Suggestions?

Let's chat about what you want from our next game. :)
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matt
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Suggestions?

Post by matt » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:31 pm

If you have a concrete suggestion for something you'd like to stay the same or see changed from the Neverending Nightmares formula, post it here. While I am going to be pretty hands off in the brainstorming thread, I'll try and respond in this thread. :)
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:36 pm

It would be great if any enemy encounters would be more unpredictable. That's probably a line you have to really be careful to toe because if they're too unpredictable it can be frustrating and unfair. I think more variety in the behavior would help a lot though. I felt the inmates in NN were the strongest enemies in that respect, even though you've said they're really not that complicated, the game made them feel like they were more unpredictable than the others, and a lot of LPs I've watched have seemed to have that experience as well. One guy I watched was convinced that you had to stay completely still when they stopped and moved their head.

So maybe rather than patrolling in a pattern, have enemies hanging out in certain areas that would make sense for them to be at, and then it becomes about avoiding them in other ways as opposed to following a path.

Some more general feedback that I'm sure you've heard plenty of already would be having more gameplay objectives, like having to find the candle and axe to chop down the door.

As far as things to stay the same, NN was so strong in terms of sound design, unique art style and not abusing jumpscares, so I hope that continues, and that Eduardo and Skyler McGlothlin are involved in the next one!

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Re: Suggestions?

Post by ranger_lennier » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:29 pm

Neverending Nightmares' difficulty was definitely an area where not every player and reviewer wanted the same thing. You designed the game to keep everyone moving through it, but some people felt like the monsters weren't threatening enough. In fact, you even took out a couple of the more difficult encounters. While I liked the game, I would have increased the difficulty if that were an option. So, if the next game has the same basic structure as Neverending Nightmares, I would like to see some sort of difficulty settings.

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gagaplex
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by gagaplex » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:54 am

It would be cool if branching points were somewhere in the middle of the level and such levels then had separate paths to their own endings, not have the branching occur right before the respective endings.

I'd like more gameplay-interactions. For instance, make good use of the "darkness monster" (insta-death in extremely dark areas) by adding corridors with pools of light where Thomas has to make it across in time. Or make him carry candles or activate light sources to open up paths. Or have an actually "chase-sequence" like you did, but one where you can actually fail if you're too slow (what you have in the game are a scene where the darkness follows you slowly and you only die if you walk back inside - it won't ever overtake you on its own - and a scene where the darkness catches you - no matter what you do).

Sound, music and art were already great as they are, although I suppose a sequel might employ a different graphical style. Personally, I've always liked this style:
Image
Colourful, yet disturbing. Plus, it helps that the colours are dirty or washed-out in appearance. While I loved the graphical style in the game, I always felt a bit iffy about the extreme contrast to the items you could interact with. This is why I, for example, recommended grey scale cupboards (for hiding) with coloured knobs rather than the entire cupboard being coloured. The extremely colourful parts, especially the larger objects, seemed a little jarring to me.

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Re: Suggestions?

Post by Stefan8000 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:25 am

i liked the interactive scenes, please use more of them. much more.

it was good, that in nn, there were no qte.

the branchings were great.

i think, the ending scenes were to short in nn. a great game should have a great ending. so, please make longer ending scenes.

art style, music, style and atmosphere were great.

i liked that fluid gameplay. but more puzzles would be great. but only logical puzzles, no stupid mini games around every corner.

i liked the psychological horror, please do it again.

i like disturbing images. more, more, more.

use plenty of gore.

i like ethnical dilemas, maybe, that is something for your next game. make the player shiver about the conseqences. in that kind, i like spec ops: the line.

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matt
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by matt » Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:59 am

These are all really good suggestions. I'm not sure we'll be able to do them all, but I think the enemy interactions need improvement like I talked about in the developer diary. I'm thinking about trying to script different situations more than basic mechanic based enemies, so they will be unpredictable. It's going to be a challenge, and I'm not sure how well it'll work out, but I think it's worth a try. Even if we use the same enemy in a few different ways, I think it'd be an improvement.
Some more general feedback that I'm sure you've heard plenty of already would be having more gameplay objectives, like having to find the candle and axe to chop down the door.
Yeah, I've heard that a lot. I just recorded a developer diary talking about that. I didn't want to have objectives in Neverending Nightmares because I wanted to make the player feel lost and confused, but from a game design standpoint, it probably wasn't a good choice...
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JPrice
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by JPrice » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:13 pm

Well if I am being constructive, I could suggest some ideas:

Story, story and more story
Whilst there are some great themes and such going in Neverending Nightmares I feel that the actual characters within it are fairly base level. I mean there aren't many solid character traits that we learn about Thomas/Gabby, most of it seems to be only implied. Whilst it's great that these implied traits are there, I feel that there needs to be more of a rounded and fleshed out personality for each of the characters. Just so that they are able to go through various stages and cycles, which in turn would make the player more invested in their plight.

