Indie Game Movies – Don’t Go There

Video game movies have been, more or less, not done well at all. While there have been good movies about people playing video games, movies based off of the lore of a game have resulted in failure after failure along with some moderate semi-successes. Let’s face it, though, there has never been a huge blow out success in video game movies. Silent Hill, Resident Evil (the first one), Mortal Kombat, Warcraft and maybe you could count Wreck-It Ralph among the decent successes. Although, Wreck-It Ralph was not based off of a single existing video game storyline (and, ironically, the video game sucked). There are several reasons why the VG movies are not successful, and fail to bring in any kind of serious cash as far as audiences are concerned.

Now, there is talk of the serious successes in the indie game culture becoming feature-length films. To no one’s great surprise, producers are making the same mistakes that they always make. They think that just because something is a huge multi-million dollar success, they can capture that lightning in a bottle in another form and the property will just sell itself. This is 100% wrong! You can’t just slap a label onto a movie and just magically make people pay for it! The thought of indie games starting their own generation of movies may sound ridiculous, but guess what, Angry Birds was a phone game based on simple mechanics and a simple physics engine. IT COULD HAPPEN TO INDIE GAMES NEXT.

So, what if they make a good indie game movie? Well, that would be wonderful! Many would love to see an amazing iteration of something such as Castle Crashers in the form of a movie. Well, of course the characters would have to actually have voices when they talk, which they did not in the game, so that would kind of ruin one aspect of their identity. Then they would more than likely have to not exist in the 2D visuals, they would have close-ups and different angles. Then the ladies you have to save would have those shrill screams that no one really wants to hear. Honestly, it would just turn into your normal, generic fantasy cartoon movie that’s been done to death. Yes, there are ways of capturing it, but you would need to do some thinking, which is not the strong suit of bigwig producers.

What if they wanted to do Cuphead? Cuphead was a smash-hit success! Of course, there have been ideas of making a movie out of it. Well, there’s the problem of the cell art and the hand-drawn animation that is all but a dead practice nowadays. So they would more than likely snatch that away in favor of that balloon-like 3D CGI animation that they’re turning everything into. Well, there goes one of Cuphead’s most defining features. They couldn’t possibly have the DEVIL in a kid’s cartoon movie, so they’d have to replace him with Santa instead, so while they are on their journey to repay Santa for the bet they made against his elves, they would need to wag their fingers at snowmen and reindeer, because obviously, we can’t have scary monsters and sea beasts attacking them with intent to kill them. And the wagging fingers certainly can’t have gunshots of any kind because guns are just not appropriate for the demographic they are aiming for. Our children are entirely too fragile for such horrific images. So we will be joining Cuphead and Mugman on their voyage to the North Pole with their horrific debt to Santa Claus and the twenty large they owe Dasher.

Games are games for a reason. You can’t turn Amnesia into a full-length horror film because it would just be a samey horror flick we’ve seen twenty million times. Dark halls with torches and empty libraries and something in the background going “Ooooo!” It’s different for games because as the player we have a new way of experiencing these events and have an interactivity that we wouldn’t have through the ways of the motion picture.

Don’t get the wrong idea of this article, there can be good video game movies, and there have been some decent success rates with a small number of them. It’s just the problem of the dollar bill. Some production companies can’t see an inch in front of their nose when the thought of spending money is involved. The only thing they want is what test audiences want to see, they don’t care about the fandom that loves the property. They want to aim in all different directions, so they play it entirely safe and add in all of the things that they think the vast populace wants. Thus, they water down the premise in favor of a flavorless, soulless piece of trash that barely resembles the source material.

The biggest problem with large production companies have all the money, they just lack the creativity, while indie companies have been known to possess creativity, just lack the funds to make their movies the way they would want to. There is always a chance that some small production company will come along and create the most immaculate, money-making fan-servicing video game movie that the world has ever seen. It could be a smash hit success that could triumph even over one such as the Dark Knight or, dare I say it, Titanic. The world will all line up for miles around the corner to see this gargantuan supergiant of a film, and all shall bow down to its majesty!

That will be the day we all shall praise and recognize the glorious divinity that is Plants vs Zombies: The Motion Picture!

 

Survival Horror – Do’s and Don’t’s (1)

Survival horror is perhaps one of the most slippery slopes in gaming. That feeling you get when you walk into a room you have never been in. You can barely see, the shadows in the room take on forms that look ominous, the silence in the room is louder than any noise that you will ever hear, and everything is still, motionless, eerie. There is a creeping feeling in your brain that tells you that you should not be there, and the darkness begins to take its toll on your nerves. There is a sudden flash from outside the black curtains in front of the window that makes you stop in your tracks as all of the forms of the room are brought to light for a single instant, but that only makes it worse as the darkness returns. One sudden motion, and your heart can skip a beat, you begin to feel the dreading that something is watching you, something is coming for you, something is about to crawl out from underneath the furniture that is covered in white sheets and grab your ankles, pulling you into a place unknown, a shadowy place of which there is no return.

It is up to the game developers to first capture that feeling in a setting for your character, and simulate that feeling of absolute helplessness. Do you have a weapon with which to defend yourself? Can you survive if something truly does lurk in the shadows? Well, that’s where we start to get into the true cusp of a much larger world, one that has captured the hearts of millions, but also caused some of the largest disappointments ever seen in the gaming world, rivalling that of E.T. for the Atari.

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Truly terrifying horror games are some of the most difficult things to write and develop. While there have been some terrific successes, there have also been some horrific failures that completely trounce the number of good games that are meant to invoke fear. When you step out from the middle of the trees, and get a good look at the forest for what it is, you can start to see where the successes bleed together. They have certain elements in them that are worth noting and if used properly, can truly give the player what they came to see and feel, true terror!

Horror movie fans are normally the target audience. Those people that go to the theater to see a scary film, even if chances are it is not going to be good, they are willing to risk it. These are the ones that want to take that extra step further and live in that world. They want to interact with that horror movie and be a part of it. If you can make your audience feel like that, you have won the race that is called survival horror, and you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts.

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Then there are attempts that just miss the point entirely, or do not have the means nor the know-how to truly make the player become engulfed in their dark, horrific reality. This could be from a lack of funding, a lack of skill, or just a simple lack of knowledge on the subject. Some people think it’s just as simple as shoving someone into a dark room and have people talk cryptic nonsense.

In the next article, we will go over some important items involved with making survival horror video games in detail. Stay tuned and be sure to keep an eye out.

Read Part 2, and in-depth list of features to include or not include, here: Part 2

Want to see more Game Development articles? Check out our article on Marketing your Indie Game, here!