这是《F.E.A.R and The Ring》中的幽灵女孩。
好比是坐过山车。当你在排队等待时，会听到过山车呼啸而过的声音。听到其他人在尖叫，感觉地面在震动。随着你在队伍中往前移，就会看到排在前面的人坐上过山车。队伍越 近，你越觉得自己心跳加速。直到你自己坐进车厢时，才发现已经无法回头了。你要被困在这个小小的车厢里。现在你开始慢慢等待自己平静下来，而后过山车首次垂直降落时， 你会发现自己在等待中的一切预期全部得到验证。
可以将关卡中的事件想象成一个事件发展始终的过程，其中不乏逐渐上升的冲突。例如在《反恐精英》中，你要购买武器，然后进入一个阻塞点，开始交火。你的多数队友阵亡了 。一切暂时平息下来，你继续深入前进，安置炸弹，这里的预期又再次高升。随着倒计时进行，你清楚反恐精英们将在被炸区域四处作鸟兽散。在最后一秒弹药爆炸了，你的预期 也得到了验证。
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 。
在《侠盗猎车手4》中有个任务拥有2种结果。在你同游戏中的两个角色建立良好关系后，你得到的任务就是杀死其中一人。PlayBoyX给你的一个任务是杀死他的好友，而后者正好 也是你的朋友。在你去完成任务的路上，却接到你将杀之人打来的电话。他说自己需要你的帮助，因为他觉得PlayBoyX准备杀他。现在你就面临一个道德窘境了，你该杀谁？你会 选择忠诚和友谊，还是选择金钱？
Following series of articles are going to go in depth and explain how to create horror and bring fear in level and game design.
Survival horror level design.
This is part 1 out of 5.
There are sets of rules and situations that seem to appear in movies and games to induce fear and scare the audience/player. That may have started as original ideas, over time became cliches.
Dark room with flickering lights.
The abandoned building or an asylum.
A little girl that shows up at the end of the hallway and then disappears.
A phone that rings, when answered no one is on the other side, or you hear heavy breathing.
Foggy environment with noises and sounds of creatures awaiting for you just around the corner.
Characters that stay around in abandoned small towns.
The list goes on.
Definition of cliche is ideas that have been overused to the point of losing its intended force or novelty. In the examples above, some cliches were used very effectively, others weren’t.
Some may have started as original ideas in the beginning but over the years of watching movies and playing same videogames, we know what is going to happen.
Problem with cliches is we know what to expect because we have seen it so many times. We know that the killer doesn’t die after the first try; they always come back and jump at the character one more time. We know that when characters split up, it usually means death for one of them. That is the problem with cliches. We know their anticipated outcome.
Some effective cliches are use of characters, story and environment settings. As an example of what some of these games did well is they took what we used to consider to be scary and terrifying and they made it better. They made it scary again. They took the cliches that were no longer effective and introduced new ways of playing, experiencing and looking at the horror genre.
A mob of villagers in Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 4
Monolith’s F.E.A.R and The Ring ghost girl
Left 4 Dead introducing co-op play and infected. Not zombies. As well as the ability to play as the infect. Just as ’28 Days Later’ redefined what “zombies” movie should be.
Left 4 Dead
Abandoned small town in Silent Hill or a Haunted House in Alone in the Dark.
BioShock. Combining first person shooter with survival horror elements and creating a setting that is memorable and unforgetable.
Condemned 2:Bloodshot Taking the first-person shooter and combining with survival horror elements and then introducing melee combat. There is enough of familiarity and yet enough originality. Level design of condemned 2 is driven through the melee combat elements.
Now cliches are important. They are important to know and understand.
Cliches do work.
Even when we know what is going to happen, there are certain psychological triggers that make us react. That is why they are cliches, because they have been proven to work.
The goal is to recognize the cliches and then take it a step further.
Knowing how cliches work and what they are. You would then be able to anticipate the player’s reaction. Having that knowledge of player’s expectation and their possible next step you are able to put a new spin on them. Use cliches as a base for your level designs and game designs.
But cliches alone are not memorable. They are forgettable and unremarkable. They scare the player yes, but they become a gimmick. Use the cliches and by knowing the players reaction to them you are able to introduce new elements. Using cliches is easy; making the player remember them is hard.
Just as we all rememeber ‘Sixth Sense’ ending, but we all forget dozen of other movies that use the same ending.
Some cliches include story elements, environments and setting and specific events such as the flickering lights and the seeing things in the mirror behind you.
Using the cliches as a starting point you can begin to explore and introduce new elements that hook the player to your environment, your story and your level.
