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Thread: Working on a horror T2 FM - Buried Deed

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR

    Working on a horror T2 FM - Buried Deed

    I decided earlier this week to start working on a horror mission (will hope to get it done by halloween). The working title is Buried Deed. I'm making this thread to keep fire under my butt via embarrassment if I never make it, and inspiration if people comment.

    I normally am not really into horror, and used to judge it as a lazy way to get players to be afraid of the AI again. However, there are several reasons why I decided to:
    • I've been having dreams of sneaking around a scary mansion, finding secrets, and tricking evil spirits. I've actually gone back to sleep to try to finish the mission on several occasions.
    • I've become obsessed with the abandoned Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers. I find it to be a inspiring place for horror and it seems small enough to make it a easy build.
    • I need the break from my main project.




    While I've not been able to find any floor plans, I've downloaded and categorize 167 photos for reference for a easy approximation.


    I have a story and goals done, and the architecture should go up quick, but I may need some serious help with texturing. I lack the skill to make the texturing have a certain cohesiveness. I will most likely use EnYB0La's Developer Textures Kit to show proof of concept before asking for help.

    Briefing concept:
    Garrett is contacted by a woman, through his fence, who informes Garrett of her notoriety in the underground; she controls a great deal of illegal gambling rings in the city. She wants a meeting, which Garrett responds expressing that he is reluctant to receive her at his hideout - wondering if it’s about a unknown debt. She assures him it’s not, and they agree to meet.

    When she arrives, she introduces herself as Dolores, but gets right to business in manner and tone. She says she is looking to hire someone to search for a ring she lost as a child, in her childhood home - a now abandoned castle manor outside the city. She says by the time her estranged father finally confessed to its location, the building had already begun to collapse into ruins and overgrowth. She admits being emotionally drawn back to the place repeatedly, but she could never bring herself to risk getting hurt climbing around inside. She tells Garrett her best way to have a piece of the memory she longs for is to recover the ring.

    Dolores changes back to a stern tone, naming her price. Garrett look interested, but asks Dolores why him, and not some bored chatelaine. She says that the thieves guilds have marked the place into their index of forbidden grounds, supported by scattered accounts of haunting apparitions and dark happenings. She herself expresses not believing the rumors, but in case they are true, she needs someone familiar with working alongside those dangers, in addition to exceptional climbing skills. Garrett asks why she doesn’t believe the rumors. She says that she’s never seen anything herself, and thinks they were likely scared off by the theatre props her distraught father placed around, to ward off looters.

    Garrett agrees to take the job, but asks for any information she could give him about her former residence. She says that she honestly can’t remember too much - that they were forced to leave in a hurry when she was quite young due to a political move by The Baron, whereby several lords were divested of their Lordships and assets. She hands over a map she mentions having acquired from her sources in the city record offices. She explains that she has marked X’s in the rooms she most suspects she could have lost the ring, although she only remembered it missing after the move.

    A taste of the first moments in-game:
    Player walks across stone moat bridge, headed to the front doors, of which one is ajar. There is a thickness to the air and the moon is powering through the cloudy night sky. The castle manor appears to be all dark, at least from this angle. Checking the map, the player sees that the manor had been transformed greatly by time.

    The player approaches the doors, opening them to reveal a hollowed out, rotted, broken down interior - open to the elements and most of the roof collapsed to the floor. The terrain is made up of debris piles, thickly covered with assorted vegetation and faint glowing mushrooms.

    There, not far from the entrance, is a out of place looking statue, sitting on a mouldering wood rolling dolly, facing the front door. As well, a wooden board hanging from a rope, painted to look like a bat. The immediate foyer only has one option to proceed through to the center, as the two side doors are boarded up.

    The player steps in two feet and is powerfully forced back out the door - the door slams shut. A tri-tonal whispery voice tells the player to leave. The player has to find another way in.

