How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

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XtremePlumber
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How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby XtremePlumber » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:19 pm

I've been wanting to make a horror Mario level for a while now, but I was wondering how to pull it off. I didn't want to go down the [insert character here].exe route. I want to do something original.
So, how should I go about making a scary Mario level in SMBX without custom graphics or sound?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Hoeloe » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:48 pm

Your best bet is probably trying to pull off The Uncanny. If you can build a world and environment that is unsettling to be in, you can make a lot work with very little in the way of custom assets. I used these ideas in my MAGLX Lost Levels level, qqqqqq (although that did use a lot of custom assets).

It's a difficult thing to do, but you'll probably want to try and place objects in a way that gets the player to think about the implications of it. Some levels have done this well before, and there are a few examples in MAGLX2. One thing not to do is just place "scary" things everywhere. Ghosts and ghouls and blood and guts are actually not that scary. The scariest stuff is psychological, and you can get that without gore or violence, which also means without custom assets.

Make good use of text boxes here.

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby XtremePlumber » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:05 pm

Hoeloe wrote:Your best bet is probably trying to pull off The Uncanny. If you can build a world and environment that is unsettling to be in, you can make a lot work with very little in the way of custom assets. I used these ideas in my MAGLX Lost Levels level, qqqqqq (although that did use a lot of custom assets).

It's a difficult thing to do, but you'll probably want to try and place objects in a way that gets the player to think about the implications of it. Some levels have done this well before, and there are a few examples in MAGLX2. One thing not to do is just place "scary" things everywhere. Ghosts and ghouls and blood and guts are actually not that scary. The scariest stuff is psychological, and you can get that without gore or violence, which also means without custom assets.

Make good use of text boxes here.
Thanks for the tips! I will probably put Boos in my level, but they serve a major role in the level's lore. Is that still good?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Hoeloe » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:06 pm

XtremePlumber wrote: Thanks for the tips! I will probably put Boos in my level, but they serve a major role in the level's lore. Is that still good?
The type of NPCs you use don't really matter, it's how you utilise them that makes the difference.

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby PixelPest » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:37 pm

As Hoeloe mentioned, instead of filling your level with gore, add more of a thriller element to it; keep the player on the edge of their seat. You can make things jump out and try to make the player paranoid of their environment. One easy way to do this is to make the level deteriorate--have it get darker and darker for example, or have something following the player throughout the level. I'd recommend adding at least custom music though and without custom graphics this could be really tough to make it convincing

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby XtremePlumber » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:44 am

[quote="PixelPest"One easy way to do this is to make the level deteriorate--have it get darker and darker for example[/quote]
I'm gonna try and do that. ;)
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Gameinsky » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:00 am

Music is very important, probably the most important. If there's anything OFF has taught me, it's that.

You don't want to push for jumpscares as they are cheap.

A good example from SMBX that I've played came from A2XT.

It was in the level static life by Willheart.
The level itself has a very uncanny feel but when going inside a building on my version of A2XT a slender npc was standing there with the intro of a song that gets cut short after a split second.
The NPC disappears along with the music and you never see of it ever again.
It wasn't that scary, but it made me hesitate to continue for a moment.


Anything that isn't normal can make the player uneasy, such as NPCs fleeing from the player.

If you're good with graphics, anything that has a completely different artstyle can also feel uncanny.
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Bloxxerstudios » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:09 am

On this note, how can one make a jumpscare?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby PixelPest » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:20 am

Bloxxerstudios wrote:On this note, how can one make a jumpscare?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Snessy the duck » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:46 am

Bloxxerstudios wrote:On this note, how can one make a jumpscare?
Here's a way to do it:

At the point in the level where you want the jumpscare to happen, place a bunch of instant warps that teleport the player to a room with a jumpscare background and a screamer as the custom music. But I really don't recommend you do jumpscares in your level, as jumpscares most of the time feel like a cheap way to scare you (MrDragonboy92's X Meets Sonic saga is a clear example of this) and can only rarely be pulled of in SMBX in a good way without LunaLUA due to the limitations of SMBX. Also, if you fill your level with them, it's just gonna become another crappy .EXE game, and nobody wants that!
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Bloxxerstudios » Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:27 pm

What if you put a single one?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby DagekiSquare » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:14 am

put the big boo in it
the best smbx aepisode maker in the world since bossedit88 :D

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby YokoAnashiwa » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:53 am

i think jumpscares aren't that great of a way to scare the player. Sure, it works, but it's more of a burden than anything else.

