Every October you start to feel that crisp chill in the air, feel the wind blow a little more strongly. The smells of apples, pine and damp are more pungent, and you start to anticipate Halloween. You want the spectres, the goblins, the undead and you know that creators in SL are hard at work building the stuff nightmares are made of.
I've had the horror of designing large Halloween builds and games in SL for the last five years, along with an amazing team of scripters, builders and gamers. With all that experience, I continue to learn more every year about what is possible in this amazingly adaptable place. In "The Flesh Game," we tried to terrify — and anyone can do it with your own builds, sounds and mood.
The build, of course, is the structure, the visual environment where you can use texture, color and space to create mood — even a sense of claustrophobia or a vastness of area that makes someone feel small or lost. It's possible to create corners or darkened places where someone is afraid to walk by lest a ghoul pounce from its hiding place. The coagulating pool of blood on the floor or backlit green-tinted wall is all it takes to make someone shudder.
Sounds are extremely important for elevating fear, such as a screech down a darkened hallway that makes you not want to take one more step, the wailing keen of children laughing or the slow creak of a door can build anticipation of the horrors to come. Walk through your haunted area and listen. What would make you shiver when you turn a corner? Perhaps the slow plodding sound thud of the boots of a killer would quicken your step.
Fear is a very strong emotion, and even more so, the anticipation of fear — the buildup going from safety into terror that can make you gasp. A shock can make you scream out loud — and coming back into the light, you take a huge breath, still feeling the thick steady pound in your chest and you're safe — but for how long?