Friday, January 1, 2010

Genre / Gameplay

Trying to make a game, right. But what kind of game?

The primary goal is to make a horror-survival game. Why?
A. There aren't that much games in this specific genre. Trying to compete with the popular genres (Crysis, WoW, Zelda, Starcraft, ...) is likely to fail. I can’t beat anyone with technology. But with ideas… perhaps…
B. Guess I have to ventilate some sick ideas somehow.
C. Why not?

Sure, there are plenty of games with blood, gore and monsters. Usually combined with shotguns, a hero, and of course the experiment that went out of control. Resident Evil, Half life, Doom3, F.E.A.R and Farcry are fine examples.

Which is why this game is NOT going to be a shooter. The focus here will be on the atmosphere and story. The fear won’t come from violent confrontations this time, but rather the knowledge that you could get in problems if you don't watch your step.

The main difference with many other games is that the environment won't be stuffed with monsters to shoot at. Instead a small group of unique characters are doing their "own thing" in that building. And you better not cross their ways. The trick is to search the building without getting yourself into trouble. Remember your escape routes, search for places to hide. Or as a last resort, temporarily slow down the enemy with force.

Like Pac-Man, but then in a huge, strange, Soviet era flat.

What "kind of horror”?
Horror on itself covers a large spectrum. Just look at the movie categories. From Braindead to Scary Movie. From Japanese shockshit to American teenage horror. A psychological thriller or an almost sexual/fetish Hellraiser? Plausible, or very unreal? Ghosts or zombies? Plenty of flavors, that's for sure. My favorite? The Shining.

I can't name much movies that reflect the game atmosphere though. They exist, but I'm bad with names. Silent Hill comes closest maybe, although the type of story and gameplay is very different. The environment must feel dreamish, nightmarish, always uncomfortable. But not with liters of guts and blood or angry demons everywhere. Sure they will be there, but not in Doom2 quantities. No... you are pretty much alone in a huge flat that has no exit. But those footsteps, or hellish chambers... are they real or is the silent loneliness causing them?

* Exploring the environment. A mixture between a "realistic" Soviet era building, and dreamy / nightmarish environments.
* Proceed by solving puzzles / finding new routes (like Metroid, or the earlier Resident Evils)
* There is only 1 big world. Compare it to a Zelda world, but then in a stinky flat.
* While advancing, you'll learn more about the story bit by bit. Although the final clue may not be what you expected.
* A relative small group of unique characters share the building, roaming around freely.
* Avoid the enemy rather than engaging; they are stronger than you.
* Finally defeat the enemy with clever thinking, or maybe with the very scarce weaponry you can find.

So what kind of game would it be? Beats me, I just don't know. Horror-survival I guess, but with some uncommon elements. The major focus is on the environment and your feelings, rather than actual confrontations & action.

Probably the audience for this type of game would be pretty small. Either you love it, or you hate it. But that’s ok. I like an experiment and besides, I don’t have to get rich with this. Ha, first I better assemble a team before even thinking about audience!