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Bring Back More Creepiness


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Huge part of why I really loved Don't Starve as a whole is because of the creepy vibe it tended to give you, so I'm disappointed DST especially has moved to a more cheerful outlook despite how eerie some things tend to be and still are. And where did the muffled early 20th century look go? We still have sketchiness being used for things but seemingly haphazardly and some other times new content just looks cleanly, period. There is also the Don't Starve New Home look, which is the impression I first had with how some of the UI and some other content for DST specifically when it first came out. The two art styles wouldn't mesh well together but either one (regular Don't Starve and DS New Home aesthetic) would generally look alright on their own, but DST is kind of an amalgamation blend of them and just more off-feeling aesthetics that just don't cut it for me. It's especially true with the skin sets that were brought in for Terraria items, you could have made skins that looked like they are from that game but with the DS look, but that doesn't appear to have been the case. Not always the case, but I get the notion that at least someone on the art team doesn't really understand the aesthetic quite right but at this point none really cares about trying to keep it that way. Cohesion in my opinion is very important, especially when you try to evoke certain emotion from a player.

The look of more recent content and some of the shorts haven't really reflected the creepy feel anywhere near as well as the original cinematic trailer did (Wigfrid short still held onto it a little bit) and I feel a little disappointed that the content released doesn't really reflect that so much anymore, especially with a lot of the lunar content, with a few exceptions (the blossom tree and the stone fruit bush look great), which look very ugly and mechanically play out that make them look like mods instead of actual content. From a gameplay perspective it was always easy to overcome things if you just used specific items and realized that the way some things spawned or worked kind of ruined the survival aspect, so there is something to reconsider as well, but aesthetically and thematically the horror feel was much more there.

There is the element of being unable to overcome something through just sheer regular combat that I feel would also reinforce this feeling if done just a slightly bit better. Progressing through the game pretty much requires it and but after becoming way too good at the game, almost nothing makes me fear anything or dread what's coming despite the fact that you can absolutely fix this. There are easy ways to do this by tweaking the way certain things spawn or how many of under which conditions and you always have to consider not making the player feel like it's unfair if it gets too tough. Ruins used to feel much more dangerous to me, but now that I understand it, very few things actually make me consider much of the danger. Onslaught of shadow splu monkeys still to this day are something to watch out for, something to run away from. Terror beaks too if you get a bunch of them but they are much easier to deal with. Killing things off very easily makes you feel overpowered, but if the enemies were to just keep coming, like shadows respawning every time you killed one during the nightmare phase, I would dread it so much more in multiple areas of the ruins again just like I don't want to stay in the middle of splu monkeys during the nightmare phase. There are way too many of them and they are relentless even if they are easy to kill, everything about it usually just screams run, even when playing with the most "meta" characters in the game.

I think that may also be the way to go with making more skilled players who can survive a long time dread insanity. If 3 or so terror beaks were to spawn near you one after another, especially while you are dealing with something else even mildly inconvenient, you will likely have a very tough time surviving that encounter because of how their behavior is implemented. Of course you don't want to overwhelm the player too much and to the point where it's just unfair, especially not too early into the game but it being something that happens would make for more fun gameplay regardless of if you learned how the game generally works in my opinion.

I would not expect or even want the game to go full horror, but at least in part. Survival just works really well with horror in a way and when trying don't starve for the first time and going through the adventure mode, you could sense that. That was the intention and it worked well with the ambience and music as well as visual. The night time in the game is a good example of this if you put down a campfire and are at least partially insane or there are monsters near you while you are in a forest biome, makes me wish there was more reason to actually camp than to use a torch or light a tree on fire. But now we have a boss that you fight only during the night time and that doesn't really invoke the feeling, just makes you see the game more like a dark souls wanna-be.

I am fine fighting bosses in some way, but the way it's done especially with some raid bosses really ruins any potential for a creepy and dangerous feeling atmosphere for me. I hope it's something to consider moving forward at least because when I played the game first I didn't come in for some fun rpg with bosses to kill and to cover the entire world with wealth from way too many resources that I could get with grindy and obscure methods, I got the game to explore the world, and experience the survival and story aspects with a slight horror feel to it, as if the game was some mix of a folk tale and a lovecraftian story put in form of a game and I'm the one that has to overcome what it throws at me at just the right times.

