Let's Horror 💜 💇‍♂️

I’m interested in making horror games even though I don’t think that I’ll ever be good at it; I’m too easily scared and don’t really enjoy feeling that way. But I do like the world and iconography of horror, all those corridors and masked conspiracies and knife murderers hiding in abandoned hotels. So it feels like an interesting technical challenge to try and make something within that tradition, while also finding ways to make it a thing that I’d enjoy.

image

The first attempt is called Voice Of The Killer and can be played free here. It is still pretty jokey but I am working on further installments which hopefully go a little more into horror stuff. More sound effects to be added in later to this build as well.

I will post further updates as they happen, but IDK how frequently, so feel free to use the topic for whatever other horror related things. AWOOOO

11 Likes

If it’s any help a lot of the principles behind comedy hold true for horror. Surprising the audience and subverting expectations can help a lot with developing either. A jokey approach might be fruitful.

yeah, i think it’s mostly a question of having the two formats running interference on each other and the uncertainty that results - like, my favourite is when there’s a comedy which feels like it might abruptly deteriorate into horror at any moment, or conversely horror that feels like it’s at risk of collapsing into farce. i wouldn’t exactly call it “horror comedy” but some of my favourite examples from this are from al columbia’s pim & francie:

the above is so relentlessly horrible and absurd that it doesn’t read like straight horror, more like horror pastiche, but that’s also what makes it more unsettling to me - the way it makes it difficult to get your bearings or have a coherent emotional response.

i actually think videogames are pretty good at this! maybe not things of the Amnesia school but something like Innyume, which is a completely goofy meme type game with no real pretense about having any kind of grounding in reality. but wandering around this unscrutable dark maze while the enormous heads glide after you playing goofy arcade game music is still kind of more upsetting / compelling to me than “ah, a well-adjusted middle class family, hope everything goes well for them as they renovate this quiet rural house… unless???”

9 Likes

Hell yeah Pim & Francie. That’s straight up skin crawling horror for me but I like your interpretation. Innyume reminds me of the Labour Party Conference horror game from Nathan Barley.

There’s a whole set of Roblox games called stuff like “Camping” or “Moving Day” or whatever which are (in writing and spirit) essentially playable Creepypasta. They imitate a sort of generic slasher structure by starting as multiplayer with like 16 players and then having a linear progression of setpiece events that usually end in players dying/getting kicked off the server instance (or paying ROBUX to respawn) until there’s only one or a few players left.


They assign dialogue to the models/usernames of players in the server, there’s often branching choices leading to multiple endings, there’s items you can collect, random obstacle courses, everyone in Roblox always looks hilarious with custom Supreme clothing, etc.
The mechanical freewheeling of it, frame of Roblox + the very rote (but sincere) horror writing I think really sells that sense of pastiche you’re referring to.
(Although it’s definitely solidly in the ‘funny-absurd’ domain over ‘scary-absurd’)
6 Likes

ohh i really like that idea - honestly it reminds me of the Illbleed developers’ description of their game as a “virtual horror land”. that description really excited me when i read it, i think because it brings to mind a kind of second degree representation - an artificial reconstruction of an already artificial experience.

i know bad day at the midway / the resident’s freak show were brought up in the last horror thread as examples too, which maybe do a similar thing, representing the restrictions and artifice of sideshow type attractions at a step further removed.

one i saw recently and also liked is puppet combo’s Evil Clowns, which is basically a maze or pacman type game. but you move so fast around this grody, constricted maze level that it feels like running around a multiplayer map, and the dreamy pedantry of constantly gobbling coins and feeling vaguely anxious about losing track of all the alternate routes works surprisingly well. i actually think it falls over a bit in the second level, which at least gestures at the idea of being set in a plausible human space rather than a completely abstract game world, and is less unsettling as a result.

