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Agustin Cordes分享恐怖游戏制作经验

发布时间:2012-12-13 17:54:19 Tags:,,,

作者:Konstantinos Dimopoulos

日前,恐怖冒险热作《Scratches》的开发者Agustin Cordes(不久他还要推出《Asylum》这款恐怖游戏)决定与我们分享如何制作恐怖游戏。

例如,互动性如何增加恐惧感?指向点击模式如何取得比一般怪兽题材更棒的效果?在设计恐怖游戏时应具备何种想法?交互性故事情节的辩证逻辑如何发挥作用?

基本上,你主要制作恐怖游戏,为什么?

可能是种巧合吧。没错,我喜爱恐怖题材,从小我便观看了大量精神错乱与堕落题材的电影,但我并不打算主要关注恐怖游戏(虽然现在我总会不由自主地选择这个方面)。同样地,我也喜爱喜剧,虚幻的冒险故事,或科幻小说,总之,我最喜欢那些会令玩家受挫的题材。

其实,在我刚刚跨入游戏领域时,《Scratches》碰巧是我当时最想开发的创意,尽管我倾向于以科幻故事作为处女作。当然,还有其它因素注定我的决定:毫无疑问,恐怖题材更有销售市场,因此它尤为适合作为首款游戏,尤其是《Scratches》故事可以在低预算情况下打造而成(游戏邦注:比如,我们不必设置任何角色)。

至于《Asylum》,我决定延续恐怖风格,因为这样更加自然;我从《Scratches》中发现了不少错误,我希望通过改进相似体验,制作出具有更棒效果的恐怖游戏。因此,在某种程度上,《Asylum》可谓继承了《Scratches》的精髓。也就是说,我们无疑将希望寄托在Senscape下次推出的另一种题材上。

asylum (from indiegames)

asylum (from indiegames)

你相信恐怖游戏能够取得其它媒介同种内容的效果吗?

完全相信。优质的恐怖故事依赖于其气氛与细节,我们肯定能在游戏中创造这些元素。实际上,有些电影并无法提供强烈的恐怖体验,因为作为纯粹的视觉媒介,它以展示更多画面为主,从而忽略给观众留下想象空间。书籍则是理想媒介:我坚信,只有在书里才会体会到最恐怖的经历,因为读者在阅读时总处于想象的过程中。

游戏则介于两者之间:它既是一种视觉媒介,同时,它还能刺激玩家的想象力。在游戏中,我们有更多的时间发展一个出色故事,慢慢增强恐惧势头,并提供大量细节、隐蔽线索,增强体验效果,奖励那些深入探索的玩家。注意,我主要着眼于恐怖游戏的叙事方面;有些游戏则完全忽视这个方面,仅呈现视觉经历。我认为那是最简单的恐怖形式,即玩家在感到震惊,或不安后,立马忘记整个画面。它不会长时逗留在脑海中;你从不会觉得恐惧感蔓延全身。当然,游戏能够提供如杰出恐怖电影或书籍般的感受,但我们应预先制定好优质脚本,但许多公司并不乐意这样做。

互动方式如何改变玩家获得恐惧的渠道?

之前我已谈过这个问题:与玩家的互动方式能赋予我们以完全不同的视角与方式加强游戏体验。有些专家表示这种互动性会抹杀精美的叙事情节,但我不赞同这个观点。我发现,玩家的既定动作有助于设计师以多种方式呈现故事,提高情节发展速度。我认为,设计师与玩家需要对方为其讲述一个出色的故事。

在恐怖题材上,我相信,同比电影媒介,你可以为玩家呈现出更加逼真的场景,甚至能为他们解释主人公的动机(游戏邦注:但并不比书籍更加出色)。有时,你十分不满电影角色做出的愚蠢决定,或是无法理解主人公如何产生欲望。在游戏中,你更有机会解释这些方面与那些牵强附会的情形。尤其是《Scratches》中的熔炉顺序是不会出现在电影中。我的意思是,为何主人公要在深更半夜爬进据说会闹鬼的老房子的熔炉中呢?!只要滚出那个地方就好了!但这似乎是游戏中的自然动作:此时,玩家理解主人公Michael的动机。最重要的是,是玩家自己决定爬进熔炉内。而设计师的主要职责是指引正确方向。

