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NeoGAF feedback needed for this game prototype: Black Death




Black Death is a recent prototype developed by French studio Darkworks (Cold Fear) and they want you to play it and give feedback. NeoGAF loves to bitch about games, and here is your opportunity to bitch about this prototype, so that they can improve on it.

I know, we already have a thread for Black Death, but it received no updates and so on.

What is Black Death?

Black Death is a new survival horror game from Darkworks.
Black Death is the personification of the fear generated by the recent pandemics and the mistrust which has been associated to their supposed origins (natural disaster, scientific, industrial, or military ones… or else… ).

Our goal with Black Death is to go one step further by focusing the game on three essential elements: speed, fluidity and freedom of action, to offer the player a sensation of freedom and the possibility to create his own arsenal.

There are two difficulty levels: Normal and Hard

The Normal mode is advised for average gamers, hardcore gamers should try the hard mode.

The Hard mode fits more to the experience we want for the game. Resources are scarce, the infected are less friendly….

System Configuration

Black Death requires DirectX 9.0c
• Operating System: Windows 7,Windows Vista, Windows XP
• Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo minimum
• RAM: 1 GB minimum, 2 GB recommended
• HDD Space: 500 MB
• Video Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
• Soundcard: DirectX 9.0c compatible
• Controller : this demo has been only tested with a XBOX 360 Wired USB Controller for Windows


Black Death trailer
Game Website



I really want you to play this and post your honest opinions. It might be a little bit hard and short, but they want to know whether the core mechanics and concepts work.

Pie and Beans

Look for me on the local news, I'll be the guy arrested for trying to burn down a Nintendo exec's house.
i thought this was going to be something interesting like a disaster sim where you controlled the disasters and observed the effects they had on a digital population.

then I watched the trailer and its just another first person zombie game? So really my feedback is: stop making the same game that already exists!


I know it's just a prototype, but it got boring after the first enemy. I do like the idea of the smoke, but I was hoping for something more creepy, seeing enemies running around and not coming directly at you, more gun fire in the distance, that kind of stuff.

Visually, it's not bad. Nothing spectacular, but better than some games that have been released this gen.


I wanted to give you the absolute first impressions so I only played for 5-10 minutes and then quit.

The bad:

- keyboard menus, they were also ugly
- no hud indicator for health, but ugly indicator for ammo/gun (no hud at all, please)
- enemies look like clones, same model/textures
- first mini boss has a cool idea for the mechanic, but poor implementation
- repetitive animations? Only one animation for an action, no variations
- also first mini boss is just some particle crap hovering on the normal ugly mob model
- dated graphics, especially lighting
- shooting a "zombie" makes it crouch and wait for execution, this looks stupid after the first two
- a zombie was twitching on the ground, I walk past and nothing happens, after a while another zombie was twitching on the ground and I shoot it in the head -> he jumps at me. Logic? Did I wake it with a head shot?
- pressing 'E' to pick up ammo is so 1999
- the on screen guiding wasn't guiding me enough and was clearly written by a programmer (picture of RMB in red and text "button smashing" appeared)
- fx were bad, like gun fire/blood/smoke etc.

The decent:

- sound design was OK, nothing to talk about, but OK
- some of the animations weren't bad even if repetitive

The good:


The excellent:


Bottom line: "Let's maek uor wery own zombie shooderp!"


Trucker Sexologist
Pie and Beans said:
i thought this was going to be something interesting like a disaster sim where you controlled the disasters and observed the effects they had on a digital population.

then I watched the trailer and its just another first person zombie game? So really my feedback is: stop making the same game that already exists!
No. Take an archetype and make it better.


provides useful feedback
Just finished the demo now:

First impressions; I like the idea of losing your gas mask during fight scenes, but make sure it doesn't happen frequently enough to become more annoying than terrifying - pretty much every encounter I had with zombies during the black miasma areas resulted in me trying to find my mask, and its potential as a scare factor was ruined already.

The demo was quite tough - I died quite a few times in the beginning bit with a lack of ammo. When you run out of ammo it should default to the melee weapon, as I didn't know I had one until I pressed the number buttons.

The lighting is pretty cool, especially the police lights at the beginning.

I think finishing moves need some work - the animation is okay, but really they are lacking audially. When I smack a zombie around the head with a lead pipe I expect to really hear the THONK! of my weaponry collide with their skull. Right now it's hardly anything and it feels underwhelming. For an example of how meaty you can make a melee weapon feel in a first person game, look to Condemned. Same with pushing.

The first miniboss (the zombie covered with that black miasma) wasn't very obvious how to defeat it the first time around. It was only when the hint popped up the second time round that I figured it out. I think there should be some kind of hint before the fight begins on how to do it (maybe a cutscene showing him fighting that civilian, the civilian kicks it in the chest and makes the gas dissipate, before the zombie lunges, grabs the civilian and throws it down like it currently does in-game with that corpse? As an idea.)

