63 - Fatal Frame

Developer diaries about creating Neverending Nightmares.
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Stefan8000
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by Stefan8000 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:24 am

It is to bad, but the games are not in the german psn store. A bad decision of Sony.

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matt
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by matt » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:48 pm

Sony Europe, America, and Japan are basically COMPLETELY different companies, so you have to negotiate business deals for each region separately... :-/
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Grabthehoopka
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by Grabthehoopka » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:23 pm

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/arch ... wii-u.aspx

Ah! Whluh! Heh! I don't have a Wii U but this makes me so happy :)
4 Fatal Frame titles and not a hint of the series turning into big-budget horror-themed action adventure, so yes, another entry in the series would be nice, thank you :)

I've been replaying Fatal Frame for the past couple of months, actually. I played it a while ago when I was a lot younger, and it is to date the only game that got too spooky for me and I had to stop, and unfortunately I was borrowing it from a friend and was never able to play it again after that. So, for the longest time, it was The One That Got Away for me.

While I was playing it, other than getting past the point in which I took the nope train to Fuckthatville and turned the game off on my first playthrough, never to return until almost a decade later, I was blown away by how well-designed the game was. This is what the game does best:

The fixed camera angles are amazing. They use them better than any other game since maybe Silent Hill 1, and the reason why they are so good is because they are obviously moving in a 3D environment and generally give you a good, clear view of the area, but also they go crazy with negative space. Negative space accomplishes one of two things: number one, it makes the player feel like a small element in a big, imposing environment, which contributes slightly to atmosphere, but number 2 is to draw our eye. This is something I've heard quite a bit in film school, and I don't remember what the rule of thumb is called, but basically, if you frame a shot so that a seemingly innocuous part of the background is left visible, the audience will expect something to happen in that part of the screen, and audiences have trained themselves after a century or so of moviegoing to anticipate a jump scare or something surprising to happen there. The fixed cameras in the interior areas are almost never just a plain, flat camera angle focused on the player, they make a point to show you as much of the mansion as possible in each one. If you go by a staircase or a level above or below you, the camera will be pulled way back so you can get a good grasp of the vast, dark, empty space around you, and you can always see the parts of the house where you're not just as clearly as you can see yourself. There are rooms with busted up walls and floors and crap hanging from the ceiling, and the camera is often on the other side of this stuff so you see it silhouetted against your flashlight (but usually somewhere along the edge of the screen, almost never directly in front - good game design, I tells ya) which gives both a sense of the decaying state of the mansion as well as giving you a good sense of three dimensional space, which drives the size and the emptiness of the mansion home even further.

Random encounters. I had my suspicions, but I didn't know until I looked at a walkthrough (the one and only time I consulted a walkthrough, I swear!) that they actually have random encounters in the game, and they are done probably as well as you could possibly do them. On one hand we have games like Dead Space, where you really get the sense that the levels are just hallways with invisible football-field-yardlines spread throughout the level, and every time you walk across one, an enemy pops out of a vent like a jack-in-the-box. The frequency of the monsters could potentially create the feeling of being on a ship, surrounded by these things, knowing that one could pop out and attack you at any time, but instead, if you have to backtrack for something, and it isn't part of the primary objective, you can turn around and run all the way back to where you came from and be perfectly safe because all of the jack-in-the-boxes have already been triggered, so it really calls attention to the game design aspect of it. On the other hand, you have games like Clock Tower 3 and Slender, where they rely on a thing that appears entirely at random, which in theory creates tension because the player knows that it could appear at any time, and it's completely out of anyone's hands. But in reality, they have to make it possible to get away from the randomly-appearing monster, otherwise it'd be impossible, so after a while, the randomly appearing monster becomes more annoying than scary. You're trying to take your time and explore because, you know, survival horror, but nope, here comes that boogeyman again. Once the shock value has worn off, it becomes frustrating, and you create the interesting scenario wherein it seems less and less like it's trying to "get you", and more like it's just trying to be a dick and waste your time. Fatal Frame take a third option and has both. There is a mission-critical path that they've laid out for you; the most direct path to get all the key items and open the locked doors, etc, and they have scripted encounters sprinkled along that path. And as long as you stick to the mission-critical path, you'll only come across the scripted encounters, paced very deliberately by the developers. But if you wander off that path, then you might come across a random encounter, and the longer and further you stray from the path, the more likely you'll have one. Long story short, it's sort of like a primitive version of the AI director from the Left 4 Dead games that ensures you never go for too long without having an enemy encounter, and ensures you never have too many encounters too close to one another. So rather than ruin the pace of the game, like random encounters usually do, they actually maintain the pace of the game, since encounters are constantly happening, so they feel like a constant threat, but they happen so infrequently that they never become annoying, and you are always dreading that a ghost might pop out at any time (and justifiably so). That carefully orchestrated chaos is, I think, the biggest reason why the atmosphere is so tense, and how they achieved that perfect timing is a mystery to me akin to witchcraft. Ah, but that's not even the best part. Since the enemies are, in effect, in infinite supply, there is a chance that you might have infinite encounters with them, so you can always refill your type-14 film back up to 30 shots at any save point for free, thus giving you an effectively infinite supply of ammunition. Type-14 is the crappiest type of film, of course, but they've ensured that there is never a point in the game where you're completely defenseless. Game design!

