When I was but a young lad, no taller than a spaniel standing on a phone book, I had a board game that I loved above all others. I’d get a few select friends around, we’d set up the pieces, get the TV in just the right place, kill the lights and we would play.
That game was Atmosfear.
As well as being a board game… it was quite literally a video game. You popped the video in the VCR and the pre-recorded Gatekeeper played a crucial role in your experience.
I loved this game so much because of (would you believe it) the atmosphere, created not just by the game, but also carefully crafted by the players trying to eek every last morsel out of the experience. I was never scared playing it… but I was always pushing myself into a tense, edgy state intentionally. It was better that way.
Sure, the tape was the same every time, but after a few moments, after getting absorbed in the game itself, jostling with each other for the early lead… you forgot, and just as you did, the Gatekeeper would bellow “STOP!”.
Naturally, myself and my skin would exist a few inches apart for a few seconds.
Since then I’ve always had a deep fascination with games that could craft a deep and immersive emotional state in and around the player. Or even better, games that would get the player to work themselves up into that state.
And so… I throw that challenge to you…
Put fear into your players…
…or convince your players to scare themselves, but remember:
Fear does not have to be horror.
Fear does not have to be shock.
Fear can be crafted in quite a few different ways, experiment, find exciting and interesting ways to keep your players on the edge of their seats. Keep them tense, keep them wary.
I’d been hoping to do a theme like this for quite a while, and with the addition of the “Mood” category to the voting in the recent compo, now seems like an ideal time. Some of the sterling examples of mood in the LD22′s entries makes it clear that the talent is here.
As is common with Mini LD’s, the rules may be relaxed a bit. Source will not be required, but it is encouraged, (we can all learn from each other right ;)). The usual rules will stand on basecode, feel free to reuse and recycle. Please declare where possible, but don’t be bringing half completed games to the table, you’re only cheating yourself.
“How To Make A Scary Game” – Mike Birkhead – Excellent post deconstructing some of the aspects of interactive fear.
The Shining Bathroom Scene – A stunning example of how fear can be created without shock or direct horror, the slow ramping up of tension and menace. This scene oozes creepiness and makes me shiver everytime.
SHODAN’s Infamous Speech – This still creeps me out, it’s simple, powerful and the screeching crescendo is awesome.
An Example of the Atmosfear Gatekeeper – Not as scary nowadays of course, but here he is for reference
Amnesia: The Dark Descent – The finest example of tense atmospheric fear I’ve seen in a long time. Healthy does of shock too. You’ve no doubt all played this already… If not… grab the demo now.