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Can a MMORPG be made scary and remain scary?

 

 

    What do you guys think? I've made a few questions for discussion if you want to skip to the bottom of this post.

   

   Before I jump into the topic I would like to attempt to prevent any arguments as what is scary or not. We are all different, and we are all smart enough to realize not everyone is scared of certain things/moments.



 

    I would like to first say I'm a big baby. I'm the guy who you would bring to a scary movie, so you can have some laughs. I can't help it. I just get into the movie too much, and I fear the worst for the character in any movie/game. I've played Dead space, and their were moments when I just had to stop because I was too scared lol. I was screaming during the part when you had to trap that immortal monster with the moveable cases. There are even moments in Mass Effect that make me feel on edge and scared (I know some of you are laughing at me ....... STOP lol).

     There is something special about the feeling of fear. There has to be. Why do so many of us seek it for entrainment? There is just a fun factor for fear when you know its not really real, and you can have a good laugh about it after you've jumped out of terror.

   

 

I do believe if there was a mmo that had a fear factor in it, then it would sell fairly well. In the pass we've seen this happen to many single player games. Some people will buy just because of the challenge of not letting it scare you, or to see if they can be frighten. The problem is can you make an mmo truly scary?I think the best thing to first is to search for the elements that make a single player game scary.

 

 

I personally believe the biggest factor in scary single player games is the fact that your truly alone. There are no other people playing the same game with you. No one to save, or to watch your back. Honestly, I think the scariest moments in movies is when the character is alone. Remember the ending in Quarantine? *Note R rated Movie in Link* A week later that's the only part of the movie I could remember. I pretty much slept with lights on in my room that night. I see this as the biggest issue with having a scary mmo. There are other people around! Your always connected to other players through chat in most mmos. This really breaks the immersion to the point where a person wouldn't be afraid. MMOs are also generally made for group play. How can you make a game scary enough in a group?



 

The second most important element I believe is needed in a scary game is characters being vulnerable. I mean vulnerable as limited tools to escape and lacking overall survivability. In games where its almost a auto death when the monster gets in melee range always keeps me so focused that I jump when something pops up right next to me. I could never be scared in a game where I felt so strong that no content could kill me. Players have to believe that they can die at any moment!

 

 

The 3rd element is inconstancy and unpredictable. I would have had a much easier time playing Dead Space if they were consistent on placing monsters in all the rooms. The fact that I never truly knew that there was or not  a monster right above me sent chills down my spine.

The last factor that I can think of is not always having control. This is used in two ways. It can mean the situation. I want to run as soon as I start to get overwhelmed by monsters, but if I have control then I'm going to blast some zombie heads. The other way I mean lack of control is over your character. When something takes hold of your character you shouldn't be able to easily run away. Your stuck and nearing death. The emotion of panic sets in, and you do your best to remove its grip.

I would love to try a scary mmo. It would have a different feel, and I think it would end my problem with playing mmos too late at night.

Thanks for reading

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here are some questions. Answer/comment on what you want.

1) What other elements do you think make games scary?

2) What features do you think would have to be added and/or taken away in the common mmo UI and setup?

3) Any idea of movies/games you would like to use to make a horror mmo?

4) Any ideas that would fix the issue of missing out on the feeling you're truly alone

5) Can you think of any end game that can be added that would also be scary?

6) Do you think players in mmos can be part of the game that scares people?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 27,638

    No.

    Part of being scared is a feeling that you are alone or that the experience isn't diluted by extraneous things. MMO's just don't do immersion very well in order to pull this off.

    Here is a link to Yahtzee's Fear 3 review. I just posted this in another section where we were talking about immersion.

    Essentially, being with buddies, and buddies who are "shootin' da shite" dilutes the horror experience (as well as any other immersion factors).

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/3724-FEAR-3




  • NytrisNytris Member Posts: 42

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    No.

    Part of being scared is a feeling that you are alone or that the experience isn't diluted by extraneous things. MMO's just don't do immersion very well in order to pull this off.

    Here is a link to Yahtzee's Fear 3 review. I just posted this in another section where we were talking about immersion.

