Twenty Minutes With Five Nights At Freddy’s

By Shamus Posted Friday Jan 2, 2015

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 62 comments

Link (YouTube)

Fun fact: This episode was recorded and edited by Chris. Josh was visiting relatives during this session, so we couldn’t do Last of Us. And Chris has been angling to try some “quick look” type episodes where we spend just twenty minutes with a game that’s interesting, but maybe not interesting enough for a whole season of Spoiler Warning. (And we’re calling these short episodes, “Twenty Minutes With X”, even if the episode isn’t twenty minutes.)

Since we were joking around too much to do proper analysis (it’s the holidays, we were in the mood to goof off, and some of us had been drinking) I guess I’ll do my analysis here:

First off there’s the whole “jump scare” debate. I don’t see that as a worthwhile discussion. You can make all the bullet-points you want, you can never make an argument that will enable me to enjoy jump scares. They piss me off, end of story. On the other hand, there’s nothing I can say that will make a fan of jump scares stop enjoying them. This bypasses a lot of our higher-level behaviors and jabs us right in the amygdala. It’s either fun for you or it isn’t, and there’s no sense in arguing about it.

I actually really appreciate a game like Five Nights At Freddy’s. It’s unapologetically all about jump scares, and the gameplay is built around that idea. Now that I know this, I can avoid the game. It’s more of a problem when a game designer starts cramming jump scares into a game but then markets it as if it operates on an emotional level. I go in expecting to be scared by dread, mystery, emotional tension, and body horror, and instead I’m just waiting for the sudden loud noise and spooky face. And after the noise, I’ve got all this angry adrenaline in my bloodstream. I can put the game down, but that adrenaline doesn’t magically go away.

If you think about it, Silent Hill 2 is the opposite of a jump scare. You can hear the static before you see the monster. It’s all about the slow buildup of a fight you know is coming. Then there’s a quick encounter (combat or fleeing) and it’s over. After a session of Silent Hill 2 (or parts of Thief) I walk away with a sense of catharsis. After a jump scare game, I walk away grouchy.

Anyway. FNaF is sort of cute. It’s silly and it makes no sense, but its not trying to. This isn’t like Dead Space 2, a big-budget game with pretensions of terror but totally lacking in mood, pacing, and tone. (And story, and theme, and characterization, and logic.) Unlike Dead Space 2, FNaF is goofy on purpose. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and I can’t fault it for that.


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62 thoughts on “Twenty Minutes With Five Nights At Freddy’s

  1. Ilseroth says:

    Honestly, I like FNaF because it’s mostly about *avoiding* jump scares. I have always had issue with games that specifically use jump scares *during* the game. Dead Space is obviously one of the more obvious purveyors of that tactic. However with FNaF it is purely a failure state. With it being the failure state the player has a double stake in *not* being jump scared because it is not particularly pleasant and you don’t want to lose.

    All of this means it does generate tension fairly well. But the issue arises from two things.

    A) If you don’t care about being jumpscared, tension doesn’t build for you.
    B) the easiest means of progression is becoming familiar with the AI patterns of the robots… and familiarity is pretty much the biggest enemy of horror.

    So yeah, I think FNaF is fine, and for it’s bargain bin price it does exactly that, play for an hour, get some tension, become slightly familiar to it, and then stop playing because it just isn’t scary once you are familiar with it.

    1. Shamus says:

      You know, that’s a really good point. In other games it’s your “reward” for progress, but here it’s a punishment for failure.

      1. Ilseroth says:

        Well, I don’t really see the point of jump scares as a means of progress in a game as is so commonly the case. Jump scares have become fairly synonymous with horror nowadays to the point that quiet scenes in movies and games are automatically a “build up” period. People automatically start thinking that the scare is coming.

        In a movie it makes sense because the consumer isn’t the active participant. They get the scare but as a 3rd party who didn’t elect to take part in whatever activity that led to that moment.

        In a game you are the catalyst of action and forcing your character to perform actions that you know are likely to have negative results isn’t scary, it’s annoying.

