has been possessed by an evil spirit and is intent on killing everyone. The only way to leave the house is to find out who the possessed person is. The game randomises who the possessed person is and it also randomises the events within the game (power going out.) You have to use your own knowledge to find out who the person is before you are killed.

Do yourself a favor and go play Hide :)

http://indiegames.com/2011/08/freeware_game_pick_hide_andrew.html

it's awesome. Seriously. Give it a try.
Also, I would like a game to ease you first, show you the ropes of their reality, then, slowly, start to bend it and build up suspense. I thought Amnesia was briliant, but still, it was pretty easy to tell yourself "it's a game", and move along, without immersing yourself.

On the other hand, I like how the Telltale Walking Dead can be pretty tense and scary at times :)

Sean Hollyman:
So what would you put in a game to make it truly scary?

I'd put something in there that follows you wherever you go. You can't attack it, but it can attack you, and it walks really slowly, but doesn't stop. But it's there. It's always there. Wherever you go.

Another way to do something like this would be if the thing walked the same pace of your main character, making its steps sound like the echo of the character's steps. It would always be a few paces away from you, and would stop when you did, but if you stalled it would suddenly start walking, coming closer. The time it would start walking again could be almost instantly or it could wait for a long time, depending on luck and circumstances in the game. The main character can't run nor hide, and the only thing that's really safe is to keep walking, and being careful when you have to stop so that the thing doesn't kill you. At least, that is something I think would be scary.

Ix Rebound:

Zhukov:
Still waiting for that underwater horror game.

Drifting through the water, hearing the sound of you own breath in the scuba mask, catching glimpses of huge somethings sliding through the murky depths.

fuck, i would shit myself in that kind of game
enemies that in the the water that a have to go through always scares the shit out of me.

Captcha :Wing it
exactly what i do

This is why I'll never finish Shadow of The Colossus. Damn Hydrus and your creepy ass slithering in the water and your big creepy staring eyes and your...your...*foams at the mouth and collapses*

Ohohoho! I've got an idea that may just end up working rather well....

Under some unknown circumstance in Medieval Europe, everything has suddenly become a whole lot more real: Vampires have begun to prowl the night (These are REAL classical vampires: aka. Sunlight doesn't kill them, it just means they can't use their full abilities and can blend in more), Werewolves, due to a constant full moon every night, are out in force. And worst of all, there are reports of zombies in some area's. Nobody knows why or how these things happened all they know is they are happening.

In this game you play a boy squire who was conscripted into a war between lords who is at this moment the only survivor of a small band of knights that were sent to investigate. Just a sword and the clothes you wear on your person, you have a choice: Trek ALL the way back to your kingdom (It's a LONG trip by the way), which by this point is afflicted with the same curse, or find a way to nullify the threat once and for all.

Doesn't sound scary? Ok, let me try this: The game runs on a day and night cycle. By day, you are free from supernatural threats (Barring zombies) and have to instead worry about bandits and other human threats. Your only safe haven is towns and some cities in the area, but they aren't full-proof. Once night hits though, BAM! In this game you are on your own, you won't get any allies aside from a few merchants in the towns..but that's it.

Still not scary? Alright, let's add in the Dark souls style of combat and level of difficulty. After all, you're main character is an untrained boy squire up against unholy abominations...who predominantly travel in groups. Your character will also have a 'tired' gauge. This doesn't do too much but, if your character doesn't get enough Z's some of his attributes get effected: He won't be as accurate with weapons, he won't be as quick to react or move as if he wasn't tired. Oh! And, let's not forget, he won't be able to pick up on threats as well. There isn't a radar or any real hud aside from weapon durability (Oh yeah, didn't think i'd leave that out didya?), your health and the tired meter.

