Gamer's Greatest Fears

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by woo, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. woo

    woo
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    Okay, so my post the other day - Emotional Design: Playing with Fear - got some interesting feedback and got me thinking about what kind of fears gamers have that you really don't want to touch. In the entry I mentioned "Fear of Being Ripped Off" and afterwards I remembered the "Fear of online matches with foul mouthed 13 year olds".

    So what other fears do gamers have that we should avoid? How do we avoid them? And are there any good kinds of fear I missed? Thanks!
    -Andrew Douglas
    http://theoreticalgames.com
     
  2. zoombapup

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    Fear of constantly losing.

    By this I mean, if you imagine a young guy, playing a game, but constantly losing, I guess its not a fear as much as a frustration. But I can imagine it being a turnoff anyway.

    Fear of having your credit card details stolen

    Fear of playing a game to gain credits and having them wiped
     
  3. woo

    woo
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    What about something like fear of being alone? I can imagine a game where you could use that... but I can't really think of a commercial game that really pulled it off. Games are often so solitary that it's rarely scary to be all alone. It'd be interesting to try and pull off though. That fear could be a big turn off in multi-player games too.

    Ico was all about the fear of losing something/someone that was important to you. I can't think of another game that really made me feel it that strongly, but quite a few games add some element of it - especially if you consider "Support Missions" a good example of that. :) The last Ratchet and Clank had cooperative play through the "missions", and even though the mission format was a big turn off for me... there were several places where one person had to "cover" the other person as they turned bolts or whatever. It was very much a support mission, but when it was another live human being that was your playing partner, the "fear losing someone important to you" part of it became much more real.

    Your thread on games that are "female friendly" touched on some fears you shouldn't play with as well.

    -Andrew Douglas
    http://theoreticalgames.com
     
  4. electronicStar

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    I have the "fear of mazes"

    In early game systems (8-16 bits from spectrum/colecovision to megadrive/first mulitmedia PCs) game designers had the unfortunate habit of trying to lengthen the duration of the game by using cheap tricks and the dreadful maze was one of them.
    I'm not talking about the occasional and enjoyable labyrinth that you can find in modern games (FPSes) but stupid and frustrating labyrinths with repetitive textures or sprites and which only purpose was to make you waste the best part of your day playing their games, forcing you in the best case to draw a map, but often this wasn't even possible because of stupid gimmicks like invisible random teleporters or things like that.

    I also didn't like the early CRPGs (M&M, ultima) just because of that and the fact they didn't have an automap(but in this case,I reckon labyrinths were a real part of gameplay and not a duration trick)
     
  5. woo

    woo
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    electronicStar: that's pretty funny. I was hoping to avoid psychoses, but I think your case represents the worst of what can happen when you attempt to "rip the player off". Cheap tricks don't just hurt your game or your future games, they hurt other people's games, too! :)
     
  6. Savant

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    Mapping the early Bard's Tale games is one of my greatest memories from that time period. I remember finishing those games and looking at the stacks of maps I had generated all around me. Awesomeness.
     
  7. woo

    woo
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    Savant - I hope you don't mind the small jab/quote in my blog post from you. I feared it would be taken the wrong way :)
    Anyway, I guess it just goes to show that one man's pleasure is another man's pain.
    -Andrew
     
  8. Savant

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    Naw, hell, it's all good. If I can't take it I have no business dishing it out.
     
  9. Werzel

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    Apologies for the mild "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" spoiler coming up ...

    When I read this, it reminded me of a section near the end of the game where you are separated from Farah and find yourself in some kind of circular tower surrounded by seven or eight doorways. You have to run through the correct sequence of doorways to progress up the three (?) storeys of the tower, but if you pick the wrong doorway it sends you back to the start. Since there's no way to tell which doorway is the correct one, I end up working clockwise and trying every combination until I get the right one. I know the game is short, but this struck me as a really cheap way to make it longer. If the ending wasn't so great, I probably wouldn't have bothered getting past that place.
     
  10. GBGames

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    But, I liked Wizardry!


    I think that to instill this fear, you need to make "being with others" seem more valuable. If you're fighting off a bunch of really tough baddies, where you find that you need to be in groups of at least two to have a good chance of surviving, then being alone and meeting one of those baddies would be very bad. You MIGHT survive, maybe against one, but meeting a group of baddies? Being caught without allies would be very scary indeed, which would heighten the anticipation whenever you are on your own in an area known to be patrolled by baddies.
     
  11. woo

    woo
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    GBGames: Exactly what I was thinking. Even in a game like Halo, where it was "fun" to have your allies around, it still wasn't necessary for survival. The problem with "real-time" or actiony type games is that you can't really control more than one character, so you have to be to the point where you really rely on AI characters, which I just don't think works very well, or cooperative multiplayer. I play a lot of cooperative multiplayer type games, but rarely do I feel like being alone is scary. That's probably related to the fact that my wife is usually the person I play co-op games with and she's... how do I say this politely?... inconsequential to the outcome of the game anyway? That wasn't very polite was it :)
    Maybe a few times in GRAW I felt vulnerable when I was alone. It would definitely take a lot of balancing of gameplay to get right.

