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1056496 Posts in 42905 Topics- by 34856 Members - Latest Member: dogfacedboy

October 23, 2014, 09:11:05 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignLoneliness in a 2d platformer?
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Blink
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2013, 12:56:03 AM »

I'm going to back up what Blambo and Paul said. Portal does a great job of making you feel lonely, because it pits you with puzzles and gives you no help, along with lots of quiet segments (Half Life 2 does this well too). Having a contrast though, by showing places with life and people and welcoming objects, is also important.

So I'm going to bring up Zelda.

As a whole, Wind Waker is a warm and friendly game. Lots of smiling faces, lots of people, and random encounters on the sea. In fact, the sea was a pretty nice place, empty and zen like, but with occasional surprises. Then come the dungeons, notably, (some slight spoilers ahead) the Tower of the Gods. This temple is quiet, empty, and the only monsters are mechanical statues that come to life. The temple is full of water, as it only just moments ago rose from the sea (and the flooded areas are still pouring out) but there is just no one in here. You have seen Windfall and Outset Island, places full of people and life (Zelda has by far the best towns I know of in games for liveliness) and by contrast, the Tower of the Gods is just empty. The music echoes with cold and occasional bells, the walls are all stone, and it feels like a place that would have a chill to it in all aspects. It was not my favorite temple... and looking back, that makes it all the more well done (an unsettling feeling).

So take the loneliness of challenges without aid, combine it with a contrast of lively places of people to stone cold isolation, and hopefully something good will come out. Good luck!
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siskavard
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« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2013, 08:39:18 PM »

You should go be alone out in the woods for a day & take notes
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Graham-
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« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2013, 11:07:35 PM »

Ico. The wind whistles, the camera is far back, the only friend you have is a girl who speaks another language.
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letsap
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« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2013, 11:50:04 PM »

The most important thing, I think, is sound design. You can make anything seem lonely if you put a bass drone and low tempo music over it (if any at all) - especially if you stop all 'music' for portions of the game's layout. The less things that beneficially speak to your player character (or legibly for that matter) the better, obviously. The way you frame the camera is important, too. keeping the player in a third of the screen that makes them look smaller compared to the rest of the screen's general composition is a handy trick. Play Super Metroid and run around Maridia, there's a lot of life and environmental things there completely outside your control and that kind of juxtaposition is good to show.
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« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2013, 09:51:05 AM »

I wanna bring up Metroid as an example, but I'm not sure yet exactly what that game does that nails the isolation so well. Could be a bit of the music, the fact that all the other characters are out to get you, some kind of balance between the two or something else. I'm not a professional video game theorist. But Metroid's usually cited when it comes to games involving loneliness.
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letsap
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« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2013, 10:59:13 PM »

A big part of what makes Metroid lonesome is the sound design. If you play it while listening to the Castlevania or Contra soundtrack the effect is greatly diminished. The echoes on a lot of the sound effects help, too.

That and something very subtle that helps a lot is how often the screen is completely black during the pause menu, room transitions, several room backgrounds. It disconnects you from the action enough to make little things feel kind of uneasy.

EDIT: This post mostly applies to Super Metroid.
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« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2013, 05:52:09 AM »

haven't played metroid but i think the fact that super metroid doesn't have any form of tutorial helps a lot to, you don't feel like there is some invisible force that helps you. you have to figure everything out by yourself
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theRaddRedd
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2013, 02:22:54 AM »

My recommendation would be to go play Terry Cavanaugh's (excellent) "Don't look Back". It's a beautiful little browser game that shouldn't take longer than 30min; play it to completion. The ending of that game gave me the most profound sense of loneliness than any other before or since.

Check it out here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/TerryCavanagh/dont-look-back

Another thing to consider is that many games accidentally create just the feeling you're looking for. If I were you, I'd play a ton of old, forgotten, budget platformers from the NES days.

Some points to consider:
1-Zoom out the camera. More space = more empty space = more people not there
2-Thematically set the tone. Set the game someplace where you should be around people, and where strangers are sorely missed. Cityscapes are a fvorite for this trope (think I am Legend)
3-Sometimes the "dark and brody" route back-fires. A color pallet contradictory to the tone of the game can really drive the negative emotions home ("sad"(weak) becomes "bitter"(strong), etc)
4-Carefully pace the game. IRL, boredom and loneliness come hand in hand, and often cause each other. After intense platforming/jump puzzles, make sure there are plenty of straightaways/rolling hills (don't know if you have slopes in this game, but if so, make them gentle) between challenges.
"Braid" was really good at this. Bonus points if you do (1) here and highlight (via visual cuing) what makes this world so horrid.

Best of luck!
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« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2013, 04:08:52 PM »

The absence of people where they should be. An easy one is the desire for human contact. In Limbo you see these other children, first as bodies and things they have done, then actually alive and running, often away from you, or towards you threatening. The world is dark. You don't have a purpose. There are echos. You want to interact with the other children because they are the most interesting things around. This game does a similar thing: http://www.necessarygames.com/my-games/loneliness (short play: 3min).
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« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2013, 01:10:08 AM »

Player interaction is your most powerful tool here. I'm guessing the best way to get the player to acknowledge loneliness is to give them people to interact with initially, then take those people away from them.

A good goal would be to convince the player that there will definitely be no people or living things wherever they are.
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