Monday, 10 September 2012

Amnesia - Two Years Later

Introduction
It has now passed a little more than two years since we launched Amnesia and one year since the last report, so time for another! One would think that there is perhaps not much to be said this long after release, especially for a single player game with no built-in social features. But the fact is that Amnesia is still going very strong and 2012 will probably be the best financial year here at Frictional Games, which we would never had expected two years ago.

Sales
As always, let's start with the sales and some numbers. The first thing will be to figure out how many units we have sold in total, which is actually really hard to pin down. The biggest reasons for the uncertainty is that Amnesia was part of the Humble Indie Bundle (HIB) earlier this year and Potato Bundle last year. Both of these account for quite a lot of sales. Without counting the units bought there our total lands at 710 000 units. Adding all HIB and Potato Sack sales gets us to 1 360 000 units in total, which can be called the optimistic figure. This means that, optimistically speaking, Amnesia has sold almost 1.4 million units! This reasoning is not strictly speaking invalid, but I think that one should not really count anyone that bought the bundle and already owned Amnesia as a proper unit. A slightly pessimistic guess (not far from reality I think) is that 2/3 of every bundle and pack buyer already owned Amnesia. This gives us about 920 000 units in total, pessimistically speaking. So saying that we have sold a million units seems fair. Wait... a million units! Oh shit!!

Despite that huge number of sales, what I think is more interesting is how good the monthly sales still are. Not counting any discounts, the monthly full price sales lie at over 10 000 units. This means that less then every 5th minute someone in the world is buying a copy of Amnesia. This is totally insane to me. The figures themselves are far beyond any guesses we would have made two years ago. It is also insane, because this number is actually higher than it was around three months after initial launch. That a game can still be going this good two years after is truly remarkable.  This success is due to many factors, some of which are the uniqueness of the game (horror games without combat do not really exist on PC), the large modding community (more on this later) and the steady flood of YouTube clips (which is in turn is fueled by the modding community output).

Also worth noting that our Penumbra games are still going on at the same rate that they always have. They are still selling about the same numbers (a little more actually) as they did three years ago. This totals to about 900 units per month. Taking all sales together is more than enough to support the company, financing A Machine For Pigs (more on that later) and having some left over. This means that we are in a very good position and aim to use it to take more risk and try out new things (more on this later).

I think we have never disclosed how much we Amnesia cost to make, so might as well do that here. The (exactly) three years of development cost a total of 360 000 US Dollars. It has since earned more than ten times that. Take that investors we talked to in 2009!

Piracy
It has been over a year since we even thought about piracy. With sales as good as above we cannot really see this as an issue worth more than two lines in this post, so screw it.

Modding
I mentioned it a bit in last years summary, but feel it was not given enough focus. When we created the possibility of custom stories, it was something we thought of very late and I think Luis implemented it in less than a day. We put a few days on adding documentation our wiki as well, but all in all, it was a tiny effort compared to the rest of the game. Despite that, this aspect as been immensely important for the game and while it is hard to give any exact features in terms of sales, the influence on our community is easily seen. Before modding started, we had one or two daily post on our message boards. But as the modding community has grown, it is now up in over 40! (Remember this on the boards of a 2 year old a single player game.) There is even a long meme thread regarding the custom story community. What is interesting is that there are even internal expressions used, like "poofer", that we at Frictional did not know about and that was specific to Amnesia modding.

The output of modding community has been quite big as well. Amnesia is as of writing the 2nd most popular game at ModDB and sports 176 finished mods. Not only do this amount of user content lengthen the life of the game, it has also increased the amount of YouTube movies made with an Amnesia theme. There are lots of popular Let's Play channels that have devoted quite a bit of time with just playing various user-made custom stories. As mentioned earlier this have probably played a large role in keeping our monthly sales up.

It is quite clear that allowing users to create content is a feature worth putting time into. I also think that we managed to have a pretty good balance between having simple tools and still allowing a lot of possibilities. It is far from perfect though and for our new engine (which AMFP is not using) will have lots of improvements. It will still be possible to use the simple scripting as before, but now you can pretty much remake whatever you like and do not have to use a complicated total conversion to do so.

Future
The next big thing for us will be the release of Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, which is a follow-up developed by thechineseroom and produced by us. This release will be very interesting in many ways. First of all it is a big experiment for us to do this sort of collaboration, so from the start we had no idea how it would turn out. Judging from the latest build we have nothing to worry about though, and so far it looks great. Another interesting aspect is how well it will sell compared to the initial Amnesia launch. Not only is the market a lot bigger now than two years ago, Amnesia is more known. The result will be very important to how we plan our future. Release for AMFP is expected early 2013.