    Now, in a turned based game, you can control more than one character, so that makes each character's role a little more important than if it was just AI... But I remember in one or two of the final fantasy games, for example, where they separated you and had one person fighting through a section of the game. I don't remember being afraid of being alone. I'm not sure if that's a function of them being (mostly) turned based games, and therefore being alone isn't as scary, or if it's just that it wasn't really designed to be that scary of a situation.

    Hmmm...
    -Andrew
     
  12. GBGames

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    It could be that it isn't very scary when one character can take on armies, take damage without becoming less efficient as a fighter, and heal up completely by drinking a potion. B-)
     
  13. woo

    woo
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    Gee.. when you put it that way... it doesn't sound very scary at all, really. It also doesn't sound very fun. See - fear of failure in the blog post.

    I'd have to say that Fear motivates me as a player, and I find myself enjoying it when used well in games, and I look for ways to include it in my games... but maybe it's asking too much of the player. Is it just me? Maybe fear, or lack thereof, plays a role in why few players complete games - they lose their sense of fear and the game becomes significantly less appealing. We aren't nearly as afraid of the things we know. There really are very few games that do a good job of keeping you afraid all the way through to the end.

    [note: as I was posting this I realized I had forgotten to call in last night to see if I needed to appear for Jury Duty this morning. The Fear of being in contempt of court can really be quite scary! Luckily I was excused.]

    -Andrew
     
  14. Sharkbait

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    That was the hard way to do it...

    The smart way was to stop at each door and listen for the sound of trickling water. No sound = wrong door.
     
  15. Artinum

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    I think everyone's missed a pretty big one here (though online spoilers and forums can make this harder to do) - fear of the unknown.

    My first battle in [Xcom] UFO - Enemy Unknown was intensely scary - I was being shot at by unseen figures with strange (and lethal) guns. I took one out with a rocket launcher and the corpse was littered with odd things. Should I take them back to the ship? One of my troops entered the UFO and saw an alien. He took a step nearer to get a better shot and the alien took him out. I wasn't expecting that.

    Thing was, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't even know what weapons were the best ones to use. Everywhere was dark, creepy music was playing in the background, and here I was chasing unknown aliens with unknown plans of their own. I had hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

    Even after I'd been playing for a while there were surprises. The arrival of snakemen was unexpected (and chryssalids were horrifying). Engaging battleships was a shock, both in the air and on the ground. So many new areas kept popping up. An alien base? What do I do with them? What's this blaster bomb thing?

    To summarise - throw new things at your player. Don't explain them. Tell them how to do basic things, give them some tips about gameplay - but don't tell them anything in the manual or on your website about the enemy, the mission types, the eventual aim. Explain those as they encounter them. If your game looks, sounds and feels right, they'll want to keep going. Plus your other advantage - they won't know how big it is. A room can seem much bigger in the dark.

    You can accentuate in-game fear factors by involving the player more. Give your in-game characters names and different faces. Give them a little characterisation. It makes it much nastier when they die...
     
  16. yanuart

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    I fear when there's no savepoint lying around next to me (or away to save my game) while my HP stats shows 1/100 and zombies could be waiting in the next corner. I think that's what drew me to play the infamous Resident Evil 1-4. I just couldn't get enough of it :)
     
  17. tone

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    Fear of a Vietnam-esque cross-map slog

    I hate when I buy an RPS game when they take the enticing program they created, which can permit me to recreate an exciting tactical battle, and instead the campaign game requires me to take a fixed number of units and trudge directly across the board only to be sniped at and harrassed as I try to make it to an exit point on the other side of the board. Attacks come out of the "fog of war", and I wander into dead ends and occasionally into the major ambush that has been hidden "just so" in a place where I will have to pass through if I am to succeed.

    This construct is extremely tedious! Let me for ONCE fight a battle where the fog of war suits me as well as it does my enemy.

    tone
     
  18. dmikesell

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    The Cyberdemon in Doom. My heart races still just thinking about that guy chasing me around...

    [​IMG]
     
  19. supagu

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    i fear having to fail a task in a game and having to do it over and over till i get it.... i solve this by only playing multiplayer games :)
     
  20. jefferytitan

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    I think that many people are overconfident as they progress through a game and get added weapons etc and handle everything they meet. It might be fun to temporarily strip away those advantages to make them feel vulnerable. Like you have to crawl through a narrow passage and you can't fit if you're wearing your armour and weapons. You have no idea where it goes, and chances are you can't handle what you find when you get there. ;)
     

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