因此,我可以肯定,互动性能够改善整个游戏体验,增强恐惧氛围。关键是制造疑惑悬念:我们难以在电影中恰当地实现这一点,但我们却有多种办法安排游戏进程。

你觉得《Scratches》属于真正的恐怖游戏吗?为什么?

我无法进行判断,但它显然如此。现在,我仍会收到那些对该游戏感到恐惧的玩家的评论(我希望自己也有此经历,但现在我对这些恐怖内容已经很有免疫力了)。最令我惊讶的是,该游戏取得预期般的效果,正如之前提到的熔炉场面。当然,我感到十分高兴,虽然还处在惊讶中;因为回想起来,《Scratches》仍是款瑕疵之作,其中仍有不少漏洞,但无论如何,它的所有部分能推动其正常运作。

我认为,《Scratches》取得成功的关键是其节奏与电影效果。首先,它的发展节奏极其缓慢,玩家需给予大量关注,但最后,故事情节蜿蜒曲折,充满惊险。许多玩家并没有通过第一天的进程,但那些坚持到底的玩家则会在之后阶段中获得奖励。我认为,这种缓慢节奏能够提升玩家的感知;游戏中并未发生太多事情,因此他们会更注重所有细节,预计可能发生的最小事件,而后融入到游戏氛围中,慢慢地了解整个错综复杂的故事。在逐渐上手后,他们会完全沉浸在游戏进程,并极其容易接受那些恐怖情节。

与此同时,玩家可以自由控制游戏玩法;也许由于他们享有过多自由,以致于他们常常感觉错失下个步骤的暗示。最终这只是一种幻觉,因为是熔炉造成的假象:如果你真的按照我的预想体验游戏进程,那么你就不是操控者。因此,《Scratches》可以描述为玩家与设计师争夺游戏控制权的紧张局面。通常,它并不会取得预计般的效果,但在某个时刻它将十分有效。

asylum(from indiegames)

asylum(from indiegames)

《Asylum》又是怎样一款游戏?你是否改变了恐惧营造手法?

不是很多,简而言之,我只是想在相同题材设计上进行不断完善。由于《Scratches》的缓慢节奏与提供较少暗示,《Asylum》则呈现出更易上手与动态方面。现在,我们的意图的维持玩家的忙碌状态,他们总会期待某些东西,而且该游戏中不会设置类似《Scratches》中的多余间奏。我发现,在《Asylum》中,我并非将影响游戏节奏的解谜列为重点;我更加注重游戏体验。

在恐惧方面,它始终延续心理恐惧感,我们并不担心设置了某些不安时刻。事实上,《Asylum》这款游戏更具残酷感(游戏邦注:它将呈现出远比《Scratches》更多的血腥场面,后者几乎不包含任何血腥场面)。总之,那会是一种更加残酷的体验模式;游戏气氛充满压抑与恐慌,故事情节更趋黑暗,许多时刻均给人带来震惊。但你会爱上这款游戏。

你是如何获得创造灵感的?

在恐怖题材方面,我有许多灵感来源。如之前提到的,从小我就观看了大量恐怖电影:比如《Friday The 13th.》、《Poltergeist》、《The Changeling》、《The Thing》、《House By The Cemetery》、《Houst Of The Long Shadows》、《Shock Waves》、《Evil Dead》、《The Wicker Man》……其中不少电影均从不同角度给我带来深远影响:比如如何设置悬念、创建强烈氛围、利用黑暗神秘、对未知的恐惧、离奇时刻、奇异死亡、田园恐怖刺激用户等等。Hammer电影、血腥恐怖等均是我最爱的亚类型恐怖题材。我尤为偏爱Lucio Fulci、John Carpenter与David Cronenberg这些导演。

