Okay, so an idea I’ve put some thought into is for a co-op horror game, and attempting to make one that is genuinely scary.
The first issue is actually making a co-op game that is scary, the ability to talk to another human player takes away a lot of the immersion, so the first issue I was thinking about is how the players would communicate.
My first idea would require the players to own microphones, which isn’t really a huge issue as most players who like co-op games would own one.
Mic Communication in-game
In most co-op games you need to hold down a button to talk, the same applies here except the player holds down 1 of 3 buttons. [possible issues here being too many buttons to keep track of when other game play mechanics are applied]. For the purpose of the example the buttons are 1, 2 and 3.
1 activates “quiet speak” the other player can only hear you speak if they are within 10 meters of you, if they are outside this radius the audio will not be played.
2 activates “normal speak” where the player needs to be within 40 meters of you.
3 activates “loud speak” where the player needs to be within 80 meters.
The figures here may be way off, they aren’t final. It’s just to give you an idea of how it would work.
The question is, why is this necessary? Well it encourages players to stick together and work as a team, there wouldn’t be any way to know if a player has been attacked if they are out of your hearing range.
Another idea is that the enemies could hear you speak, so if a monster is within 40 meters of you when you use “normal speak” they’ll be able to hear you and will start to approach, this means the players would have to be careful when communicating because they could alert monsters.
The issue with this is that it relies entirely on mic communication, players without a microphone would be crippled.
Though that could be easily fixed with allowed text communication. Though this does break immersion, it would only be used as a last resort if the player does not have a mic, and the same as with mic communication, text communication would have the 3 levels of volume.
So communication is done, but now we need to give a players a need to work together. The issue with co-op reliant games like Left 4 Dead is that it is very possible to ditch the team and do your own thing. While this will probably get the team killed.
The aim of this game is that the players need eachother, so my idea is this, the players have very different abilities, and each ability is required to defeat an enemy.
A possible issue is that the idea I have would only work if it is a 2 player only game. I believe a bot player would just not have advanced enough AI to make a fun single player experience.
Anyway, the idea is that one player can’t see the enemies, only damage them and the other player can’t damage the enemies, only see them.
This would mean that the blind player would need to be directed by the other player so that the enemies can slowed down.
I say slowed down because being able to kill the enemies would make them seem less scary and more vulnerable, the idea would be to escape them not kill them.
The seeing player would have to use physics objects to show the location of the monster.
For example, dropping a bucket onto the its head, or covering it with flour. After time the monster would obviously shake these items off.
An issue here is that it wouldn’t be that hard for the blind player to spot the monster, it’d be easy to know where it is once they start getting attacked, so my idea is that only the seeing player is being attacked, and if they die it is game over.
The monster would cause melee damage, though it can daze the blind player by hurling physics objects.
Hopefully these mechanics would encourage team work, one player being required to be protected by the other, while the player that needs protection is the only one capable of seeing the enemy.
Another mechanic I thought of to encourage players to stick together is fear, much like the game Amnesia, if you spend too long in the dark you start losing grip on your sanity, but also if you spend too much time apart from your partner your character becomes fearful and loses grip on their sanity, this will distort your vision and make your character clumsy. Every now and then they could lose their footing and slip, causing a loud noise. Which in turn would cause the monsters to know your location.
The key to surviving would be quickly solving puzzles to move on and making as little noise as possible, it would not be advised to try to actively fight the monsters.
That is all.
[original blog post here: http://www.goodluckcowboy.co.uk/?p=168