        That’s why I appreciate the scares as punishment scenario. It matches a movie’s scare “formula” but works off the innate desire to not fail that most gamers have. The game even manages to follow the “quiet time” formula; as each day has the post day celebration. It is completely lighthearted and gives you a few seconds of relief and safety. And then immediately shunts you back into the game without ceremony into the next day.

        But as i mentioned, this formula gets a little screwed once you start to learn the games mechanics… another innate function of being a gamer is looking for patterns to exploit. This kinda screws the normal tension-release-tension-release-tension-scare pattern. If you know when the tension is going to release, and know when the scares are coming it means the cycle is broken and the game just becomes a kinda simplistic system management game.

        1. Bartendelous says:

          ” This kinda screws the normal tension-release-tension-release-tension-scare pattern. If you know when the tension is going to release, and know when the scares are coming it means the cycle is broken and the game just becomes a kinda simplistic system management game.”

          Not really if you played the Custom Night at 4/20. You MIGHT know all the mechanics but its still up to the RNG if you are screwed or not, which means that the best and worst aspect of the game is experienced by playing the game on the hardest difficult there is. You see, by being so concentrated in not screwing up you get lost in your “Control Freak” mode (so to speak) that when you fuck up you are not mentally prepared for when the punishment (the jump scare) comes.

          Just like Dark Souls, there is a massive case of catharsis when you FINALLY beat the hardest setting:

          Unlike Dark Souls, its not “difficult but fair”.

          Also, unlike other horror games like Alien Isolation or any horror game with an organic being who should be all means be unpredictable due to Free Will, the enemies on FNaF are robots with set patterns because they are…well, robots. So them being easy to predict (for the most part) makes sense, even if they are technically haunted robots.

          Hell, even if they are haunted robots and this factor should, in theory, add more randomness to their behavior, the mere fact that the spirits are powerless if you set the AI to 1 in the 7th Night (Custom Night) means that the soul is a plaything of the body.

          1. Ilseroth says:

            Well the developer specifically states that the 4/20 mode isn’t how the game is supposed to feel or be played. In fact he thought it was impossible until someone proved otherwise.

            That being said, I actually see the opposite come out for most people doing 4/20. It’s so RNG heavy they have to do it over and over, and they quickly become numb to the constant jumpscares.

  2. krellen says:

    Shamus “What Do They Eat?” Young.

    1. Bropocalypse says:

      Electricity, although it’s implied that Chica eats pizza when she’s in the kitchen.

    2. NotDog says:

      The game takes place at a pizzeria, so obviously what they eat is…buffalo chicken tenders.

      1. ChristopherT says:

        I didn’t know Campster was from Buffalo.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You have something against buffalo?Dont make me send harold at you!

    3. TouToTheHouYo says:

      Shamus: “What do they eat?” “Young.”

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        You forgot “Shamoose”.

    4. Shamus “Do they eat their” Young.

  3. Incunabulum says:

    “I go in expecting to be scared by dread, mystery, emotional tension, and body horror, and instead I'm just waiting for the sudden loud noise and spooky face.”

    Like, say, Doom 3?Walk past the panel you know has a monster behind it, get to the end of the corridor, wait for the lights to go out, turn around and shoot monster that jumped out of the panel, rinse, repeat.

  4. Abnaxis says:

    Shamus, you’ve played The Walking Dead 2, right?

    I’ve made it through episode 1, and there are a couple of places where something happens that I would qualify as a “jump scare.”

    Now, I’m in the same boat as you, regarding my lack of appreciation for your usual jump scare, but for me the first one worked. The second one made me roll my eyes. What do you think of them?

    Hopefully you know the parts I’m talking about, trying not to spoil it…

    1. ET says:

      Well, I definitely don’t know what you’re talking about. I remember some vaguely startling scenes in The Walking Dead 2, but nothing I would have qualified as a “jump scare” scene.

      Also, you know we have spoiler tags, right? For some reason, they’re called “strike” which to me would mean strike-through tags which cross out the word. Oh, well; I’ve seen much more insane tagging setups. :P

      1. Abnaxis says:

        I know of strike tags but I also know I’ve spoiled myself by finding them *just* too tempting. Also, I can still see the text when I read from mobile… Ah well, consider yourself warned of spoils!