At Frictional Games our main concern is our new super secret project. We do not want to say much about this project yet,but we can disclose that it will be horror and that it will be first person. One of the things I was most disappointed with in Amnesia was that it never really managed to deliver any deeper themes, but was more like a shallow fright-fest. For the new project we want to change that and really try and bring a certain theme to the front. Our hope is that this will create a very special experience, creating horror in a much more disturbing way. For the curious, some information on the path we are taking can be found in this paper. The game's current status is that we have pretty much all tech working, and have started to playtest the first parts. Still, a lot is up in the air and the current design is bound to change. While we do not want the project to go on forever, we want to use our good financial situation the best we can and make sure we do not just rush something out (which we did with Amnesia actually). Release will probably be some time in 2014.

Frictional Games have also grown over the last year and we now employ 11 people, which feels very close to the maximum. At least the way we run the company right now. We also do not want to lose the small underdog spirit that has fueled us in the past. When you have such financially different situation compared to when you started I think it is easy to get caught up in expansion, wild ideas and basically do not get much done. So, we do our best to keep our feet firmly on the ground, to be strict on deadlines and to always remember our humble pasts. At the same time we will not take any easy solutions and play it safe. After the successes we have had, I think it is our responsibility to use our money and independence the best way possible.


86 comments:

  1. This blog describes exactly what I love about Frictional Games. I really enjoy your games and I'm very excited to see what has become of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Keep up the good work!

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  2. I cannot wait much longer! Keep it up!!

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  3. That's great news guys! Very happy for you.

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  4. Congrats on the success of Amnesia. I still remember (like yesterday) when you tried to achiev the 2000 pre-orders (we wanted the ingame commentary track :D ).
    It's nice to see you want to keep your "initial" dev spirit.

    regarding the Mod community, have you ever thought of adding those mods to Steam Workshop?

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    1. Steam Workshop support would be a welcome addition. ;)

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    2. This is a good idea.

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  5. Good job guys, I am very happy for all of you. I believe you have a very excellent future ahead of you and a very special niche in gamers lives for your art. I honestly knew that someday this would happen. I've been with you sense the penumbra series, and I knew it was only a matter of time before you managed to home in on expressing the essence of your creativity. I truly believe that the more and more you express deeper things the more successful you will become, I honestly believe that.

    Gamers are looking for change and deeper experiences in games, and you are one of those carrying the torch to a new Era of gaming experiences. I am willing to go as far as to say you are one of the pioneers and founding father of such, along with the people over at TheChineseRoom. I'm rooting for you, can't wait till your next title :)

    -Jesse Platt

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  6. What's the OS split? Percentage wise, which OS got the most sales, if you have the data?

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    1. something like what I said in last years post, which was:
      Windows: 70%
      Linux: 15%
      Mac: 15%
      Perhaps a little higher (a percent or so) on mac because the mac app store has been doing pretty well.

      Hard to give any exact figures though for the same reasons that counting the total units sold is difficult.

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  7. I am very happy to see your sales are satisfactory despite piracy prevailing throughout. You definitely know how to make a game, so no comments on that.

    The only thing I would suggest is that you keep the experience of the game untouched. Do not soften any aspects of the game or may I suggest harden them a bit. A horror game like this is a rare commodity in this hideous cesspool of COD horse manure.

    I tip my hat to all you people who have made this game possible. And I advise you, as long as you make games like Amnesia, be sure to get ready to make the next project on the launch day itself.

    The sales will not be hurdles on your path any longer.

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  8. I'm really happy for your success. I got all your games, but I haven't finished even the first Penumbra yet. I look forward to your next games.

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  9. Congratulations! I'm really glad to hear all this, especially since I remember the rather not-too-sure-about-the-future mood of your last report about sales soon after launch! :)

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  10. Keep up the good work and the most important skill you have: the spirit !
    You had faith in us, we owe you that and we will keep supporting your work as ever.

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  11. Oh, can you PLEEEASE work with Novint to support the Novint Falcon like with the Penumbra games?

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  12. I loved the Penumbra series. I liked Amnesia (paid full price), too, but not as much as Penumbra... the engine and immersion were better, but the history was shallower, there was too much gore in it, and the monsters (some? most?) usually went away (i.e., disappeared) if you hid for a minute or two. Anyway, was well worth the full price.

    Looking forward to AMFP and your next secret project. Take my money already!

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  13. Thank god for modding. I reinstalled Amnesia 2 days ago, because I wanted to get into the custom stories thing.
    Guess what? Already put 11 hours in custom stories :D

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  14. This is a really great, informative post. I deeply wish that more devs would be as open about their games and financials as you guys are.

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  15. You people are both gentlemen and scholars. Keep up the awesome work.

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  16. Great news.

    I pirated the game at release. Broke and unemployed :(

    Loved it and times got better so I got a copy for me and my sister.
    Can't wait for the next one!

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    1. Ha! Did the same thing... The same damn thing!

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  17. I just cannot wait! It's so good to hear how well you guys are doing and how far you've been able to come! My best friend and I live for Indie games, so this is all fantastic news! We'll be sure to get ourselves a copy of AMFP!!~

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  18. Congratulations to the Frictional Games team!

    I truly enjoy reading these detailed updates and I am eagerly looking forward to future releases.

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  19. You guys definitely deserve it. I grinned at the paragraph about piracy, excellent attitude. You guys are part of what PC gaming needs to evolve.


