30 Comments
Posted by michaelferrari

This looks promising.

Posted by Sooty

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

Edited by Mikular

@sooty So because he's not well known, he doesn't have prowess? Also, didn't you catch the Carpenter/Gonzalez interviews?

Posted by patrickklepek

@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

Make sure to check out his website. Just because you had to search for someone doesn't mean they don't know their shit. :)

Staff
Posted by DickSocrates

A mini rant about Amnesia: TDD in response to everyone saying how brilliant it is all the time:

Amnesia is fundamentally broken. A horror game where none of the monster encounters pose any threat to the player (apart from the water monster). How has no one noticed this? It does a lot of things right--very right--but it's broken.

See monster -> move away and duck behind something -> monster "pretends" to come after you but crucially NEVER finds you and then vanishes from the map; literally ceases to exist as that encounter is now over. The initial "Oh my God, is it still around?!?!?" quickly stops being an issue when you realise that yes, the monster is gone because the game is designed for it to disappear once the encounter has happened. The monster is NEVER still around. Once I caught on, the tension totally died on me. I knew for a fact I wasn't in danger, a pretty big failure for a horror game. The reason the game works like this is because the designers couldn't solve what was supposed to happen when a monster sees you and fudged it. If the monster *could* find you once you crouched, you'd be ****ed 100% of the time. There's no game mechanic for dealing with encounters and the level design doesn't allow for you to get away, so the only option is crouch in dark room or go into wardrobe. That's the automatic win state as there are no gameplay alternatives. If the monster hung around, again, you'd be effed, so it's teleported away.

The game starts so damn brilliantly too when you don't yet know the footsteps, creaks and wails are just sound effects and nothing more and that the monsters are so tightly scripted.

Edited by Kovie

This was a really enjoyable discussion, and I appreciate the amount of knowledge on display. I love to hear about old horror games and learn about stuff like Hellnight, so thanks to Chris for that!

@dicksocrates:If you want, I can tell you how to also completely ruin SH2 for yourself.

Really though, you've managed to deconstruct the game enough to the point where you can mechanically rationalize most of what happens -- You could probably do that with anything. While I don't think you're giving the game quite enough credit with it's variability and deliberate obfuscation, my own experience with and knowledge about the game tells me that you're not entirely wrong. But I don't think the game is at fault for that, those certainly aren't things you're expected to rationalize (not that they're typically 100% binary), and it turns out most people don't.

Posted by Slunk

Really enjoyed this -- Thanks Patrick!

Posted by GermanBomber

Hey Patrick, I really respect what you're doing for the whole horror genre on this site. Your coverage and interviews are really interesting and insightful most of the times. I always enjoy to learn more about the person behind a horror game.

Interesting stuff, duder.

Posted by Video_Game_King

The only requirement I could think of for a good horror game is just getting rid of combat. It's a battle you're never gonna win. Add in combat, and your player becomes DarkSydePhil, trying to do things they absolutely should not be doing.

Edited by Yummylee

I've also seen Dead Ringers, and... compared to his other work, it's really not that weird. I mean Naked Lunch in particular is just WTFFFFFFFFFFF?!EDWLDNWIOCWOCIPWCDW??!!!???

Oh, and obligatory ''Hope THIS is Not ? Chris' Blood!...'' >_>'

Posted by Elikazam

I had the honor of presenting on horror games with Chris at a conference a few years ago. Really loved discussing the genre and theorizing about its future with him (and talking about our favorite Hell Night and Clock Tower experiences over breakfast, because that's obviously the best time and place for that). He's truly a fountain of knowledge on the subject. Thanks for sharing this, Patrick!

Posted by Kohlstream

@patrickklepek: You and Chris need to do a Giantbomb Horror podcast or something. Really enjoyed this!

Posted by JohnRabbit

@kovie:

You can ruin anything if you get reductive enough. The original point @dicksocrates was making however, is valid, especially in light of comparing modern horror games like Outlast and Amnesia to something like the original Silent Hill trilogy.

Silent Hill does a fantastic job of providing both narrative and mechanical reasons to continue playing the game, to invest yourself in the characters, and to see the story to it's completion. It also gives you the barest sense of control (via combat) over the proceedings, but the entire point of Silent Hill's combat is not to fight, it's to "feel" safe even though deep inside, you know you aren't. That's true fear.

Amnesia and Outlast have the same kind of fear as a thrill ride. There's the complete lack of control over any of it, for one. "Running instead of fighting" isn't innovative, or more terrifying; it's dissonant and frustrating. This paired with a telegraphed, deliberate build that's released at calculated points in the story to create "fear"; typically through some kind of audio stab and a sudden, uncontrolled movement of the player/camera. Except that what you fear isn't for the safety of your player character, or your own sanity, you just don't want to hear any more loud noises. The fear is gone as soon as the moment has passed. The kind of fear the Silent Hill produces lingers long after you've turned the console off and turned the lights back on because it isn't commodified down to convenient little "moments".

Posted by Yummylee

Regarding Resident Evil, while it's obvious enough why the series went in the direction that it did, it's always been frustrating why they never made some sort of spin-off series that could cater to the niche that still loves the original games. Now more than ever does it feel perfectly suitable for that sort of game, for a £12 priced downloadable little thing on PSN/XBLA/Steam that could reintroduce the camera angles and limited ammunition that were once staples of the series.