    Key ideas or features:
    • A rich storyline. I’ll strive to make it interesting enough to hunt for readables. It will be parts horror, love, and mind melting weirdness.
    • A massive amount of objects. I’ll be piling decals, flenders, vegetation (inspired by Gecko), and other objects into a small space. LOD should work well, as you cannot see the object that aren’t immediately surrounding you at any given time.
    • A well executed soundstage; ambients that immerse the player in suspense, designed to transverse well going from room to room. Sounds that are made for the current room, that emulate a distant sound from another room.
    • Very well planned “gate” objectives for satisfying progression despite backtracking a small area.
    • New creatures types with new detection-avoidance game play.
    • A large effort to make any jump scares not cheap, and sometimes avoidable by smart players. There will be more WTF than cheap gore or monsters.
    • Heavy emphasis on verticality. Mantel and rope arrow heaven. Going for a sense of being safe above the horror - to only delay the need to go back down into it, but strategically.
    • Tight areas for suspenseful sneaking.
    • Murky water - “what just touched my foot” moments.
    Last edited by gamophyte; 28th Feb 2018 at 18:58. Reason: Spelling and other corrections.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    Although I have it well formed in my head, I am open to ideas here, or via PM (although I may be getting close to a full inbox). If there is something you want to suggest, feel free. If there is something you would like to see, perhaps one of your ideas, let me know. I am often more motivated when others are involved.

    I will post screen in this thread, once I get to a good place to take some.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Beyond boundaries of Magia
    Sounds astonishing! Good luck on this one. I really hope it won't be just another "screamer, omg-dead-men-walking" FM, but apparently from what i've read, it sounds intriguing
    To be honest, i'm preparing a horror FM-set myself too, mostly with minimum to no gore, but with non-standard elements for sure. Just have to finish the final concept to determine on what to cut and what to realize, but the maps are in w.i.p. process.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: LosAngeles: Between Amusements
    Perhaps the crowd-funding folk might share architectural drawings with you in exchange for a 3D DromEd model that they could walk about in and refine their ideas for the restoration with.

  5. #5
    From a player-mapper POV who values gameplay most, I'd suggest focusing on gameplay first and adding "rich storyline" later. Briefing idea feels like good enough excuse to lock G. in a castle like this, although whispery voice, shutting doors, and ghosts feel a bit too cliche overall, at least to me. (And frankly, "readable hunt" seems like terrible idea as well.)

    If I were to approach this, I'd focus on nicely-built environment and fun of moving through it (running/sneaking, mantling, crouching, careful use of rope arrows, etc.) first, adding things like stories to a strong foundation.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoro View Post
    Sounds astonishing! Good luck on this one. I really hope it won't be just another "screamer, omg-dead-men-walking" FM, but apparently from what i've read, it sounds intriguing
    To be honest, i'm preparing a horror FM-set myself too, mostly with minimum to no gore, but with non-standard elements for sure. Just have to finish the final concept to determine on what to cut and what to realize, but the maps are in w.i.p. process.
    Oooo I can't wait for yours then! And thank you. Yeah I should have said, another inspiration was Random Taffer and gang's "Godbreaker". I didn't know things could be so green and swampy, with interesting AI.

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryG View Post
    Perhaps the crowd-funding folk might share architectural drawings with you in exchange for a 3D DromEd model that they could walk about in and refine their ideas for the restoration with.
    Good idea. I was aware of them, but never thought to ask. They have to be getting something assessed if they restore it, so I will try to get the right parties. However, an approximation of the place is quite okay too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judith View Post
    From a player-mapper POV who values gameplay most, I'd suggest focusing on gameplay first and adding "rich storyline" later. Briefing idea feels like good enough excuse to lock G. in a castle like this, although whispery voice, shutting doors, and ghosts feel a bit too cliche overall, at least to me. (And frankly, "readable hunt" seems like terrible idea as well.)

    If I were to approach this, I'd focus on nicely-built environment and fun of moving through it (running/sneaking, mantling, crouching, careful use of rope arrows, etc.) first, adding things like stories to a strong foundation.
    Garrett and the player are compelled to move forward despite the setback of being pushed back out of the front door (no locked in). This is just a taste of the power of a certain element to the rest of the story, neither the whisper and force-push is used as a hacky effect. There will even be a understanding later but I totally understand what you mean. At least in the first impressing, I want the 'cliche whisper' to by tri-tonal and different sounding.

    Now we've talked about slogging through readables before, in the FM annoyances thread - or I can't remember what it was called. I stand by what I said there, if it is interesting enough, people will read it. The player will already see there's more to the mission as soon as they get in. Now, I can't prove something that doesn't exist yet, but the hope would be that, the player is so invested in the story (and weirded out by what they see as well) that they deeply welcome that piece of muddy parchment in the pile of rubble or wet leaves. It can be a break for the terror too (well the reading ambient will be kind of scary). I don't know if I said hunt above, but that was a poor choice if I did. It's not a hunt, you will see them, and they aren't 100 percent needed to be read to progress. I would have meet hunt in the exploring sense.

