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Making a Horror Game Scary 129

GameSetWatch has put up an article about the characteristics that give games in the survival-horror genre the ability to unnerve, startle, and scare players in ways that most games don't. The genre has seen a resurgence lately, with titles like Dead Space, F.E.A.R. 2, and Left 4 Dead posting strong sales numbers. What triggers your fight-or-flight impulses in games like these? From the article: "Being visual creatures, humans are most comforted by sight because of our ability to discern objects, action and consequences based on a picture. As a result, cutting visual stimuli and sticking purely to audio or speech is one of the best ways to keep a player on their toes. Even with weapons, it's very hard to find what you cannot see, and what you do not know. Even if visual stimuli is used, limiting or obfuscating the player's view can enhance the horror in a game, especially if the player sees it for an incredible short time. This can hint both at the difficulty of an upcoming encounter, or even allude to matters earlier in the narrative that the player will soon have to face."

Comment Re:Hmmmm.... (Score 1) 281

Of course, this is true only if you are actually capable of editing the source code to fix the bug in a way that you are confident will not harm the program (introducing new security flaws, crashes, data loss, rude emails to your mother, etc.) Some bugs are "I forgot to check that this wasn't 0". Some bugs are subtle conceptual flaws in application design. Some fixes are dangerous.

Is your system administrator really capable of patching the code for every critical application on the system? I don't mean this from a "most sysadmins are dumb" perspective or anything; just that most sysadmins probably do not understand the internal workings of every app they are running well enough to patch them right away, nor are they sufficiently wizardly to read over the source and understand it in an afternoon.

Also--does management really want to take the risk of having them try?

And "binaries are themselves fairly trivial to interpret" is a vast overstatement. There are some things that aren't all that hard to spot in binaries, but there are plenty of things that are pretty damn hard. It's certainly going to be appreciably harder than reading source code.

And of course there are more counterarguments. Sure, having more eyes is nice---but how many people really read the source? Joe OSS user just downloads prebuilt binaries from the internet (or maybe he runs Gentoo, but he still doesn't have to _read_ the source). You still have some advantage, yes, but how much? I honestly don't know if there are any well-researched numbers on how many people seriously look over OSS code they haven't developed, but I suspect it's a lot smaller than the userbase. And you _have_ made it easier for potential attackers to find which of those outweighs the other?

I'm by no means claiming that OSS is less secure than closed software (personally I think that the competence of the people designing and administrating the software is far more important the open/closed issue), but I think it's silly to say that OSS is "fundamentally more secure" based on simplistic reasoning like what you mention. There are intuitively appealing arguments on _both_ sides, and it's really a matter for empirical evidence.


The First E-President 169

Szentigrade writes "Popular Science is running a letter by Daniel Engber of the online Slate Magazine in which he offers the US Presidential nominees advice on using the full potential of the Internet upon their election into office. Some examples discussed in the letter include: a project already being developed that speeds up the patent approval process, a UK site that aims to improve government-citizen interactions, and perhaps most importantly, a call for government information to be 'presented in a standardized and widely used data format, like XML, so that anyone — in or out of government — could use and reconfigure it however they pleased.' Will 2009 be the first year of the E-President?"

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