By the way, here's the cinematic trailer so you can get a better idea of what I'm trying to describe. I don't often hear players reflect on just how well done this piece of animation was along with the soundtrack and sound design, it deserves way more recognition. Some have said it looks very Tim Burton like, but I think it's more of a mix of that along with Dr Seus artsyle. Put the two together and you have perfection, please stick to that! To give an example, even as something as basic as the vanilla skin for the Bird Cage reflects that and because of that the structure looks stunning for what the game way trying to portray! Imagine if it just looked like a regular bird cage, I would not get the same atmosphere, that's why attention to detail is crucial. The old update trailers have a similar tone even though much of the gameplay wasn't ever really all that well done from a game design perspective, but it seems Klei are looking to go through to amend that.

 

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Actually I think I have a very good example of excellent good aesthetic though awful gameplay, and the new being sort of better gameplay, but the aesthetic being very bad.

Spiky tree, looks excellent, has a great swaying animation. Problem is it does not respawn and is almost purely aesthetic flare that will inevitably be destroyed and won't respawn. You can't get much resources from this.

Tree/Spiky | Don't Starve game Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Twiggy tree, looks terrible, but in terms of gameplay has some utility because you can just pick up the twigs near it much quicker and more of than from a sapling.

Tree/Twiggy Tree | Don't Starve game Wiki | FANDOM powered ...

You could probably remove twiggy trees but integrate some of the twiggy tree mechanic into the spiky tree and I think the game would be better for it.

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The sketchy/scribble style of ds is something i really like, and while dst being more on the creepier side is something im not against, i think it'd be hard to make work since the game has multiplayer, which really makes things less creepy when you have other people with you. Part of what made DS creepy was the knowledge that you were alone in the world, and while you could surround yourself with pigs/bunnies/other non hostile creatures, that didn't change the fact that said creatures can either turn on you or were incredibly unintelligent. When you bring in other intelligent life, and are able to work together, it makes the world feel a lot less grim, as instead of having to survive a giant attack on your own, you know your comrades will be there to back you up.

And about your whole "being better at the game makes me less scared" that's just something that's going to happen. You think people are scared of FNAF anymore? For the most part no, because people either know what to expect, or have played the game enough that they're desensitized to the horror (see markiplier's first fnaf video then compare it to his 20/20/20/20 mode video, you'll see how much less scared he is because of how much he's tried to beat that mode).

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Insanity overhaul (cosmetic) would be awesome.

More things both creatures and world objects would get creepier look.

Random sounds and hallucinations that would make players question "wait is that an enemy or just figment of my characters imagination?"

Sort of like how being insane in Amnesia works.

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Now you know why I lost interest and quit the game.
The feel has overall softened, after A New Reign the colors became more saturated, the lines became softer and overall the game friendlier.
Nowadays the game feels less survivaly and eerie but more sandboxy and wacky (like Alice in Wonderland kind of wacky, where the original felt Alice Madness Returns kind of wacky)
I feel like the game has no idea what it wants to be at this point, then again I did kind of expect this from a title that has been going on for this long

Just compare these 2 trailers (Im not even gonna use the old trailers but instead hit you with one of the newer ones that hit the feeling very well too)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Baark0 said:

The sketchy/scribble style of ds is something i really like, and while dst being more on the creepier side is something im not against, i think it'd be hard to make work since the game has multiplayer, which really makes things less creepy when you have other people with you. Part of what made DS creepy was the knowledge that you were alone in the world, and while you could surround yourself with pigs/bunnies/other non hostile creatures, that didn't change the fact that said creatures can either turn on you or were incredibly unintelligent. When you bring in other intelligent life, and are able to work together, it makes the world feel a lot less grim, as instead of having to survive a giant attack on your own, you know your comrades will be there to back you up.

And about your whole "being better at the game makes me less scared" that's just something that's going to happen. You think people are scared of FNAF anymore? For the most part no, because people either know what to expect, or have played the game enough that they're desensitized to the horror (see markiplier's first fnaf video then compare it to his 20/20/20/20 mode video, you'll see how much less scared he is because of how much he's tried to beat that mode).