    Essentially, being with buddies, and buddies who are "shootin' da shite" dilutes the horror experience (as well as any other immersion factors).

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/3724-FEAR-3

    Agreed. I wish there was a way around it while keeping the mmo experiance.

  • StonesDKStonesDK Member UncommonPosts: 1,805

    I remember doing corpse runs in plane of fear in vanilla EQ. That was scary. I also remember having to get my quest item for my epic weapon in plane of hate. That was a scary moment too sneaking around with the chance my corpse might be lost forever.

     

    Conseqences can be scary specially if the gameplay is punishing and progression is riddled with timesinks. The point is you need to have something you stand to lose. Just like in real life.

     

    No other MMORPG has scared me since, since the removal of consequences and the chances of losing things that matter

  • just1opinionjust1opinion Member UncommonPosts: 4,641

    The Secret World is going to dabble in horror a bit.  Do I think it will maintain it's "scariness" in those areas where it's scary?  Hmm.....well no, not really.  The first time through those parts of the game will be scary, but I'm not sure it can be scary beyond that.  I guess we'll see though!

    President of The Marvelously Meowhead Fan Club

  • MW2KMW2K Member UncommonPosts: 1,036

    Originally posted by just1opinion

    The Secret World is going to dabble in horror a bit. 

    The scariest thing about The Secret World is that Funcom is making it.

     

  • udonudon Member UncommonPosts: 1,803

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    No.

    Part of being scared is a feeling that you are alone or that the experience isn't diluted by extraneous things. MMO's just don't do immersion very well in order to pull this off.

    Here is a link to Yahtzee's Fear 3 review. I just posted this in another section where we were talking about immersion.

    Essentially, being with buddies, and buddies who are "shootin' da shite" dilutes the horror experience (as well as any other immersion factors).

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/3724-FEAR-3

    I don't know if immersion as most people whould imagine it is really required to make a game scary.  I have jumped out of my chair multiple times in minecraft when I turned around to see a creeper behind me.

  • robert4818robert4818 Member UncommonPosts: 661

    Can an MMO be "scary"?  Short answer NO, I don't really think so.  While its a great idea, I don't think its really possible.

    Scary really depends on 4 things:  Atmosphere, the unknown, ease of death, and "BOO!" moments.  MMO's are designed around concepts that destroy each of those 4 concepts.

    Atmosphere is probably the closest thing MMOs can mimic.  They can do the eerie music, creepy landscape etc. etc. but I'm not sure how long that atmosphere can really be kept up before it goes stale.  Unfortunately, Isolation is probably one of the biggest things that helps in the atmosphere, and that is utterly killed in an MMO setting.

    The Unknown is probably the hardest thing for an MMO to keep.  Things are only unknown for a very small amount of time.  The only way to keep up the unknown is to have an endless supply of new content.  This can be randomly generated, or created by child labor in somalia, both difficult to do and maintain fear levels.

    Ease of Death, its doable in an MMO, but I'm not sure how receptive the playerbase would be towards it.  Players have now been programed that the more you play, the harder you are to kill.  

    Boo! moments.  This really relies on the Unknown factor and has all the same pitfalls as it.

    So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  • cyress8cyress8 Member Posts: 832

    LFM, Haunted House @ the Boogie Man. Gonna get the phat loots if you join!
    Only thing I can think of when thinking of a horror mmo.

    BOOYAKA!

  • NormikeNormike Member Posts: 436

    Freddy Kreuger from Nightmare on Elm Street scares the dna out of me. There can be other people watching tv with me in broad daylight and Kreuger still makes the hairs on my arm stand on end. The same can be done in an MMO. It's just employing those same techniques.

     

    -Making you, the player, empathize for your avatar.

    -Taking some control away from the player when being chased or hunted.

    -Sudden loud sounds, things flashing into view and running away, etc highten the flight or fight response in players

    -Realistic blood and gore

    I think Amesia used these techniques and more, and Dead Space 2?  Not sure because there's no way in hell I'm playing those games because I don't find having a heart attack "fun". But would an MMO like that be popular?