It'd be even better if they went the whole 9 yards and ''demade'' this hypothetical spin-off series, with the same PS1-era blocky polygonal graphics and hilariously exaggerated hand gestures in the cutscenes. But instead, what Capcom considers a 'spin-off' for this series lately have been yet even more terrible shooters like Operation Raccoon City, and those light-gun things.

Edited by crithon

nah, From Dusk Till Dawn was sold more Tarantino, and everyone was expecting pulp fiction style plot twists grind house take. The Vampires were really sold heavy, and it's Evil Dead style camera. Man, Rodriguez sucks more more I'm reminded of that film.

Posted by FreedomTown

Any game trying to be "scary" is not scary, due to technical limitations in AI, and due to the fact scripted events are inherently not scary. The only games are games that don't try to do anything, but open the doors to your imagination, and paint you a picture. Your imagination can be the scariest thing possible.

Posted by Fram

@patrickklepek: You and Chris need to do a Giantbomb Horror podcast or something. Really enjoyed this!

Seconded! You two have a great rapport, and he's clearly a treasure trove of knowledge. A regular podcast dissecting a particular horror game and exploring its successes/failures/context within the genre would be fascinating.

Online
Edited by Hassun

Great interview. I wonder what he thinks about Amnesia vs the Penumbra games. Seeing as that's how the developer evolved.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

A mini rant about Amnesia: TDD in response to everyone saying how brilliant it is all the time:

Amnesia is fundamentally broken. A horror game where none of the monster encounters pose any threat to the player (apart from the water monster). How has no one noticed this? It does a lot of things right--very right--but it's broken.

See monster -> move away and duck behind something -> monster "pretends" to come after you but crucially NEVER finds you and then vanishes from the map; literally ceases to exist as that encounter is now over. The initial "Oh my God, is it still around?!?!?" quickly stops being an issue when you realise that yes, the monster is gone because the game is designed for it to disappear once the encounter has happened. The monster is NEVER still around. Once I caught on, the tension totally died on me. I knew for a fact I wasn't in danger, a pretty big failure for a horror game. The reason the game works like this is because the designers couldn't solve what was supposed to happen when a monster sees you and fudged it. If the monster *could* find you once you crouched, you'd be ****ed 100% of the time. There's no game mechanic for dealing with encounters and the level design doesn't allow for you to get away, so the only option is crouch in dark room or go into wardrobe. That's the automatic win state as there are no gameplay alternatives. If the monster hung around, again, you'd be effed, so it's teleported away.

The game starts so damn brilliantly too when you don't yet know the footsteps, creaks and wails are just sound effects and nothing more and that the monsters are so tightly scripted.

Well it both works and it doesn't work. The first time I ever had a face-to-face in Amnesia, we both stood there in an awkward sort of 'well, what now?' kind of way and then I ducked around him and ran. But even after that goofiness I still got plenty scared. If you're focusing on the system of the game, then yeah the facade probably falls down quickly. But there's always the one kid going through the haunted house with a group of friends saying 'yo man these intestines are just noodles'. Picking it apart always breaks it.

But for the record: he might not still be around, but that doesn't mean he (it?) won't appear again immediately in the next room. There seemed to be some element of randomness to the encounters, which could be infuriating but kept the tension up, for me anyway. Never quite knowing when, you enter a new area, if you're in a monster room or if they're going to introduce something new, is the whole point.

PS your username is pretty great.

Edited by bunkerbuster05

House of the Devil is very reminiscent of Rosymary's Baby, my favorite horror movie. It constantly plays with your expectations, so you always have a feeling of unease.

Posted by BeachThunder

May as well not watch it now then...

Posted by RockyRaccoon37

LOVE the Cronenberg talk early in the podcast!

They're actually doing a Cronenberg festival in a Toronto theatre all through November with Cronenberg introducing and talking about most of the movies.

October 31st - Dead Ringers with intro by David Cronenberg and Jeremy Irons

Can't wait!!

Posted by jpmcosta

Very good. I really enjoyed this.

Edited by JStaunton

@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

It's hard to know whether you were looking for a reaction, or you're just weird.

Edited by Sooty

@jstaunton said:

@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

It's hard to know whether you were looking for a reaction, or you're just weird.

It's hard to know whether you're aware I don't know of everyone in the gaming industry, or you're just an ass. Not sure how my comment was even remotely reaction bait.

and now back to my policy of ignoring all notifications.

@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

Make sure to check out his website. Just because you had to search for someone doesn't mean they don't know their shit. :)

True true, but please try and get some of those horrible Frictional people in!

Edited by JStaunton

@sooty said:

@jstaunton said:

@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

It's hard to know whether you were looking for a reaction, or you're just weird.

It's hard to know whether you're aware I don't know of everyone in the gaming industry, or you're just an ass. Not sure how my comment was even remotely reaction bait.

and now back to my policy of ignoring all notifications.

@patrickklepek said:
@sooty said:

I would have liked to hear from a guy with more prowess in the horror genre discuss what makes them tick, I had to Google who this guy even is.

Make sure to check out his website. Just because you had to search for someone doesn't mean they don't know their shit. :)

True true, but please try and get some of those horrible Frictional people in!

I didn't even know who this guy was, but I didn't decide to post an extremely rude/ignorant message about it.

I barely know any names in the gaming industry but to suggest that the guy was a nobody just because you didn't recognise his name, is just downright lame.

Way to be reactionary with your 'ass' comment btw.