Overall, this is a rather light demo. It's hard to make any sort of judgement on the direction the game will go because I feel there could be more to test (any examples of how cutscenes, dialogue, narration works? The voicework and realtime occurrences are difficult to comprehend in terms of their indication of the game's final outcome). You also have an uphill struggle as it is not exactly a subject matter untouched by most media, let alone videogames - it needs to really sell its USPs in order to make a mark in the games world, and to be honest it's not quite doing that at the moment. Maybe an extended demo would be better, perhaps of what happens just before where this demo starts from?

EDIT: As below chap says, the linear stage designs are a bit annoying too. Maybe spread the streets out a bit at least?


I posted this on their forum like they asked:

Just played and finished the demo. I have to say: the thick atmosphere works really well and really helps to pull you into the game quickly. That said, I'm quite disappointed to see that the gameplay, as it was presented in the demo at least, was very pedestrian. I don't feel you should have made the game into a linear shooter. The mechanics just aren't good enough and for me really destroyed any tension I felt during the first minute. The enemy design is somewhat cartoony and their animations likewise. Less is always more with these kind of games I believe. Also, the linearity really hurts the game (or demo at least). I can appreciate the fact that this isn't open-world or anything, but a bit more freedom would help. This was just narrow roads and hallways and again, kills the immersion and tension.

If I'm being overly negative I apologise, I actually did like the demo, but I felt it could have been so much more. Games like Amnesia or Penumbra showed that games like this don't have to have combat. I might still check it out when it releases though, at least the game has a good atmosphere and I'm curious to see where the story is gonna go.

So yeah, I had fun during the demo, but I think they're gonna have to have an ace up their sleeve if it wants to get noticed by anyone. I didn't really go into control issues, this is clearly a low-budget game and I think it plays well enough, but stuff like the finishing moves didn't work at all. The demo-boss was lame as hell after you finally shoot him enough times he falls down to his knees and waits for death. So naturally I shot him in the face a few times. This didn't do anything so I walked up to him and had to stand in the exact spot they wanted me to otherwise I couldn't get the "finish" command. Stuff like that needs to be fixed pronto.


I should probably write this down tomorrow, but I love horror, I love videogames and I love writing WORDS!

On Horror:

The moody lighting and graphics are effective in building atmosphere, but what is achieved in its graphics is undermined by linear level design and poor gunplay.

I always think that when you're making a horror game you need to establish the players weakness. As soon as the player realises that they're the alpha then there's nothing to fear. This wasn't helped by the games linear level-design and the scripted enemy attacks, and it felt like the developers went through the level and said "Okay, there hasn't been a battle yet, put a monster in here!".

It feels like the developer didn't have the confidence in assuming the player would find their world interesting, so they had to spice it up with arbitrary battles. The problem however is this is that this is the games weakness. The game cannot build atmosphere when you're getting into arbitrary battles every 3 minutes, and it needs to take a step back and concentrate on scaring the player as opposed to empowering them with battles.

This isn't helped when you have linear level design. You're literally going down a straight path the entire demo and it hurts the game because unconsciously the level design is acting as a safety blanket for the player because they know they're going in the right direction. If you take this away and make the environment more open then the player will feel more vulnerable because there is no immediate 'right' thing to do, and this is pretty much the reason why games like Resident Evil 2 and Amnesia own because you've got to have the confidence to progress.

Opening the level design would also help with the really boring, really arbitrary monster battles. At the moment, you walk down some street, some monster appears and then you kill it. If you introduce a open level design, you instantly give the player another alternative : The ability to avoid or escape combat. You want the monsters to be tough and scary, when you're constantly killing them then that's kinda defeating the purpose.

On Mama Robotnik threads:

They're bad.

On Gameplay/gunplay:

It's boring and chunky. This is probably something that doesn't need to explored because its obvious, but the gameplay is so repetitive. Some monster appears, you shoot it/hit it and then you finish it. Apart from the clumsy/disconnect feel that I won't bother going into because I'm lazy, the repetitive nature needs to be addressed or at least made enjoyable for it to be successful.

The fog monster really highlights this. I can only hurt him if I kick him when he's leaping at me? Why can't I counter ordinary attacks? It's especially hilarious when I see him stop, take two steps back and then leap at me which is basically inviting me to kick him. Give him some unique attacks, make him vulnerable while doing so which rewards a observant player.

If you want my opinion, I think the game could be onto a winner with the toxic gun thing (?). It would be interesting if you made it basic combat, in the sense that you need certain kinds of toxins to defeat certain kinds of monsters. It would implement some kind of strategy into the gameplay, and it would also make the player more observant of their surroundings.

Actually, that would fix the arbitrary kill finish. I mean at the moment it's stupid because you got to do it with every enemy and that has to be fixed, but if you made it so finishing enemies off would actually reward you with certain toxins then that would implement a risk/benefit dynamic into the game. Do you shoot him and be done with it, or do you run up to him to extract some shit to kill another foe?

fuck the po-lice.
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