Ultimately that may be true, but to what degree that fear dies down depends on how well the features of the game are implemented. When you first start playing Don't Starve you probably don't know things enough, but everything looks well enough to suggest that you should watch out for things coming your way. The fact that it is very easy to die and that any method of survival attempt still kills you signals a tough experience, but once you understand the mechanics, not only can you get through most challenges with ease, but apathy can kick in because the way that things spawn and behave are implemented with very little element of surprise or realization of serious threat.

Even with multiplayer there are definitely other ways to make it work, you would just have to put focus on it as a developer... You could make it so players cannot read each others' chat unless they are close to each other and require a certain radio or some other communication device to see global chat (side bonus, no more "where is base" messages, probably). Either way, aesthetic is a start to improve upon, it was actually something that I think was often done almost perfectly for what Don't Starve was going for but now has been dumbed down to ok-looking cheerful cartoonish visuals.

We do however occasionally get added animations with varying degrees of quality, for example we have multiple animations while you hold down on the Lazy Deserter and the Forge's throw stun animation when a huge enemy hits you (enemies lunging you should really be a thing in the base game, how is it still not?) both of which look as you would expect and then we have Wolfgang's weird heavy object carry animation and the disgust emote, neither of which are particularly great.

1 hour ago, ALCRD said:

Insanity overhaul (cosmetic)

would be awesome.

More things would get creepier look. Random sounds and hallucinations that would make players question "wait is that an enemy or just figment of my characters imagination?"

Sort of like being insane in Amnesia works.

Insanity and shadow creatures in general (including Mr Skits, Charlie's hand etc) I think look pretty good right now as they are. People want to turn off insanity sounds and aesthetics sadly because the gameplay is often more akin to Dark Souls or Animal Crossing and players can go days being insane or near insane and the only thing bothering them would be the endless noise, dimmed screen and the occasional shadow creature they must fight, but it's been there for an appropriate atmospheric reason and I think it looks and sounds horrifyingly awesome. If the gameplay made you require that you don't stay insane for long and must get high sanity after going insane to survive and that the switch from almost insane to insane is a bit more drastic, the aesthetic impressions would be completely differently. A start for enhancing it could also be more nightmarish visuals for more passive and neutral creatures with some changes to gameplay kind of how rabbits and bunnymen change based on how sane you are, but it would still be a lot of work, if not in animation department then at least in terms of artwork and sounds. Maybe less friendly behaviors than usual? But imagine bearded beefalo or bearded volt goats, absolute nightmare fuel!

One thing I wouldn't want is bloating the amount of insanity creatures just to create some sort of dark souls like challenge from it like the Uncompromising Mode did. You can tweak many existing features just right sometimes without having to stuff it if it feels empty, not always, but I think insanity doesn't need much content added to it, just heavily tweaked and made more visually apparent so you want to get sane rather quickly instead of eventually finding the visuals and ambience annoying rather than horrifying because you don't care about being insane. Losing and gaining sanity more gradually more times instead of instantly could also help hammer in the idea behind it.

Probably the way you gain sanity could also be given a look. I see new players asking how to raise it and when thinking about it the methods aren't too obvious. Besides fighting the shadows themselves, we have obscure mushrooms, other obscure sanity foods (taffy made most sense to me though), sleeping using items of resource and time sink, prototyping new things and picking flowers. There are hats, but besides tam-o-shanter, those give so little sanity that they are not even worth thinking about, the top hat also for example require 6 silk, that's TWENTY FOUR spiders you need to kill on average to craft ONE, what the hell?! Old gameplay balance has just insane requirements.

I am also torn with some of the existing sanity regeneration methods because while they may make some sense they are not always obvious enough or possible to do while nightmare creatures are chasing you. Sleeping could work as a main method of regenerating sanity, but only if the durability of sleeping items was reflective of their cost and you could go to sleep while shadow creatures specifically are chasing you and losing aggro the moment you go to sleep, or at the very least not draw aggro if you are sleeping. Maybe they don't aggro while you are sleeping but insane already? I don't actually know for sure.

