例如，在《英雄本色》（电影/游戏）的卧室中，Max Payne在游戏之后的环节又回到了那个地点 。
Horror/Survival Level Design: Part 3 – Environment
Following series of articles are going to go in depth and explain how to create horror and bring fear in level and game design.
Story and Environment
This is part 3 out of 5.
Story is king.
The power of story in your level comes down to two things. The story of the environment; and character’s story in that environment. As well as the relationship between each other.
Story is what we remember after everything is done and over with. We love to tell stories. We love to listen to stories. There is no better way to communicate and to connect with someone.
We don’t care about facts. If you teach me history and just give me facts about dates and people I won’t remember it.
I was working on a Left 4 Dead campaign map before they announced L4D 2. I asked my girlfriend to write a fictional story of the 4 characters Louis, Zoey, Bill and Francis and what would be their story as they are fighting through infected in New Orleans.
She wrote why the characters were there, how they got together and why they would stay with each other to survive. Each of them had individual goals and their own needs and wants. The environment came together all by itself. Each character’s background created a set of circumstances and events. When they announced L4D, I had to scrap my idea.
Left 4 Dead 2
But, the exercise was very important eye opener for me. Even though the story may not have been shared in its entirety if my campaign saw the light of day. The depth would seep through the
level design. Doing that exercise helped me create more depth to the characters, and more depth to the environments.
I want to introduce to you another story.
Story of the environment.
There are certain environments that are more effective in communicating horror and fear then others. For example abandoned buildings and old hotel rooms are scarier then brand new office buildings. Reason is because they have history and past associated with them. There are traces of human history in the environments. Brand new spanking environment doesn’t have that. So we already are seeing traces of clichÃ©s in the story of the environments.
Identify the Environment
What is the location?
What is the setting?
Time of day? Season?
What is the mood you want to communicate? The environment has to compliment the story and the purpose you are trying to achieve. It also has to drive the story forward.
Collect reference images.
Here is a technique you can use to create more of an emotional connection between the player and the location. First introduce the environment as it is, without the elements of infected, serial killer or the fear element you have in your design. Perhaps it’s a place they work in.
Then after the player is familiar with the place re-introduce them to it after they have encountered the horror.
What happens it this situation is the player has a physiological relationship, identification with the place. Because they were already there before, they associate and relate to it more then if you just throw them into a location with no background history.
For example the Max Payne bedroom. Both in the game and the movie, Max Payne comes back to that location later in the game.
Next is the most important aspect of creating an environment in horror and survival level design. You have to create an environment that players can relate to. They need to identify with the location in order to feel anything towards it.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to have visited the location, but being able to relate to it, is important. Most people know what London looks like and were able to relate to it in 28 Days Later.
Use locations only as it directly relates to the character in your game and if it supports the game’s story. If you can relate that location back to the player then it will strengthen the environment and player’s connection to it.
Write a story of your environment. Think as if you are telling a story to your friend. Who lived here? How did it get to be how it is? Why did everyone leave?
How it was created, what happened to it.
Think of the emotional impact and how this story can be used to create more depth in your environment and relate it back to the character and the player.
Relationship refers to the connection that the player has to other characters, to the story and to the environment. Establishing a relationship in a game is very challenging thing to do.
It’s even more challenging to do so in a survival/horror genre. Not many games and movies have been able to pull this one off well. Those that do, are remembered and often imitated.
It is difficult to create emotional connection between two or more characters without seeming to force it. It takes time to establish and create relationships. In movies we often see a forced love story, or a family story. Often times we don’t even care, because there is no real connection there to begin with. It seems like it was created as an afterthought.
Pulling off a powerful relationship in game through which a player can relate to and connect to takes a bit of thought and time. As humans we want to connect to other people and we want to share experiences.
Nothing connects and establishes a relationship faster then a shared experience. Some of the strongest bonds that people have were established through a highly emotional circumstances.
Any shared emotion that releases chemicals. Sadness, love, excitement and fun are to name a few. If you can induce any of these emotions in a player while they are playing the game and your map, you will create an emotional connection. If you do this early enough and effective enough, you have the player hooked.
There have been many more games lately that have been using a dog as a “sidekick”. One of the reasons they do so, is because nothing more creates an emotional connection to the player then a dog. That is why few years ago virtual pets were so popular. In movies we could see thousand of people die, but if one dog dies it is a tragedy. Just look at I am Legend.