    As always, keep up the excellent work and the wonderfully insightful blog posts.

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  20. It's fantastic to hear you guys are doing so well as you certainly deserve it & keep making firstperson games! Long live frictional <3

    I am huge fan of thechineseroom too so I can't wait for AAMFP.

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  21. Great news, congratulations on your success!

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  22. I honestly feel a little proud to be one of the initial pre-orderers of Amnesia. Guess we were trendsetters :)

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  23. will AMFP support the oculus rift?

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  24. Any thoughts on Occulus Rift support for your games? It might actually be a bit too intense for Amnesia, but IT WOULD BE AWESOME. Thanks for all your hard work, keep it up!

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    1. We get mails on this all the time, and we have not any official position on the question. My personal stand point is:
      - Would be fun to try, always fun with new hw.
      - Sanity effects, etc will probably make a lot of people puke.

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  25. "One of the things I was most disappointed with in Amnesia was that it never really managed to deliver any deeper themes"

    That's intriguing! What do you mean by "deeper themes"? Do you mean story/setting elements or something else?

    I am frightened when games claim to be "deep". It has come to signify pretentiousness to me, as unfortunate as that is.

    I would love someone to prove me wrong. :)

    -Z.L.

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    1. I can explain a bit more. In Amnesia a big theme was "human evil". The cornerstone of this is that who becomes evil can be subjective and depends on the situation they are in. Inspirations for this were the Stanford Prison Experiment and the experiments conducted by Milgram.

      All this came pretty late in development and while it inspired a lot of the story and much of the underlying atmosphere it is really just in the background and nothing that the player really faces other than in some story stuff. I think it helped build the mood, but it was not something that the player could really experience. I was after something like in the movie "Das Experiment" were you at the end really think about your own feeling and your own divisions between good guys and bad guys, and how it all was just based on random chance. Amnesia never had that and mainly is just about scaring the player.

      For the next game I want the theme not just to be set dressing. I want it to really be at the front and to be something that the player really experience and is forced to confront. Just like you in Amnesia consider where a monster might be at, you shoulder consider this. That is what I mean with "deeper".

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    2. I find it very interesting that deeper meaning and the theme of "human evil" came so late in development. Although you say Amnesia is mainly about scares and that these deeper elements are more in the background, the whole question of what constitutes good and evil was actually one of the more memorable things about Amnesia for me (second only to perhaps the atmosphere).

      For me, when I start out a game (particularly in first-person POV) there's a certain amount of immediate trust in the character I am playing. I know next to nothing about him (or her) at the start of the game, but because I am controlling him and experiencing the game with him, I am already identifying with and rooting for him. So with Amnesia, as you slowly start to realize that Daniel is not exactly innocent, I believe that the player begins to question his "goodness" - and, through that, their own. It is downright disturbing to play as a man who has tortured and murdered people. The torture chambers were that much more horrifying because of what they tell you about Daniel. Yet I still identified with him - to an extent - every time we both cowered in terror in the face of the brutes and grunts, or worked together to solve a puzzle. Also, the possibility of redemption (or at least a step in that direction) kept him from being wholly evil and unappealing. So is Daniel a good guy, a bad guy, or something in between? I love that this is left up to the player to decide.

      That being said... I do recognize that such themes still have the potential to play a much larger role in games than they do in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and I am really looking forward to seeing this in A Machine for Pigs as well as Frictional Games' new (and very exciting!) super-secret project. :)

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    3. Glad you thought so and the way you describe it was the main intention of getting it across to the player. So glad that it was not all lost!

      Still, as you say, we could have brought it even more front. I would have like for the player to be more in actual situations were this mattered and were it would be very hard not to thinking more deeply about it. Instead Amnesia is mostly all about running, hiding and solving puzzles. The challenge is to have game elements that you can put in as fluently into the experience as these, but at the same time have much stronger focus on the intended themes.

      It will not be easy to do, and I am still unsure to what level it is possible. I think the best example might be Walking Dead, but here it the gameplay is not very fluent at all, but more akin to a film or novel with some spice of interactivity. If you add more fluency there are games like Spec Ops and Shadow of Colossus that has some bits where it work very well. But in those games it is all related to combat in some way, which is not what we want to talk about.

      In any case, I am very interesting to see how it pans out! :)

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  26. please be a lovecraft game, please be lvoecraft. it would be a match made in heaven.

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  27. Congratulations guys !

    I bought Amnesia on your web store, i bought it again on Steam, maybe even got it on the Indie Bundle.

    That must mean something like i love you and your game very much. Keep up the frightening work !

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  28. jag vill höra eller se att hjärtat slår fort när man blir jagad eller slagen av ett monster

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  29. You do a native Linux version => I buy your game as in the past :)

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    1. Yep! The main reason I tried the demo and eventually bought the game was because I could play a native version on my Linux system.

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  30. I have bought all Penumbra games and Amnesia probably multiple times. But i still haven't played them.
    Mainly because i simply don't have time.
    Keep up the good work though. Do hope things moves forward in a steady pace!.

