Thursday, January 03, 2013

Scared Avatars

I was thinking about horror games where having the player take actions similar to a scared person might make the game more scary.

For example, in some of Frictional Games' works, monsters would only see you if you looked at them. So you spent a lot of your time hiding in a corner, waiting for the monster to move on.

Also, there have been a few games by Quantic Dream where you manage your sanity by taking boring, day-to-day actions. The games weren't very good games, but it stuck with me, this idea that pouring yourself a glass of water and watching a bit of TV would calm your digital nerves. It's an immersive and powerful pacing tool.

I'm kind of interested in amping this up.

We can add in other things people do when they are scared and nervous, like hum to themselves, run wildly, look around a corner nervously, duck back, and then look again... a whole bunch of little behaviors. And then we can incentivise them gently, often transparently.

For example, maybe you will nervously run your finger on the wall if you walk along it at a specific distance. This creates noise, but also a small amount of san recovery. It's something the player will discover just in the course of playing the game, but they quickly learn to use it as a tool or avoid it as a hazard.

Maybe tidying up gives you san back. A book put back on the shelf? Plus one san. Knock a book off the shelf? Minus one san. Pick up broken glass. Straighten paintings. Scrub sinks... incentivise player behavior, rather than just making the avatar hear voices.

If you look around a corner and then duck back, there won't be a monster there. But if you just come waltzing around the corner, there's a monster in the nook. Don't even tell the players - just let their instincts figure it out. When they get scared and low on health and start acting cautious... that's when the pressure lets up. The moment they get cocky... the hammer comes down. It has nothing to do with how many resources they have, it's all about how confident they act.

Just kind of brainstorming. I think it would be fun to create a game where your avatar's connection to the world is more important than his stats. A game where the players learn to act nervous and scared.

I wonder whether it would make them nervous and scared.

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