    I will heed your words on the environment being actually fun to move in. I have a high standard myself and I hope it shows in the final product.

    --------------

    Update. Last night I laid out the top view super high rez image CNN made, into a photoshop grid for Dromed's background image insertion. As clean as it was I am scrapping it, as I'm thinking now it's too big. I purposely exaggerated to make sure there is enough room for Garrett, but seems I overshot by too much, it shows when I overlay a guard in a screenshot, over the exact POV of a photo. Going to work on it more...

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Lexington, KY
    I would love to collaborate, Gamo. I have seen that castle before too and love the idea.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    Quote Originally Posted by Phantom View Post
    I would love to collaborate, Gamo. I have seen that castle before too and love the idea.
    Oh wow yeah, that would be awesome. Especially with your VO and hi poly models

    I will PM you my actual email so we can correspond.

  9. #9
    Garrett and the player are compelled to move forward despite the setback of being pushed back out of the front door (no locked in). This is just a taste of the power of a certain element to the rest of the story, neither the whisper and force-push is used as a hacky effect. There will even be a understanding later but I totally understand what you mean. At least in the first impressing, I want the 'cliche whisper' to by tri-tonal and different sounding.

    Now we've talked about slogging through readables before, in the FM annoyances thread - or I can't remember what it was called. I stand by what I said there, if it is interesting enough, people will read it. The player will already see there's more to the mission as soon as they get in. Now, I can't prove something that doesn't exist yet, but the hope would be that, the player is so invested in the story (and weirded out by what they see as well) that they deeply welcome that piece of muddy parchment in the pile of rubble or wet leaves. It can be a break for the terror too (well the reading ambient will be kind of scary). I don't know if I said hunt above, but that was a poor choice if I did. It's not a hunt, you will see them, and they aren't 100 percent needed to be read to progress. I would have meet hunt in the exploring sense.
    That sounds much better, I hope you'll be able to do all that That thing about movement, it's something I had at the back of my head for a long time, but it wasn't until recently when I had someone spell it out for me correctly, in a form of pretty decent lecture on level design principles. I found it extremely useful in thinking about level design, I hope you'll find it useful as well:


  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    Quote Originally Posted by Judith View Post
    That sounds much better, I hope you'll be able to do all that That thing about movement, it's something I had at the back of my head for a long time, but it wasn't until recently when I had someone spell it out for me correctly, in a form of pretty decent lecture on level design principles. I found it extremely useful in thinking about level design, I hope you'll find it useful as well:
    Yes exactly. Think how awful a paintball arena would be if it was just open space, nothing to duck and dive into. No sense of making new grounds. I have a lot to learn though. There will be a lot of planning, as this empty shell of a place is not ready for a good game. I have to restore several rooms so there's actually things to do lol. There will be a lot of thinking about how to give the player what they need and have it make sense. But in the same light, I don't want to claim that I won't want to "play the hits" in some regard. It won't be a 100 percent new experience.

    I saw a cut up version of that video some time ago, thank you for the full lecture!

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    Progress report to those who have subbed to this thread.

    This past two weekends I have been working out logistics without really laying down any brushes. I couldn't just start without confidently knowing that I understood enough about the place's layout. Now that I have hundreds of photos from heavy research and video screen grabs, I feel better to start laying down brushes.

    My brain feels like that one microsoft program that make a scene out of pattern recognizing corners of the photos. I've used this mental method to "walk" into deeper areas you can't see from above.
    Sadly there will be some places I just can't get to, included photos that I cannot piece where they are. I do have some raw drone footage from a kind soul coming my way soon. Also now that they are working on the place more and more photos are coming in, and I have them all on alert.

    While this is out of pure interest of the place, I will not forget gameplay. If I were to go 100% "as you see it", it will be cool but not a fun mission. Also, hopefully, by July I can get a new PC, which then I can finally get my audio making started up again.

    WIP so far:

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: Portland, OR
    I cannot love evaporate water via solid to water any more than I do now.
    Last edited by gamophyte; 25th Mar 2018 at 02:24. Reason: image fix

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