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Report RSS The psychology of the reticle and the feeling of control

This blog post contains extensive spoilers about a new mob in the adventure update. Don’t read unless you want spoilers!

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This blog post contains extensive spoilers about a new mob in the adventure update. Don’t read unless you want spoilers!

Fear is one of the easiest emotions to evoke, but doing so in a way that doesn't frustrate or fatigue the player is more difficult. I find this fascinating. What parts of fear are fun, and what parts aren't fun?

One of the biggest game design decisions in Minecraft is that all (well, most) negative things that affect the world or the player should happen near the player, and be clear to the player. That's why creepers only explode near players, and that's why fires stopped spreading indefinitely. This is somewhat related to my dislike of mazes in game design, where the player has no way of knowing or figuring out before hand what decision is the correct decision. Don't penalize the player for things they can't control.

Last weekend, I started working on a new mob because I was frustrated with the slow progress on some town code I was writing, and for some reason I decided to make yet another creepy one. It's dark, it has long and narrow limbs, moves very slowly, and will pick up blocks and move them around. I wanted this to be a mob you only saw in the distance and a mob you'd be afraid of, but when I playtested it, it mostly felt like a regular zombie. There's was a distinct mismatch between looking creepy and not actually playing creepy. When I made it move faster towards the player when attacking, and deal more damage, it got more difficult and I started respecting it, but it never felt creepy or scary.


So I thought some about what “creepy” actually is, and it's more about trying to avoid something from happening than it is about actually having that thing happen. If you know something bad can happen if you do the wrong thing, you will start thinking about your actions, and that might make things more scary.

So I made it passive until you looked straight at it. And that was scary. Suddenly you could walk up to these looking beasts (they're three meters tall) and watch them as they moved their blocks around, but as soon as you happened to look straight at them, they'd attack. And by “straight at them”, I mean putting the reticle on top of them. You can keep them visible on screen and actually look straight at them in real life, but as soon as your in game character looks straight at them, boom.

Still, that was more scary than creepy. It's like a jump scare in a movie. You know it might happen at any time, and when it happens you freak out a bit. I wanted something a bit more psychological. So to really drive home the point of looking at them being bad, I made the Endermen freeze and turn towards you when you look at them. As long as you look straight at them, they stand perfectly still and look straight at you. As soon as you look away, they will run (very fast) towards you.

And they teleport. If they're too far away to reach you in a short period of time, they will teleport about once per second. They try to make sure they always teleport to somewhere you can see, as I don't want to confuse the player as to what is happening.

When they attack, you know it's your fault. When you happen to look at one, you can keep looking at it to figure out how to deal with it, but you know it WILL reach you very fast once you stop looking at it.

And that, my friends, is creepy. Possibly too creepy.

(Development blog link)

Comments
P3ACE753
P3ACE753

Will they 'move' my house around?

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masterchief396
masterchief396

I hope not... This mob sounds awesome though!

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Renegade2
Renegade2

ehh i dunno about this mob, it makes it sound like going out at dark will be impossible

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Mexicouger
Mexicouger

This new mob adds more to the game. I like how Minecraft is trying to add some scary feel to it.

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shortandpoor
shortandpoor

I'm creeped out just reading about it. But I agree with Renegade2 it might make night travel slightly difficult.

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why_me
why_me

Well, this is going to make things harder... at least i have portal turrets to shoot anything that moves

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architectts
architectts

How do we beat them? The look as if they travel in packs. Also, Slendermen rhymes with Endermen. Maybe that's where the idea came from.

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DarkPivot
DarkPivot

It's called enderman because since the picture was posted on Google+ only, someone made a reference to slenderman in the comments (which was the first thing I thought when I saw it), so notch decided he was right and called them endermen in reference.

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mcpop9
mcpop9

holy s*** i don't want to take credit for name inspiration but i think it was my comment that started the naming process. that's cool and its going to be a large game changer

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Garyn Dakari

What was your comment?

(Just curious :)

Anyway, I actually really like the idea of this mob. It'll be fun playing this with my little sister, lol.

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mcpop9
mcpop9

"Hey look its slender man!" its somewhere around mid-page on the actual picture comments

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trakmiro
trakmiro

I still want to know more about the mechanics of them moving blocks around. I'd really rather not have one of these things abscond with the north wall of my house.

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DarkLiberator
DarkLiberator

That would suck if it teleported into my house....

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VonMuenchhausen
VonMuenchhausen

This teleporting bit sounds rather worrying. Does that mean they could beam into your (lit and secured) courtyard, just like that?

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Kanealii
Kanealii

(buried)

man dats epic..now only..if they could like..idk..be more creepy in a sense dat NOW U SEE ME? NOW U DONT, OH LOOK BEHIND YOU, BOO! OH NO NOT ANYMORE, UPFRONT, lolz idk. Epic mob though, gonna add so much more..survival snags.