        First referred to scene is the dog attack. I liked it, because it made sense–the animal was hungry, and sudden movement triggered the attack. In hindsight, the whole ordeal made sense and didn’t feel like a cheat, despite the fact the player can do nothing to avoid it.

        Second instance is in the shed, after Clementine dropped the bandages. A zombie somehow makes its way to the shed, figures out how to get through the small hole, sneaks up, and snags her with no warning? Please….

        As I said in the tag, both of those seem to have the hallmarks of a “jump scare” but the first is forgivable to me be because it makes sense in universe, and happens often enough in real life.

        What do others think? Would these not qualify as jump scares? Are jump scares okay if they make more sense?

        1. Eric says:

          Having just started Walking Dead Season 2 a few days ago (just finished Episode 3), I can say that they are definitely both jump scares. The dog is totally justified (and with a very nice touch of irony considering the presentation of that scene) and, yeah, the zombie in the shed is not. However, I still forgive the zombie in the shed because it’s playing into the source material. Everything Walking Dead related utilizes “suddenly, zombies!” as a cheap source of dramatic tension. It happens all the time in the comics, in the show, and the in the first game.

          I suppose it’s less really “forgiveness” than it is resigned acceptance. It’s just a trope that comes with the series. That’s not really meant as praise, just that it’s a factor that needs to be considered when adapting a property that uses the trope so much.

  5. Alex says:

    You said “body horror” and “Dead Space” in the same post, so I’m just going to take that as an excuse to say that the necromorphs are among my “least bad” space zombie concepts. I don’t like zombies but if a game is going to use them I’d much rather see something like the necromorphs, where non-humanoid forms are clearly constructed from normal body parts – like an Exploder’s legs fusing into a single, larger limb – and not just out of scale for no reason.

  6. Grudgeal says:

    I didn’t know you would do this, but I confess that I had been really looking forward to this if you ever did.

    And you didn’t disappoint.

  7. Cybron says:

    The reason the doors consume power is because they’re electromagnetic fire-safe doors. They use magnets to close. In the event of power loss (like a fire) they open. Stops people from getting trapped. It’s a not entirely crazy thing.

    Then again it wouldn’t really matter even if they were totally nuts. The game’s straight faced adherence to its absurdity (work this horrible lethal job for less than minimum wage!) is part of the joke.

    1. A Gould says:

      Of course, the fact that it makes sense for firedoors to use power only illuminates the question of “why is a security system running on battery backup by default every night?” (And it’s still answered by “because it’s funnier that way”)

      1. Tom says:

        I think it’s that damn desk fan. There’s a critical power shortage, but you can’t turn the fan off?

  8. HeroOfHyla says:

    Chris: When the door is closed, you can flash the light to see if the animatronic is still on the other side of the door. For the right side, flashing the light will show Chica (the duck) looking right at you through the window. For the left side it’s less obvious, but you’ll see a weird shaped shadow through the glass if Bonnie’s still there.

    Also, what are your thoughts on FNaF2?

    1. Chris says:

      I haven’t played the sequel yet, unfortunately! I want to, though – I dig the idea that there are none of Glitch’s much-maligned doors.

      1. There is apparently a Gmod remake of Five nights at Freddie’s out there something to wet your beak on Chris? Hehe!

  9. Vect says:

    The actual pay is something like $120 a week or so.

    Still, this “Quick Look” thing is an interesting twist. It’s a good way to pass time in-between projects. I guess you could go and check out “Lisa” while it’s out or whatever new silly game whichever one of you guys get.

    1. Chris says:

      We’re still feeling it out and working out the kinks. This week’s episodes are little hazy – they were recorded after this week’s Diecast when all four of us were getting tired and we had no idea what games were were going to play. Then it turned out that each game had only been played by one of the crew, making conversation even more stilted and weird. Still, I think it’s worth messing with some more.

      I’ve expressed my desire for something like this for a while – Spoiler Warning is great at long-form analysis of every moment of a linear narrative focused game, but it’s woefully unequipped to handle stuff like, say, Geometry Wars 3 or Nuclear Throne or Spelunky or Kerbal Space Program or any other number of amazing games. As smaller, more formalist, less narrative focused titles have become a big part of games in the wake of the indie boom I think we need to turn our eyes that way as well, even if it means a new format (though the SW-style format above might not be the one we ultimately want to go with; it’s a starting point and not a destination).