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  31. Fantastic update Thomas, you can aspect my support has always, i bought all your games and i will buy AMFP for sure.

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  32. Thanks for giving us insight. It's always nice to see that it is mods and the community which help to make a game really big and popular like they did with Half-Life or Warcraft III. On the other hand it is sad that so many games still lack modding support while you described it as a day's work to implement.

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  33. Interesting article!
    Thanks Thomas for posting details about your company and games.
    Also nice to hear that your new super secret project will be horror!

    I found a bug in the text, you forgot a "0" behind the total solds.
    1 360 000, not 1 360 00 ;-)

    Be happy about your success, hey, you are a small indie developer without a budget and Amnesia sold over one million copies! That's more than some AAA+ titles by big publishers reaches!

    I'll definitely buy all your future games since I found my love to the Penumbra series! All your games are epic and you are heroes in my opinion to create such masterpieces!!!

    But I hope you will not do too many foreign experiments in next games. I hope it will be still faithful to the Frictional known universe.

    In my opinion, Penumbra was the best of all your games, because I like the puzzles, the exploration and atmosphere. Especially the puzzles are by far more thoughtful than in Amnesia.
    I actually played some of the old Silent Hill games and the puzzles are very excellent, Amnesia is too easy and thoughtless compared to this.
    I wanted to have more logical physics usage and complexity tricky mechanical puzzles.

    I wish you all success for future games and hope all of you guys will have a long life in health and love. Please never stop making games!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Martin

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  34. @Thomas & FG:
    About scripting/modding:
    One can tell that modding support came late into play by looking at the script functions you exposed: there's only what you guys needed to build the levels for Amnesia, and not much thought was given as to what other script functions could be useful later on, for custom stories, etc. For example, there's no way to obtain the location of an entity (you must have seen that brilliant, but nevertheless monstrous oct-tree based script available on your wiki XD). So when you say "but now you can pretty much remake whatever you like", I feel endless joy, not unlike the joy of escaping the claws of a grunt in the prison level :D.

    Question: have you considered providing script-support for writing/reading simple text files (or maybe XML)? It would be great for modding: it would allow modders to read custom data at the initialization step, and use it in the game - animation paths for cameras (or players head), color transitions, maybe textures, stuff like that.

    About depth:
    The key is to tell the human story - even if only in glimpses. Instead of a torture machine, and a 5sec audio of acceptably subpar acted screams, have the game show us what was it like for that person to spend days in a dark, damp, odorous cell, starving, and in pain, not knowing what lies ahead...
    Also, if presenting the player with a choice - avoid the binary good/bad situations. Go bad/bad. And it doesn't even have to be obvious it's a choice-point in game. Consequences may or may not be immediate.
    Finally, IIRC, the idea behind Amnesia's monsters was that these are some hellish entities which possessed human bodies and "remodeled" them in accordance with their own twisted idea of estetics, right? (Kinda like Hellraiser :D)
    I wish this idea was explored more in Amnesia, somwhere in the second half of the game - it would have been a great way to make the already disturbing enemies even more disturbing, and it would add to the depth of the game. Imagine a player walking on a monster "remodeling" itself, or two monsters doing it to one another, or something like that.

    P.S. In relation to what you said about loading.
    I guess you were taking about loading in general, but, I'm under the impression that the COLLADA loading code for models with skeletal animation could have been better. Apparently, it only loads models created in Maya, and in a specific version of Maya? Either that, or something's wrong with the COLLADA exporters.

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    1. XML:
      Yes, that is now exposed in script and it would be easy for anybody to create a helper script file for loading specific data. If I add a few more things you should even be able to add a custom map and model loader.

      Amnesia Enemies:
      Yes, stuff like that would be very interesting to have gotten in and providing more interesting backstory to the happenings. Much of that was a budget question for Amnesia though, and with being in a better financial situation now our next game should have more of that.

      Animations:
      In our new version of the engine I think animations for Maya, 3ds Max, Modo and Blender are fully supported. Since AMFP animators use other tools than we, there was a lot of updates for that.

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  35. I have bought Amnesia the Dark Decent several months ago and I after playing little by little I have yet to complete even half the game. The reason being it is so darn scary! I love it and I look forward to drawing out my experience for as long as I can.

    Games don't have to be long and wide areas for there to be a sense of distance to the player. It can be a little haunted house (even though Amnesia takes place in medieval castle during the Victorian era) with few rooms and if the setting is immersive enough then the player would spend more time exploring and looking and just standing in the corner trying to hear stuff lol. Much of what I do in Amnesia. The ability to get lost in the world can extend your game experience.

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  36. XML/Enemies/Animations:
    Awesome!

