EXPLHORROR 3: NOPE! NO MORE...I'M DONE HERE.

Nancy Regans 'Just say no to drugs' campaign in the 80's was the supposed retaliation and answer to the 'war on drugs.' A fitting retort, and a new exclamation to all the would be 12 year old boggie sugar users and nerduels contemplating a tasty  joint being dangled in front of them by the same country supplying them with said narcotics.

Here, today, on Halloween were not dressing up like Nancy Regan, were replacing the word drugs with Outlast, Metro, Dreadhalls, Vanishing, Resident Evil. That phrase campaign is just as relevant today as we want it to be. I didn't say no to anything in the 80's and look at me now. A popular adage in the improv game is 'just say Yes', which i have been living by for years. But we all have friends who just have to 'say no to horror games.'  

Click the image or  here  for some more snarf worthy chilling tracks for Halloween.

Click the image or here for some more snarf worthy chilling tracks for Halloween.

Saying no to a great Horror game is really hard for me. Especially with all the great indie titles being released in the past years. Although many of them fall flat they are just as important. At the very least, we learn what doesn't scare us so we can streamline our terror and tailor our experiences for a truly personal exercise in fear. That's not crazy right? The more i play the more i realize when to put my severed foot down, what i just can not allow into my horrorscape any longer. This includes 

Rape: I've seen enough of this for a lifetime of celibacy. I'm done with rape and I get it. I don't need to see that anymore. In games it's pretty rare to walk into a huge rape scene (Tomb Raider, Hotline Miami 2). But with film its rampant, Usually its pointless and only serves the viewers discomfort. The power of rape on screen is that we are helpless as a viewer to do anything about it. I have a FF button and eyes that i can close but that's about it. There is nothing new or inventive to be done with rape scenes anymore and there is nothing to be gained by it. Of all horror i'm the most uncomfortable and annoyed with rape and one other exception.

Torture:  Nails  torn free from hands, knees stabbed slowly, eyes pulled out, you get the idea. We've all experienced torture in some way. I don't mean that 'friday can't come fast enough' kind of pain but real helpless, nightmary agony. I just can't take it anymore. The last torture anything i saw was Wolf Creek 2. This villain is amazingly well done. With John Jarratt playing the role of Mick Taylor. Hes essentially the protagonist of the story as well. You can see his face, he shows up at the beginning of the movie. He simply hates people and does very Snarff worthy things to innocent travelers.  Maybe its watching someone tied up in a chair, or the screaming, or the sound of the skill saw whirring at 1200 RPM. or the blood mist covering the body parts. It captures my imagination so well that i cant help but kick and squirm when i watch it because i can easily assume the role of the victim. It a very powerful device horror uses and something i just can't do anymore. Fuck, i had a hard time with watching Snake in Metal Gear 3. It physically effects me. My heart is jacked, my hands are sweaty and my mouth gets really dry. I respect the power of torture in a story but i just have to say ' Nope, fuck this' pause, menu, quit.

An interesting conversation i had a few weeks back with some friends involved rape vs torture. See i learned that for women Rape is a mans version of Torture. A man watching Saw should stir up the same reaction that a woman might have to a rape sequence. Except for us men, were not continuously thinking about possibly being overwhelmed and tortured as were walking home alone late at night. It was a great conversation that had me really realizing how women feel about rape and how ubiquitous those thoughts for women are. 

That being said the real reason we can't turn on our PC's and consoles at night is the tried, tested and always effective jump scare. What a cunt these things are. I feel like every time it happens to me i loose about a week off of my total life span. Incredibly cheap yet effective. They are here to stay and will be forever be keeping us on our toes.  

EXPLHORROR 2

Welcome back to our second segment of Explhorror. Where we have been expl-goring the subtleties of interactive horror and what leaves us thirsty for more. This round is all about atmosphere, sound design and how the marriage of the two is of the two devices willlive happily ever after. These days maybe not, divorce is rampant after all, enjoy it while it lasts i say.

This badass collaboration by OGRE and Dallas does in fact kick balls! Just released today! Click  here  or the image above for some 80's inspired Halloween sound treats. 