      I’ve also been wrestling with the fact that aside from Spoiler Warning I only really make two pieces of content a month – a main ES episode and a “short” that never seems to be. I’d like to produce more, but I am more than maxed for scripted content (as long as I have a day job hanging over my head, anyways). And there seems to be demand for it – people were interested in a continuation of Jurassic Park even if it was just me playing it, for instance. But I’m not super comfortable with solo Let’s Plays – I don’t have the charisma to carry a show by myself, and frankly all the best Let’s Plays have multiple people to bounce conversation/ideas around.

      So the question sort of becomes: Can we have a minimal-effort “quick-look” show that I edit to avoid the load on Josh, that unlike Spoiler Warning is a “as we can do it” thing rather than an obligation, that still has funny and/or insightful things to say about games not everyone might have played? And I honestly don’t have an answer for that, though it’s something I’d like to see exist. I don’t want it to become a Squirty Play thing where we just rag on games, and I don’t want it to become a “WTF Is…” style video where we just play twenty minutes and try to ascertain whether the game is good or not based on that. I’d want the “soul” of Spoiler Warning – smart-ish analysis and dumb-ish jokes. If at all possible I’d love to have conversations about games most have played, but that requires a level of coordination a “casual as we can” show doesn’t support. So it’s a messy problem all around, and I’m open to anyone’s suggestions as to how to maybe make this work better going forward.

      1. Chris says:

        Also I’m so sorry for the 80’s look to the thing but I’m not a graphic designer and I panicked when I realized we’d need a reusable intro slide.

        1. ET says:

          It looks great! Just like my school pictures from ye olden dayzs! :P

        2. The Ground Aviator says:

          No worries Chris, and btw the design for Errant Signal is absolutely wonderful so tops for that one. Happy new year!

      2. Ilseroth says:

        I have to say I really like it, and reactionary commentary can be insightful with regards to discussing the design of a game. In fact my most enjoyed SW seasons are those where at least one person is extremely experienced in the game, one is relatively new, and one has made a single playthrough.

        From that perspective you get all the perspectives, from a player that knows the game in and out and has analyzed the game fully, someone who knows the plot and knows what’s going on but still can be surprised,, and the off the cuff reactions to what is going on.

        I think this is part of why I am really liking your “The Last of Us” season. Shamus watched the cutscenes but hasn’t played the game so he knows the gist of it, but still has some reactionary stuff thrown in. Ruts provides the off the cuff commentary (which he happens to be very good at), while you and Josh provide the more in depth commentary.

        Really looking forward to the future “20 mins of” series; not only is it more SW content (which is always a good thing) but it allows you guys to cover more topics and potentially get a breather from the main game series on hand.

        also going to take a second to thank the SW crew, love your shows <3

        1. Tizzy says:

          Hearing Shamus’s comments as he discovers the game between the cutscenes has been my favorite part of the Last of Us season.

        2. Ithilanor says:

          I also really like that mix, with the caveat of that being the mix of the three non-players: whoever’s piloting the game needs to know what they’re doing, and it helps to have someone else experienced who can focus on providing commentary without trying to simultaneously play while explaining stuff.

      3. Vect says:

        I’d say that this format would work for games that you guys wouldn’t really dedicate a full series to. For example, I’m sure that Marlowe Biggs would have worked for a short Quick Look-ish thing. Five Nights at Freddy’s is a small enough game that 20 minutes or so is really all you need to see to get an idea of the game. I guess a session of a game like Don’t Starve where you can certainly pick apart the various mechanics within a single session would also work, complete with “What do you/they eat” types of comments. You could even use it to spend some time with games you’d normally wouldn’t touch like the various Japanese Visual Novels on Steam (understandably avoiding the saucy bits) or something simple like Recettear.

        Also, I’ve seen worse designs.

      4. Ivellius says:

        I like the idea for doing other things and am glad to see the casual reviews / conversations. The P.T. episodes were good, and Freddy’s was a good one here (though I wish it had gone a bit longer or had another episode). But it almost feels like this kind of thing needs to be a spinoff. These do seem to work better when at least a couple of people have played them so there can be conversation through them.