So, I’ve come up with 4 points, 4 important criteria that I believe are important to create horror and bring fear in the players in your level designs. If used right, it can engage andcreate an emotional response that will stay with the player way after the level/game is finished.
These four elements are:
Story and Environment
Anticipation and Pacing
Begin watching horror and suspense film and start taking notes what cliches you see, what reaction and anticipation you feel to those specific events. Begin recognizing what the director is trying to do and where the psychological triggers are. Why are you feeling the way you are during the heightened moments of the film? Play survival horror games and study human psychology.
Learn why people do the things they do.
Anticipation and Pacing
This is part 2 out of 5.
Anticipation and pacing is an important part of creating any single player and multiplayer map. It’s even more important to creating a successful horror and survival level.
Pacing is the tempo, the speed that something is revealed.
Anticipation is waiting for something to happen, an expectation.
Pacing and anticipation is knowing how to scare the player, what to do and when to do it. All this comes down to successfully pacing and creating anticipation to a certain event or an outcome.
Pacing should be build slowly and meticulously. Thinking through every event as each step on a staircase. One step at at time until you reach the top. You never want to go from step one to step ten without hitting every step along the way.
When you reach the top of the stairs, and you have built the anticipation so high, that now it is time to release by jumping down from the top step to the bottom. If you introduce the killer or the monster at the beginning then you don’t have anything at the end to keep up the pacing or to keep the player’s interest.
Think of a roller coaster. As you wait in line, you hear the sound of the roller coaster go up and down. You hear others screaming and yelling. You feel the ground shake. As you slowly make your way you see others in front get in and they are gone. As you get closer and closer you feel your heart pumping faster and faster. So once you are inside the cart, there is no point of going back. You have been strapped in and ready to go. Now you are going up slowly waiting
for your decent, and then all that waiting and build up is justified by the roller coaster being released as you plummet on the first dive.
If all that waiting around comes to a disappointing release then the intended effect is lost. Nothing would make up for it. Your experience would be ruined. At the same time if you didn’t have the build up, and all of a sudden yo et on and whoosh, its over. It would be a disappointing ride.
Think of an arc with a point of no return at the end. This is how most films are written. You want to design and think of your events in your level the same way.
As you pace your story and the events you are creating anticipation in the player. Then the anticipation at the end has to justify the expectation that the player had through out your entire game or level. You have to build up anticipation by setting the pace from one progression of events to the next.
Think of your events in your level as progression of one event to the next, but with rising conflict. For example in Counter-Strike you buy weapons, then you run towards a choke point, firefight happens. Most of your team dies. Everything calms down for a second; there is a moment of serenity. You advance further, plant the bomb, anticipation is built even higher. Timer ticks down as you know that the CTs are going to rush the bombsite to diffuse. At the last second it goes off. Expectation justified.
Build it up to something great and then release hell. If the player survives then it is something to remember. Never introduce and give away everything in the beginning. Wait till later. And build up your pacing slowly by introducing anticipation.
Using cliches. Recognizing what they are and knowing how the audience will react to it, because over the years they have been conditioned to know what is going to happen. Do it a few times then switch it up.
Use a focal point in your map is a great way to build anticipation.
Use lights and sound to drive the player’s focus to a specific spot in the environment. But of course don’t give away everything.
Use hints. Use of sound and noise is a great way to build anticipation.
Create enough space between each event to let the player breath before the next even happens. Next one comes, should be harder and more interesting and challenging then the previous one. Introduce your events slowly, meticulously and well thought out.
Create calm before the storm.
This is a very effective technique that allows creating an exciting event and going from 0 to 60 in a few seconds. You make sure that everything is calm in the environment, no infected, no killers, and no bosses. Almost like everything is perfect, then you introduce a sound or two and few seconds later, all hell breaks loose. L4D uses this in a great way, when you call for help and you have a few seconds before the horde gets there.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Saving Private RyanPerfect example of this is in Saving Private Ryan.
At the end of the movie when they are getting ready to fight the Nazis in the small-bombed town, you see them sitting around, talking and listening to music. It’s almost perfect. But within few seconds the entire place breaks into a war zone.
Calm before the storm.
Come up with three ways you could introducing and pace your level. Think of specific events in your level design you could introduce this. Use the arc image to help you. This could be used for single player or multiplayer.
Think of the movies that have a clear rising of the arc. Pacing and anticipation and then the drop off such as Predator or Titanic.
Study Saving Private Ryan for Pacing and Anticipation.
How can you create anticipation in your player that where their heart begins to pump way before the final outcome is revealed?
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 aperson 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 thatenvironment.
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 nowit 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 tothe 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 wasdone 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.