SOMA Previews

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matt
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SOMA Previews

Post by matt » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:33 pm

It seems like Frictional Games had a press event at GDC and there were a bunch of previews. Firstly, I love the underwater setting. I mentioned in some other thread that I want to make a horror game underwater. It's like they read my mind! I love the existentialist ideas as well as well as determining the nature of a soul and existence. It seems like a game designed just for me! :-D

A ton of previews that went up:
http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/4/5537556 ... sturbances
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/04 ... esia-game/
http://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/04/video-preview-soma/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulQlT1qA ... JSbphFxbrg
http://www.gamespot.com/videos/soma-new ... 0-6418121/
http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/o1jjpe/soma-preview

As always I get a little worried when I read a negative preview since everyone seems to give games for previews the benefit of the doubt. I especially like RPS as a website, but their preview wasn't the most positive:
I’m not gonna lie: I wasn’t particularly scared or even unsettled for most it. The environment looked very nice and well-crafted, but it felt hollow. Nothing really pulled me in, let alone dragged me back to its lair kicking and screaming. There were hints of greatness, but they were few and far-between.... The key, I think, lies in filling the gaps with more than just endless trudging, cheap jump scares, and perfunctory puzzles.
From here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/04 ... esia-game/

In reading the other previews, it seems like there is less of a focus on enemies and more exploration and puzzles than Amnesia. I thought Amnesia had a really good balance. It sounds like the balance is more like Machine for Pigs, which was good but not as good. Perhaps the game just doesn't preview as well. I imagine a game about exploration is tough to compress into a preview setting.

Anyway, I'm probably worrying too much. The guys at Frictional are really awesome.

As a side note, does anyone actually like puzzles in horror games? Maybe it's just me, but I don't really feel like they fit in a horror game... Thomas Grip disagrees and has written quite a lot about puzzle design on his blog: http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com/
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:22 am

Oh wow, I haven't been following SOMA for a while, and I didn't know about the setting. That looks really good.

As long as they're organic and not obvious "stop and put the game on hold for 10 minutes while you decode this thing" puzzles I don't mind a good puzzle. I thought the first Amnesia struck a good balance of making you figure out some simple things you need to do in order to progress. Puzzles can help keep you involved if they're done right. One of my problems with Machine for Pigs was it felt like you were just moving through a bunch of locations and watching things happen, I didn't ever get very engaged with the game.

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JPrice
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by JPrice » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:51 am

Ohhhh well I wasn't aware of the new information on the setting.
Placing the game mostly underwater seems like a great idea! I imagine it should make you feel very isolated and trapped within the base that the game takes place in. I can imagine it's rather difficult to preview a horror as you have to strike that balance between scaring the player yet not giving too much information away . A lot of those scares could actually be way more effective as they are paced along with the actual game and built up to create a feeling of hostility that culminates on that scare. That type of element is lost on a preview build of a game as you only really want to give a short snippet of gameplay and you have to work within that limit. It's why I don't tend to rely too heavily on previews of horror games myself!

As for puzzles in horror games, I do enjoy them and feel that they help break up the monotony of a similar gameplay style. However it has to fit into the world for it to work for me, like if it's just crammed in without any real connection to the world then it just feels too videogamey and kind of detracts from the experience as a whole. Still if it's done right then I'm all for puzzles!
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by Grabthehoopka » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:06 pm

I will definitely give them the benefit of a doubt. Saying a preview build is boring is far from the worst thing you can say about a game. And I, for one, happened to love Machine for Pigs, so I'm set.
I said it before, and I'll say it again: I really like the idea that The Dark Descent and A Machine for Pigs are so different, and if I had my way, they'd hand the keys to some other indie studio to develop a third game, and encourage them to stick to a few core mechanics and a couple recurrent themes, but other than that just go wild and make the game they want to make, like they did with The Chinese Room. Essentially, turning Amnesia into a sort of Final Fantasy series for survival horror, where each game has the same genre and core mechanics, but a completely different setting, conflict, tone, story, and characters. I thought that's what Bioshock was going to do, but then Irrational Games split up, so...I guess that's not gonna happen...

John Carpenter actually originally wanted to do this with the Halloween series and turn it into an anthology, where each film was unrelated, the only thing in common was that they all took place on Halloween. He caved to executive pressure and made Halloween 2 a direct sequel, cause he was just an indie filmmaker and couldn't say no, but stuck to his original vision when he made Halloween 3.

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matt
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by matt » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:03 pm

However it has to fit into the world for it to work for me, like if it's just crammed in without any real connection to the world then it just feels too videogamey and kind of detracts from the experience as a whole.
I agree that oftentimes game puzzles especially in Silent Hill and Resident Evil where random things happen from non-intuitive actions, definitely remind me that I am still playing a game.

While we don't have proper puzzles, we definitely have some puzzle like elements - especially with our latest enemy encounters in the game. I think the purpose of the puzzle is to make you think and use your problem solving skills. If you shoehorn traditional puzzles in a game, it can ruin the mood. If you make them work in the game world, then I think puzzles are good.
He caved to executive pressure and made Halloween 2 a direct sequel, cause he was just an indie filmmaker and couldn't say no, but stuck to his original vision when he made Halloween 3.
Was that really a good thing? Seasons of the Witch is sooooooooooooooo bad. :-P

In all seriousness, that's what I'd like "Neverending Nightmares" to be. I'd like to build on the gameplay mechanics and tech but tell new and interesting stories with different characters.

I think that was one of the things that helped Silent Hill 2 be so good. They weren't stuck to the narrative of the first. While I like Silent Hill 3 a lot, I think they lost a lot of flexibility to tell a really compelling story.

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-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Grabthehoopka
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by Grabthehoopka » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:33 pm

matt wrote:
In all seriousness, that's what I'd like "Neverending Nightmares" to be. I'd like to build on the gameplay mechanics and tech but tell new and interesting stories with different characters.
Oh? Ooooooooh? NN 3 confirmed?

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matt
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Re: SOMA Previews

Post by matt » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:07 pm

hahaha, I'll have to release 1 and 2 before I can work on 3.

I already have a design in mind for the follow up to Neverending Nightmares, but being able to make it is contingent on the first game's success.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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