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Got me my shiny new MZ
So I'm working on a horror game but am writer blocked. So I was wondering what you guys like about the RM horror games such as IB, Corpse Party, or Pocket Mirror? It'll give me some inspiration on how next to proceed.

Are you looking for a scare? Just like the puzzles? Or maybe you just like the story?
How bad they are.

Most of them are pretty bad and even the good ones are pretty bad horror-wise. It's a good kind of bad though - like how playing a silly cheesy game can be fun. Most of the time they're super campy or do the same thing as every other horror game, with a few differences.

Frankly, some of the scariest games I've ever played weren't horror (in the traditional sense, at least).
The best horror games aren't pure jump scares. Set jump scares only work once. Instead more psychological horror where people/places/events just seem...off...is a lot better. Then you hit them with a 1-in-a-100 random event jump scare.

I haven't really played any horror rm games, but I've seen a couple played. Like this one 'Graveyard' one that Libby played on stream. It was horrible, hahaha.
I'm a dog pirate
Horror Games aren't really my bag. I didn't really care for Resident Evil back in the day. Zelda is scary enough m8s.
I'm not sure if an RM game has topped The Longing Ribbon yet, but I haven't played many of the newest RM horror games.
I think the RM Horror boom just came around a bit too late for me. I guess I don't feel like I'm the target audience for what a lot of the more recent RM Horrors are going for, which is either jumpscares or edgy anime (usually both).

While not really classified as horror, I did enjoy what I played of OFF, which was more surreal than anything and wasn't afraid to include combat.
The increased traffic to RMN by naive chumps who increase RMN's ad revenue
Imo, JRPGs suffer the problem that they always have the same story (at least it feels like it if you've been playing them for 20+ years) and often also suffer from TOO MUCH TEXT. The horror genre on the other hand often offers really unique and interesting stories told with little words. The combination of RPG gameplay and horror story is what I really love.
OrudoPatto, kisama!
I always thought that, the majority of people, takes the horror genre into consideration when creating a game with RPG Maker because they think it makes the game simple to make.

Which, yeah, from a programming point of view, it is. You just need the bare minimum in terms of gameplay. Exploring, puzzle solving, some shooting paw paw the end. Of course, it differs from game to game but the only thing that makes an horror game stands out is always its atmosphere. And a lot, A LOT of developers FAIL in that aspect, delivering downright bad horror games. Horror games are not about dark environment and random monsters coming out from nowhere.

I wouldn't rely too much on jump scares. It's difficult to render those well with RPG Maker and also, they're overrated. Atmosphere and tension, that's what you need.

I've recently played RE7. That game doesn't have a lot of jumpscares, and most of the time it builds up tension and hype only to not have anything happen on screen. And that's the beauty of it. You have to work well with your atmosphere and mapping and make players expect something that most of the time won't happen. And when it happens, it will surely have much more impact. Clausthrophobic locations, a grottesque, but realistic (that's what makes everything scarier: grottesque things that happen in a realistic context) environment and lore and voilà. You've got yourself a good horror game.

I highly suggest playing Taut, don't know if it has been uploaded here. A RPG Maker horror game with an amazing atmosphere.
Honestly, I do not really care for horror games at all. I find them boring, but that is just me. When I think horror I think of those games you see on a console like FEAR, Outlast or on PC like Five Nights At Freddy's. Those games scare the shit out of me >.< I could have nightmares from that shit. As far as RM made horror games I cannot really see there being much horror and scaring going on in them so it seems to me a good story, like a psychology horror game, is something that could always be cool, however, that is just me.
I don't actually remember any RM horror games that had a jump scare for the last year or so. The go completely psychological route has been hammered into developer brains for eons now, it's practically a virtual rule in 101 game design. How many times do I have to find out that "I ate my sister?" and the whole game is a physical manifestation of my guilty conscience? Can we go back to simpler times where there's giant aliens stalking me on my space freighter?

You might like Sin, StarSkipp. It's got a jump scare or two.

What I recommend doing if making a horror game is to focus on atmosphere and sound. Don't take that to mean 'Make it dark as all hell!', please. You gotta be able to see in order to understand what the hell is going on. No. What I mean is focus on putting the player on edge, by making them a bit disturbed. Make them think "There's something not quite right here..." and don't go for the low hanging fruit - if there's a spot that seems like it should have a scare, save it until there's a spot where there doesn't seem like there should be one. Horror games have taught us to look at certain instances or conditions as likely to be some kind of jump scare. So twist expectations. (For example, all hints point towards there being something under the bed in the kids' room of this haunted mansion. You expect there to be something scary under there. Instead you find a journal. You relax, and start reading it, but when you finish a hand lashes out from under the bed and tries to drag you under. Insert quick time minigame to get free. You've been caught off guard, because you thought the danger was over with, but suddenly you're fighting for your in-game life. This is a decent scare.)

As for sound - it's one of the most important aspects of horror design. A good story is great and all, but using sound -right- can really help sell the experience. Walking down a darkened hallway is all fine, but if you hear rustling coming from your left ear as you walk to the right will give you the creeps, especially if it stops when you stop walking.

To quote myself from my Konstandin LP:
"When making a spooky game, it's as much what you don't show as what you do. It's a keen balance of mystery and building up tenseness. You get the character tense by making them expect something and then pull it away from them. So make them expect something to happen, and when it doesn't, they're like, "Wait, that didn't happen like I thought it would, so now what?" It gets in their heads and makes them think, "OK, so I was wrong about that, what else am I going to be wrong about?" That tenses them up because then they don't know where the attack is going to come from. That makes them think nothing is safe."
Got me my shiny new MZ
Thanks for all the advice so far!

