Friday, 19 February 2010

Closer look at Teaser and more

After a lot of work we are finally done with the teaser! Hope you all enjoy it! In case you have not seen the teaser yet then do so before continuing with this post:

The map played in this teaser is based upon two other maps from the game and have been especially built to show of the mood and gameplay of Amnesia. If you are worried that the teaser will spoil parts of the game for you, have no fear, the exact events of the trailer are not in the game, but there will be some that are quite similar.

The map took about two days to build and script and then it took around 100 playthroughs before we got it as we wanted. Whenever I felt satisfied, I showed Jens a clip and he immediately gave me a list of uncountable other things that I could do better. As if Jens obsession for details was not enough, I also had to record the teaser while having an extremely smoothed camera. This meant that I had to pre-plan all camera movements because when ever I moved the mouse, the camera just gently floated towards the destination. It was especially hard to get the correct position during fast movements. This will of course not be the case in-game and was just something I had to do to get nicer camera movements for the clip.

"So the clip was not really from the game after all!", the skeptic might say. Well, the player will never experience exactly what is shown in this teaser and the main reason for this is to make it short and fun to watch. What happens in the trailer will perhaps take 20 - 30 minutes using proper gameplay and that would not be very fun to watch. There is a big difference between watching as a passive spectator and directly interacting with a game. Our goals was to cram the feeling of playing the game into a 3 minute movie clip. Also note that there is no cheating here, I actually played this map in a continuous recording and did not render it offline or something like that. Hope this clears up things :)

On a technical note, we really wanted to record it in HD, but my computer was just too crappy and we did not want a 10fps recording. The up-side of me having an ancient rig is that the game should flow smoothly on just about an computer bought over the past 5 years though.

Now for some more in-depth study of the movie:

- 0:20
This is not very visible in the clip, but there are actually fishes swimming around here. We intend to get many types of critters in the game and this is one of the ones that are in right now. (another critter is in the clip, can you spot it?)
Also note that we got proper water reflections and refractions. It is way more advanced than seen in Penumbra and also optimized for indoor rendering.

- 0:30
Rotations and other advanced physical controls are the same as in Penumbra. They are a lot smoother this time though and even though it is actual physics being simulated there is little lag noticed.

- 0:33
That scream has a very significant part of the plot. What I cannot say.

- 0:44
New nice feature with the doors is that you can grab at any place while interacting and it will always work. In Penumbra it was very specific where you grabbed, but not so in Amnesia.

- 1:05
As darkness decreases your sanity you never want to enter dark areas like this without using the lantern or having some candles (or similar) to light.

- 1:21
All the nice blood and stain effects are thanks to Luis hard work with the decal editor!

- 1:54
First glimpse of new enemy! What can it be...

- 2:01
Just as in Penumbra, looking at enemies is a best avoided. In Amnesia it will cause your sanity to drop.

- 2:05

Notice how books just slightly slide along the shelf because of friction and so on. This is all due the nice simulations provided by Newton Game Dynamics. It was quite fun setting everything up on the table so that that some fell off while pushing it, giving the a feel of urgency when trying to barricade the door. The table was also harder to move due to the weight from all the stuff on it, so had to give it an extra push to get into place (using the "throw" button). One never knows what going to happen with physics...

- 2:26
It took a while to remember the best times to open the closer door, in order to get a nice effect. After 50 tries or so, I had that creature pretty much figured out though (apart from the times he managed to stray from the path and not be where I expected, that actually scared me a few times...). Also note that there is no special gimmick for hiding in a closet (like in Clock Tower, etc), you are always in full control and use same mechanics as the rest of the game.

- 3:13
Brief glimpse of another enemy...

Hope you enjoyed this closer look at the teaser! If you liked the movie, please spread the word and post on your Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or what not. We do not have any big PR resources (it is basically me or Jens taking a break from normal work to do it), so any help is extremely welcome! Thanks for all support so far!


  1. Congratulation!
    Really nice work on this teaser.
    I appreciate the immersive scary atmosphere, and the combination between visuals, sounds and interactions look perfect to me!
    I will spread the word.

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  4. This will be awesome!
    I agree with sebh.

    I also like how the protagonist feels the fear.
    And the "closet hide action" it's a really nice touch!