New kid in town
I think there are two places you could go with the story in the new game; either have a continuation of Gabby and Thomas but from Gabby's perspective or just have a completely new set of characters. I mean I'm good with either but I think it would be interesting to have new characters, to have a clean slate in which to build these characters off (Especially if you write them with more fleshed out personalities and such). Could really be a chance to "start fresh" as it were, might help ease those who were put off by the negative side of the public opinion as well or were a part of that opinion. Still this I wouldn't really mind where you went with it personally!

Keep it straight!
I think that a good number of people didn't end up completing the game to its fullest potential really with the branching narratives. I thought it was a good idea personally but obviously people had a fair amount of critique against it for the length. People obviously just didn't care much for the branching narrative aspect of the game. I think for this next game it'd be better to focus on a singular experience, that way you can have more control of what the player comes across and deals with in terms of story elements as well as having them playthrough all the game content.

Remember: Horror = Good
I know that you may be swayed into thinking that the horror experience that you delivered may have been lacking considering that people called the game "boring" or "tedious" but hear me out. Please don't change the style of horror for this next game. I thought that it was something fresh and unique finally, after having so many horror games where it was just focused on startling you. Just having a game that focused on digging into your mind was something I've been yearning for for ages, it was nice to finally get that with Neverending Nightmares. Obviously you can add a greater density of horror (which would be great btw) but please don't change the style of it. Pretty please for me :cry: hahaha

Variety is the spice of life!
Like what others have said here, I feel like the next game would benefit greatly from more diversity. I mean a large chunk of the critique for NN was aimed at the fact that it was a "walking simulator". Whilst I don't necessarily agree with that notion, I can see where they're coming from. In the next game maybe you could vary up the gameplay more often, whether it be minor things such as carrying items to use like with the axe or new mechanics in certain sections like having to interact with machinery or something. Having some more gameplay variety I think would help strengthen the appeal of the game as it would keep the player invested for the long run.

Don't be scared, its only gameplay mechanics
Now I know that you said that in Neverending Nightmares you wanted to cut back on any traditional gamey elements, which is a valiant goal which I thought you achieved well, but I think that you may have to concede to some degree for the next game. Like I said in the prior point some people didn't like that there was very little variety to the gameplay, so it may be worth looking into to seeing what can be added into the NN world that wouldn't be too gamey but still give the player a new mechanic to play around with. The most obvious one would be puzzles, seeing as this is what most horror games use hahaa. Hey you may even want to consider some combat elements even if they're done in a crappy way it'd still fly I imagine, I mean hey Silent Hill 2 has pretty awful combat but that game's great so! Obviously it'd be a pretty big design decision to add these elements in so it's best to consider them and think ahead of how you would implement them (Assuming you would want to of course).

Fresh coat of paint?
This one is a wild card suggestion but perhaps if you had the capacity to then maybe you could have a new artstyle for this game, kinda like having a new style for each game in the "Neverending Nightmares series" as it were hahaha. Obviously I imagine doing that would be a huge time and cost investment hence why I called it a wild card suggestion but it's something that could be cool so I thought I'd bring it up. Though the storybook/Edward Gorey style still works for me hahaa :)

That's about all I can think of at the moment, others here have suggested great things as well so there's only so much I can come up with hahaa :D
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matt
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by matt » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:49 pm

Thomas and Gabby aren't well rounded characters on purpose. They are symbols - meant to represent different concepts. I think I went into a bunch of detail in the designer's notebook/developer's commentary, but Gabby is supposed to be symbolic of Thomas's fantasies, and Thomas is meant to be sort of a silent protagonist on which you project yourself.

That being said, it seems like people like "story" in games, and I think we'd get less criticism if people felt like by exploring, they could discover more about the story. So I am writing a more traditional story with characters and motivations and personalities. I will probably tell it through nightmares and clues, so it won’t be super obvious, but I think it’s the right decision to focus more on a traditional story.

It’ll definitely have new characters. As much as I’d love to reuse the art from Neverending Nightmares because it’d be a huge time/money saver, I don’t think I have anything left to say with Thomas and Gabby.

I agree with you about the branching narrative. Especially with the new focus on story, I don’t think I want to attempt to do branches and try to make different ideas reconcile with different realities and all that.

