Horror Indie Game

polycounter lvl 6
Offline / Send Message
Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 6
Hi there Polycount!
I am currently working on a shorter horror game that will be for PC made on Unity. And I will start off this thread with a wall of text were I will explain the main concept and the thought of the game.
After that I will post an asset list. Then I will post my assets and the chain of work in which I will be making them. From mood-board & concept art to the finished products.


What are we afraid of? Unicorns? Leprechauns? Or maybe is it to be lost in the darkness of the woods? This was the question I asked myself when me and a friend of mine have had a horror game and movie night. The reason to why I asked my self this question, was for the spark that had been lit up inside of me. A spark telling me to create a game, a creative joy which gave me the lust to create something that even I would not dare to play. But to create something scary, I had to find something that was scary. I could have said clowns! Darkness! THE NIGHT! But that would not have been of any use. Because an object, is not really what we are afraid of I have found out. It is rather the feelings which these (often called “scary”) things produce, that is what really make us feel fear.

So the core concept is not something as simple as walk in a “scary” dark forest. The main concept is a feeling. And that feeling that I will pursue in this game is the fear of having to do something all over again that you know is going to get worse.

An example of this in real life (not from the actual game and this is btw entirely hypothetical, no true events).
A kid walks up to a dog, and the kid starts to snuggle with the dog. But suddenly the dog bites the kid in the hand, so he has to go to a hospital, and fix his hand up. Now that kid (generally) would be terrified of being close to a dog, that is because the last time he was close to one, it bit him. And the boy remembers that. So if the kid would have to pet a dog, lets say he has grown up and has a girlfriend with a dog. He will eventually have to pet it, he will, I think, be terrified. Because he has to do it, but he knows what could happen, and it is that sort off fear I want to mimic and apply to my own game. The fear of doing something you have to, but that you really know can be bad for you or even hurt you.

You might ask yourself, “Man how the hell could you do something like that!?”.

The answer:

Eventful escalation.
I will explain this with an example so that a misunderstanding of the general concept will be minimized. The example is from how I think the game shall be and how it will start.

You start up in your car, the camera moves around the car with sounds that tells you that you have just awoken from a deep sleep or eventfully after that you have fainted. The car you find out to be broken and in no condition to go any were. Also you see your dog run out of the car out in to the nighty fog that surrounds you and your car. You are on a forest road and you have no means of contacting anyone. So you decide to follow your dog. You pick up your notebooks as you leave the car and a flashlight for the swallowing darkness around you.

You enter the forest and a thick fog encloses you. You search for the dog in the darkness, but do not find much which is of use. You see stuff, ghosts from the past when people actually lived in the forest. Each thing you see you write up as you go in your sketchbook, to help you backtrack if you would get lost in the woods. Eventually you die, by a little girl whom smashes your head in a rock, while her dolls are hanging in nooses from the trees, smiling upon you. And that´s when you wake up in your car again, you see your dog run out just as before, and you follow as before. Thinking it was all a bad dream. But as you pick up your notebook to write down the first actions of your new journey, you see that, what you have written before the little girl showed up and molested you, is still in the notebook, almost as if you were in a loop. But the forest has changed since the last time, it is darker and more grim. More punishing and more evil.

End of the example.

So what is it that I am trying to say is the core mechanic here with all of these examples?
It is that: By letting the player die on his first playthrough, and coming back in the same place as he started on the first time, but with all the information intact from his previous life, but also making everything in the game worse (altering sounds, changing the graphic and just pretty much making everything about the game more intense and vial to play). The player will be afraid of dying, and be afraid of starting over again, because of the feeling that it will get worse if he dies. And with that making the player know that if he dies he will be punished. Therefore, like the example with the dog, the player must go through the game (if he wants to complete it), but he knows that if he fails he will have it harder than the last playthrough and more punishing. So he will unavoidably be afraid of dying and starting again!

But what is the point of the game? How do you win? I know further explanation is needed. So here we go.

