Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Developing Tenebra - What's the scariest thing you can imagine?

   Tenebra is a horror game. So obviously I wanted to have one or more creatures. I was worried...
A co-worker once told me:
   'I wish I could 'un-watch' all the horror and sci-fi movies I have ever watched.'
   He continued with a sad face:
   'I haven't watched a single movie that scared me in the last 15 years!'
   He didn't tell me this to brag how tough he is.
   This friend is an amazing concept artist. He said it's hard to come up with a unique creature design these days. We might have seen every possible claw/tentacle/teeth variation in the last three decades of movie and gaming history. So to make a monster even scarier it's probably a dead end to just add a 2nd row of teeth.
   When I started designing my creatures I did the smart thing, of course: I opened up my modeling tools without having any plan and skteched out a bunch of silhouettes, hoping to find something cool by chance. You'll get what you'd expect: Some random shapes! The most interesting thing about these is that you can't tell what they are.

   Alright, Plan B:
   So I sat down and asked myself: What is the scariest thing I could imagine encountering alone at night in the woods?
   It'd be the silhouette of a naked man. (Try to imagine that. I dare you!)
   What I always liked about the Silent Hill creature design is how symbolic they are. They're also more grotesque than repulsive. The Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is also a very successful in that regard:

   So I changed my approach and came up with creatures that are based on human shapes. They also tied in with the story (please see last post).
   Playtests were much more successful after that. Easier to read and more disturbing. I even decided to tone down in the genital department after the first round of feedback.


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