    I can't wait to play it!

    Congratulations for your new masterpiece!

    All the best for Frictional Games!
    and greetings from Chile!

  5. Great news! I'm gonna pre-order asap.

    I have two questions:
    1. Will I get all versions Linux/Win/Mac with the pre-order?
    2. Is that second critter rat or cockroach? I can't recognize it without HD :P

  6. That teaser really impressed me, great work on it! I'm gonna pre-order once I get my paycheck! :)

    A question, is the background music and your character's panting all dynamic? Great work on it in that case. I love how the really scary music doesn't start until the enemy starts kicking down the door.

  7. kfccaleb:
    1) yes, if you pre-order through our store you will get the digital version of all platforms.

    2) It might be a mutation ;)

  8. Paul:
    Music is dynamic at times and scripted at other times. Panting is sort of sanity related (which means dynamic) and scripted at times. We are working on tweaking it as it would be annoying to have a constantly panting protagonist. The trick is to use it at the right places ;)
    When it comes to horror I think a good mixture of dynamic stuff and scripted stuff is the best. Only scripting gets stiff and only dynamic can run out of control.

  9. Awesome teaser i bought all your games and this one will be no exception, continue the good work, by the way the engine seams powerful and the game art look ten times better them penumbra is good to see you guys evolve.

    I will spread the news.

  10. Awesome! I've been impressed with all your innovative work so far! Definitely going to pre-order :)

  11. So now it is a lantern? How can you put away a lantern?

  12. Pedro R.:
    By pressing "F"? :)

  13. Awesome, awesome teaser! And I see you guys are trying to create some extra incentive to pre-order...I'm sure there won't be any problems reaching 2,000 before May!

    I uploaded your teaser to my Youtube account...I've got a small number of subscribers, but hopefully this'll help get the word out!

    Glad to see you guys making some real progress.

  14. @ Pedro R. : You just PISS ON IT BECAUSE YOU'RE SO SCARED!! D:


    Great work, guys. Another fanboi here spreading the work as we speak. And I'm making an emphasis on that "2000 pre-orders before May 31" thing too, I loved the idea :D

  15. I love what I see in the trailer, but it's hard for me to get an idea of what you mean when you say that what happens in the trailer takes 20-30 minutes in game. Does this mean that the "chase/hiding" sequences will take longer? That, while we see an encounter here, encounters will be "rare" in the game?

    The part in the closet is very reminiscent of a first person survival horror game on PSX called "...Iru!". It's a Japanese exclusive from 1999 by TAKARA.
    However, while the concept is the same, the execution is very different: in "...Iru!" hiding places are obvious to find, chase sequences are very short, and as soon as you find the only one possible it triggers a cutscene and the player is not in control anymore, is safe and can't die anymore (this "cutscene" thing is a "problem" you talked about some time ago in one of your blog posts, "...Iru!" might be the best example of that).
    All of these points seem to have been "fixed" here, which is why I really what I'm seeing.

    Also, I've already started spreading the word.

  16. Ness:
    What I mean is that the player would move forward at a slower pace, having more stuff to examine and so on. Also, the whole chase and hide would have some better "hint mechanisms" in it, so that the player would have time to act correctly and so on.

    Situations like the one seen in the video can also happen due to dynamics in the game in case you are lucky (or unlucky!), but since we cannot control the players actions (and do not want to), we cannot make sure that something happens. That is why we have some more extended sections at times to give the player hints and so on to make sure that it is played out in a nice fashion. Of course the player can also run into the arms of the creature chasing :P One can only do so much.

    I hope that clarifies a bit!

  17. I think I was 131st preorderee (correct term? :P), if you guys hit 1999 preorders, will the extra content be cut?

  18. You guys should contact I'm sure they'll be interested in showing your gameplay teaser on their blog.

  19. Great work!
    Just one thing - when the monster stops chasing the player, the music suddenly stops (while the generic ambient audio kicks back in) and everything becomes calm as if nothing happened.
    This happens in Penumbra as well (and in many other games): wouldn't it be better if a different music, or a simple beat even, continued to emphasize the anxiety. You could even continue the scared breathing sound for a while. Or even make everything completely silent - anything BUT the generic atmospheric sounds the player hears the rest of times.
    I think this would greatly contribute to the game.