It's better if you make the environment unnerving and dark, creepy music will also help a lot

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Willhart » Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:13 pm

Good way to try something scary is to look for influence/atmosphere I think. Look for scary 2d games to find inspiration. Most things can be technically difficult to build though, since they kind of rely on the player getting invested with the situation/events. I feel like it does require some level of un-comfort too. Feeling of danger, and not making things too easy. Some ghost houses have also used surprises, which can take the player off guard and hopefully easier to effect. Also pacing enough and building up the important moments.

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Hoeloe » Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:36 pm

Just as a point here, jumpscares are actually not very scary. At all.

Jumpscares provide a shock of adrenaline, but if you're not already in the appropriate mindset receptive to being scared, you'll end up surprised, but not frightened.

Jumpscares are a cheap tactic, and often they don't actually work. When they do work, the context they're shown in is what provides the horror, and the jumpscare simply provides an adrenaline shot to amplify it. A jumpscare on its own is nothing, you have to carefully craft an experience that can be amplified by a jumpscare, and at that point in 99% of cases you're better off not using one.

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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Snessy the duck » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:01 pm

Bloxxerstudios wrote:What if you put a single one?
Well, I just don't think jumpscares is a good concept! Hoeloe explains my opinion pretty well here:
Hoeloe wrote:Just as a point here, jumpscares are actually not very scary. At all.

Jumpscares provide a shock of adrenaline, but if you're not already in the appropriate mindset receptive to being scared, you'll end up surprised, but not frightened.

Jumpscares are a cheap tactic, and often they don't actually work. When they do work, the context they're shown in is what provides the horror, and the jumpscare simply provides an adrenaline shot to amplify it. A jumpscare on its own is nothing, you have to carefully craft an experience that can be amplified by a jumpscare, and at that point in 99% of cases you're better off not using one.
I think it's really hard to make a good jumpscare, especially in SMBX without LUA. But if you really wanna try and make just one jumpscare, go ahead! I'm not telling you that you're wrong in putting jumpscares in your levels, I'm just telling you that It's very hard to make a good jumpscare! But go ahead and make one if you like!
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Enjl » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:15 pm

You point out that hoeloe explains your opinion well, yet go off into a completely different direction.
"Making a good jumpscare" is a meaningless statement because it's the cherry on top of the context of horror in specific scenarios. A lot of horror would be completely ruined by jumpscares because it builds on unresolved tension. You're basically going completely against his statement by saying "go ahead and make dry jumpscares if you like".
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Snessy the duck » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:29 pm

Enjl wrote:You point out that hoeloe explains your opinion well, yet go off into a completely different direction.
"Making a good jumpscare" is a meaningless statement because it's the cherry on top of the context of horror in specific scenarios. A lot of horror would be completely ruined by jumpscares because it builds on unresolved tension. You're basically going completely against his statement by saying "go ahead and make dry jumpscares if you like".
Oh, guess I'm not that good with wording then! What I meant to say was that making a jumpscare is a generally bad idea cause It's very hard to make them come off as scary, but that I wasn't saying bloxxer was not allowed to! But thanks for pointing my bad wording out!
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Bloxxerstudios » Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:49 pm

So, I just shouldn't make a scary level then..?
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Re: How should I make a "scary" SMBX level?

Postby Hoeloe » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:58 am

Bloxxerstudios wrote:So, I just shouldn't make a scary level then..?
There are many other ways to make scary levels than just jumpscares or gore.

In fact, I'd argue that those are some of the less effective methods. I posted a link a little while ago that talks about "The Uncanny", which can be used to great effect to make something truly terrifying.


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