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September 09, 2005



This was actually used (to great effect, I might add) in the game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (for GameCube). As you progressed through the game, certain events would cause your characters' sanity levels to decrease, and if they got low enough, the game would start messing with you, the player. Some effects I remember off-hand were:

-The game simulating turning down the volume on your television by showing an OSD volume bar going down, corresponding with a decrease in the game volume.
-"Bug" overlays that made it look like flies were crawling on your screen.
-When you'd walk in to a new room, the room would occasionally be upside down and you'd be walking on the ceiling.
-Your character would occasionally explode for no reason, only to realize that their exploding was a hallucination.

This game will continue to be one of my favorites because of precisely this feature. I felt it really helped to get the player involved.


They'll have a hard time defending that patent, as there's prior art in a related industry. The "Call of Cthulhu" tabletop role-playing game has used exactly such a sanity system for many years.


As gabriel mentioned, this is practically standard fare in many game systems. Call of Cthulu is probably the most noteworthy, but GURPS had fright / sanity effects, and many lesser-known publishers followed this path. I can recall at least two "dream warrior" types of titles where the character's sanity was affected by exposure to game content.

I do have to say that I thought Eternal Darkness handled this in an excellent- and unexpected way. As I recall, the documentation makes reference to X characters in game, but X+1 going insane from the exposure. As you get to the final character, the game starts acting like the player is hallucinating.

The worst ones for me were the bugs walking across the screen (i went to swat it away) and the perfectly timed "system lockup" (I was sooo close to resetting when it came back on.)

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