  • PTEDPTED Member Posts: 464

    I feel that it's a lot easier to make a singleplayer game scaried than an MMO as you're alone. For an MMO to be scary, I reckon it would need a few things:

    Firstly, it has to be forced first person. The ability to look around corners without having exposed yourself takes away a lot of surprise.

    Secondly, the lighting/atmospheric effects need to be done right and evoke a great feeling of mystery. As for the audio, it should be done in such a way that players can occasionally make the sounds you would normally hear an enemy make.

    And lastly, resources need to be severely limited. Fearing what might happen if you run out of ammunition or your light source runs out are great. Your only healer just died? Better keep safe.

    If these conditions are met, I'm sure you could feel quite scared in small groups of 3~5 players. As you get into the 10's of players, the horror will naturally fade and so the game would need to use certain, oft unpredictable, tactics to split the players up.

    So it's definately possible if executed well.

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Member Posts: 5,359

    I'm not a huge proponent of full-loot open-PvP, but I have to say they are by FAR the scariest games I have ever played.

    In your OP, you mention that the presence of other players can lessen the fear factor of a game.  And in the context of a normal theme park WoW type game, I completely agree.  But think about this.  What if, the other players around you were the REASON to be scared?

    In full-loot PvP games, anyone can decide to kill you and take all your hard earned loot.  It's seriously scary because there's a real consequence to be scared of.  In a game like this, encountering another player in the wilds is a very nervous affair.  You never know whether the guy is going to decide to attack or not.

    And even if your initial meeting goes peacefully and you decide to team up with the guy, he could just be waiting for a moment of weakness to stab you in the back!

    So do I think MMORPGs can be scary?  In the context of "traditionally" scary like horror movies, I think it would be difficult because these type of "scares" usually rely on precisely crafted environment, scripted "shock" events, and isolation, as you said.  But if an MMORPG actually makes the other players something to fear?  Hell yes it's scary.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • WolfenprideWolfenpride Member Posts: 3,988

    It's difficult to make an MMO scary, but I think it's possible to make a game atmospherically creepy if dev's really wanted to.

    I don't think it could be done in a game with a whole lot of outdoors though. If the setting of the game took place underground/in some kind of claustrophobic setting such as in Ultima Underworld or Arx Fatalis though I think it could be done.

  • SquishydewSquishydew Member UncommonPosts: 1,107

    I didn't really read your entire post, but just from the title I'd like to say this.

    The way MMO's work you could never keep it scary, MMO's by nature have you repeat content a lot, and while something might be scary at first, eventually it'll become a routine job and wont scare you at all because you know how to respond to something.

     

    So no, i would not play a horror MMO, horror is a one time thing.

  • CeridithCeridith Member UncommonPosts: 2,980

    Depends on your definition of 'scary'.

    Creepy and gorey, eventually people get desensitized if you bombard them with the same thing over and over again. Unless the developers can switch things up, but considering the hours a week (and sometimes a day) some people sink into MMOs, I don't think this can be overcome.

    On the other end of the spectrum though, it is possible to evoke fear of loss. Of course, you'll first need a harsh death penalty, or penalty otherwise for failing. Risking losing experience, gear, etc, makes dying in the game less desireable, so it tends to crank up our fear with encountering such an unpleasent experience... without such penalties we just have one of those "damn it" moment as we run back to our corpse and curse at a slightly higher repair bill (if even that).

    With a harsh enough death penalty, it allows developers the ability to create situations in which the player is left guessing what horrors might be lurking just out of sight, or have their adrenaline pump as they run from a huge monster charging in their direction. Without a harsh enough death penalty, players lose their fear... which I can understand in that not everyone wants to play an 'intense' game. But if you want to play a scary game, then you have to be scared about something.

  • BeanpuieBeanpuie Member UncommonPosts: 812

    Anyone remember the movie  "The Thing" ?  the 1980's  John Carpenters version.