Side note, I think the mushroom thing kind of makes sense, but the effects of some of the easier to aquire mushrooms are either too drastic or affect you too little. Blue mushroom effects seem about right in terms of balance though, you can hurt or heal your health or sanity depending on whether you eat them raw or cook them.

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2 hours ago, Fuffles said:

Just compare these 2 trailers (Im not even gonna use the old trailers but instead hit you with one of the newer ones that hit the feeling very well too)

Some clarification would be great as I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at with these 2 trailers. To me these would be examples of how Klei has not got their own old game right with the trailers either. I think I know what they were trying to do, and in the Inevitable trailer (no doubt, 100% inspired by The Dark Pictures Anthology) they do try to keep the creepy look, but the feeling isn't quite right, and the muffled aesthetic isn't there either. Characters have gone through many different proportions through multiple mediums, just try to compare how Wilson looks in the cinematic trailer vs how he looks in either of these two trailers, there is no real consistency here. Voice actors, especially for Maxwell don't sound how I would have imagined they would based on the instruments they had to represent their voices (I love the instrument used for Maxwell's voice in the game btw), everything just feels off at least in one or more aspects. Music here is also not iconic, but incredibly generic in my opinion, unlike in the cinematic trailer. If you hear that trailer's music, you know it's Don't Starve, and the music flows much better  with the animation and what's going on too.

It would be unfortunate if Klei were unable to recreate the old feeling and also build from it well just as a result of old empoyees leaving and new ones coming in. For whatever reason even they seem to be struggling with replicating the old style, and it probably has to do with the fact that this type of artstyle isn't really done anywhere. But as a rule of thumb, I think mix of Tim Burton and and Dr Seus aesthetic best describes how this game has looked when it looks its best.

1 hour ago, minespatch said:

I'm sad at the reaction of the mutations.

Forgot that part, yes, the pengull and especially hound mutations look pretty good all things considered. Just not sure how to feel about the whole lunar aesthetic and theme in general when you consider that usually the nightmare insanity stuff is meant to be the more horrifying looking aspect. Don't want to say that the lunar content might have been a huge mistake (there are some cool ideas), but maybe thematically that's just the case and a major contributor for why the game just doesn't have the same feel to it is just that (not the only one however, that's for sure). I was and maybe many others were too pretty disappointed with the Turn of Tides content, like it doesn't know where it's going.

I could not imagine Klei straight up changing the story and overhauling this much of the content this deep into development. If they did though, that would be insane and maybe could benefit the game greatly, but it would also mean that they would need to get it right moving forward.

1 hour ago, minespatch said:

So just like Warbucks.1525292350_Smithustajaokay.png.649669e2f3666c4da9886184a95255c4.png

Warbucks I think is probably among the characters that I don't think quite work for Don't Starve. There are plenty of them that are implemented but just really don't work or stand out appropriately. Of the new characters I think Wormwood was the one that was done the best aesthetically, and he also has some good gameplay mechanics. His final design was just like what you would expect from a Don't Starve game if it had a plant as a character, even if the backstory was a bit meh.

1 hour ago, . . . said:

i like the new stuff but i wish would get some very creepy stuff like horror mobs. too bad they will never do it again cause a few people didnt like them

The Screecher was an amazing mod, short horror storytelling at its best. Even if not covering the horror element, the Forge and Gorge events were pretty well implemented for what they were trying to achieve and looked pretty good, even if the aesthetic wasn't quite there, and the gameplay was pretty fun too.

 

Side note, at some point Klei decided to bring in characters and some content that was scrapped or never implemented. Looking back, some of it may have been good to add if it worked well from a gameplay perspective as it looked fine enough from asset perspective, but I think there was a very clear reason that some of the characters especially were never really implemented and it may have been for the very reason that other characters that we saw being implemented were much better concepts that worked. Sure, a demon, a witch, a shepherd or a spider may seem thematically appropriate, but there are other characters that may already do some of what they did but better from a thematic standpoint.

Demon? Maxwell fills that role better. Innocent shepherd girl? Wendy fills the scarred innocent role better. A strong character? Mighty Wolfgang. A witch? Willow may as well be one?