A big handicap for RM is that it's mostly 2D pixel graphics. Some of the games mentioned here, or AAA titles such as the Silent Hills, REs, Dead Space, Amnesia, etc. have simply awesome 3D graphics that help with the immersion. I remember playing Amnesia and seriously NOTHING HAPPENED but I was scared out of my wits just walking down absolutely EMPTY HALLS. It's kinda silly when you think about it. I think a big scare factor for these 3D environment games is always the question: What's lurking behind me? I always wonder about the parts I can't see. Wonder if when I turn around I will see something horrifying.

Now for RM games. For example the classic IB. I wasn't scared at all. It was even quite funny at times, but I found it fun to play because of the way the story is setup. Will definitely take a look at the RM games mentioned here.
Old Pat said gold, Libby too.

Personally I like them for a more atmosphere-building game and more subtle themes and mini stories contained therein.

I quite liked 5 Little Lights simply for the way they did the book-shelf narrations.

I loved IB for its portrayel and use of art, really, it made me see and appreciate art like never before, haha.
IB wasn't about the horror for me at all. It was slightly creepy sometime, but not more (and the idea of the scenes and rooms changing to your own personality view n all was really good, but not explored much)

For many it's also about feeling something strongly, be it scares or tension and have some intense session.
Not sure if I want that right now, but it certainly is interesting.

There's many ways to build it, and I feel cohesion in themes and similar are more important than anywhere else, same goes for sound design and atmosphere.

I know Body Parts Elements was simple by just slowly creeping you out with all the shit lying around there like it's nothing. It was subtle and there were no jumpscares at all, but it slowly grew unnerving. I quite liked it actually.

Ao Oni is a classic and in a way it's the most predictable chase / jump scare game ever made, but it is so relentless and inevitable (the guy showing up every now and then in whatever room you are exploring) it really really grows on you and slowly saps at your defenses. And that prediction becomes anticipation, and that anticipation becomes fear as you simply really want to be left alone.
(that and the hide and opening closet scenes are just so onpoint to make hiding an anticipation game too)

Like other genre and other games, there's many ways to do things. Make them feel.

What I do often find tho, is that a lot of rm horror games aren't sure where they are heading. They lack a clear line of where the underlying story or theme is supposed to go and have you wander aimlessly and arrive somewhere after wandering about sometime.
Think about this before you go build in all the jumpscares and noises and tracks. It really, really really helps to make them feel better, imho.
Likewise, a lot of the better known ones do have that clear line.

Edit: As for the 3D graphics. Yes, that makes it different. The standard RTP also at least needs some edits as it usually is not quite the best fit. However, sound design alone makes ALL the difference, oh god it does. It's your #1 tool.
Do not underastimate the tension created therein, even if nothing else works.

I last played Party2, and while I didn't enjoy it all that much as a whole, the start was just so good with the music box and the light switches, haha.
Small details.
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
Generally the best horror games- RPGMaker or otherwise- have good atmosphere courtesy art direction and sound design. Snowowl does well with it, and it's what worked well for Ib and the Witch's House. (Also Yume Nikki, though that's not as solidly horror.) The quality of the graphics doesn't matter as much as people would have you believe- I actually feel like many of the modern 3D games are inferior, because they want SO BADLY to show off their work that they leave nothing to the player's imagination. (In fact, low res art can aid in things being spooky, because it forces you to rely on the player's imagination.) It's really all about what you do with the tools you have, and how well it all fits together.

Kylaila is right about needing to plan things out beforehand; effective horror needs to be really tight and solid. It's baking instead of making a stew: you HAVE to keep ingredients and proportions in mind, or else your piece will end up a complete failure.

Writing is important, but less so than the atmosphere: you're grabbing the audience by the guts, not the heartstrings or brainmeats, (There's nothing to prevent you from doing those as well, but they're not really important to the success of the piece overall, outside of being so bad they distract the player.)

As for gameplay, horror is really weird, because it revolves around keeping the audience out of control as much as possible. (This is probably why so many horror games are basically just haunted houses, where the player's sole contribution is moving the character from one scare to the next.) One reason a lot of RPGMaker horror have no battles is that being able to defeat enemies gives the player a feeling of power, while having to avoid things that will kill you makes one feel much more tense and helpless. (I expect also the strategy mindset of turn-based RPGs will shove most people right out of the immersive fear mindset.)

The lack of control usually manifests in three ways: Forcing the player to do something or go somewhere they really don't want to, removing the ability to defend themself, and keeping the information the player has to a minimum- just enough to keep them going forward. Try playing through some games with those principles in mind, and you'll see how it works pretty quickly.
Can't believe I didn't get to the lack of control -> fear
(well I just went over things in a shallow way in generalhaha)

Listen to Sooz.
All of it.
Lots of great advice here. If I can just add one thing: I've noticed something horror games do well to create tension and a sense of dread is the element of oncoming danger. In games like Outlast or Amnesia, they tend to give some kind of warning to the player. You'll often see the enemy coming towards your direction, or hear them approaching. Players begin to panic, trying to figure out if they should run away, or hide, or find some way past them. If they fail to figure something out, or make the wrong choice, they die. So translating that to RM games, force them to make quick decisions at certain points after making a small announcement of approaching danger.
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
Quicktime events can be good if you don't make the game all about them. An instance here or there is fine. Just make sure to allow a save spot nearby so people don't lose too much progress.
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