    A side note: To all gamers and (RE fans in general) out there... DON'T go and see RE:Retribution, it is unbelievably idiotic, wait for the damn torrent - otherwise you'll just give a chance for another run to its moronic director...
    I mean, there's literally NO STORY in the movie, it's just a random show of different monster sequences featuring Alice kicking their ass and looking... aggravated. Oh, lets have some old-school zombies. OK, nuff of that, let's now bring back the Red Queen and make her repeat every line from the first movie. OK. A bit of the laser corridor sequence. Good. Now put a licker in there, but the huge variety. Good, now some ganados, but make them russian and give them a lot of guns. Oh yeah, have this, what's her name - Ada Wong - have her run around a bit. Ok, now have Jill fire some guns while looking pretty for the camera. No she doesn't have to aim! Nonsense! She just needs to assume a sexy pose. Add some more crap so we can reach 95min mark. OK. Nice, nice. Wait! I knew I forgot something - add bullet time effect every 2 or 3 seconds! And finally, the master stroke: Add the same cheesy dramatic score for every scene there is! Wow! What a master piece! OMG, the joy I feel for delivering this awesomeness to the world.

    ...
    Paul W.S. Anderson i hate u more than Uwe Boll!
    Than Uwe Boll!!!

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. I have a question. Playing through Amnesia it seems to me that encounters (the thing you dread the most) happen with certainty at scripted times and sometimes happen at random in certain scripted areas. Like taking the bend in a turn at a dark hallway (not fair!). But have you guys ever considered dynamic encounters?

    Playing through amnesia for the first couple of days were the most intense and scary for me. This is because I convinced myself, thanks to the brilliant game design and immersion, that I could get into trouble at any time, any place. I also believed that I could provoke an encounter with unintentional and uncontrolled actions on my part. For example dropping a vase and making to much noise. Losing sanity and breathing to loudly. This made the environment seem 'alive' in sense, and the notion and also the possible consequences of it, frightened me so much, because I was constantly in a mode of fight or flight and it would never stop.

    But when I realized that it was mainly scripts, I felt more at ease. One reason is that my brain was able to gain a sense of security in certain areas and situations. Two because it made the enemies almost feel 'restrained' where before I perceived them to be omnipotent and almost omnipresent. Before I would be horrified if I even did something to re arrange the furniture I later realized that few things had consequences.

    One last mention about dynamics that I as a player I observed generally in games. When it comes to scary situations the brain does not like the feeling of fight or flight and like any physical tension it seeks to relieve it. So while playing I have noticed that my mind likes to form these mental safety constructs made up of patterns it infers about the game world. An example: The entrance hall at the beginning of the game where the lab, archives and wine cellar are. After so many times of moving back and forth through that hall to complete the quests, I couldn't help but start to have a sense of security and ease when at that hall. The pattern of safety was established and not even the untrue belief of a dynamic environment was enough to return me to fight or flight. It was no longer scary then, and that carried over to the later experience of the subsequent levels.

    The same phenomenon occurs when you are at the height of fight or flight. As is in the archives when you are moving through dark hallways and rooms. The tension shoots up so much that you are compelled to run into a room for no reason at all and barricade yourself until the tension comes back down. Here my brain starts to construct this pattern of relief when exploring the world and after a while it lessens my fear when entering an area that is strange and unknown. Because my mind has trained me that no matter what situation, I can always release the tension by running into a room and barricading myself. I would go so far as to say this is probably the only 'weapon' in the game that you have and removing it and teaching the player's mind that you cannot construct these patterns of safety would make what would be a very scary experience almost unbearable.

    If you took the time to read this I appreciate it. These are just observations from a humble player and as a huge fan, I look forward to the reveal of the secret project.

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    1. Two comments on this:
      - We tried more dynamic encounters in Penumbra and our take away is that they are very hard to control and get right. While they can increase tension because you are never sure when it will hit (even as a designer) the actual encounters are really hard to to consistently engaging. The player lack a good hiding spot, the running might last for too long, etc. All of these break down immersion and while they do not mean dynamic is bad, it is important to have in mind that it comes with problem. When we used a more scripted approach with short time spans in Amnesia, many of these problems went away.

      - The major problem is that we simply have too many enemies of the same kind and with similar behaviors. This is why you are able to get the patterns, because we repeat it too much. Had we been better at hiding the patterns I we could have fixed much of what you say.

      Still I find more dynamic systems interesting, and I am sure some kind blend of the approaches might be really nice.

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    2. I agree with the reasons why it is counter immersive for encounters to not be controlled to where they occur to much because of a reckless player or at bad situations leaving the player in a disposition to over deal with the problem. Long flight sessions, forced fights with the monsters and repetitiveness could give the player the experience they need to no longer be afraid of these encounters. Amnesia made it so that you never got used to the monsters, you weren't even allowed to look at them and this made sure you never developed the experience needed to flesh out their mechanics and not be afraid anymore.

      I played a game called lone survivor recently and while at the start of the game it was scary because of the immersion it presented, it became very very boring early on. The problem were the monsters. You were often engaged with them every step of the way and that experience of dealing with them stole away from the mystery they initially had.

      As for a blended approach, I totally think as a player I would appreciate something like that. Perhaps the same mechanics plus a hunter mechanic? Sort of like the shadow in amnesia but dynamicaly active in the game.