然而,目前我最重要的灵感来源是H.P.Lovecraft。至今为止,其作品至今仍对我编写恐怖故事的手法产生重大影响。矛盾的是,媒介上的故事与Lovecraft的现实作品存在出入:后者注重紧密的散文格调、剧烈节奏、鲜少恐怖时刻,以及较少怪兽。也许,“真正的”Lovecraft作品并不适合当前这种快节奏、视觉性、神秘的恐怖媒介。也就是说,我自己正试图效仿其超凡脱俗的心境,以及故事中永存的理念,即未知事物总比亲眼看到的更具恐怖感。

对恐怖游戏设计方面有没有特别建议?

我认为,我所提供的建议均脱离不了我对恐怖题材的喜爱,即倾向于慢速的心理恐怖体验。在此,我必须强调创造强烈氛围的必要性;然而,取得这种效果则存在极大难度。“氛围”是一系列不明确成分的结合体。你应耗费一些时间正当介绍自己的故事,尽可能提供更多细节。不要借此打击玩家,而应奖励那些愿意深入挖掘并发现黑暗秘密的玩家。你还应提供一些见解;游戏的主人公应在其环境中做出有意义的反应,并不时透露想法、信念与观点。创建玩家与主人公的联系,有助于他们明了游戏境况。而且,你还应赋予玩家充分的自由去了解游戏情节;通常,设计线性游戏是一种糟糕的做法,而恐怖游戏尤其不适合采用线性模式。

以上是我关于恐怖游戏设计手法的建议。当然,你还应阅读大量书籍、观看大量影片,借此寻求灵感。保持开放思想;不要将自己局限在某个特定亚类题材中,以此发掘新的可能性。同时,你还应进行大量调查;《Scratches》这款游戏是完全根据谷歌的调查结果设计而成。我从未访问过维多利亚的老式房屋,或是腐烂的Kirkbride收容所。你是无法想象,自己能通过注视大量图片获得多少创作灵感。这都是视觉与情节方面的细节。

记住:暗示恐怖事物能营造出最佳的恐怖氛围。不要展示,而是透露。如果你的角色正划船通过险恶的湖面,而且某些奇怪的巨型生物正隐没在水下,此时,你不应该让这些生物突然现身;没错,这会给玩家带来震惊之感,但不一会儿他们便会忘记这种场面。这时,你应让这些巨大的畸形影子游过船底,我保证,玩家会被吓死。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Agustin Cordes on Horror in Games

by Konstantinos Dimopoulos

Agustin Cordes of Senscape, the person behind indie horror adventure hit Scratches (back from the era when adventures were considered dead and the indie scene was much smaller) and the driving force behind the long awaited Asylum, has decided to let us pick his brain and try and understand how horror works in games.

How interactivity can amplify scares. How pointing-and-clicking can achieve much more than your average monster flick. How you should probably think when designing horror games. How the dialectics of interactive storytelling actually work.

You have essentially specialized in horror games. Why?

You might be surprised to hear that this was mostly a coincidence. Yes, I love horror, I grew up watching the most deranged and depraved movies you can imagine, and yet I wouldn’t want horror to be my primary focus in games (even if I can’t help it right now). I like just as much comedy, or a good fantasy adventure, or even better: science fiction, which, some will be disappointed to hear, is my favorite genre.

Basically, when I begun working on games Scratches happened to be the most developed idea, even though I was close to choosing a sci-fi story to debut. Other factors decided for horror though: it’s no secret it sells better, so it was a good bet for a first game, particularly as the Scratches story leaned well towards a low budget indie game (for example, we didn’t have to show any characters).

As for Asylum, I decided to stick with horror because it feels like the most natural next step; I learned from many mistakes I did with Scratches and I wanted to do better, improving upon a similar experience. So, in a way, Asylum is a spiritual successor. That said, we’re definitely trying our luck with another genre at Senscape next time.