  20. The continuing heartbeat fairly emphasize with the atmosphere yet, don't you think ? Maybe the nervous music shouldn't stop before the player leave the closet though, hinting that he's now safe and ready to rock on.

    Anyway, that was an impressive trailer, I could feel the darkness crawling under my feet, the sequence, sounds and music were pretty immersive. I especially love the weird eerie cries in the last seconds, until the player get snapped by whatever-it-is, that was... mad :)

    Congrats for you hard work, I'm glad to see that kind of ideas and concepts coming through.

    PS : Mutation between rat and cockroach, hum... cockrat ?

  21. Sanity? Sort of like that Cthulu game then? Scary enough *without* having to walk around with a light on (eg - "Hey everyone! Look at me! I'm over here! With my LANTERN!")

  22. I don't know, the music when you see the first monster seems more melodrama than scary. The music should make me pee myself a little but instead it just lends a slight comical air to the scene, probably because of the choral section.

    Other than that it _looks_ pretty good and a little more frightening than the second Penumbra game.

  23. "if you guys hit 1999 preorders, will the extra content be cut?"
    The future will tell ;)
    If the meter is that close to 2000, then there is bound to be someone that wants to be the one who makes it reach the goal, right? :)

    "PS : Mutation between rat and cockroach, hum... cockrat ?"
    I was only giving a suggestion. Not spoiling the answer :)

    "Sanity? Sort of like that Cthulu game then?"
    A bit. We are adding our own flavour too it though, so hopefully it will fresh and scary.

  24. I have to agree, it's a bit easy for the player in the wardrobe when the ambient sound track begins as he immediately knows that the monster seems to be gone and he is safe. That was the case in the Penumbra series too. Maybe the agressive music should stop after a while and the generic music start again when the player is out of the wardrobe?

  25. I agree, too. The player shouldn't rely on hints like that. The player should remain in expectation, not knowing if something is actually going to happen or not. If I recall correctly, it was discussed in this very place how the player is scared the most when he/she doesn't know what is it that he/she is actually afraid of.
    So, the generic ambient track does kill the mood.
    Maybe a special "anxiety music" should kick in when the creature is gone?
    A potential problem - how will the player know if he should risk and exit the closet? Some players might just stay in there forever. Even until the "anxiety music" is potentially over.
    Maybe the player should feel the need to get out, and get somewhere before it's too late to accomplish some task?
    Well, it's certainly an approach that requires careful design...

    A question for the developers, though: is it too late to make these kind of adjustments?

  26. Amazing teaser guys! I loved the Penumbra games and you just keep on improving and impressing. This is what horror games should be like! :D My preorder is in and I'll happily add a couple more to my cart if you fall short of your goal. I think you'll be fine though, but I'll be sure to spread the word.:p

    Damn, August can't come soon enough. To hell with the sun, I'll be inside, in the darkness, gaming.. ;)

    Also, while I'm here, great work on this blog. I love your thoughts on game design. :D

    Huh, I wish I could think of something to pick on, being this positive feels kinda icky.. Ah well, I'm sure something will come to mind. :p

  27. "is it too late to make these kind of adjustments?"
    Nopes. We read all comments and are taking all feedback into consideration.
    Regarding the whole music thingie: How do you know the enemy is gone just because the music is over ;) While music act as a clue in the game, one should never feel to safe...

  28. "The future will tell ;)
    If the meter is that close to 2000, then there is bound to be someone that wants to be the one who makes it reach the goal, right? :)"

    Ah... The future.. I hate that woman.

    Is it you Thomas? Will you preorder your own game... You really should.

  29. Forresten.... Jeg glæder mig som en sindssyg. :D

    Faktisk ikke 'som', jeg er.

  30. "how will the player know if he should risk and exit the closet?"

    That is the very point of fear : you just don't know :)

    "How do you know the enemy is gone just because the music is over ;) While music act as a clue in the game, one should never feel to safe..."

    Oh, I just had something frightening in mind : the music stops, the player peacefully leaves the closet, but lucky~, the hideous monster is still there (maybe hidden in a closet, too ?) and lets you know how deceivable you are, relying on some background music. Ah ah ah.