This is why I think we will probably see a lot more overlap with more characters going forward, because there are not that many unique personalities to demonstrate, especially appropriate enough to the game's theme without gearing towards something completely different.

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2 hours ago, meow meow meow said:

imo the art in DST just gets better and better and more creative over time, out of those two i must admit twiggy trees are way more appealing with their shape and growth stages

The new things are just inconsistent with the rest of the game. Putting line thickness aside, twiggy trees are pretty good both standalone and in the game context, but later art has a lot of noticeable gradients, thick lines and inconsistent levels of detail.

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The game has indeed a shift from the original game's asthetic but it could be because DST has also slighty shifted from what was DS with more base decoration/organization options (turfs, statues, skins, fences, doors and other structures) and the inclusion of new mechanics that are not present in the original. Not to mention that the original game is almost a decade old so it was expected a shift from the original art style as well new artists that make the promotional material.

In my opinion the creepy asthetic is a part of the game but not the primary theme of the game (I remember that Klei members have said that that's not the main premise of the game and that they try to keep at margin) and that horror was mostly used in the beginning to show danger rather than being used for atmosphere of the whole game, monsters were dominant on hostile biomes like the swamp or in the caves which gave a more darker ambience to the player with the game being more calm outside of that with some occasional exceptions, like Treeguards and Hound waves.

What Don't Starve seems to have remained is how cartoonish sometimes it can be, the characters with exagerated proportions, goofy death animations for the player, mobs and even bosses, and the inmense ammount of puns in the game.

Something that I think has affected the horror of the game is how much of that horror comes from the lack of experience and once you know it you lose that fear, and since those experinces are similar each world the horror simply is gone for you, though that could be more due to the game's design from the start and not from the shift.

And from my perspective you could say the game has become more creepy over the years with the addition of more creatures on the DLC's and DST, especially on the latter with more bizarre mob designs added each year.

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Couple things I want to note here: I’m in the Preview Build of Minecraft, and because of that I get to test out features that aren’t publicly available yet- You can view videos of these said features on YouTube videos or reading media guides on them but let me just state that yesterdays new snapshot is by far the most terrifying thing I’ve seen in Minecraft in a long long time, this is a game rated E for everyone and intended for family’s of all ages to play together, yet there are creatures like “Zoglin” (a Dead Zombie Hog with half its skin torn off and bones showing) DST is rated 13+ yet Klei felt that anything remotely CLOSE to what Minecraft’s Preview build released yesterday was just “not fitting of the games direction” it makes me really sad that Klei ditched this direction for the franchise but whatever they feel is best I guess is uhh best?

That said: The new thing in Minecraft downright horrifies me.

Ive also wanted a “Shadow Creature” rework ever since I saw the loading screen for Zoo Tycoon- where the game various animals are shown in Shadow form changing from shape to shape…

I mean, how terrifying would DST be if Nightmare creature could change shapes into other creatures with different attacks/ combat patterns?

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I'm too not really a fan of dst's direction in terms of visuals including new animated shorts and recent cosmetics. 

I mean, just look at the 3 last skins collections and compare them to the old ones. The style is just really inconsistent in my opinion. 

Also regarding lunar mobs and creepiness in general. Don't Starve does have some interesting stylish and unsettling vibes but no graphic horror except Maxwell's death. (And that moment works exactly because it's the only one of it's kind in the game)
So while lunar mutation are hella cool and I would LOVE Klei to continue with it, they're not "the creepy" vibe Don't Starve had in the past because they aim for a different way of simply looking scary rather than having just a creepy atmosphere.

And I also think it's really hard to make dst have some "creepy" vibe not because of the multiplayer but because of the cheerful flashy skins and events like "year of x".

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I agree in a lot of cases. I always looked at the game as something Tim Burton would make if he was a game director instead haha. I mean just look at some of his works like stainboy. Probably a bad example, but I do like the creepy vibes a lot of the game has and as a spoopy fan I want to see more of that! Although I also really like the vibe that things like hamlet had.

I think in their last stream they mention the change from the previous lunar island version and art when explaining the guardian rework. They didn't want it to be so grotesque? Idk lol Still think the style is alright. 

