Designing a terrifying game

There is something special about survival horror games. It may be their amazingly gruesome stories. Or maybe the core suspense and tense gameplay they provide. There are many elements that make them so interesting and attracting. There are also very different types of terror and survival horror games, with some differences being so big that you could say they belong to a different genre. But among these qualities and characteristics there are some key common elements that all these games share. On top of that, there are some aspects every terror game must respect and implement in order to nail the experience people expect from them.

If you are thinking on designing a horror game today is your lucky day, because we are going to review a few of these key elements that make the survival horror tick.

So, if you please, close you windows, dim off the lights and sit tight, because we are in for some scary stuff!

 

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Software made for fun, but still software

I have very bad news for some of you: video games are nothing more than colorful software with funny things like zombies, but at the end every videogame is nothing more than a complex software project.

What I’m writing about today? Why all those bad news? Today I’m going to talk about something boring for almost every developer, something necessary that all of us tried to avoid at least once, what must not be named!:  Software documentation

Software made for fun, but still software

Boss doesn`t like documentation either

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Building small towards big things

Let’s say you wan’t to become a game developer at some point in your life. Let’s also say that achieving this goal is your top priority in life right now. It may be because you don’t like your current job (if you have one) or because making games has been your life long dream. It does not really matter why you wan’t to do this, at least not for me. It just matters to you.

What matters to me is the fact that achieving this goal is not easy. In fact, it is way easier to screw up by making simple -yet not so obvious- mistakes along the way. Today we are going to talk about one of the most important:  not trying to build something so big that it can eat your dreams in one big gulp.

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Don’t let your projects squash your dreams!

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Learning from failure

Last week Sergio and I signed for the “it’s a race” Mini Ludum Dare and he did a pretty good work with his Boost Power, but the same can’t be said about me.  This one has been my first game jam where I tried my best, but at the end I didn’t make it. It’s a shame, but I still think that still worth it.

My try is about a little mole fleeing  from a sure death under the horrific mower of doom. You can help the little mole by smashing your keyboard and evading some obstacles jumping over them. My hours playing Track & Field some years ago have to take some blame for my smashing button addiction.

Click the following image to access the “game”

My failed game for the mini LD. Click to play

My failed game for the mini LD. Click to play

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Attention to detail

It goes without saying that a properly polished game just sets itself apart from the competition. But sometimes polish is not enough, and as a matter of fact it is supposed to be there  for great games. On the other hand, there is something that makes a world of difference between great games and exceptional ones. This is, for me, because of a specific level of attention to detail given by developers to the game’s world and feeling.

But what affects this special attention to detail you may ask?, well, it goes from little audio cues to full special graphics effects. In a broad way we could define these details as something apparently completely irrelevant to the game’s core gameplay that yet it manages to add a significant amount of fun or joy to the game’s experience.

Ok, ok, that last sentence sounded like something right out of the Encylopedia Britannica. I apologize.

On more simpler and understandable terms: adding little things and “silly” details to your game can mean a bigger difference than you think!

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