It will be an FPS puzzle horror game and your goal is to find that dog. But after a while it becomes more than that. You are in a cursed loop and you have to get out. Rather simply described.

So that is the thought of my game. And the reason to why I posted the concept here is to make the concept clear to anyone who will read this thread. Though there is a lot that is not said yet and there are many holes I have not filled. I still hope that you have grasped my Idea and what I want to accomplish. Also I want to congratulate you for making it through this far through my wall of text. Any critique is welcome, and if you have any questions, post them here and I will try to answer them from the best of my abilities. :poly142:

The environment will be a pine forest were as in the middle there will be an burned down mansion. To the north there will also be some cliffs leading to a swamp.
So lets drop down to some Images to break this wall. Mood-board incoming!

Mansion and also what kind of forest I am going for.


What I thought for the swamp


And some already completed assets


Wow that was a mouthfull! Anywhom, any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks in advance ;)


  • walreu
    You'll have assloads of stuff to do, but i wish all the luck :D
    I also did a horror game (prototype) with unity as a degree work ,and it was too massive project for one man.
    But hey, at least i learned a lot of stuff while working on it.

    I'd suggest drop the asset modeling for starters. Write really solid production plan and plans for the story.
    And start with just whiteboxing the assets and get the gameplay elements working before going to modeling.

    But this could be awesome if done right so good luck!

    here's my stuff if you want to check it out.
  • Nuclear Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks walreu for the tips.
    You'll have assloads of stuff to do, but i wish all the luck
    I also did a horror game (prototype) with unity as a degree work ,and it was too massive project for one man.
    But hey, at least i learned a lot of stuff while working on it.

    Haha yea, though I am not one man, we are 3 people, one programmer me producer and art and a musician that will do sound design. As I have been working on this now for almost a year, I already got around 50 a4 of information, concept, planning and story. I have also made an alpha scene in Unity which my programmer is scripting for at the moment. So right now I am reworking the placeholder assets to increase the look of the game to make it look sweet. So planning is all taken care of! But thanks for the tip ;)

    Glad you like the concept ^^ Gonna check your game out!
  • AA3D
    Offline / Send Message
    AA3D polycounter lvl 3
    as walreu said " this could be awesome if done right "
    note that people tend to be fearless to repeated events
    i know that u will alter it and make it harder each time the player dies
    but still try to make the player die less times .. why .. if u watched people playing horror games u will notice that they feel relied as soon as they die ( what i mean in short is that death is a penalty that ends the scared state of players ) .. i hope that makes sense :D
    and good luck with the project
  • D4V1DC
    Offline / Send Message
    D4V1DC polycounter lvl 13
    Wow that was a mouthfull!;)

    ^That's what she said, sorry couldn't resist and I blame it on being Friday.

    Best of luck with your idea seems like a lot of fun can't wait to see some more artwork keep us posted.
  • Nuclear Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 6
    @ AA3D & @ D4V1DC Thanks both for the words and for the feedback!

    And I will now write another smaller mouthfull ;) that will be about the problem which dying over and over again might give on the player. The biggest issue is that it might get repetitive. And that there will be no scare because that the player knows how he is going to die.

    My first idea was to make a forest, were you would walk around in the forest, and try to find a way to get out of the forest and end the curse. This by having some areas were stuff will happen. And then change what happens here dependent on which order you go to certain areas.

    The pros/+:
    I can focus on my core concept of making it scarier by making it horrible to die and you will gain consequences from it.
    Easier to do than something more complicated

    The cons/-:
    Are that it might get repetitve
    There is no true goal. So the player gets no way to live in to the game.
    It is not what I really want to do now when I have figured out an alternative.