This badass collaboration by OGRE and Dallas does in fact kick balls! Just released today! Click here or the image above for some 80's inspired Halloween sound treats. 

Stories  are ancient things, tattooed into every culture, transcending generations. If you spend enough time with one it could betray you, reveal mysteries or uncover personal insights. Essentially they are experiences as elaborate as we choose them to be and everyone has one of their own. They can find there way into places you didn't want to see them and alter themselves to fit anyones purposes. They attach themselves to every object we've ever had and every person we've ever met. A story is as powerful as the medium wielding it. Strangely, and for some reason the Horror videogame genre tends to spend its energy on all the devices surrounding a story and not the story itself.

It didn't use to be this way, Frankenstein was a thinking mans (or womans) macabre tale of creation, loss and expectation. These days it more like "Hey Sidney...what's you favorite scary movie?' A group of survivors are left stranded in the outskirts of Raccoon City and happen upon an old seemingly well kept,  mansion. A father visits a small foggy town with his daughter only to find her kidnapped moments after they arrive. An archeologist finds a strange and powerful object in a middle eastern cave and goes crazy. Even the discriptions share moody settings.The stories themselves are typically an after though to the visual and auditory spectacle that's attached to them. Usually its a 'find the person' or 'get out of the place' or 'find the object to find the person to get out of the place'

In a great Horror game the atmosphere itself takes its own character. The sound fills all the hollow spaces the mood cant account for and boom. You've just pood yourself in the dark and have no real tactical way to the bathroom. Suprise muthafucker!

Great game atmosphere had not really been that exciting at the time i was in film school 15 years ago. The fog in silent hill was the best example.It was during those idle days in Cinematography class that i really began to understand mood, atmosphere and how important it is to get it right. Mostly it was just pumping fog into the woods or wherever it is you happened to be shooting your next scene.  The fog would fill in all the dead spaces and soak up the light and diffuse it beautifully. Very effective. Good to know. Atmosphere= fog.

Metro 2033 should go down in the history books. This game has Snarf potential. Snarf is an uncommonly used verb (mostly by myself and maybe one other guy) used to describe any bodily discharge of any kind. If i said 'Metro made me Snarf all over my lap and mechanical keyboard' that could mean puke, pee, spit, poop or other. So i Snarfed many times during my play-through because it was so damn convincing. It could be assumed that graphical muscle has caught up to our imaginations. This game is incredible. I have friends who just say 'nope' to that game. They can't handle the oppressive atmosphere in tandem with the growling mutant sounds echoing down the tunnels. At this point the best thing to do here is just demonstrate. 

 

Another excellent example of great mood is the Resident Evil Remake for the Game Cube in 2002 and it will still blow your dick off. It looks marvellous.

 

Arguably the most important aspect of anything scary is the sound of the thing. When i'm reliving some terrifying moment  for the 12th time in a row i take off my headphones to concentrate. Its just pure nightmare fuel to have the failed moment be relived over and over until its beaten.  Its hard as hell  not to let the groaning, choffing, slimy noise distract me from the challenge itself. So my reaction is to disassociate with the moment in order to complete the task. Life lessons. Disassociate when times get tough. Being scared as fuck is also another technical term i might use here.

The best sound design should scare you. It should suggest badness is around the corner, it should use your own imagination against you then Snarf on it.  All the layered modulation, and distorted sounds are extremely necessary to achieve full immersion. The chainsaw man in Resident Evil 4 is tattooed into many gamers brains. When i hear a tree being cut down i cant help but think of the trauma the audio cue has caused me. The Ying Ying Ying revving of a saw motor behind me now jacks me up into overdrive. Fight or flight they say and in a game either is acceptable but not always available. 

Suprisingly many videogame sound designers create their own sounds from scratch for each game they work on. If a sound bite is required for a character digging up something they will do a sound recording for it. If it happens again weeks later for another game they will re-record a separate individual take of that sound again..

Happy Friday all. Here's a few more fantastic audio examples from Dead Space. My dog hates me right now.