195 - Enemy Postmortem

Developer diaries about creating Neverending Nightmares.
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matt
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195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by matt » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:13 pm

I posted a postmortem talking about the enemies in Neverending Nightmares.



What did YOU guys think about the enemies? What would you like to see in a future game?
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:02 pm

The tormented girl (that's Gabby dragging the huge sword around right?) was the one that you see the least as she first appears in the darkness, and she seemd the most mysterious, so I probably liked that one the most from a horror standpoint.

I liked the inmates' unpredictability, I still would get attacked a couple times doing something I thought was safe, and most LPers I've watched noted the same thing.

So from a horror standpoint Gabby, from a more gameplay focused standpoint the inmates were the ones that kept me on my toes the most.

OH and I did find one LPer who had the exact reaction you were intending with the tormented girl (this should jump right to it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... 1Qw#t=1228

Although I think they thought at that point running would get them killed so it was more "walking away quickly" when they first ran into her. Most gamers are too desensitized and/or curious to do that I think, we want to see everything even if it means dying!

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matt
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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by matt » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:26 am

That is definitely true about wanting to see the dying animations. I'm happy with how Gabby turned out in the final game. It's interesting that the inmates are viewed as unpredictable. They have really simple patterns, but I think part of the unpredictability is just in their detection distances.

Interestingly, they can sense you forward/back much further than up and down when you are walking to make up for the fact that we have a weird perspective as well as not a ton of vertical space. While it seemed to me like that would be something that felt "wrong" or unfair just because it's inconsistent, I don't think anyone really noticed. Maybe it added to the unpredictability? :)
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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gagaplex
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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by gagaplex » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:39 am

The dolls were a great success, I feel. After a while I could tell which dolls were... at least likely to come to life. But it remained very tense and I especially liked it when there were several at once. They moved slowly, but persistently. Almost like "classical" zombies. Not fast, but unstoppable.

The Thomas-monster was also quite effective in a different way because he really made one run away. He was more "jump-scary" than the others, but effective since you could never tell where you would be safe or not.

The Baby-monster was alright but maybe it was just "overplayed" since it was the first one introduced and I've encountered it just way too much. Also, I don't like "waiting around", so hiding in the closet and waiting for the creature to move on - at least to me - wasn't so much tense as a little bit tedious. Especially once I knew I was completely safe inside the cupboard, as even the shaking did nothing to harm Thomas. The threat just disappeared.

If you remember, I was actually one of the people who liked the puzzle-aspects of the Jacket-monster. Tricking them with glass was cool and didn't harm the atmosphere to me.

I still don't quite "get" the Gabby-monster. The thing about the Amnesia-creatures is that, yes, you can't look at it, but you are also in danger of being cornered and it's made quite clear through the insanity-mechanics that looking at it or staying close to it is dangerous. Frankly, such an indication was missing with the tormented girl, since she just slowly follows you around and as long as you keep your distance there's not really a reason to run away any further than that. Or at least not an obvious one. Making her vanish after a while still seems like the best solution to me, except perhaps changing how the entire encounter works. Since she should be particularly emotionally damaging to Thomas, you probably could've gotten away with him falling to his knees or collapsing if staying too close to her for too long (to use the Amnesia-approach of trying to force the player not to look at the monster) or something like that.

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matt
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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by matt » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:54 am

The Baby-monster was alright but maybe it was just "overplayed" since it was the first one introduced and I've encountered it just way too much. Also, I don't like "waiting around", so hiding in the closet and waiting for the creature to move on - at least to me - wasn't so much tense as a little bit tedious. Especially once I knew I was completely safe inside the cupboard, as even the shaking did nothing to harm Thomas. The threat just disappeared.
Did you play Outlast or Alien: Isolation? It seems to be pretty popular horror design to hide in a locker. I'm wondering what they did right that we failed to do with that. Even Amnesia had plenty of hiding although it was a little more organic. I don't think they had hide points, but I often crouched behind boxes.
Making her vanish after a while still seems like the best solution to me, except perhaps changing how the entire encounter works.
After the initial build, I changed her behavior, so she does vanish after a while unless she's standing really close in the light. I am quite satisfied with the way she works in the final game, and I do think my initial implementation was a bit misguided.

Thanks for your feedback!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by evilkinggumby » Tue Oct 21, 2014 12:56 pm

matt wrote:
The Baby-monster was alright but maybe it was just "overplayed" since it was the first one introduced and I've encountered it just way too much. Also, I don't like "waiting around", so hiding in the closet and waiting for the creature to move on - at least to me - wasn't so much tense as a little bit tedious. Especially once I knew I was completely safe inside the cupboard, as even the shaking did nothing to harm Thomas. The threat just disappeared.
Did you play Outlast or Alien: Isolation? It seems to be pretty popular horror design to hide in a locker. I'm wondering what they did right that we failed to do with that. Even Amnesia had plenty of hiding although it was a little more organic. I don't think they had hide points, but I often crouched behind boxes.
I think one thing that adds to the tension in games is that when you hide in or behind something, you intentionally also obscure your vision and so you can't see that which you are afraid of. You get a slight feeling of safety, but not necessarily complete safety as you can't see everything and so can't tell where the creature is, how far it is, or when it's truly "ok" to get out and run.