        Personally, I loved that Marlow Briggs was a full season, though there was a stretch or two as most games have (and I’m sure that huge fight near the end was a chore to get through watching).

        And the design is fine, Mr. “I Apologize for Everything.”

      5. Jakale says:

        From the looks of this first one, I imagine you’ll need more than 20 minutes, unless it’s a short, simple, one/two-mechanic game that at least half the cast is familiar with, so you don’t spend a quarter of the time trying to understand how to play, though there’s certainly room for the commentary you’d like to have in that. The more people familiar with the game, the more time can be spent giving thoughts about it and less on trying to understand it, though the first impression comments can be interesting, judging from past SW seasons.

        How do you think the four video short look compares with this 20 minute short look? That might help decide time spent vs commentary type, though the intended length of the game does play a factor.

        Since these could be 2-4 episode spur-of-the-moment looks, I wonder if you might consider flash games. There are some pretty well made ones with unique or little seen mechanics and they’re generally all intended to be short, half hour to a few hours long. Since they’re free and accessible it’s easy to let commentators try them out for a bit before filming and if they don’t have time the game is usually pretty easy to grasp, anyway.

  10. David says:

    I am very in favor of the whole “20 Minutes with *” idea. Every time Spoiler Warning starts a new season, I eagerly await every episode. But around episode 20-ish, I get bogged down. It’s a shame, because I normally go back and enjoy the whole season in a single afternoon once it’s complete.

    I had often wondered what would happen if y’all were to play 3 games at a time, one for each episode in a week. They could even compliment or contrast each other. Imagine doing Bioshock alongside Deus Ex:HR, for example.

    Of course, this would involve a lot of context switching for Josh, and complicate the already terrifying techno-monstrosity that is SW. The one-offs accomplish a similar goal much more simply, and I am 100% onboard.

  11. Hitch says:

    To me this just seemed like a cheap, low-effort rip-off of the 1990s classic Night Trap.

    1. Ciennas says:

      Having never played the game you mention, but having played the one on display….

      I dunno. I never heard anything good about Night Trap. It was one of those campy FMV games, wasn’t it?

      This game is sort of the equivalent to Child’s Play. Yes, the premise is inherently silly, and we know a billion reasons why the ‘possessed doll/animatronic’ wouldn’t work at all in the real world. But, because it nails tone and pacing and effective gaps in the story for you to fill in the gaps with, the game draws you in, and your subconscious doesn’t care about plausibility.

      All I’m saying, is this game’s got atmosphere out the whazoo, and it also taps into our subconscious fears. I’ve explained this game to numerous coworkers and friends, and most, upon being told you’re locked in a Chuck E Cheez at night stop me there. They don’t even have to be told about the murderous animatronics- the premise scares them before the villains are introduced.

      I will defend this game. It was well made, and the product of a single devoted artist, all excellent checkmarks on the Is It Art debate that endlessly comes up around the topic.

    2. ET says:

      They might be a bit similar in mechanics, but in tone, they’re completely different. I’ve only watched Night Trap in Game Grumps’ play of the game, but I got the impression that Night Trap wasn’t about fear at all. It was basically a game you played, to see what would happen next in the story – new-fangled FMVs were your reward for playing the game. Freddy’s on the other hand, is hand-wavingly, purposefully, light on story. It’s made exclusively for people who want to enjoy the fear of jump scares.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I’m preeety sure he’s joking. No one in their right mind would call Night Trap a “classic”

  12. Hydralysk says:

    Why do you even need a security guard at all when you have killer robots stalking the halls every night for free? If the burglars are capable of getting by the robots, what does management think a guy armed solely with a camera system and 2 emergency doors will be able to accomplish?

    1. HeroOfHyla says:

      I think the lore is that you need someone to be bait for the animatronics in the building so that they don’t go roaming outside.

    2. Ciennas says:

      The answer is more mundane. Insurance companies won’t honor any claims for things like the super expensive animatronics without it being proven that you’ve done everything possible to protect your investment.

      It’s standard for any business that has expensive goods onsite to have some form of nightwatch.