Not quite scary enough yet? Not even after the day/night cycle, the dark souls level difficulty and combat, the fact your playing as an untrained boy? OK! Then how about this. Remember how i said before about the safe-havens being full proof? Well, sometimes, no matter where you are, there is a chance you may just be attacked. For example, say your character decided to rest at an inn. But, in the middle of the night, he's awoken to find a vampire in the center of the room who's managed to charm the entire inn into being asleep to drain them of blood. Cue chase from a creature whose faster, more powerful, and has access to magic while your stuck with limited supplies. Another Example, your character decides to sneak in and stay with a small peasant family for the evening. Half way through the night, WAM! Door gets caved in by a werewolf..and it's out for blood. Have fun.

So yeah: medieval time period weaponry and equipment combined with supernatural threat with a weak as hell lead character who, while able to fight, isn't built for it at all against monsters that are DAMNED hard and practically no safe havens with higher chance of danger anywhere provided it's night. Tell me that doesn't sound at-least slightly scary?

i had an idea the other day for a scary (well, creepy) game. essentially and ideally, it would be an open world game, say around the same size roughly as an elder scrolls map, but with no npcs. you wake up in some kind of abandoned building, and essentially have free reign to explore as you like. the world would be essentially a modern setting, with a multitude of towns and cities (one of which you randomly spawn in) as well as forests, rivers, fields and the like. it would also feature some sort of in game day/night and weather system.

so you pretty much begin to wander aimlessy, taking in the sights, rummaging around in buildings, all the while in near complete silence. perhaps you decide to follow the road towards the next town, or head into the forest and see what nature has to offer. you might find a notebook and start writing down what you find.

Fast forward a day or two (in game). you begin to sometimes hear.. sounds. the sound of footsteps, or twigs snapping behind you. you turn around to no avail, finding nothing in your wake. over the following days, the tension remains, this other presence remaining apparent, but never showing itself. you perhaps find a sturdy looking stick or pipe in the hopes of defending yourself against this unknown entity should it become apparent that it is hostile.

Sometimes, in the night, you see movements within the shadows, never drawing near, never uttering so much as a single sound.

essentially, the game just continues along this path, increasing the players paranoia steadily. there are never any other characters to interact with, there is never any background music, just silence, and natural sounds.

Hmm, a survival horror where the emphasis is on SURVIVAL. SUUUURVVVIIIIIVAAAAALLLLLLLLL

Zhukov:
Still waiting for that underwater horror game.

Drifting through the water, hearing the sound of you own breath in the scuba mask, catching glimpses of huge somethings sliding through the murky depths.

Holy shit.
I just imagined this and it scared the hwll out of me.
Seconded

CAPTCHA: Gotham City
.....I'm Batman.

I have a good one, so your this PI in the 1960s, and you have to go to this small village where your investigating suspicious suicides and disappearances, it's kinda got a mass effect dialogue system, and the game caters towards your specific fears.Anyone who is remotely friendly or helpful to you dies.On your first night staying at a lodge there you have a nightmare where your attacked and you escape/ or you die and wake up, each time you die in your dreams people lost their sanity slowly,more hostile, and what they say is harder to understand, and the ending is more sinister.In the dream world your traverse the town with all doors unlocked but usually when you enter a room will end up somewhere different then you expected and if you try and leave you'll get even more lost, and you have to fight the dead bodies of those who have committed suicide or disappeared, and monster related to your fears/the fears of those who died - only using objects from your environment.And throughout the game you lose your sanity and can't tell what real and what not.

"A horror game that isn't at all marketed as a horror game and you could conceivably go through the entire thing and not experience a single ounce of horror apart from perhaps a slight feeling as you're playing that something isn't right with this game world. However, if you go away from the main quest or whatever horrible creepy shit goes down and you realize that as you were playing this game that there was always this horror lying just underneath the surface and you never even saw it until just now and OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL.
Or perhaps similar to that idea a game that is completely normal the first time you play through it again, just a sense of "something peculiar is up and I don't know what it is" and then you get the horror coming through on subsequent play-throughs. You'd need some sort of incentive to do multiple play-throughs, though, maybe something like a promise of multiple endings."

I put this in quotation marks cause I got it from Cracked. They had an article for 6 video games we'd never get to play. It's on the front page. Read it. The ideas are ingenious. http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-greatest-video-games-well-never-get-to-play/

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