Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Over the past few years, Supermassive Games has established itself as a developer of cinematic adventure games. Games that allow players to tell their own story. This studio based in Guilford, UK, with games such as Antilles Dawn, The Quarry and The Dark Pictures Anthology series, has been praised by critics because of the special narrative and story branches of these games.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Over the past few years, Supermassive Games has established itself as a developer of cinematic adventure games. Games that allow players to tell their own story. This studio based in Guilford, UK, with games such as Antilles Dawn, The Quarry and The Dark Pictures Anthology series, has been praised by critics because of the special narrative and story branches of these games.

Anthology Dark Pictures is a collection of cinematic horror stories that Supremsio publishes annually with the release of Man of Medan from 2019. These games do not follow a specific story and are completely independent from each other. Now, Will Doyle, the creative director of the Dark Pictures series, recently shared information about the series at the Develop:Brighton 2022 event. During a speech, Doyle has described the processes involved in making story-driven games and how the studio works to create different types of fear in this series of games.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Different outcomes

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Each of the games Supermassive has a series of characters, all of which can be controlled in a part of the game. In fact, it is not like you control only one character in the story. Each character has his own story and players can choose his fate, which ultimately affects the overall story. Doyle says about this:

Instead of a character, you play as a director in the story of the game. It gives you a lot of freedom and if you don't like one of the characters, you can kill him. It doesn't matter how many people survive or die in the game, because the story is designed to give you a good experience either way. If a character dies, the story can easily continue.

Doyle gave an example of this in action. In his presentation, a player moves through a part of the game, explores an area, solves a puzzle, and finally reaches a decision point. Now here the player decides what option to choose or even do nothing. Either way, the player's success or failure in this decision affects the story. He added:

These actions have their own consequences and lead you in a different direction in the story or affect something later.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

The Three Rules of Choice

Doyle goes on to outline the three main rules developers must follow when enabling potentially life-or-death decisions. Submitted by a player. The first case is fairness. In earlier examples of role-playing games, many of which influenced the Supermassive games, some choices were considered unfair, as the player could be faced with an ending scenario without any specific explanation for it. This is what Doyle advised to avoid. He said:

The game should provide fair choices for the player and after a wrong choice, his character should not leave the game immediately. In fact, wrong moves and decisions should be predicted in some way in advance and the element of skill is involved in decision-making.

It is really important to determine the meaning and logic of a choice. So maybe you can use non-playable characters (NPCs) to highlight the pitfalls of choosing a main character. On the other hand, presenting options is also important because if different choices lead to the same goals, the importance of freedom in decision making and choice is questioned.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Doyle stated that if those conflicting choices do not have a clear outcome, it is better for players to be left wandering between options and distracted by them. The next rule is drama. The story should have a good narrative and conflict and ultimately lead to a satisfying ending. Doyle says:

If players feel like they're involved in the most important parts of the story, it helps your game grow. If you allow the main story to happen without the player's input and attribute the player's choices to unnecessary parts, you destroy the players' ability to shape the story.

While this is key, with this Now it seems that a game developer should avoid options that can completely derail the main story of the game. He went on to say:

Giving players a chance to kill the main antagonist of the game in the opening sequences may seem interesting, but it will have a very bad effect on your story. Try to give players choices that affect characters as much as possible.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Doyle He also pointed out that it is necessary Not every choice is about life and death. Some of them can be smaller decisions that keep the player engaged and feel in control of the game's narrative. He stated:

We've come to the conclusion that providing small, fun options alongside big decisions prevents player fatigue and, more importantly, allows you to develop more of the character. Shape your character.

The last rule is player agency. This means that players feel like their choices have a significant impact on the story and are not just a bystander. Doyle explained:

It is important that various choices and actions have reactive consequences. For example, if I decide to hide in a closet, my character should hide in the closet as soon as possible. If I decide to say something, the phrase I have chosen should appear quickly in the conversation and not somehow be delayed until the end.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

Doyle went on to say that when the story of a game is branching and changing, we need to show it to the player somehow. In this regard, he mentioned the game Until Dawn, which uses an animation based on the butterfly effect to show when the player makes an important decision. In the Dark Pictures series, this is conveyed to the player by crows flying across the screen. He said:

Without these elements, players often assume that their choices don't matter. When we were testing Hidden Agenda, players said that their choices in the game didn't matter, even though they only saw part of it. However, when we added the effect, we no longer got that particular feedback.

At the end of the talk, Doyle gave some tips on how to implement horror elements and use things like jump scares in a way that can Don't be predictable, he shared:

Every time you see something scary, it loses its awesomeness, so try to slowly reveal your monster or whatever source of fear you have. Jump scares are also divisive. If you use them too much, the players will complain and if you don't use them at all, they won't be afraid. So we've come to the conclusion that jump scares work best when you create enough tension and then make the player feel safe for a short period of time and scare them when they least expect it.

BingMag.com Supremacy Games’ three main rules for creating cinematic horror games

He finally stated:

Horror games are about building and then breaking suspense, so to Let your audience know when to be scared. The protagonist is a kind of conduit for the viewer. You kind of live through him on screen. So try to implement moments where he experiences real fear.

Source: gamesindustry.biz

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