Changing the horror is an interesting one. I think I might want to evolve it and obviously I haven’t quite figured out how this will all work, but I think the atmosphere was great, but the enemies were not super great. I also want to give the player more to do, so it doesn’t feel quite like a “walking simulator”. I think it still won’t be the game-iest of games, but perhaps we can make the player feel a little less like they are walking through an amusement park attraction. I may have to concede defeat on my no puzzle idea and add some puzzle or puzzle-like elements. Although the setting I have in mind doesn't lend itself well to puzzles. :-/ I definitely don’t want to add combat. I think games like Amnesia and Outlast have been successful without combat and we can do the same.

Density of horror is an interesting thing to consider. The pacing was very deliberate, and I’m not sure it’d work well if we had a higher density of frightening or scary things. Perhaps I’m wrong. Do you have specific examples?

We are considering other art styles, and Chris is going to draw up some ideas, but we’ll see what we end up. It might be an evolution of the style, something completely different, or our new ideas may fail, and we might do something similar. Personally, I’d like the games to look different, but we’d probably want to stick to black and white and stylized in some way.

Anyway, thank you all for your great suggestions!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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JPrice
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by JPrice » Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:12 am

matt wrote:Thomas and Gabby aren't well rounded characters on purpose. They are symbols - meant to represent different concepts. I think I went into a bunch of detail in the designer's notebook/developer's commentary, but Gabby is supposed to be symbolic of Thomas's fantasies, and Thomas is meant to be sort of a silent protagonist on which you project yourself.
Oh yeah that's fine and everything, it's great that you have the characters represent things. Like you say later on in this post though people do prefer a traditional story to follow, but it'd still be great if you had the characters as symbols on top of that traditional story.
Changing the horror is an interesting one. I think I might want to evolve it and obviously I haven’t quite figured out how this will all work, but I think the atmosphere was great, but the enemies were not super great. I also want to give the player more to do, so it doesn’t feel quite like a “walking simulator”.
I'm glad that you feel this way :D I think the atmosphere was the strongest point of the game so hahaa
I think that the enemies were lacking slightly in the grand scheme of things, in terms of challenge anyway. I'm not sure how you'd want to tackle something like that though as it's up to you if you want to have enemies in this game or not, but if you do then having them be more threatening is definitely a good idea. Also giving players more things to do is a good idea, considering it'll help vary things up a lot!
Density of horror is an interesting thing to consider. The pacing was very deliberate, and I’m not sure it’d work well if we had a higher density of frightening or scary things. Perhaps I’m wrong. Do you have specific examples?
Reading back what I wrote I think that you are right actually hahaa. As long as you have that slow escalation of horror like in Neverending Nightmares then I think you'll be OK in terms of the density of horror, that deliberate pace did a lot to add to the atmosphere so :)
We are considering other art styles, and Chris is going to draw up some ideas, but we’ll see what we end up. It might be an evolution of the style, something completely different, or our new ideas may fail, and we might do something similar. Personally, I’d like the games to look different, but we’d probably want to stick to black and white and stylized in some way.
Oh well that's cool that you'll look into having a new art style :) I think you should keep the same black and white with coloured interactables idea though because that was a pretty good one, at least in my eyes anyway! haha
"Always look on the bright side of life"
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matt
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Re: Suggestions?

Post by matt » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:26 pm

Oh yeah that's fine and everything, it's great that you have the characters represent things. Like you say later on in this post though people do prefer a traditional story to follow, but it'd still be great if you had the characters as symbols on top of that traditional story.
Well, I think the idea would be to write a traditional story first, and then in the nightmares, they would appear as symbols in a nightmares representative of their roles in the actual narrative. It's basically the opposite of the way we did things in Neverending Nightmares.
I think that the enemies were lacking slightly in the grand scheme of things, in terms of challenge anyway. I'm not sure how you'd want to tackle something like that though as it's up to you if you want to have enemies in this game or not, but if you do then having them be more threatening is definitely a good idea.
I'm trying to think of a way to make enemies threatening without making them more challenging. I think making them less predictable and not having the player one hit kill would help with this. We'll see how that goes. Lots of prototyping!
Reading back what I wrote I think that you are right actually hahaa. As long as you have that slow escalation of horror like in Neverending Nightmares then I think you'll be OK in terms of the density of horror, that deliberate pace did a lot to add to the atmosphere so :)
Interestingly, I was thinking of maybe playing with that as well. Have you played Silent Hill 3? Silent Hill 3 is interesting because they start you in the thick of it, and then it goes back to normal. I think that might help hook people, and then we could dial it back. Or maybe do something with tension and release like Silent Hill and the otherworld. It was really important to me to have a constant build up, but I'm not sure that is the best for the next game. I don't know. I'm still thinking about it, and I may not decide until I actually have something playable.
Oh well that's cool that you'll look into having a new art style :) I think you should keep the same black and white with coloured interactables idea though because that was a pretty good one, at least in my eyes anyway! haha
Yeah, I think that worked really well, and I'd like to do the same for next game as well.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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