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Radar11m
Radar11m

cool the night just got creepy again.

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DeltaForce95
DeltaForce95

just don't take my house >_>

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CptWesley
CptWesley

I hope theres like a mechanism where they don't move blocks with a light level of something +, else I need to make my walls thicker....

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Valhyn
Valhyn

Why Not Make a Demo Video on these Endermen and Could They Move "Any" Block, If so These Could Litterially Break Maps...

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Mr.Nuke
Mr.Nuke

yes maybe they just cant move player place blocks, and i dont like teleportation at all, unless if its like 20 blocks distance or so, this sounds like a shaky mob, but the look idea sounds terryifying

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Drakkenor
Drakkenor

idea! a mob that follows you behind you and tries to stay behind you but when you keep it in your vision for about 5 seconds it attacks.

or you could make different mobs that act according to what the player does. for example: if their is another mob that looks like this one but one arm is only half the length(why do i feel this is misspelled???) of normal that instead of acting like said it attacks if you look at it too long. This would force the player to pay attention to not use the wrong strategy on the wrong mob.

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TheNodCommander
TheNodCommander

Holy blarg... That does NOT sound pleasant to run into!

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asteroidrules
asteroidrules

I got the feeling there was a guy standing behind me about to violently murder me while reading this. Yeah it's too creepy unless you make it die pretty easily, maybe it won't attack you without looking away but you can still attack it.

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IVUIUVI
IVUIUVI

Haha I think the whole "looking away and then they attack" thing was taken from the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who.

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Auxor
Auxor

Most likely, things like that are always the most creepy. The idea something that a human does normally, i.e blinking or looking at something can be detrimental subverts the horror theme into something hell of a lot more creepy. Hell, I find Creepers creepy, not because of their physical appearance, but because you know that they can **** you up.

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Mateos
Mateos

I'm busy to use my legs, I hope they'll be albe to "move" players :D

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mangosofdoom
mangosofdoom

Ok I have a couple of questions about this when you say look away do you mean take the reticle of it or the mob is no longer on screen. Because you have to remember that there are other things that go bump in the night in the world of minecraft, so while you stare at this isn't something else just gonna sneak up behind you and molest you?

Also will it make any noise as silence can be both detrimental and frightening, personally I think it should hum innocently or something like when passive, then go dead silent when it becomes hostile.

Just my opinion though.

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Wazubaba
Wazubaba

This. It would be amazing if it made some sound but then went quiet when attacking. The sound should definitely be something that draws attention though. Maybe a creeper hiss ? That would probably draw even long-time player's attention. When they look to see if a creeper is coming, they look at the Enderman. Now they are royally screwed ;)

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like.dinosaurrrs
like.dinosaurrrs

Woooo!! Excitement!

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Tilranus
Tilranus

great he's put in the weeping angels in from Dr. Who

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mjl8
mjl8

...i just realized how scary it would be if u were mining in a cave, then u break a block to enter a cavern that's pitch black and there happens to be a enderman right in front of where that block you mined was. THATS GONNA BE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT WHEN MINING IN FRONT OF YOU

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Metalspy
Metalspy

I read this at his blog yesterday and I think it's some clever thinking, the part about how to make them creepy. I can imagine seeing one for the first time and standing there for a minute, just thinking how to get out of the situation (probably just walking backwards while looking at him until he's out of rendering range but meh >.<).

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Legiondude
Legiondude

If these guys "move" my fortress/home rendition of Yggdrasil I WILL be ******

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Luigisno1
Luigisno1

It would be cool if instead of dieing like Zombies and Skeletons these things just kinda look at the sun and fade away at the morning.
Because how creepy these things sound, it would be kind of lame if they just light on fire and slowly die.

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xXMaNiAcXx
xXMaNiAcXx

The idea of it is simply perfect. Notch will make it sweetly creepy. And this will be hard too... imagine yourself in a recently-discovered cave. No torches or else. You pass the reticle around trying to see something, when you put a torch BOOM! It is at your face. Sweet idea.

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TheWabb
TheWabb

This sounds amazing.I hope Notch puts in more creepy mobs. I still feel as though the water could use a creepy mob, because in other games the water (for ME) is the creepiest place to be. In Minecraft the water is kind of a safe zone.

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mike576
mike576

Yea, I always thought there should be some kind of scary water mob.

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Lazypro
Lazypro

The one reason why I prefer to build my stuff underground and on peaceful.

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ciastoludek
ciastoludek

This mob works like the "librarian" monster from the game Metro 2033. It charged at you, but when you looked straight at it, it just walked slowly and didn't attack :)

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SolidFake
SolidFake

holy ****, that sounds so fucken scary, screw fear and everything else, this is just crazy!

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Noremakk
Noremakk

Brilliant! I love this idea, I hope to see these Slender Men in the next update.

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