     

    those that do not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouZkkIsLiNg

     

    tl;dr version:  lets say this horror mmo has a raid that is based around "The Thing"

     

    regular version:

    12 people (basically a raid)  sent to a isolated place to uncover some crazy shiznit (instanced dungeon)

    this raid must travel deep into a maze like dungeon to reach the center to obtain the "artifact"

    The raid finds the artifact, which triggers an event that involves one of the raid members being infected and ultimately becomes a monster, secondly, the dungeon shifts, changing the maze around so the paths are different.

    no one will know who is infected, not even the would be victim until the timer counts to zero.

     

    the way to defeat the monster , let alone the raid itself  the following must occur:

     

    there are 4 button platforms or terminals scattered across the maze on each corner.  the raid must hit all 4 buttons in order to open the exit.

    throughout the maze their are experimental medicines that can be used to reset the timer to prevent anyone from becoming a monster, the only catch being is that the medicine is limited and if they choose the wrong person it can be wasted, only tell tale sign of some one thats revealed of being the monster would be in the last 10 seconds of the timer, where their screen pulses, and their character starts to grow odd appendages on their body. of course in those 20 seconds, the raid has to make the choice to either cure them if they have the medicine, or run like hell.

    Once the Exit is open, the raid itself has to leave the mazed dungeon,  and have the victim/monster outside, where it can finally be killed.

     

    couple things to keep in mind:

    1. the monster is invincible in the mazed dungeon, every 5 minutes it will randomly appear, and will roam around for 2 minutes. it cannot be cc'ed, hits hard as hell, but moves slow.

    2. anyone that dies by the monster ends up being infected and turned into a monster as well (regardless if healer rez's them or not), if they do become rezzed, they can be cured if their is some one with the medicine in hand. other wise every 5 minutes they will turn into a monster like spawn (killable at least) automatically. 

    3. if the raid by chance completes the first half the raid by activating all 4 terminals, they are given two dynamic choices in beating the raid

    a. fight the monster with whoever they have left outside of the maze (once outside it can finally be killable)

    or

    b. head back to the center of the maze, activate a 20 minute self destruct terminal and make their way out of the maze and towards the escape route. (if they choose this option, the monster will become enraged, with his movement speed slightly increased and growth in size)

    ---

    any raid that want bragging rights can do both,  activate the self destruct, go outside and attempt to beat the monster and reach the escape route before the dungeon/complex explodes (perhaps the prize being everyone recieves a piece of gear instead of just one person due to the difficulty of the achievement).

     

     

    would this be scary...maybe, doubt it, would also all depend on the artistic side of things to bring the raid to life.

    the biggest thing horror movies or a horror mmo would have to rely on is the environmental mood, sound and artistry to give a sense of danger and paranoia of what sort of crap they stepped in, and doing what they can to get out of it and survive.

     

    edit: sorry, as for your question

    no..mmo's in their current forms cannot support a scary like factor, alot of it is based around the first ride,  it has all the thrill and suspense, and all the rides after it become predictable.  

    now with pugs, things could be slightly differently,  NOBODY knows what a pug is gonna do, for all you know you could have invited some one that would have the idea of intentionally killing everyone in your raid just for the lulz (kind like a real horror movie with that one douche bag that screws it up for everybody)

  • ElikalElikal Member UncommonPosts: 7,912

    Tbh, while I love scary games like Silent Hill, I have a VERY hard time imagine that working in a MMO. The basic idea of being scared is being alone. I mean, I could even accept a duo or a small group with me. But there would be people ALL around, since it's a MMO. Or heavy instancing. But also, the thing that made Silent Hill so scary was, there were often no mobs at all! I recall walking alone in that totally empty appartment house, and when I went back to a room, the only difference was, the TV had be set on and it was displaying static. God, I was so afraid that moment, and you can't really explain why unless you have been there. Now by nature a MMO has mobs to grind. And that would be the first obstacle, a scary MMO would have to have spaces where mob grinding is NOT part of the game.

    I guess a very intelligent designer could make a MMO which has some very scary parts, even with a group, when there are some instanced areas. But intelligent and MMO designers... well go figure. I'd love to see it too, but it would be very difficult. Nothing is more difficult than to scare adult people.

