Matt Chat 35: Alone in the Dark

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Just in time for Halloween--Matt Chat 35, Alone in the Dark!

For this video, I included footage from all three of the original Alone in the Dark games, plus the 3DO version. I also show Resident Evil: Director's Cut for PS1 and Alpha Waves for Atari ST. So quite a smorgasbord of clips for you!

Of course, this game is the very first chapter of Vintage Games, where we go into much greater detail about the game's role in videogame history. Enjoy, and have a happy Halloween!

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Bill Loguidice
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Something like that is out there, but it's half-baked
Catatonic wrote:

We need the technology to make it feel like someone is breathing on your neck or tapping you on the shoulder... ha.

Still, even without that, maybe some interesting things can happen just from psychological effects of sensory deprivation.

The last two aquariums I have been to have had those "4-D" theaters where they would have mediocre 3D, splash you with water, blow air at you, blow bubbles and gently hit you with something by your feet to help enhance immersion. I even have a speaker system that came with two fans designed to work with PC games (I guess the rush of air when you drive or fly or what have you) that also included a lighting system. So half-hearted attempts of what you describe are certainly out there, but I 100% agree that for full immersion we certainly need something more than just superficial (side show) effects.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Mark Vergeer
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Despite the bad aged graphics the game is a gem!

While packing in my moving boxes I came across a copy of the game! I am definitely going to try it in the near future after unboxing it again. I read the above discussion and I think I should indeed give it a fair chance and immerse myself in the thrill.

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Well, arguably Doom 3 did a

Well, arguably Doom 3 did a lot of that by forcing you to use a flashlight (the same concept exists in many RPGs and penumdra). Since you can't see very well, your imagination can take over. Pretty effective for generating anxiety and suspense, though again the horror is pretty short-lived (i.e., the effects will end as soon as you quit the game or get past that segment).

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Matt Barton
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external vs. internal

I agree with the comments concerning immersion, but I'd still argue that not enough is being done to take advantage of the internal--i.e., the player's imagination. We've often discussed how "fluff" and "superficial" things that don't "directly impact" gameplay can have such a huge effect. For instance, the ability to highly customize your characters, find weapons or armor with unique descriptions and back stories--OR, just a highly compelling story and characters in the first place--can make a game far more immersive. Take an old game like Phantasie (for Bill) or Pool of Radiance (for me). Those games are far, far from photorealistic, but they take full advantage of the player's imagination to flesh out the rest and even go beyond what is possible today relying purely on technology.

In other words, before we go talking about fans and 11.1 stereo or whatever "the next generation" may be, I'd argue that we need to focus more on really improving what we have. I don't think the current tech has been pushed even 50% of where it could go if we had more truly visionary projects in the works.

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Bill Loguidice
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Good points, Matt. The other

Good points, Matt. The other thing with those old games besides the need for imagination and the great joy that could bring is that modern games are often too "down to the ground" for their own good. Let me clarify. Using "Phantasie" as an example, everything took place on a single screen (though the overworld map obviously took up many screens). There was no first person or third person view, all of the views were either overhead or modified overhead, giving you a superb sense of where you were at all times, i.e., your place in the game world. While not every game would benefit from this use of perspective, some games are TOO immersive and overwhelming because they always want to give you the "you are there" type of experience. So certainly I have an argument for too much "immersion" in the traditional videogame sense not always being a good thing either, let alone a complete sensory experience. Of course that's probably just an old guy (in videogame terms) talking...

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Mark Vergeer
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Playing silent hill on the old psx...

Playing Silent Hill on the old PSX in the middle of the night being home sick with a fever really made the whole experience surreal .... eh... quite scary and even a bit more realistic than I bargained for. Submersion or immersion can be reached through imagination, surroundings, mood and of course the odd fever from flu or other bug :P
.

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Catatonic
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Silent Hill

I had a similar experience with Silent Hill. What a great game. I usually don't care about scary games, but that one gave me a lingering feeling of dread after it was over.

Matt Barton
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I remember a girl describing

I remember a girl describing Silent Hill to me (I hadn't played it), and even hearing her verbal description was enough to send a shiver down my spine. I haven't played the actual game, but I'm sure it's scary as heck.

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Bill Loguidice
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I would agree. Most of the

I would agree. Most of the Silent Hill games are genuinely terrifying. I'm not that into horror (in fact, I don't watch any horror movies) and I'm not a big fan of games where it's easy to get lost and not know what to do next so I don't really play them, but they're quite good if you're a fan of such things.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Calibrator
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The Cradle
Matt Barton wrote:

I remember a girl describing Silent Hill to me (I hadn't played it), and even hearing her verbal description was enough to send a shiver down my spine. I haven't played the actual game, but I'm sure it's scary as heck.

You really should play it at some point. Really, really worth it!

For pure terror, however, play the Cradle mission in "Thief - Deadly Shadows", the often shunned sequel to the first two Looking Glass Thief-games. IMHO this level/mission is one of the best exercises in bringing the horror movie experience to a computer game.

take care,
Calibrator

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