      1. Alex says:

        “Insurance companies won't honor any claims for things like the super expensive animatronics without it being proven that you've done everything possible to protect your investment.”

        Then don’t insure them. If the average payout plus the intangible value of smoothing out your expenses and making them more predictable does not exceed the cost of the insurance itself, you’re better off without insurance. And since anyone breaking in to deface the animatronics is likely to get brutally murdered, both the average payout and the smoothing are going to be too low to justify insuring them, let alone jumping through hoops like hiring security guards so you can insure them.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If you want an effective jump scare in a video game,you play minecraft and populate it with a couple of weeping angles,not this lame thing.

    Still,it is fun watching Chris on edge.

    1. James says:

      just normal creepers are bad enough if your in a dark cave, man fuck creepers

      1. Ivan says:

        I agree, In-fact, some of the sounds were changed to be less threatening because of this. I remember going spelunking and it would be very quiet, and you hear something… was that a skeleton? The ambient noises some monsters make are so quiet as to be almost imperceptible, then suddenly… TWANG! I would jump outa my skin! All of a sudden i’m actually panicking and my fingers land on the wrong keys while trying to pull out my sword and I end up throwing it at the skeleton instead! Good times…

        whoever changed the sound files to make the skeletons less scary did the game a grave disservice.

        For the record though, I think that creepers are actually a little poorly designed. They’re completely silent until you hear them strike their fuse. There’s no time to actually dread their approach. I feel like they should laugh maniacally until they see you, and then they go silent.

  14. SpiritBearr says:

    Actually you guys doing a “fifteen minutes of game” thing makes more sense than Total Biscuit. He’s just trying to rush for content while you guys are looking at a game to discuss it or maybe get some laughs so glitches are just bonus laughs for you instead of a thing negatively reflecting the game quality.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,this comic is relevant.

  16. I am very much in favor of this 20 minutes of X idea. Honestly, I just like listening to you guys, even when you wander off into bizarre cockney orphans and hemipenes (can you tell what SW season I just rewatched?).

    Oh, I can point to a podcast about zombie neurology for when Last of Us starts back up! Monster Talk. Apparently there’s a book and everything.

    1. Otters34 says:

      I know what you mean, Melfinia the Blue. The Assassin’s Creed 2 season was the stuff of legend.
      Remember when Galaxy Gun wrestled a bear that wandered into her house, and left the microphone on?
      Or that time they went through a slew of historical figures and jokingly assigned them at random to the Templars and Assassins(with Ezio as a Templar)?
      Or when Chris sang the “Boring Song” over one of those “follow some schmucks and listen to their tedious schemes” bits of ‘gameplay’?
      Or the running joke of how filthy, mildewed, blood-soaked and grimy Ezio’s ridiculous nobleman Assassin getup was getting?
      Or the time Mr. Young started a tirade when a third madame character showed up?
      Or the time Rutskarn described newborns as resembling “serial-killer potatoes”?
      Or the time Josh managed to play laser-focused, exhaustively-tested, rigorously-engineered Ubisoft Open World Product #4 in an almost organic and engaging manner? ‘Cause I does.

      (One or more of those above are not true! Can YOU guess which ones they are?!)

  17. Cinebeast says:

    I too would like to throw my hat in the ring and say that I’m in favor of occasional, twenty minute specials like this one. It’s always great to hear you guys talk about stuff.

  18. PhoenixUltima says:

    Games and movies and whatever else that use jump scares as their primary means of scaring the viewer always piss me off. Not just because I hate being startled (though that’s a big part of it), but because it’s such a lazy way of engaging with your audience. Scaring the viewer properly requires careful building of atmosphere, clever use of story tropes to build tension and suspense, and a good sense for when to release or build tension to suit the story. But that’s a lot of time and hard work, so why not just have something pop up and yell at the top of its lungs? A freaking 5 year old can jump out of a closet and yell “BOO!” It doesn’t make them a master of horror.

