Hey guys, I’m back. Things have been… kind of hard on me personally over the past few weeks. Lots of things just not going the way I’d like, to put it mildly. But this isn’t a blog for me to whinge about my life, and I’m trying to deal with it anyways. For now, I wanted to share a new idea here: video game designs. Now, and this is important, these posts are public and for discussion and dissemination of ideas. If anyone who is making or thinking of making shows up and reads this, by all means; take the idea and run with it. Go crazy, just come back to tell me about the finished product. I’d like to see what the end result of such ideas are. Remember, free to use and spread, just don’t forget to add a little to the discussion while you’re here.

Now, this first one is on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: horror games. The idea actually came to me as I was walking home from the store at 2 am, and I can safely say my heart was hammering with anxiety over the whole thought process, being alone in the night like that.  The basic idea is, learning about a horror game makes the game worse. Here’s the analogy I came up with while on my little stroll.

Imagine for a second you have a nice house, full of rooms to keep your things in, where you can roam in peace. Now, there are all kinds of nasty things out in the wild world, so you  have locks on all the doors and windows. Inside you are perfectly safe from the horrors that lurk in the darkness out there. Hell, they might not even be near your house in particular. Better safe than sorry.

However… One day, outside, you see something. Something off. Something wrong. You’ve caught a glimpse of the Other, and rush back home, locking all the doors and windows once more, taking comfort in the safety. Just… what was that thing? Why was it here? What did it want? The question claw at the back of your mind, demanding to be answered.  One day soon, you go out and find and occult book of some such and set it in your spare room. When the thoughts become unbearable  it’s a simple task to go into your safe little room and study, and then leave. There are horrible things in that little tome, but you skim over them looking for knowledge on the one thing you saw. Finally after reading for a while, you find it. The answers are… lackluster, but you know more now than you did before. You leave, and close the door behind you, content in your new-found knowledge.

The door doesn’t lock behind you. Confused, you may go back in and read more, or simply put it off, but the result is the same. Entropy has set in, degrading your protection lock by lock. You can toss the book, burn it and seal the room to safe. But there is a damning curiosity in your mind, a little more can’t hurt, right? Besides, you need to know about these things. What if another one comes back.

Soon, locks are breaking that you haven’t even touched after reading the book. At first, it’s nothing big. A closet here, a bathroom there. Who cares if it can’t lock inside the house? Windows break, outer doors begin to creak and break from their hinges. That’s it, your protection is fading.  Now, whats worse, you can no longer hide it. Shattered glass and lopsided doors mark your house. Looking out in the night, you see movement in the shadows. Something waiting. Watching.  It’s followed the scent of destruction, like a moth to a flame. Or was it the other way around, with you as the moth?

A lot of horror games today throw the player into a super-natural setting and then give them ample time or resources to study their world and the creatures within. Players can easily sit in a corner with a audio-diary or text pad and look over things that are happening around them. What I want to do is try and inflict a meta-game on to their curiosity. Gaming the line of perception and knowledge.

Imagine a world where something bad is happening. Maybe it’s Space Zombies, or just Cthulhu making a delivery of potted plants. Something where the player has to survive and escape, or fight back. Now let them learn about their environment through experimentation and regular play. Give them clear goals and set them on their happy way through hell.

But also give them ample chances to learn about the things that plague their new world. Hidden little crevices filled with eldritch lore, hidden rituals of black magic. Make this take its toll on the player, the more they learn, the more twisted the game becomes. Paths that can seal a player in for a short time (or until they attack it, if you want to enable that), hallucinations, movement in the shadows, musical queues for monsters that don’t exist, warping geometry, acting as a beacon for more and more creatures to hunt.

The possibilities are endless. Just make sure it’s not punishing. You don’t want to kill the player because they wanted to learn more about the world.

You just want to make them wish they could die instead.