How to make a scary map
In order to create a genuinely scary map, you need to have many significant features that leave the player scared of what is around them, and what could be behind every corner. The scariest map needs a good setting, creepy environment, scary props, dark lighting, and sounds everywhere and disturbing.
The setting of a scary map has to be (usually) indoors. The building(s) in which you use in your scary map have to have many narrow and long hallways with a lot of rooms on either side with plenty of cover. The buildings also need stairs and big rooms (bigger then normal) to add variety. If you are going to have outdoor parts in your map, you need to make sure there are plenty of trees and bushes, as well as the frequent cover, just like for indoors. Your setting for your map is not necessarily important, seeing as how you can make almost any map scary as long as you use the right techniques. If you are making an outside map, it may be a good idea to add some fog or lightning to your settings just to make the situation a little more creepy then it already is.
The environment in your scary map is the third most important part in order to make your map different then others. Players need to walk around corners and see a dead body laying in blood with his face ripped off, dead bodies hanging from meat hooks, loads of blood, and many places where players can get attacked from. You want the player to be scared for his virtual self and feel as if there is something watching him/her as he/she walks through the map. In hallways you want to have cover in which people can hide behind, doors that just lead to more darkness, and lighting effects (read section IV). In normal sized rooms you want the occasional dead bodies and crates for cover, for enemies to hide behind. In the big rooms, cover for huge firefights along with creepy spots of dead people (A body in the corner on fire, a body hanging on a wall, something other then a normal dead body lying in the corner). You want the player to walk around and see where people died, and imagine how it happened as they judge their own fate as well.
The lighting in your map is the second most important part. You need to have very low lighting in your map so the player doesn't have full view of what is in front of him. Flashlights should be required in your map, or it is not dark enough. In some parts, it is good to have flickering lights in order to confuse the player and add a creepy feel to that particular room/hallway/building. However, even though your map should be dark, that doesn't mean to put in NO lights. You need just enough light in your map so certain parts are easy to see without your flashlight, but in other parts it's almost impossible. Try to tie in the lighting with the sound on some events.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF MAKING A SCARY MAP. Make sure to add many sound and lighting events in order to make the players even more scared. You want the players to think there are enemies all around them, when there really aren't. For instance, when a player reaches a certain point in the map, a sound should play behind them, causing them to turn around and see nothing for a second, then the lights turn off all around them, forcing them to turn on their flashlights and probably change their pants. You want to add plenty of sound events that will be triggered when a player reaches a certain spot. Breathing, footsteps, things falling onto the ground, sounds like someone in a vent above you, screaming, rocks falling (as if from a cliff), doors shutting, doors opening, moaning, whispers, odd noises that do not belong (wheels squeaking slowly, as if from a bicycle/ little kids playing/ etc.), scratching (on a door/wall), banging (on a door/wall), etc. all to make the player unaware of their surroundings and where things are.
VI. Helpful Links
- WHAT MAKES A MAP SCARY? (Great ideas)
- Adding Color Correction to your Maps
- All Sky Names + Environment (UPDATED)
- A breaking "light"
- Adding Sounds to Your Map
- Creating Nice Destroyed Walls
- How to make a storm.
- Using "env_shake" Properly
If you are making a single player game, make sure to not have any cutscenes showing where a scary event is going to occur. For example, if somethings waiting in a vent for the player to pass under and then smash through, don't use a cinema showing the character walking under the camera angle with the creature watching them. Why? Because then the player knows what's going to happen. Instead, make the player believe it's just your run of the mill hallway and let him discover the thing in the vent himself.
Make sure that if your map is going to be a multiplayer map, to put plenty of cover in frequently used rooms. For a singleplayer map, depending on if there will be zombies or enemies with guns in your map, you will need less/more cover.
Try to use all of these ideas and points when making your scary map. And if you want, send it to me and I will test it out for you. :D
Please use the screenshots as examples for lighting, environment, and setting. Screenshot list:
- CS:S (http://www.fpsbanana.com/maps/36618)
- Half-Life 2