      But I digress, I realize that it is very hard to implement because immersion is very fragile. Thanks for taking the time read my observations as a player. My interest in a dynamic encounter system is due to never having seen it implemented correctly in games, mostly due to its difficulty.

      I do have to mention that Amnesia's limited variation in monsters was a strong suit not a weak one. In games where there is a diversity in enemies (resident evil, dead space, the thing, etc) they start out with their bread and butter monsters. These are scary for the player when encountered. But as the game progresses and new monsters are introduced, that might be more scary or more powerful, the prototype monsters lose their scare. I think its because our brain perceives extremes based on behavior patterns that contrast with the norm. An example is when I was in school I was usually regarded as an average student with decent behavior. But my friend was perceived as a troublemaker. One day we both had our legs up on the school table. His behavior was seen as 'normal' but only I appeared to be doing something 'bad' to the students and teacher. My behavior deviated from the norm and was considered extreme. The same principle applies to wingman who accompany their friend to make them look better by appearing less attractive themselves.

      Amnesia had established the norm for monsters and only the environment and level of immersion was allowed to up the ante on scary. The prison being the worst part for me. But if more diverse sets of enemies were introduced that could be perceived as scarier than the grunts or brutes then it would have destroyed the fear factor for them. The grunts and brutes would be reduced to 'wingman' for the scarier monsters.

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    3. How about scripted events that each happen once in response to a trigger, but not necessarily the first time the trigger is pulled. Like Russian Roulette, where you know the gun will fire eventually, but you don't know when. You pass through an area a dozen times and nothing happens, but the next time a monster shows up, and it's a carefully crafted scripted event. Fill the game with those to keep the players on their toes.

      In regards to monsters, having a greater variety could help by making them less predictable. The monsters don't have to be scarier or stronger or better in any way, just different. Or you could have 1 monster that could behave in multiple ways, so you never know how he will react to you. How about monsters that have no corporeal form but instead only affect you, like some parasitical spirit that drains your sanity while you are resting, forcing you to keep on the move, but that puts you in danger of encountering monsters.

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  39. Great Game and Good sales You deserve it Guys!! Keep Up the Good Work

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  40. I find it wonderful and very reassuring that you're able to reel in sales for a two year old single-player PC game still. It makes me happy that there is such a large amount of people that can understand and appreciate the fine art that you are exercising when creating these horrifying experiences!

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  41. Nice to see you have good sales, you totally deserve it!
    Good luck with your next projects

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  42. Thomas, I have to say that Penumbra (mainly Overture) was the most immersing game of all yours. The fact is, that the player can explore obkects by reading his thoughts, that the environments are more authentic and a feeling of "danger". The puzzles are great, search the fuse and reat an user manual to repair and operate a generator, find out the morse code, find out the hidden code in workshop note, blow the mine to get through, find a secret way into storage room, use physics and mount the ladder to get into the spider tunnel, mix the chemicals etc...

    The combat system doesn't kill the immersion!
    Of course I prefer to have no combat, but the "weapons" are more meant as tools instead for fighting back. The goal of Penumbra never was to fight! But the combat system gives the player more varied possibilities and that's an important feature to build up more complex puzzles (generator battery). And to loose weapons in Black Plague will let you feel more helpless than if you never would had weapons before.

    Penumbra Overturel also has the best story in my opinion. To search for your father in greenland is a plausible story and this is important for immersion. It's the complexity I love in games, the thing to explore the environment, find out secrets and solve puzzles using physics and logics.

    Amnesia was too easy in this way. The only place that let you thinking was the control room, where you have to operate the weights onto correct position. But the world was a bit "casual". I mean, the objects are flashed that you really never have to search long. The environments are too empty, in Penumbra was much more to explore and this is what makes the immersion for me!

    Enemies doesn't disappear after a while, the dogs and spiders are "plausible" enemies and the infected are human like. They are always danger and I never felt save in Penumbra. The flickering lights and dark corridors are a great setting for a scary atmosphere. I wanted to see more of that in future. More detailed and varied locations, puzzles behind every corner and an atmosphere of horror that will make you paranoia!

    This is why I think Penumbra is a bit better than Amnesia, if you know to look at every single detail. Penumbra is a bit more! The better experience at all.

    A game should have much as possible content in an area, that you need more time to solve all things and go to next area. Otherwise the game will lose excitement.

    I hope you understand my meanings and I would be happy if you can reply what you're actually thinking about this topic.

    Regards,

    Martin

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  43. Thomas, have you considered eliminating musical and sound repetition for your next game such as non looping music and less repeating sound effects? A game that I know that you have played called Dear Esther used this technique and it really help the world feel much more dynamic and real and can creates deeper immersion by getting rid of that gamey feeling. I really think that if you want to create a game that's all about being there, having more depth in the music and sound is extremely important sense there is no fun core to occupy the player with and its all in the atmosphere.

