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Misspegasister28's avatar

Tips on writing horror?

Asked by Misspegasister28 (2089points) May 22nd, 2016

Hello, I plan on getting RPG Maker for my birthday and I wanted to make a horror game. Does anyone have any tips on writing horror? I feel like with horror, it’s hard to be original these days.

Anyway, I was thinking something paranormal. Not necessarily a monster. I’d like it to be psychological horror. Does anyone have any ideas about how to go about that? How to come up with clever ideas? Thank you!

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5 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

From a gamer:

For starter, say no to jump scare! It is so overused that it is one of the cheapest way to scare people. Sure, people get scared by jump scare, but then they think about it no more. Also random creepy sound and gore. You should only put them in the game to push the story going, not to scare your players.

As for the story, instead of going for the same old things of people getting lost in a haunted house or being haunted by a random ghost, how about trying a different approach, something that isn’t normally associated with horror? For example, a child misinterpret some adult incident as a scary threat, or a woman who lost her child finds a toy that begins to mimic her child’s behavior. The secret to scare your player is to associate your story with something they can relate on.

And do you have any plan for the art? You don’t really need to make everything look dark right from the beginning. You can make the game look light-hearted and innocent at first, then get everything darker as the game progresses. It will surprise the player and double the scare.

Do you have any plan for the kind of games? A straightfoward adventure game or an RPG or anything else? I’m happy to play any kind of game as long as the story is good enough.

Misspegasister28's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Thank you! This is really helpful :) I like the idea of it getting darker and darker as it goes!

I’m not sure yet, I won’t get RPG Maker until July, so we’ll see! Thank you though!

Haleth's avatar

I know basically nothing about making RPGs, but it’s so cool that you’re doing that! You could start by looking for psychological horror novels and movies. Two of the scariest things I can think of are Silent Hill and House of Leaves, and they’re both different from the traditional monster genre. I hope your project turns out awesome :)

Seek's avatar

The obvious thoughts right now are to avoid zombies, werewolves and vampires. So getting that out of the way.

If you’ve never seen it, track down a film called Event Horizon. It’s an older (90s) Sci Fi film starring Sam Niell and Laurence Fishburn.

I’ve spent my entire life seeking out the most disturbing films I could possibly shove into my eyeballs, and that remains one that is legitimately scary.

When you cannot even identify the evil in order to fight it, that is when horror happens. For me, anyway.

Zaku's avatar

One thing that’s scary is to surprise players with the unexpected, and defy and undermine their ability to figure out what’s going on and to control things. Many gamers, especially these days, are used to being coddled. Of course, if some players might respond to some undermining by rage-quitting rather than admitting they can’t handle your game.

There are various ways you can play with that general dynamic… though I’m not familiar with the limits of RPG Maker. But some ideas, some of which may or may not be possible with RPG Maker:

* Have the tension start low but slowly increase, and then when things start to get more tense or threatening, have the fear/tension level change in an unpredictable pattern. But have the maximum fear/tension levels get higher and higher as you go.

* Have them think they know what’s going on, but then have twists that show they were wrong about some things. Then have them be wrong about things they were probably counting on.

* If it’s possible, unexpectedly deprive them of game control/safety mechanics they may have been counting on or taking for granted. Things like maps, the ability to retrace steps, the ability to not have crucial inventory items get lost (stolen, broken, etc), or even saved game positions.

* Don’t have the game be static. At some point, have the threats be agents that go around the game world doing things as the players are doing things in other places. Like closing and locking doors, creating problems, releasing beasts, or fire or flood waters, or turning off lights/power…

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