    See I was a Pen and Paper DM for many years, playing the more story-driven "The Dark Eye" system, and the one thing you positively could NOT play with adult player was horror/spooky/scary stories. Because just by telling you can't make people of a certain age scared. One other DM once tried it, and of course we always laughed and giggled, as it expected.

    A most difficult genre.

     

    EDIT: Full Loot or heavy penalities on the other hand don't make me feel scary, they make me feel ANGRY and PISSED.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • eyceleycel Member Posts: 1,334

    ill read your entire post later but I am th biggest horror fan that I know and I Voted of course yes!

    image

  • DibdabsDibdabs Member RarePosts: 2,859

    Originally posted by udon

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    No.

    Part of being scared is a feeling that you are alone or that the experience isn't diluted by extraneous things. MMO's just don't do immersion very well in order to pull this off.

    Here is a link to Yahtzee's Fear 3 review. I just posted this in another section where we were talking about immersion.

    Essentially, being with buddies, and buddies who are "shootin' da shite" dilutes the horror experience (as well as any other immersion factors).

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/3724-FEAR-3

    I don't know if immersion as most people whould imagine it is really required to make a game scary.  I have jumped out of my chair multiple times in minecraft when I turned around to see a creeper behind me.

    Scariest thing I've ever encountered in a game was a few years back in Vampire: The Masquerade, in th esection where you have to investigate a derelict, haunted hotel.  I figured it would be no bother at all, what with "me" being a vampire, but it scared the shit out of me so bad the hairs on the back of my neck were lifting and shivers ran down my spine.  I'd mentioned it to a pal of mine who bought the game recently off Steam, and he rang me to say HE'D been so scared there were times he couldn't breathe.  :D

    It would never work in an mmo though - too may people spoils the immersion.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Member CommonPosts: 10,910

    I think you could do it, but it would be kind of short lived. Repetition would make you pretty immune to the feeling of fear. Games like Silent Hill or Dead Space get around this by changing things up almost constantly so you can't get used to what's happening. In an MMORPG, you need a lot more than 8 to 15 hours of content. By month 2, you would have seen the same haunted house or serial killer or dead space ship half a dozen times and you wouldn't be nearly as scared.

    I think having people in your group could mute the feelings of fear somewhat, but you could turn that to your advantage. Each player gets separated from the group, or sees the group get separated increasing your feelings of fear because the group you were in is now gone.

    I'd try it out though. I play single player survival horror, so why not multiplayer/mmorpg survival horror?

    ** edit **
    You'd have to lose the idea of being a 'hero' in the game as well. Part of the reason a lot of games end up not being scary is you have a lot of ammunition and can overpower the evil dead things. I do think there needs to be some harsh consequences in such games, but repeating content isn't really all that much fun...if you know what's coming next, it's not as scary.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • AzureProwerAzurePrower Member UncommonPosts: 1,550

    There could be 'an instance party' for example where your group is split up and you have to find each other again. Insert horror moments while you're all alone.

  • Goatgod76Goatgod76 Member Posts: 1,214

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    No.

    Part of being scared is a feeling that you are alone or that the experience isn't diluted by extraneous things. MMO's just don't do immersion very well in order to pull this off.

    Here is a link to Yahtzee's Fear 3 review. I just posted this in another section where we were talking about immersion.

    Essentially, being with buddies, and buddies who are "shootin' da shite" dilutes the horror experience (as well as any other immersion factors).

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/3724-FEAR-3

    IDK. Kithicor Forest in EQ1 was full of bees, etc by day...but when it started getting dark, you got the hell out of dodge fast before the vicious zombies and other ghastly creatures of the night showed up to send you on a corpse run in short order. It was pretty scary.

  • AdamantineAdamantine Member RarePosts: 4,336

    Wont work.

    While a scary or an attempt at scary is fun in a while, a MMO that would try to be scary all the time wont be very scary at all pretty quick.

    You get used to everything, and after a while you will be just like, for example: "Meh, another brutally murdered victim. So who saw that one coming ? For we NEVER had that one before, did we ?" and "Why do they always do the same damn thing, cant they ever think of, I dunno, something FUNNY once in a while, or some such ?".

