Saturday, October 4, 2014

Projects - Sisters #1

I was planning on making posts on a chronological order, but then I thought of something. It's interesting that before making posts about my old projects, I write this one about my current project. The reason is that everything is still fresh in my head and I can document easier. I'm having some trouble trying to remind the problems I ran into on my old projects since it's been some time and they are on stand-by now. I'll need to do some digging on old codes and specially more time to write those posts. Maybe it's better if I go reverse and talk about recent stuff before the old ones.  
That being said, I have a couple of projects I'm working on right now, the main one is the game Sisters.

Sisters is a psychological horror game where you play a defenceless character haunted by two sisters, as the name sugests. The place where it happens is an abandoned area containing a house and a small cemetery with a chapel, I still have 3/4 left of the map to do, but this is what I have so far.
The game storyline still a mystery, I have some ideas but there is no mention of story inside the game yet. I will work on an opening scene explaining the beginning, then as the player progress through the game the story will start making sense and the pieces of puzzles will fit together. 
The game doesn't have an objective yet, it will come along with the story, but I decided to go with puzzle solving kind of goal.

Main menu - Sisters

I've been reading a lot of articles and forums about horror games, I learnt a lot on some of those articles and decided to make some changes on my project. I'm adding some components that I find crucial for game immersion and connection between player and character, some of them are listed below.

The User Interface(UI) - on a previous version of the game, there was a stamina and sanity bar on the screen, the user could always check his stats by looking at the bars. This is not interesting on a horror game, it breaks the virtual reality immersion. So I removed those and instead of vision representation I might add sound response (heartbeats acceleration, breath change, vision blur, camera shake, etc). I realized that if the player only needs to pay attention to the game scene, I will need to work hard on the environment and graphics stuff, to make up for the lack of UI.

You go first.. - in-game screenshot

Another factor that I consider important is the intuitive and easy control commands of the character, so the player doesn't have to think of which button to press. From the moment that the player looks at his keyboard to interact with something, the connection is instantly broken, he gets out of the game atmosphere and back to real life, also not acceptable on a horror game. 

Finally, and the one I'm struggling most to learn, is the frequency which scary events happen. By scary events I mean jump scares, loud sounds and surprise events in general. I was reading this article and came across a quote:
"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." - Alfred Hitchcock
I realized this is the core of psychological horror, the main idea is build a tense atmosphere where the player's attention is raised at it's maximum level until you finally scare him. That's why is so important to dose correctly the frequency jump scares happen, if the player sees a sister too often, he will eventually get used to it and won't scare him anymore. However, if he doesn't see her at all, he will get comfortable with the suspense atmosphere, neither can happen. It needs to be balanced, so what's coming will always be unexpected.

I believe that if I follow the concepts mentioned above and dose the elements correctly, I can make a good horror game in the end.    

Link to download the latest playable version of the game:
Keep in mind that is still under development, so there will be lots of bugs. Read 'readme.txt' file for more info.