Now the dog relationship between the character and the player is becoming a cliche but it is still something new in videogames. Fable 2, Fall out. All of these have a strong connection between the character and their four-legged friend.
What if while playing the game and after having an established relationship to your canine, you find yourself split by an unclimbable fence or an unbreakable glass from your dog.
You would then see but unable to help when a villain or a horde of infected comes in and kills your canine friend. What if this happened after you have invested time and effort in playing the game for majority of the time.
I don’t know about you but just writing that makes me imaging the situation and I feel the emotional consequences of this. I would want to finish the game just to get to whoever was responsible. That is a strong emotional drive you want to try to induce into your players. Its not easy, but if you pull it off, it is powerful.
Let me give you few principles to begin to incorporate into your level designs when it comes to relationships:
Relationships to other human beings are more powerful then to material possession. We often times see someone loosing a house or a car or some sort of a possession but in reality when a
person looses something more valuable to them like another person is more emotionally responsive.
If I show you something that creates a sad emotion and then re-introduce it later in the level. I would elicit the same response in you as I did when you first saw it. I now can use this to keep re-introducing through out the level and same emotion will come up.
For example if you do something that happens to the player in the bathroom as in Doom 3. Then everytime the player goes into the bathroom, he/she will have an emotional response to that
Fable 1 and 2 does the same thing by having the character being re-introduced to the original place where he was born in.
Music can create relationships and make them stronger. Using specific music during crucial parts of your game and during high emotional impact moments will heighten the connection between the player and the character.
Relationship that a character has to their environment could be used to great effect. For example if the character comes back to an environment that they have previously been to and now
it is not the same.
For example in Max Payne, in the beginning of the game his child and his wife are killed by drug addicts who break in. Later in the game through his dreams we get to replay and come back to
the same location. By doing that we already have emotional connection and certain response to that environment. It is such as strong motivator that we want to just run up and undo what was
done in the beginning.
Focus on universal emotions and create situations where you can induce the following emotions within the player. This will require some time and effort. Knowing your situation, your environment and characters involvement within your environment.
Last part in our five article series is the moral choice that a player makes while playing the game. Generally, morality is a system of rules that modifies our behavior in social situations. It’s about doing of good instead of harm.
Left 4 dead is a good example of moral decision-making.
As you play with 4 other human players you are often have to make certain decisions about your group.
Who will push the button at the finale to call the herd of infected? Will you wait for the last player to cross through to the safe house? Or will you close the door and let them die? Will you risk the safety of three other players and jump down from a good strategic position to help one of your teammates?
Left 4 Dead
You have to stick together and if one character gets lost and attached by infected you as a player have to make a moral decision to leave them die and escape or help them and risk death yourself. Other factors such as your health, how far you are from the safe house point and if other players are helping or running away from it.
All this comes down to moral choice that you consciously have to make. We rarely make decisions all by ourselves. Most of our decision-makings are done within a context of others and within a given situation.
Some games that allow this moral decision-making include Fable and Fable II as well as latest PS3 title Infamous.
In the beginning part of the movie “28 Weeks Later” when infected break into the safe house; the main character has to make a decision to stay or leave his wife. As he and his wife are in the same room, they are separated by the infected. He stays near the door while infected bust in and see his wife, but they don’t see him.
She looks at her husband and yells for help. The main character knows that if he helps, he dies. That moment of decision is the most important element of the moral decision. He chooses to run and shuts the door on her.
As he runs away, we see her at the window right before the infected rips her out form our view. That is very powerful.
28 Weeks Later
In GTA4, one of the missions has 2 outcomes. After establishing a good relationship with both characters in the game you are given a mission to kill one of them. PlayBoyX gives you a mission to kill his friend, who is also your friend. As you are on the way to complete your mission you get a phone call from the guy you need to kill. He says that he needs your help because he thinks PlayboyX is trying to kill him. Now you are faced with a moral dilemma. Who do you kill? Do you go for loyalty and friendship or do you choose money?
So how do you begin to have your player have more of a connection with your game and your level?
Begin by introducing decisions into your game, into your level design it will stand out as a unique and very rare map.
Introduce a choice in player’s path.
Make your characters split up.
Make characters pull levers, as another one has to defend something else.
Introduce choice to the player in a situation with real consequences.
If you established a previous relationship and then give a choice that the player needs to do something drastic that will have real game consequences to the story, environment and your character’s well being, then you are on your way to creating something truly unique and emotionally impactful.（source：part1 part2 part3)