    Please set a sig so I can read your posting even if somebody "agreed" etc with it. Thanks.
  • UnlightUnlight Member Posts: 2,540

    Originally posted by PeterRJG

    Originally posted by just1opinion

    The Secret World is going to dabble in horror a bit. 

    The scariest thing about The Secret World is that Funcom is making it.

     

    Damn that made me laugh. :) 

    As others have said, MMOs are incapable of delivering actualy fear to a player because they aren't immersive by their nature, so it's impossible to forget yourself and buy into any feeling of personal threat the way single player games can.  When you're attention isn't being diverted by the antics of others, it's much easier to get into the moment and forget temporarily that you are sitting at a keyboard. 

    Also important is the player perspective.  I've never felt any fear while in third-person perspective, only in first-person where I no longer am looking at an animated character on a screen but I'm experiencing *my* environment.  That's when I can get pulled into a game and forget that I'm quite literally at arm's length from the action.

    Best example of this was Aliens vs. Predators.  Although it's an action game, I've never sweated playing a game the way I did with that one.  It was claustrophobic and oppressive.  Every corner and every shadow held the potential for instant death.  The sound ranged from deathly quiet so you can hear the monsters shrieking far in the distance or the skittering of facehuggers as they prepared to leap at you, to overwhelming noise that effectively masks the sound of approaching monsters so even if they were hissing right behind you, you wouldn't know it.  And you were slow, frail and almost blind compared to the creatures that were hunting you.  And there were no safe zones once you started, no time to catch your breath, take stock and muster up the remnants of your courage.  You always felt vulnerable -- because you always were.  Always. 

    Great game for that sense of fear and none have duplicated it for me, not even the games labelled as horror titles.

  • KingJigglyKingJiggly Member Posts: 777

    I remember a game called Geneforge. It had horrible graphics, but probably one of the best stories I have seen yet in a game. At one point, I was in this forest, and the mixture of music, eerieness, mystery, and being alone made me worried. I don't think this can be doneby a mmo. You can have points where your scared, like when I use to play runescape and my first time into the wildy with my full rune armour and almost getting my ass kicked by a wizard or whatever. But again, it would be extremely hard to do that in a MMO. Maybe a huge zombie mmo would do that :D With a giant map so you wont see tons of people, and random events. Idk though. Never listen to a person whos played runescape.

  • MendelMendel Member EpicPosts: 3,513

    In addition to the immersion issue that many posters have already pointed out (and I completely agree with that point), most horror movies use principles of randomness and unpredictability to elicit the fear response.  You simply don't expect the weapon-wielding lunatic wearing some distinctive clothing to be inside the refrigerator, but dang!  There he is!  Late night snack ruined.

    The degree of randomness necessary to generate the same amount of dramatic tension in an MMO would probably render it unmanageable.  I don't know that players would want the merchant they're trying to sell their loot to is going to rip of a merchant disguise revealing a distinctive outfit and begin waving a nasty looking weapon in their face.  And what happens when all the merchants turn into the lunatics and I'm not to that mission yet?  I've got stuff to sell, and all the merchants seem more interested in murdering ninJAplyrh8r_47.  Besides, the spoiler site already has the 'merchants into lunatic' gimmick all mapped out.

    And wouldn't most MMO players have the weapon-wielding lunatic beat six ways to Christmas in gear, anyway?  How's the guy with a modified plasma rifle and customized reflex armor supposed to be afraid of a guy in an orange visibility jacket and wielding a curved knife?  I thought the visibility jacket and curved knife were newbie gear.

    And on a similar note, horror is supposed to illicit the 'fight or flight' response.  But in an MMO, does any player ever really run away from a fight?  The player never gets a sense of 'stay away from there'.  Instead, the typical response is 'I'm going back to beat that guy'.  You can't really develop a feeling of horror if the only response is fight.

    ----------

    (My current favorite 'scary place' in any MMO is the spider portion of the Old Forest in LotRO.  It is disorienting visually, and spiders seem to be everywhere.  Looking for the named spider can be unnerving, even claustraphobic.  There's a real sense of suspense in that place, especially once you discover that there's another named spider, not just the one you were hunting!)

    Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

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