    About the "cockrat" thing, dont mind it, I was just risking a joke (okay, a very awful joke...).

  31. Really impressed with this trailer, even if its not an actual part of the game. I understand why you guys did it like that, and I think its a great idea.

    If this game is any scaryer than overture I WILL have issues playing it. I can hardly play overture anymore, its scary enough the first time round, but when you know whats coming and whats going to happen then its so much scaryer. Havent been able to play it for a while now :P

    I find it quite amusing that the monster scared you several times when playing through the teaser :D Its great when these things are dynamic and do different things each time (even if you were trying not to let it do that for the teaser) When your own game scares you then you know your doing something right...

    Anyways Ive been discussing this game with friends and posting on facebook. Plus rating and favouriting on youtube.

    Great work, cant wait to get my hands on this game.

  32. I'm not sure if it's the graininess of the video, but is he supposed to see stuff that isn't there as he gets crazier (ie, hallucinate)?

    Did anyone ever do survival-horror with multi-player?

    Will you please provide normal Linux packages (deb, rpm, tar) instead of a or in addition to a windows-style self-installer? It would be great if you had your software in a repository so I could get updates the standard way.

  33. yman:
    When one gets crazy, it might be hard to know what is real and what is not.

    Obscure has co-op and there are some Resident Evil with co-op too (The outbreak series). Might be others aswell.

    As for installer, we are going to do our best to make it as nice as possible for linux. At least that is what Jens and Edward tell me :) I am not that into Linux myself I am afraid.

  34. "Obscure has co-op and there are some Resident Evil with co-op too (The outbreak series). Might be others aswell."

    Obscure had a sequel too, but as far as "official" games are concerned, there is no other Survival Horror game with co-op except those and the Outbreak series.
    However there are other things, such as modded versions of user-made mods for existing games, for example there is a version of Afraid Of Monsters, a Survival Horror mod for Half Life, which features co-op (but that's not how the creator of the mod meant it to be).

    Obviously though, it all depends on your definition of "Survival Horror". If you think having a horror theme, and having a game where you have to survive in the sense that it's possible to die, is enough to call a game "Survival Horror" then you have plenty of other ones (Resident Evil 5, House Of The Dead series, etc). This might sound surprising but if you google a little bit, you'll find a lot of "pro" sites that classify House Of The Dead as Survival Horror.

    I don't think myself that such a definition is precise and clear enough though, and I think you can't call HotD survival horror (for many reasons which I am not going to go into here and now).
    But the bundaries of genres (in any domain) are always blurred, and I'd say even more so as far as Survival Horror games are concerned, especially since RE4.

    That was the long answer, sorry.

  35. -----
    (Originally posted by Thomas)

    "How do you know the enemy is gone just because the music is over ;) While music act as a clue in the game, one should never feel to safe..."

    Just learning from past experiences. Well, the enemy may not be literary "gone" when the music ends - but just look at Penumbra; we all know that if this is the case, the dog-thing stopped chasing you (at least for the moment).

    So, considering the way things worked in Penumbra, and in many other games by other developers, one certainly has basis for the belief that you just might do nothing about it this time too.

    Thus, we want to influence you, and make you people do brave, new things, get new ideas and come up with exciting solutions that will make the game even better!
    And it looks like our effort is not in vain :D

    Keep up the good work, & all the best.

  36. Just this minute I finished Penumbra: Overture, the first Episode. What a game. The last moments, and especially that last hallway was very atmospheric. Tense moment there. I don't think a game have gotten a hold over me like that for a long time, and just let me immerse myself in another world.

    The writing was exceptional, amazing story. This sounds really kiss-ass, but I haven't had so much "fun" with a game in a long time.

    I'll have to write an article about it. Then I will continue my journey with the next Episode. Looking very much forward to your next game, Amnesia, as well. I've just began working on my own horror game as well, and yours are definitely an inspiration.

  37. Considering most of horror conceptuals are about chlostrophobia, solitude and unknown, multiplayer isn't really welcomed in most Survival Horror games. Multiplayer is more bounded with the term "Survival" than "Horror", and that's quite paradoxal if you turn that around in your mind.