Do you believe that horror in games can be as effective as in other mediums?

Yes, absolutely. Great horror relies on mood and subtlety, and we can have them in spades in games. In fact, some movies fail to provide a strong horror experience because, as a purely visual medium, they’re forced to show too much, leaving nothing to the mind of the viewer. Books are the ideal medium: I firmly believe that the most terrifying experiences can only occur in books when the mind of the reader is always at work.

I’d say games fall in between: yes, they’re a visual medium as well, but we can stimulate the mind of the player in ways movies simply can’t. We have more time to develop a good story, slowly build up momentum, even provide with more details, hidden clues, and all sorts of tricks to enhance the experience and reward those who look deeper. Note that I’m focusing on the narrative aspect of horror; some games disregard all of this and provide a more visceral experience that is purely visual. I think that’s the most straightforward form of horror, the one that is shocking and likely disturbing, yet instantly forgettable. It doesn’t stick with you; you never feel the dread creeping upon your soul. Games can definitely provide that feeling just as well as a great horror movie or book, but it requires planning and a good script that not many companies are willing to invest in.

How does interactivity change the way gamers can be scared?

This goes in line with what I was discussing before: the interaction we require from the player gives us a completely different perspective and ways to enhance the experience. Some academics will claim that interaction kills good narration, but I beg to differ. I find that requiring actions from the player gives you, the designer, the opportunity to reveal the story in various ways and improve the pacing. I like to think that both the designer and the player need each other to tell a really great story in games.

When it comes to horror, I’m convinced that you can present the player with very believable situations and explain the motivations of the protagonist even better than in movies (but not better than books). Sometimes in a movie you feel insulted by the stupid decisions characters are making, or you fail to understand the logic that drives the desires of the protagonist. In games you have more room to elaborate on these matters and such far-fetched situations feel less forced. Specifically in the case of Scratches, the infamous furnace sequence would have been extremely gratuitous in a movie. I mean, why the heck is the protagonist going to crawl inside that furnace in the middle of the night in this allegedly haunted old house?! Just get the hell out of that place and be done with it! Yet it seemed like the natural course of action in the game: by that point the player understood the motivations of Michael, the protagonist. Most importantly, it was the players who decided to enter the furnace. All I did as a designer was point them in the right direction.

So, I definitely think interaction can improve the overall experience and help us scare the players even more. The key is suspension of disbelief: it’s very hard to pull it off correctly in movies, but we have more tools at our disposal in the case of games.

Did you feel that Scratches really worked as a horror game? Why?

It’s hard for me to judge that but apparently it did. I’m still receiving comments from people that were terrified with the game (I wish I could experience that but, alas, I’m not easily scared these days). The most amazing thing for me is that it seems to have worked as I hoped, as was showcased in the aforementioned furnace scene. Of course, I couldn’t be happier but this still surprised me; I mean, in retrospective, Scratches was a flawed title with decidedly weak spots, yet somehow the sum of its parts made it work.

Key to its success, I think, is the pacing and the cinematic feel it provided. It’s dreadfully slow at first and demanded a lot of attention from the player, but eventually the story picked up with many twists and surprises. Many didn’t make it through the first day, but those who endured were extremely rewarded in latter stages of the game. So, I’d say that the slow pace enhanced the perception of players; not much was going on, so they were paying attention to every detail in the game, anticipating the smallest of events, and thus getting soaked in the atmosphere and slowly learning about the intricate story. When things began to pick up, they were completely immersed and therefore very receptive to scares and dreadful plot revelations.

At the same time, players had complete freedom or control over the gameplay; maybe TOO much freedom, as often many felt lost without hints as to what to do next. In the end this was an illusion because, once again, the damn furnace: you’re not in control if you’re doing exactly what I was expecting you to do. So Scratches can be described as this tension between player and designer fighting for control in the game (remember what I said about a story being told by both?). It didn’t always work as intended, but the moments it did could be quite effective.