    Doing that kind of thing should make it more enjoyable and perhaps make it easier for players to get immersed in the game, because the game will have more depth and be used to give deeper feelings to adsorb. Now, obviously you understand how immersion works and the magic of how it can effect people, and I'm not lecturing you by any means, but I really think it should be something to look into. It could open so many new doors for story telling and could prove useful to keeping peoples mind on the story and world, and keeping it off the game mechanics which is something challenging to do in an ARG type of game. It could be a step looking into and worth taking.

    Having a game that's constantly changing in some way could give the player a deeper feeling of the unknown in someway for a horror scenario as well. Once something starts to repeat, they stop focusing on it depending on what it consists of. For me, even some of the really great music in Amnesia lost its effectiveness slowly the longer you listened to it.

    Now, frankly I love the game and It scared me good :), but those were some of the observations I have made by watching other people play the game as well. I'm always hearing people, say, "I know its a part of the ambient sounds and its nothing to worry about". Now, obviously this is due to more than just repeating sounds. You can make the player think the sound has meaning simply by improving story telling and adding more story to the environment and tying them to characters. A repeating sound can still scare players.

    If you read this, thank you for taking your time to do so :). I enjoy giving you feedback and trying to help you improve your games through a players and a students perspective. I'd like to know what you think about this if your willing to share it with me, thanks.

    -Jesse Platt

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    1. I disagree with you, Anonymous!

      Remember the beautyful melancholic music in "Back Hall" or "Cistern Entrance" for example. The loops are very important to have a formative music! Otherwise the game will become too much ineffective when the tracks are changing all the time.

      I agree with you, that the sound effects are very important, like the bass drum in "Slender" for example, or the changing music in Amnesia's "Entrance Hall" when you touch the main door with the slime. But music is something to impact emotions and atmosphere. There must be a line and not a remix of varied different tracks.

      Then it will become non-saying.

      I would prefer the idea that the music will stop in some areas that you only hear environment sounds. A wet mine, where the water is dropping through the ground, the wind is howling or the wood is cracking. some sounds of industrial steel or sth. No music in some areas!

      I have to mention the game "Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine" where you have very less music, in most areas there is absolutely no music and this will let you feel more "alone in the danger", unknown leaved place. This is an atmospherical bonus.

      Music is important, but it also can ruin the immersion.
      Until now, Penumbra & Amnesia have fantastic ambient music and I hope the composer/developers will maintain that in their futute games!

      I really like scary sounds like the crying girl in storage room or the kind of "knocking" in the cell areas when you go to the corpse. I prefer more a background music mady with ambient sounds.

      The loops are great. There should not be a remix.
      But a changing music in special events, when the horror is getting closer, for example the slime coming in Back Hall, this would even improve the atmosphere.

      But every different environment needs his own special music!

      -Martin

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    2. I did not dislike the music, or ambient sounds in any of their games. There are various ways to make the music keep representing the core of the mood without it looping. I'm not saying the tracks should change into a conventional track used in movies or anything like that. Composer Jessica Curry of Dear Esther did what I am saying. She kept the music from looping over and over by adding layers to the tracks that still set the same atmosphere they were going for, but in other ways, and it removed repetition from that aspect of the game. There was no interaction in Dear Esther so that was a huge part making the game a deeper experience without using the traditional game design that can take players mind off of the core experience. If you haven't played it, you should to see what I am saying. The reason why I mentioned Dear Esther is because I know Thomas has played it, and he is working with the people that made it on A Machine for Pigs because he likes what they did, and if I am correct A machine for pigs is going to use the same design principles in Dear Esther including the lessons learned. If this is the case, then I should be moved over into this newest title of theirs, otherwise it would be a straight down grade.

      When I speak of changing music, I am in no way referring to anything in movies or in any form of conventional media, I'm talking about something totally different. You have to play some games that use it in order to understand what I am saying.

      There are many different ways of saying the same thing without repeating the way you said it the first time over and over again. Utilizing that can keep the players focus in the world better and even deepen it, and Dear Esther proved this.

      Once a player does something for too long he stops focusing on it, and in a game that is strictly about being there, having loops will eventually weaken the moment the longer the player spends in it. This is one of the main issues with Amnesia which is something Thomas said himself, and the suggestion I am making which I am stating currently, is that one possible way to fix this is to use some of those techniques. It would be a challenging new approach, but I cannot see any negative outcomes if utilized properly(which is keeping the central theme of the moment).

      It is important that you see what I am thinking, because I would not want the music to be constantly progressing so much that it would not be connected to the moment it represents. Do you understand what I am saying? Because, I know what your saying, and that is not what I am saying must be changed. Every environment does need its own special music and theme, and I am not saying that it should not have that. I'm saying that each moment should be given deeper musical themes to represent it. Thomas said he would like to make a game that's deeper, and that is one possible way to do it.

      Traditional game design is to simple to support something that is supposed to feel rich, depth-full, and dynamic that is the ARG game experience. Things must be innovated and made deeper and more complex and more intuitive, but I am not saying that in the way that you thought I meant it. If you want a player to be immersed in another world, it must have that depth like one in order for that connection to happen. The player must stop thinking "this is a game" and the only way to do this is to make the player distant that as much as possible from his past experiences. One of the ways that can be ended is by starting with the music and sound.