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i do agree that the style of some trailers is pretty jarring compared to most others, such as being too bright/saturated and "clean lined" in a way that doesnt fit. not to the point of hatred or dislike because i dont really care that much, but its definitely hard to Not See when it pops up

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The new artstyle is going to stay. It's more casual and welcoming, all things good for mass appeal. I like the older artstyle too but I imagine attracting more customers is more important.

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i will say bearger in the terraria collab trailer looks ridiculous, but other than that im fine with the tone the game has now.

The best comparasion is shipwrecked waves and DST waves, in sw they look rushed, but in a good way, it has a feeling like it was drawed on paper, while the DST waves look more HD, more detailed.

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The original Don't Starve had a very "depressing" atmosphere and art style to it, but in a fun old gothic-carnival kind of way. The game was also new to a lot of people, so everything you did and faced was out of necessity for survival, especially since there were less resources you could rely on compared to now.

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7 hours ago, FourthLess said:

Also regarding lunar mobs and creepiness in general. Don't Starve does have some interesting stylish and unsettling vibes but no graphic horror except Maxwell's death. (And that moment works exactly because it's the only one of it's kind in the game)
So while lunar mutation are hella cool and I would LOVE Klei to continue with it, they're not "the creepy" vibe Don't Starve had in the past because they aim for a different way of simply looking scary rather than having just a creepy atmosphere.

And I also think it's really hard to make dst have some "creepy" vibe not because of the multiplayer but because of the cheerful flashy skins and events like "year of x".

See I reference Minecraft a lot on these forums, because any parent who just plays it for an hour or 2 will think “this games perfectly safe for my child to play.” And: For the most part- They’d be correct.

Until they learn that Minecraft is split up into several “Layers” of worlds, each one with its own unique atmosphere and mobs, first you have the Surface- which only becomes creepy at Night.. (the Skeleton Horse Riding Crossbow Skeletons that land in on a lightning bolt or the Drowned People who couldn’t swim so they Drowned and so now they float up to the surface trying to take you down with them are probably the scariest things you’ll see..) But BELOW the Surface you also have the NetherRealm Minecraft’s equivalent to hell a world full of dead things, and fire, You have Ender City, and Now.. now you got a new world that lays beneath the Bedrock Surface where a new and very terrifying realm exits with a new mob called “Warden” 

Whats so special about this new mob? Aside from it taking ALOT of hits to kill.. it also Screams and makes weird noises- Which “Distorts” the players view having their game screen fade in and out from viewable to dark- Honestly I’m surprised this doesn’t trigger Epilepsy.. but does it make this new odd sounding beast more horrifying? For Me: absolutely.

And that’s a game rated “E” for Everyone- yet with DST we ditch the Mighty Max/Tim Burton like horror mobs & tone things down to be more “Cutesy” 

If there was ever a time for a Wilson Facepalm forum emote- right here is where I would use it.

the way certain mobs spawn could also go a long way in helping amp up the creepy factor for DST- for example, Instead of only having specific areas of the game that ocean mobs spawn in- how about instead they had a bunch of invisible possible spawning locations where they spawn in and then freely roam the ocean? For example: RockJaw shark would be 100x scarier if you had a “chance” to encounter it while anywhere in the waters.

Theres a lot Klei could do to ramp up the spooky factor for DST, and if certain mobs or features are “risky” then perhaps they can create a optional DLC pack people who WANT those things can download & people who don’t can simply avoid?

Bottomline is Klei has a feature in DST that Minecraft does not and may not EVER have- and that’s the ability to turn on/off/more/less specific areas of the game, it’s mobs, it’s weather, it’s content etc…

With Minecraft: Your just stuck with whatever the devs decide to add to the game- I mentioned Minecraft’s new mob the “Warden” because not only does it look creepy, but it also flashes the screen in and out to possibly trigger seizures & epilepsy- yet UNLIKE DST… You can’t opt to toggle “Off” this new mob for Minecraft.

Personally I would prefer a continuation of the lunar horror mobs- but maybe let them be an optional dlc pack players can download if they want that sort of thing..

Similar to how you can toggle off gore & profanity on Gears of War games to still enjoy the gameplay if those kind of things turn you off playing Gears.

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