Hiding from the baby, even inside a cabinet, you can "see" the entire screen. granted you may not know hiow far off the baby has walked offscreen, but the fact your view hasn't been hindered in the least has an effect. If, say, while in the cabinet your view was limited to only about 5-6 feet it would be a LOT more tense (if the cabinet had a etched design so yu could believably look out the holes I guess). Instead we hide, wait, go. And yes after you get a feel for it, it does become tedious. I think also having the baby's walk patterns be a bit more random and less of a scripted " walk from point a to bo and back, pausing every few steps" would help as if you can't easily predict you are a lot more nervous about how to proceed and when to make your move.

The scariest monster in the game for me was the end of what I think was the first nightmare when you proceed towards the doorway to hack off the boards and the lights shut off behind you as you go. The idea of something chasing you and forcing the darkness on you just felt far more monstrous and tense than 'large cartoon baby' or 'girl with bloody weapon' or 'inmate with no eyes or ears but the amazing ability to pounce and rip your throat out". I think i was more nervous in the asylum based on what i couldn't see (but rather heard) than what i could. That is to say, the random noises of the crazies were far more evocative than seeing the patients themselves. I think the fact the patients were so lethal, yet in my mind shouldn't have been so lethal, is part of what bugged me. I can easily believe someone can get overwhelmed and taken quickly by an insane person with all of their faculties. I can also believe it with an insane person with no eyes. No ears too, I start to raise an eyebrow. No useable ARMS and I'm going to really wonder why my character can't just sidestep or kick it in the stomach to deflect the diving creature. If the inmates were hiding and waiting to pounce, it would have been far more scary because of not knowing where they'd strike, where to walk to avoid them, or if they were going to pop out of one of the many cell doors.

Also I think a degree of tension is lost knowing if you die in a matter of moments you'll just awaken near where you left off perfectly unharmed. This makes death and "losing" more of a brief hindrance rather than an actual punishment. If the game had a system designed to reward players for NEVER dying in a nightmare (except where it's scripted they have to) in some way, or possibly having dying have a direct effect on your astham, that might make it more compelling. Like say you manage to go through nightmare 1 without death and so into nightmare 2 you can sprint longer before you wheeze so bad you have to stop and catch your breath. If you get through 2 nightmares untouched you can sprint indefinitely and despite wheezing, you don't ever have to stop and catch your breath. It might seem like this would make everyone rush through the game, but you have 2 details that would force them to still be mindful: 1: sprinting into an enemy means death and LOSING that great ability(and so having to go a long ways before regaining any or all of it). 2: sprinting is just what the asylum creatures use to detect you, so it becomes a lot less useful in that nightmare and in first playthroughs would get players killed and reset to base every time. :)

I would be a lot more nervous and tense if the enemies in the asylum were hard to see or detect, seemed to come out of nowhere, could hear me sprinting and in dying I lose any boost my sprint had, and were insta death if they caught me.

The same goes for the baby monster, by the time you come to those you may have some of full sprint engaged but sprinting allows you to run right into the monster and so lose it. Hiding in a cabinet and not getting the timing right would mean death (and also losing sprint). Really, since there is nothing to "lose" with death there is no reason to care. Whereas knowing you lose something you worked hard to GAIN makes it desirable not to get caught.

I realize having a longer sprint time would make the player feel more empowered, but the sprint itself is not very fast, it can easily put you in harms way, and if you end up dead you lose it for an entire nightmare if not more. It is sort of like handing you a gun with 5 bullets in it for you to use for an entire game. Yes it is empowering, you have a powerful weapon that can easily kill up to 5 monsters. But when the game has dozens of creatures, and you really never want to rely on it because you may need it later, or if using it also attracts the attention of OTHER monsters, it is a false sense of empowerment. still, the player will work hard and be invested to KEEP THAT GUN as long as possible, even if they rarely use it.
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matt
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Re: 195 - Enemy Postmortem

Post by matt » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:10 pm

I think also having the baby's walk patterns be a bit more random and less of a scripted " walk from point a to bo and back, pausing every few steps" would help as if you can't easily predict you are a lot more nervous about how to proceed and when to make your move.
It used to be, but we actually made them less random based on watching people play the game at E3 and whatnot. Again, I think people had different expectations for the game than I. I wanted to create a game that anyone could be regardless of skill because I find too often that horror games are too difficult for me.

Because of our commitment to not having help screens or HUD, it was difficult to design the game so that everyone would know what to do instinctively and not have it too challenging. Some people really liked the final puzzle in the asylum. One reviewer thought that it was a bug that you couldn't get past it until you die a certain number of times (and then the enemy moves to basically get people unstuck).

While I agree with a lot of what you are saying, giving the player special powers feels like a game-y convention, which in my opinion destroys immersion, so I want to create tension in other ways. I have plenty of ideas, but I want to prototype them before I talk much about it.

Thank you for your feedback!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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