      -Jesse Platt

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    3. Short note: Jessica Curry (responsible for the music in Dear Esther) is also composing the music for Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. This would eventually mean that we'll see (or hear) more non-repeated soundtracks (such as Dear Esther) in AMFP.

      Source: http://thechineseroom.co.uk/team.html

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  44. Frictional, congratulation for the success!
    Do you guys still use Newton for physics ? It looks kind of dead..

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    1. Not dead at all. Last time I checked it was actively updated. It is also open source now!

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    2. Ok, I see. The fact that is open source actually mean it could live much longer. It could rise from the dead and even live partially - the liver is here, the brain there and the lung is breathing in that project over there. :)

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. You are the kings of horror games and you should be proud of that :)

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  47. Hi. I bought Amnesia 3 times. Once a little after it came out, then a second time for my laptop (playing it camped in a tent was... Intense.) and lastly with the Humble Bundle.

    Money well fucking spent.

    Cant wait for whatever you guys bring out next!

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  48. You guys rock!! I love how you share your thoughts and concern here!! Keep producing outstanding gaming experience!!

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  49. I am absolutely ecstatic every time a blog post of yours comes up. The comments section is wonderful to read, too. Your numbers and approach to piracy make me happy. As a designer, amnesia fundamentally changed my approach to horror and made me a fan of its underlying mechanics and themes rather than the simple mirror scare addiction that the genre's majority appears to follow. I am currently playing through Penumbra and it's an equally immersive experience. Never lose your underdog spirit, never be satisfied, always hunger and lust. Thank you for your works of brilliance and your continued community updates. And set up a Facebook page, geez!

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    1. They have a facebook page :)

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  50. Hello guys,

    Congratulations on your achievement,s you deserve it :)
    Looking forward to your super secret project game, I like the changes you plan to incorporate, compared to Amnesia: TDD. (And, yes, I´m looking forward to Machine for Pigs as well :))

    There´s only one thing I didn´t like about the Amnesia - inability to save anywhere. I can understand this feature being disabled in Justine addon (tense building design decision), but inability to save in the core game was a let down - you know, I don´t a have so much time as I used to have for playing games and when game prevents me from saving where I need - that´s more frustrating than immersing or compelling (same goes for checkpoints system with no additional saving possibility).

    That´s the only thing I´d like you to change, other than that, keep up the good work! You, Almost Human and Gaslamp games are my favorite Northern game developers.

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    1. You can save anywhere. Just go to the menu and save and exit :)

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  51. For anyone in the New York City area, we are playing & discussing Amnesia tonight at 7 p.m. to kick off our Horror Games series at the Mid-Manhattan Library. Full schedule and more info here: bit.ly/nyplarcade-horror2012

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  52. I was one of those that was very interested in playing the game once I saw it on the indie bundles and such. it was a very well polished and entertaining experience. Good luck on your future endeavors. And yes, piracy comment is spot on.

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  53. Is the 2014 project coming also to consoles?

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  54. Hey frictional games, :)

    You guys are the best at designing true horror games, because you know what true horror is... it's being defenceless! Amnesia is the perfect example of this, and so is penumbra! I loved the penumbra series the most, as i felt alot more connected to the player right from the start. Although i am very excited about the new amnesia, i am still hoping to see a new penumbra at some stage, because the story and the emotions that were shown throughout the game were intense, and the music was creepy and frightening, Ive searched for similiar games but nothing compares to penumbra's frightening story and gameplay.

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  55. What will be the price Of Amnesia A Machine For Pigs ?

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    1. Actually not decided yet. Will announce that along with an exact launch date I think.

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  56. I am a long-term Linux user. I'm not much of a player (a couple of FPS games and that's it).

    Someday, for some reason, I opened Ubuntu's Software-center and decided to try out a few non-free games. Amnesia was first on the list of suggestions. I bought it...

    And I must say this game is pretty sick! I'm really happy that I have discovered it. Can't wait for the next one. And mostly, people... keep up the linux support!

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  57. Best of luck guys, always loved watching youtube videos of people getting scared while playing your games, keep up the good work!

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  58. I think the tools are just perfect. They are simple and easy to use, but still quite powerful.

    I assume that the AMFP is made with HPL2 so the tools will work with it too?

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  59. Well done! So please you guys have got the recognition, and success you deserve... can't wait for AMFP!

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  60. QUOTE: "One of the things I was most disappointed with in Amnesia was that it never really managed to deliver any deeper themes, but was more like a shallow fright-fest. For the new project we want to change that and really try and bring a certain theme to the front."

    I'm... sorry for bringing it out to a developer of the game, and also for kinda contradicting you, but Amnesia - The Dark Descent DID bring me something for me to think about: how people will cross any moral line and do anythng to survive. I guess then it was just a side effect of the story, and you guys never thought someone could take something out of it. :-(

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