  38. You got me !
    I pre-ordered the game.
    I hope it will reach the 'bonus-mark'.

  39. After you release Amnesia, how about reusing it's "raw material" (code, graphics, sound) to create a less scary game? It could still be scary, just not pee in-your-pants scary like Amnesia is looking to be. What I have in mind is a murder mystery taking place in a 19th century mansion. While I have bought the Penumbra Collection and pre-ordered Amnesia, I'd rather play a less scary version. I'm not suggesting you change your focus, but that you branch out a little. By reusing everything that can be reused you'd minimize the monetary cost and amount of time it takes to develop, though in return I'd expect a lower price tag, like 5 USD per license per platform.

  40. As to multiplayer horror, I was thinking of having say 8 players, with one being chosen to be the serial killer. The serial killer wins by killing off everyone else. The other players win by getting out of it alive. Or one player can play a ghost that possesses other living beings. It dies if it's host dies while it's inside it, and can only transfer itself to another body if it sees that body. Same game objectives.

    You get the picture.

  41. yman:
    The game will be pretty easy to do user map for, so perhaps that is an idae for such ;)

    Also, expansion packs from us might happen. Like we did with Requiem, but this time it would not be as different! Promise! :)

  42. The game looks amazing! But can we get a preorder from steam? If so I would buy it the nanosecond you put it up!

  43. "Or one player can play a ghost that possesses other living beings." (yman)

    That is not a bad idea. Needs to be expanded, though. If done right, the game could create the atmosphere of the movie "The Thing" - in the sense that the players would have to cooperate to accomplish something, but they can't trust each other.

    It could even be a real horror game - if a potential dev team made the ghost-player much stronger than any other individual player, but not strong enough to attack 3+ of them; and if the ghost-player's attacks or missions were scary in some profound way.

  44. The scream near the beginning made me jump! The object interaction seems to be working great.

  45. I am a great fan of your work! It`s all about creating a dark and gloomy atmosphere. Get rid of all the elements that destroy immersion:

    1.) The HUD: The hand symbol looks like a relict of older pc-gaming days. Is it possible to get rid of it? Just change the colour of the pixel in the center of the screen, if it is possible to interact. That should be sufficient.

    2.) The soundscape is great and really creates atmosphere, but the music destroys the efforts, especially the women singing. One should get the feeling of being really there, and not the feeling of watching a horror-movie. Music should be used very sparsely and/or be perfectly aligned with the soundscape.

    cf. for a successful example:

    kind regards

  46. guauuu ,se ve fabuloso y me cague y todo cuando se esconde el personaje en el placard,me gusto los sonidos de latido del corazon y esta bueno cuando sale corriendo a lo loco,parece que vamos a tener buenos sobresaltos,me saco el sombrero ante ustedes y espero que les vaya muy bien . felicitaciones y mucha merde

  47. That hand icon looks old, indeed. I think it's the same as in the Penumbra series where I also didn't like it much. It somehow reminds you that you are only playing a game. Simply changing the crosshair to something more abstract than a hand when it is possible to interact with an object would be better imho.

    I hope you redesign the inventory (if there is one in Amnesia) too. The one in Penumbra looked rather cheap.

    But don't get me wrong, Penumbra was awesome except for these little details. :)

  48. Good job guys, the teaser is quite impressive! BUT. One important thing, PLEASE give the player something to defnd himself, let it be difficult, but give the player a chance to get rid of annoying monsters. You can't imagine how frustrating was in Black Plague to sit on a huge box, where the infected can't get and looking how it tries to attack me, knowing that I can't evn hurt it, even thoug it looks so fragile, that I wold deal with it with my bare hands. I was grabbing a metal box again and again, and desperately trying to crack his skull with it, and that didn't work :C
    The second big frustration was finding a crowbar, that I can't eqip and use for self-defence or put an effort with it to get rid of extremely annoying zombies in the facility.
    A wooden plank with addable rusty nails (weapon damage slight upgrade^^) IMHO would look nice in the game, if nothing better is aviable.
    Thanks for your time. Keep up the good work))

  49. I'm not sure, maybe you've answered this already, but in how many languages will this game be playable? English + ?

  50. Mario:
    Not sure at this point Im afraid.

  51. that closet needs a peep hole! personally id never open it if i was in that situation