    1. Bryan says:

      Also, horror != surprise. Publishers need to get that through their heads. (Ahahahahahaha, I know, not going to happen. :-( )

  19. Thumbs up for the new 20 minutes show

  20. Mr Compassionate says:

    Jumpscares that only happen if you fail or act like an idiot are totally OK.
    Jumpscares that occur at a scripted, predefined time or place no matter what you do are awful. It’s the problem I have with horror movies and horror games in general, the camera starts to move in a specific way and you go “Oh no it’s time for a jumpscare, it’s gonna make a loud noise and a scary face and I’ll jump even though I know it’s coming because that’s how human reflexes work ):”.

    The second to last level of S.T.A.L.K.E.R SOC, the Brain Scorcher, terrified me and completely subverted this jump scare problem. The game spends half an hour driving the player insane with audio tricks, camera filters and tricking you into wasting your ammo on illusions, then pits you against three deadly invisible monsters in a labyrinthine laboratory. By the end I was shell shocked and emotionally exhausted. If horror games slowly grind me down like that I would play them. As it is they don’t. I tried Amnesia but on my first encounter I tried crouching in a dark corner to see if the monsters could see me. When it turned out they couldn’t? All tension lifted. I just crouched in corners every time scary music showed up, how terrifying!

  21. Bartendelous says:

    “FNaF is goofy on purpose”

    Not when the backstory (that you have to risk being killed for trying to read it while playing) is about 5 missing children who were presumably killed by being stuffed in animatronic suits (which would explain the odor and mucus coming from the animatronics, as well the human like sounds they make gasping for air) by someone who had access to the suits in the pizzeria (like say….a security guard?).

    Yeah. This game has a Dark Souls approach where you have to fit the pieces together to know what the fuck is going on. And like that game, it leads to interesting theories.

  22. Lilith Novale says:

    The reason why you can’t just sit there all night flicking the lights and closing the door when you see someone is because of the other 2 animatronics: Foxy and Freddy.

    Foxy activates if you don’t look at the cameras enough (something about not liking being watched,) and if you don’t constantly keep track of Freddy, he’ll basically just teleport into the office and then you’re dead.

    So on the later nights, you have to balance keeping track of where Freddy is, making sure Foxy is not about to jump you AND keeping an eye on both doors so Bonnie and Chica don’t get into the room.

    (Also, Chica is actually a chicken, not a duck.)

  23. mwchase says:

    Knowing what I know about FNaF, I feel like it could be read as an allegory for being a live object that’s part of a terrible code base.

    Like, some hotshot noticed that some of their custom presentation objects have just enough information about the world, especially with the custom introspection code that the summer intern wrote, to do double-duty as maintenance daemons. Then, when this leads to some graphical glitches, they implement most of a simple FSM to control the behavior, but the only way to get the states to transition reliably is to keep them in a balance between 1:1 and 1:2 time spent in each.

    Now, part of the maintenance method involves identifying malformed presentation objects using the introspection code, and modifying them in-place to avoid the overhead of object creation. Only, the security policy system (implemented according to a spec gleaned from skimming a forum post from 2003) uses objects that have the same size in memory as part of the presentation logic, so the security policy gets dragooned into using its memory access control code to limit the scope of memory scans, so it can avoid losing key objects.

    When simple algorithms consume too many resources, the new guy gets tossed this section of the code as a way to cut his teeth on the codebase. He concludes this would be easier if the security objects had access to the introspection library, but there’s some type error he doesn’t really understand, so he throws up his hands and implements a more thorough version that takes up a significant amount of resources. The improved information available to the security policy objects helps a little, but not enough to deal with the stability issues. The new guy gets shuffled around to another project.

    The President of the company hears about this, and gets nostalgic for the days he spent coding. Now, it just so happens that he’s got this general machine-learning framework that he rolled himself over the weekends. Plug that into the security policy, and the software can figure out how to manage itself. And, bonus, now they can say the product is powered by AI!

    It’s not intentional, but the patching-things-back-from-the-premise process that the “story” and “setting” seem to have gone through definitely produced similar results to the patching-things-forward-from-this-code-that-we-won’t-discard process that a lot of codebases unfortunately go through.

    1. mwchase says:

      Forgot to mention: this code is somewhat in production. After some customer feedback, they implemented some “fixes” in the codebase, like the ability for security policy objects to masquerade as a well-formed presentation object.

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