What should we expect in Asylum? Did you change anything in the way you approach scares?

Not much. In short, I want to improve on the same style of design. Whereas Scratches was too slow or didn’t provide enough hints, Asylum will feel more immediately accessible and dynamic. The intention now is to keep players busy all the time, with always something to look forward to and without those intermezzos with nothing happening as was the case with Scratches. I’m finding that I’m assigning less importance to puzzles to avoid hurting the pacing of the game; the focus is even stronger on the experience this time around.

As for scares, it all remains mostly psychological with a bunch of on-the-edge-of-your-seat sequences. We’re not afraid of pushing the line with some fairly disturbing moments. Actually, the game was going to be gorier at first but we’re taking it easier on that front (there will still be more blood than in Scratches though, which was practically bloodless). All in all, it’s a more relentless experience; the atmosphere is very oppressive and anguishing, the storyline much darker and many moments will be decidedly jarring. Yeah, you’re going to love this alright.

Where do you look for inspiration?

When it comes to horror, many sources. Like I said before, I grew up watching tons of horror movies: Friday The 13th., Poltergeist, The Changeling, The Thing, House By The Cemetery, House Of The Long Shadows, Shock Waves, Evil Dead, The Wicker Man… Those are some of the movies that most influenced me, though each one in a different way: how to build suspense, create a strong mood, stimulate your audience with a dark mystery, fear of the unknown, surreal moments, bizarre deaths, pastoral horror, and more. Hammer Films, slasher horror, and Italian horror are the sub genres that I love the most. Specific directors would be Lucio Fulci, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.

But, my most significant source of inspiration, which should be fairly evident by now, is H. P. Lovecraft. His work is by far what has most influenced my approach to horror writing. It’s rather contradictory that Lovecraft is so present in media and yet his actual stories are the complete opposite of what you get these days: with dense prose, excruciating pace, very few terrifying moments and actually not that many encounters with monsters in his entire bibliography, it’s safe to say that the “true” Lovecraft isn’t a good fit among the fast-paced, show, don’t tell, horror media we have today. That said, I keep finding myself attempting to emulate his penchant for otherworldly mood and the ever-present notion in his stories that what you can’t see is always much scarier than what you can.

Any specific horror game-design guidelines?

Any suggestions I can offer would be strongly tied to my preference in horror, namely slow-paced experiences leaning towards the psychological horror. I can’t stress enough the need to attain a strong mood; however, describing how to achieve this is very hard. “Mood” is the sum of many things and a certain undefined ingredient that keeps them together. Take your time to properly introduce your story and provide as many details as possible. Don’t overwhelm players with them, but do reward those willing to dig deeper and uncover the darkest secrets. Provide insight; your protagonist should react meaningfully to his or her surroundings and always take the opportunity to expose thoughts, beliefs, sentiments. Try to establish a connection between player and protagonist so that they’re identified with the situations in the game. Give them enough liberty to learn your plot at will; too linear games are generally bad practice, but perhaps horror is the genre that will suffer the most from a very linear design.

That would be my advice to approach horror game design. Of course, you should also read a lot and watch many movies to seek inspiration. Keep an open mind; don’t limit yourself to a particular sub genre and try to explore new possibilities. Research; Scratches was entirely designed after research on Google. I have never been to such an old Victorian house or a decaying Kirkbride asylum. You can’t imagine how much inspiration you can get from staring at a bunch of pictures. It’s all in the details, both in terms of visuals and plot.

And remember: horror works best when you hint at terrifying things. Don’t show, tell. If your character is rowing a boat across a sinister lake and some strange, cyclopean creature is lurking beneath the waters, you don’t want to have that creature suddenly emerging in front of the boat; that will be shocking, yes, but instantly forgettable and cheap. Rather, have a massive, deformed shadow passing under the boat and I can guarantee your players will be scared to death.(source:indiegames)


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