It took me a while to notice, but I looked at the cover and realized the game was rated T by the ESRB. T! For teen! I was so shocked when I saw that I almost shat right then and there! When I thought about it, though, it all makes sense. You fight the enemies with a camera, as opposed to any conventional sort of weaponry. The enemies are ghosts, so there's no graphic violence, they just kinda grab you and spook you to death or something, and likewise when you take pictures of them, and despite the fact that there is some incredibly disturbing stuff going on in the story and some really nightmarish imagery (the pictures you get of the long-armed ghost snatching the children as you beat each one in the Demon Tag level are some of the scariest things I've ever seen in any horror game or movie. And if I'm not mistaken, this was before the whole slenderman thing!), the most graphically violent thing in the game is probably that one ghost with her eyes gouged out. Other than that, no blood. You can have a girl bending completely backwards due to a broken neck, but as long as there's no blood it's fine. You can have a ghost that is LITERALLY A FLOATING, SEVERED HEAD, but as long as there's no blood, it's cool! The fact that the game can get away with being one of the scariest damn games of all time with material so tame that they can get away with a T rating just shows what geniuses the devs are.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but there's probably some more stuff that I'm missing. Oh, and honorable mention goes to finding casette tapes as archive items, and sometimes you hear indistinct whispering on them in the background. If you're into paranormal investigation stuff at all, you know that this is supposed to be EVP, and if you turn the volume up and listen carefully, you can clearly hear voices on them, talking to whoever is speaking into the tape. Turning the volume on my TV up and replaying audio tapes over and over again, leaning in closely to try to listen to the spooky voices in the background is one of the coolest experiences I've ever had with a survival horror game, or any game for that matter. That's like Metal Gear Solid levels of cool. It almost makes up for having one of the worst english dubs of any game ever. Say what you want about your temp voiceacting recorded with webcam, Matt, but you could out-act any of the dullards they shoved in the voice acting booth any day of the week.
Last edited by Grabthehoopka on Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ranger_lennier
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by ranger_lennier » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:15 am

I could see this being an especially good series for the Wii U, since you could basically use the gamepad as a camera, with the gyroscopes detecting how you're moving it. Some of the games in Nintendo Land did this, like the archer in the Zelda game, but most games haven't made great use of the gamepad. I just hope it comes out in America. Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen for the Wii was only released in Japan. The Wikipedia page did point me to a fan translation, but I'd need to import the game from Japan and mod my Wii to accept homebrew programs, so I kind of doubt I'll actually do it.

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matt
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by matt » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:56 pm

I love Fatal Frame 1 and 2. I agree with everything you said! It is an absolute brilliant game. My only complaint is that it is much too unforgiving. I played on easy (if there was an option) AND with a walkthough, but I still had to revert to an earlier save and backtrack.

I started playing Fatal Frame 3 in an emulator, and I am towards the beginning, but it hasn't quite grabbed me like 1 and 2. (It sure looks beautiful in an emulator running in HD though!) I think part of the problem is that it is basically the same sort of thing exactly as 1. One was in a mansion, and two upped the ante by being in a city, but 3 is back in a mansion. I do like that you can wake up and explore your house and talk to your assistant. That's an interesting narrative device.

It's possible that playing on an emulator is ruining some of the tension. There isn't a real threat since I can just reload my save state and try again. I'm not sure that is true because we essentially have that behavior in Neverending Nightmares, and it is still very tense (at least I think so). One thing that playing with an emulator has taught me is that getting all the ghost shots is REALLY hard. I tried for one like 30 times, and I just had to give up. I guess I don't have the dexterity to do it. I think it's a really good mechanic because it keeps you on edge, and you want to try and snap the pictures before it's too late.

Perhaps one thing you missed that is really great about Fatal Frame 1 is that they managed to reuse content intelligently, so it all takes place in one mansion (that isn't even that big), but the game is still awesome. By framing it into nights, it works really well. I drew a lot of inspiration from the structure of Fatal Frame for Neverending Nightmares.

While I think a new Fatal Frame game is a great thing and a great fit for the WiiU, I am trying not to get my hopes up. Fatal Frame 4 was never released in the US. :( I imagine it made interesting use of the Wii-mote, but I imagine it is a pain to get running with the fan translation. I imagine you have to homebrew your Wii or something.