    But today I got an idea of making it more of a story driven game. I got a story to this game, it is about a family in the northern-American pine woods during the revolution. And it goes totally wrong and they all end up dead (not going to tell who is the killer). And what my idea is then that instead of making it just walking through the wood and each time you die you start over trying to make it through. The player instead gets stuck inside a replay of the whole chain of events all over again, and that will be made clear to the player. So you are stuck there while you are trying to get out. So the whole game is a giant puzzle which the goal you will be trying to achieve, is to end the curse and make the family rest so that ultimately you will be free. But for each time you die, the ghosts get angrier and the replays get more and more closer to the real truth (which is a grim one). And to solve the puzzle you need to know the truth. So the way that I will reach the main concept is by making each playthrough unique, but they get more and more closer to the dark truth, but the ghosts also get more and more aggressive. With other words. I will teach the player that for each time they fail with solving the curse, The ghosts will get angrier and angrier. Hopefully that will make the player get anxious over redoing the puzzle/clue all over again. Btw, I will make it possible to solve the puzzle without the truth, but it will be hard. So that the player don't have to die over and over. But it will be hard as hell without knowing what is what.

    Unique playthroughs & really emerging the player in to knowing the story and what has happened in the forest.
    Can achieve the core concept and I do not have to worry about that dying will be repetitive because with a story I have more control over were and how the player
    I want to do this more.
    This will be more rewarding for the player.

    This will be very very hard to accomplish. Because the insane amount of work it will take.

    But I think it is worth the risk to go for the latter. Though I would like to hear some opinions from Polycount to help me guide me on which direction I will take. After I have decided in which direction I will take, I will post an asset list. But for now, feedback please.
  • Snader
    Offline / Send Message
    Snader polycounter lvl 9
    I think that your latest rewrite touches on a very important bit: knowledge. As the game progresses, the player should get more and more hints as to how to solve the game. A way to 'autobalance' the puzzle difficulty, if you will.

    You should probably try to make it as enticing as possible to solve the game as quickly as possible, but at the same time play on their curiosity. For example, every 'cycle' being more violent: no damage, wounded dog, wounded you, dead dog, dead you - but also showing the actual story the best in the most violent and more truthful cycles.

    I also think that it's important to have a strong grip on the boredom and repetitiveness. Make sure that each cycle is sufficiently different from the last at several points in the game: don't have them walk the same 10 minutes to a different cutscene, but have half-burnt up trees, sinkholes appear, shady figures, different voiceovers. Make sure you don't have too many cycles and don't make them too long. I think 3~4 is a good aim (but have up to 5 or 6 for the slowpokes). 10 or 15 minutes per cycle, perhaps? Have a look at similar games and how long they are: Dear Esther, Anna, Stanley Parable (this one works well in relation to cycles).

    You are probably very wise to look into modular design and for instance use vertex painting to make every cycle more evil.

    In regards to variety/tension, it might also be wise to have several different points and ways to fail in any given cycle. For example you might have to ritually burn a doll somewhere. Soak it in gas, light it, place it. If you do it in the wrong place, you have no doll left and spirits will continue to grow until they can kill you. Place it without gasoline/fire and you will summon the spirits prematurely. That kind of stuff.

    Note: all the examples I'm using are just off the top off my head, and likely don't fit with the story/theme you have in mind. They are just varied possibilities. Thinking out loud, if you will.
  • Nuclear Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 6
    Thank you so very Much Snader! Fell in love with your feedback, it was really kind off you to offer your help on this. And regarding the repetition issue. I will approach the game with the loop and story system. So each time you die WILL be different than the previous life, so every time something happens it will be different more or less, and all the information on the map and so forth will be affected as well. Thanks for the tip on modular design as well, I will see how I best can address that for the final version of my game. A goal is to also change the sounds each time you die. So sound design will be a very very important part of this game.

    So were do I stand now? Well all the documentation for the Beta is done, and that is great. So I have whiteboxed my terrain, and my programmer will make it adorable to play. Just need to make the sound and graphical assets now argh.

    Here I drop you three screenshots of how it looks like right now in an area were the graphic is complete, more or less. Might tweak the skybox, the ambient light, and fogs, Hues and saturations around to get the result I really want. So these screen grabs are very WIP. But tell me what you think. Critiques are very welcome.



Sign In or Register to comment.