3 Likes

That seems very similar to this other game I randomly encountered on Steam:

it’s a bit more HD, but it has a solid conceit about it being like a game/ game-show gauntlet kind of thing.

i spent the last day writing dialogue for an idea about pulling off the bathroom mirror and climbing through the cavity inside to find abandoned rooms, etc, then decided to spend the evening relaxing by watching an educational let’s play of… silent hill 4 :((

the thing is i thought i was ripping off Candyman!! i guess they got there first though.

anyway progress has been slow due to work stuff. i am trying to get back to a fast pace and not overthink things too much but it’s tricky… here are some notes i had recently about horror stuff

the appeal of horror not as a genre but as a kind of assumption of how the world works based around two principles: 1. the central fact of things is mystery and 2. life can devolve into hideous nightmare violence at any time and for no particular reason. within these two assumptions you can technically set any kind of story, comedy, romance etc. instead of people being chased by knife killers you can just have them living in a world where other people are chased by knife killers, which is perhaps as unsettling.

and here is a picture of an uninteresting hallway

10 Likes

gotta throw it all away for a bort cameo i guess.

anyway working on artgame stuff for years has totally atrophied whatever sense i ever had for ‘narrative’ where events actually happen in succession. in part just because i hate manually adding global variables in unity so just tend towards making games where events have perpetually either already happened, or are always just about to happen. even the call centre one was basically just about moving around different angles of this static work situation. it is gruesome but i am trying to relearn, in clumsiest manner possible.

trying to read more horror manga and make notes on comparative approach

9 Likes

some machines, trying for a vibe of murderous unintelligible crank contraptions.

after a while of fiddling around with a “dialogue tree” for the sake of a joke i gave in and downloaded the free unity plugin Fungus, which is mostly used for visual novels. i guess this is the first time i’ve tried any kind of visual scripting program since from watching videos they always just seemed an extra layer of clutter. but Fungus is good because it comes preinstalled with a bunch of RPG Maker 2003 type event commands - say text, fade in and out, turn to look at, wait, etc - and also plays them sequentially, so there’s less hassle about timers and so forth. it’s made certain things a lot easier, although i am afraid that having the new and easy ability to drop cutscenes everywhere will fuck me up for good.

drawing increasingly abstract wall textures.

8 Likes

still working on this, slower since i’m making bigger levels. also rewriting stuff which is a pain!! for this one i’ve tried both “having some kind of linear narrative” and also “adding more guys to chase you around” to shake things up a little, mixed results in each (there’s no combat or health or whatever, they just trigger a little death-alternative area before you get away - since i’m erring on the side of easiness likely nobody will see them, but wanted to try).

enjoyed making this little fake theatre stage today, pastiche version of 70s avantgarde tv play setting

13 Likes

the art style is killer

2 Likes

trying to figure out what the killer of the title should look like, i thought at first just shadows / staring eyes / grasping hands etc but i’ve already used those elements enough that they don’t really stand out as anything very notable. playing around with a kind of loplop-ish bird guy. i like the idea of something which doesn’t really look human but is still abstract enough that it’s not definitively inhuman either.

have been doing OK the last while, working fairly steadily. am on the closing sequence now so hope to be finished in a few days - although will likely just shelve it a while after that while a friend is working on music.

9 Likes

Middle of the bottom room would freak me out if it peered through a door. I like how the hands mirror the beak shape.

2 Likes

Ya that one is my favorite, and reminds me of something… but I can’t remember what.

@thecatamites you might like this game

2 Likes

i hadn’t seen that one! was also not expecting a game like this in 1997 hah.

middle from the bottom bird guy is 3/3 of the people i ran this past but for some reason in the game itself i find the top left guy to work the best, maybe because the slightly muppetlike aspect is more unusual in context. playing around with new versions based on that and also tried adding a jaunty little hat. still adjusting to try and make him look less like an antisemitic star wars alien than the original guy, so maybe the hat was a bad move, in that regard.

bird

5 Likes

finished game #2, here if anyone wants to try. no music or sfx yet so going to take a break and maybe try moving onto another one while those are in the works, some other things i want to revise but will wait til i’ve some distance on the whole thing.

over indulgent notez

not sure i like it as much as the first one as a whole but has some inividual areas and aspects i feel very happy about, think the main thing is just a messy structure. the separate parts are nice but hang together awkwardly. played with lighting effects a lot more than usual which although the result is a little closer to a generic horror game aesthetic as result (darkness, clutter etc). using a visual novel plugin helped with a lot of small things that i’d otherwise likely have left out entirely or cut down upon but reminds me that it’s been a long time since i had to write a cutscene type of dialog!

hehe this is a fun time

2 Likes