Hopefully due to rising game budgets and lack of WiiU software, they'll bring it over. I pretty much never use my WiiU, although I guess I've gotten more use out of it than my PS4... I'm debating whether to get Octodad and Daylight on PS4 or PC. I almost want to buy them on PS4 just to justify my purchase, but I might be able to run the games with better graphics on PC... Then again maybe not. I don't have the best computer in the world. First world problems? hahah
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Grabthehoopka
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by Grabthehoopka » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:36 pm

I love when games use familiar environments to help tell the story! My favorite open-world sandbox-style game is Bully, and I think that's one of the reasons why. The world itself isn't that big, but you hang around the school and become familiar with it, and then watch how it changes with the seasons, see holiday decorations go up and come down, and see everyone in different clothes for each season, and it gives you a really good sense of progression and time passing.

But the game that I think did it better than anyone else is, of course, Siren. There's only a dozen or so locations that you visit over and over and over and over again, but they justify it in 2 ways: First, it's a central game mechanic. Most of the puzzles revolve around doing something in one location as one character which allows a different character in the same location to progress at a later time. Second, the game takes place over a 72 hour period and the locations and enemies physically change in interesting ways over that time. I would love to gush on and give specific examples, but I know a lot of people on the forums haven't played it and I really don't want to spoil it, so I'll refrain from specifying how. Anyways, chalk up another reason to play it.

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matt
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by matt » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:28 pm

I think we have even less environments than Siren and reuse them more, so hopefully we succeed in that department. :) We do try to make it FEEL different every time you play it through.

Chris Pruett, author of the amazing Chris' Survival Horror Quest gushes about the game but stresses the high difficulty of the game. It seems like it would be too frustrating for me probably even with cheating by using gameshark or save states. hahaha

I have been on the fence about trying Siren: Blood Curse because it's supposed to be easier. I've heard it's not as good, but if it doesn't make me cry tears of pain, it's probably better. hahaha Apparently the US version is censored, so I was thinking about importing the international version, but then I couldn't decide, so I think I bought Silent Hill: Origins instead. hahaha

Siren does seem like a really good game though from everything I've heard about it.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Grabthehoopka
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by Grabthehoopka » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:59 am

matt wrote:I think we have even less environments than Siren and reuse them more, so hopefully we succeed in that department. :) We do try to make it FEEL different every time you play it through.

Chris Pruett, author of the amazing Chris' Survival Horror Quest gushes about the game but stresses the high difficulty of the game. It seems like it would be too frustrating for me probably even with cheating by using gameshark or save states. hahaha

I have been on the fence about trying Siren: Blood Curse because it's supposed to be easier. I've heard it's not as good, but if it doesn't make me cry tears of pain, it's probably better. hahaha Apparently the US version is censored, so I was thinking about importing the international version, but then I couldn't decide, so I think I bought Silent Hill: Origins instead. hahaha

Siren does seem like a really good game though from everything I've heard about it.
I'm really torn. Normally, I would just recommend watching a let's play or something, but I think Siren is, at its very core, a puzzle game. Everything is a puzzle. Like, really, everything. There's a very "you're on your own" attitude the game has, from the puzzles themselves, to the levels, to the story, to even the freaking map screen! (you can view the entire map to the area you're in at any time, but it doesn't tell you where you are, only what direction you're facing. You have to use landmarks on the map to deduce your location) It's actually not quite as difficult as a lot of people say it is, I think; there's a few fairly forgiving mechanics in it, and I would actually compare it to an exploration puzzle game like Myst, Portal, or Fez. The levels are puzzles in and of themselves, and you have to figure out how to beat each one. You might get stuck on a level for quite a while, but I would say for about 90% of them, once you figure out the "solution" to beating it, you can breeze through it in like 5 or so minutes.

It can treat you pretty roughly, but it is a well-designed game, and it is fair. It's not nearly as unforgiving as Demon's Souls or Dark Souls or any of those games, which Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw very cleverly summed up as "like playing a game of Simon that pokes you in the eye every other color". You progress up to a certain point, only to get killed by a cheap death trap and start over, so you can progress up to that point and avoid that death trap, only to get killed by the cheap death trap after that and start over, etc etc. Siren has mechanics similar to that, but I would say it's more like the stereotypical hard-assed chinese kung-fu master hermit. It'll kick your ass, but with the expectation that you learn from your mistakes. They set the rules fairly early on to enforce the smart way to play vs. the not-so-smart way to play, but after a certain point, you stop dying cheap deaths, because you're applying what you learned and the game is religiously following its own ruleset. After that point, each level is sort of like a test in being cool and remembering what the game has taught you (with the occasional curveball thrown your way. It IS a horror game, after all). I'm not the masochistic gamer who wants things to return to "nintendo hard", or who likes difficulty for the sake of being difficult, but I can tell you that it was one of the most fascinating and rewarding experiences of my gaming career.

And they made a sequel, with an english-translated PAL version and everything, but didn't release it in the US, god friggle fraggle dammit...

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matt
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Re: 63 - Fatal Frame

Post by matt » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:42 pm

I don't know. Even if it's "fair" hard, it still sounds hard. Also, I'm bad at puzzles. hahah Maybe I'll give it a try sometime. With a walkthrough. And an emulator. hahah
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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