Friday, November 8, 2013

Puzzles in horror games. Part 1.

This post will be the initial in a series concentrating on puzzles in games, with unique focus on horror games. To start this up I would like to discuss why puzzles are required at all. Is it really necessary to have puzzles in game when it might detract from story, immersion, and so on?

In order to be a game, there wants to be some sort of interaction. I feel this is fairly much the most basic function of a game - no interaction, no game. In order to be engaging there also wants to be some kind of challenge, if the player straightforward tends to make arbitrary choices then the game is awfully close to interactive storytelling (not be mixed up with IF) alternatively. Even in the most linear story games, there is usually anything blocking progression, some thing that wants to be taken care of before the game advances. In Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) the player presses random buttons and in the IF game Photopia the player needs to do the correct action. Each of these games are (in my selection at least) are extremely close to being performs of interactive storytelling, but nevertheless really feel like games.

So can't the interaction be just some form on exploration? If the player is totally free to look at something in the globe, is that not enough to make it a game? I believe no. The explanation for this is that this sort of interaction is very close to a footnotes in a book or hyperlinks in some on the web text. The reader can select to read the further pieces of data or just maintain on reading, as a result allowing for very fundamental interaction. If this would make the perform a "game", then just a about any book or webpage could be considered just that. This does not look correct to me and is my main cause for thinking that some type of challenge is necessary.

So what kind of challenges can be utilised? Some games like Dragon's Lair requires the player to press a random button at the correct time . This mechanic is awfully simplistic but employed at the right time it can be very effective and at least 1 upcoming game even bases its whole standard gameplay about it. It can even be a lot more simplistic than this and just call for the roll of a die, like some gamebooks. Also notice how the gamebook goes from a branching plot novel (a non-game) to an actual game as soon as these "challanges" are added. This sort of gameplay may well be extremely trivial, with a clear sepperation of story and game mechanics, but I still feel it is what tends to make a distinction and creates what I would like to get in touch with a game.

Modern games have lots of entertaining approaches to present challanges - hordes of enemies, deadly chasms, puzzles, etc. It stills plays the identical part as that timed button press though, the player requirements to face some sort of obstacle and attempt to overcome it. This comes as a issue for horror games though, considering that it is a genre that has a lot of concentrate on making atmosphere. Everytime an obstacle is reached, the pace is broken and it can lead to aggravation in the player - breaking immersion.

With this in thoughts, it seems like some type of hands-on-action is the greatest for horror games. However, looking at horror in other mediums, classics such as The Shining, Alien and The Exorcist contain very small action. As explained in an earlier post, having as well a lot (player induced) violence will most probably considerably lessen the horror aspects of the game. That said, action do not have to be poor, but basing the gameplay on it will almost certainly not develop a scary game.

In search of other kinds of challanges, the 3 main discovered in horror are: sneaking, running and puzzles. Sneaking has been briefly metnioned earlier and running has had complete post devoted to it. I consider the issue is the same for each of these mechanics although: they are most likely to add an element of trial-and-error. This means replaying which in turn means frustation and loss of atmosphere. This is some thing one particular desires to stay away from in horror games and thus these two mechanics ought to be used sparesly.

Left is now puzzles and it is my belief that this is the very best suiting horror gameplay mechanic. Infact, horror in other media use comparable ways to add drama to the story. Typically a horror story has some kind of mystery, a puzzle, at it really is core, creating it comparable to detective fiction. Events that onfold also frequently come in the type of puzzles, in Ringu the major characters attempt to learn the mystery of a cursed video tape and a lot of characters in horror story has to locate a way out of locked room, and so forth. Puzzles also offer you a good change of pace from an intense section, generating the player calm down and get ready (a lot more vunerable) for the next scary element. This is almost certainly why action based horror games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, come with many puzzle sections.

Puzzles come with a lot of issue although and can too lead to aggravation and loss of immersion in a game. What kind of troubles that may arise and tips for solving these will featured in the upcoming posts.

Till then: What do you feel is the most standard essence of a game? Are challanges actually needed to produce a game? Are puzzles the very best standard mechanic for a scary game?

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