BOO - The 3 Prime Elements to Spice up Your Horror Games!



Happy Leap Day y’all :rabbit2:! Did I scare you? I don’t think so.

Let me try again (click at your own risk!):

Okay, that’s a little better. Oh, don’t hide it! I see that sweat bead crawlin’ down your spine!

Anyways, BOO is the star of this tutorial (which is mainly informational and not a step-by-step process) and it stands for "Best effects, Objective, and Originality. I know that they sound pretty trite initially, but they are essential in creating the horror. In short, this tutorial will allow you to learn how to present your players with “the BOO.”

Contributors to this Tutorial

Thank you to these who helped elaborate and further explain this tutorial:

:b: — Best Effects :sparkles:

Darkness & Lighting

This is one of the most important aspects of horror: the dark. Players wouldn’t be as scared of a killer clown in broad daylight as opposed to at night.

As an easy way to achieve this is by:

  • using black fog that starts and ends very close (i.e. FogEnd at 25 and Start at 0)
  • setting the time to night (usually ClockTime 0 or midnight)
  • setting OutdoorAmbient and Ambient to a dark gray or black color
  • setting a low brightness


This usually creates a nice fade effect where farther things are exponentially less visible (like the evil noob there). Also, notice the little circle of light at the bottom of the image: that’s the result of FogStart and Fog End.

Additionally, developers sometimes like to sprinkle in some lamps, or other light sources, within this sea of darkness not to show mercy for the players (which you shouldn’t do in horror), but to guide them in the objective of the game. That way, your players won’t get lost and therefore not bore out and leave the game.


To make the experience more immersive and realistic, you need to ring up them ears! In other words, your horror game definitely needs to have scary or ominous music and/or sound effects. Although having a very large void in audio can raise player anxiety (because of the suspense or the fear of the unknown), having no audio brings diminishing returns. So, it’s a good practice to have moderate audio while not abusing it (aka severely irritating a player’s ears). I mean, you don’t want your game to result in the hearing loss of your players!

Horror games sometimes rely on jump scares and sudden audio (and a decal of a scary figure). But do be careful using them because they prove to be very inefficient and some people even despise them (for furthur information, see @LtB_KiLLerU’s reply down below). And, if you have seen horror movies, suspense is a big thing (and surprise surprise–it’s also from the audio). A way to create suspense is by elevating the music’s pitch–and don’t drop the suspense until the pitch has reached the maximum level. Usually, after that, everything stops–no audio, no movement. Then, someone or something emerges and reveals themselves when the audience least expects it (which you can decide what you want that to be yourself). For a very in-depth explanation, see @CaptLincoln’s post about creating suspense via audio.

If you don’t have access to professional sound-creating software or libraries, no need to worry! If you do, good for you. But, your horror dream isn’t going to die out otherwise. The next best place to look is the Roblox Sound Library (Create > Library > Dropdown Audio). Sometimes it can be difficult finding audios here because they’re user-generated and some of them do not have a relevant name (and some don’t even work), but most of the time, it yields excellent results. But, if the sound you’re playing out in your head is not what you find in the Roblox Sound Library, then you can create your own sounds in websites like SoundTrap (which I sometimes use).

There’s nothing more to say here other than keeping your audio volumes at a REASONABLE level! Again, you don’t want to get in deep trouble for ruining your audience’s ears!

Realism and Colors

Although it’s quite obvious, I do feel the need to stress this: do not make your horror game low-poly. That’s going to absorb the juice out of the fruit (aka the horror out of your horror game). But, that doesn’t mean that you need to use custom textures; Roblox materials are mostly enough. In fact, materials are more optimized for performance because they are Roblox-made and Roblox-maintained textures and take up less memory. By adding custom textures, sure you’ll increase the realism dramatically, but you’ll narrow down the range of devices that your players can handle your game on (i.e. not phones).

The choice is yours:

Also, if the setting of your game takes place outdoors, then it’s best to use Roblox’s smooth terrain–not terrain using parts. Not only would it be easier to create (especially with the recent updates of the editor), but it’s also optimized for performance. Plus, the terrain water looks awesome, you can never replicate it and beat its look via parts.

Now onto the color of the landscape. Here’s another perk of using smooth terrain: you can easily change the colors of different materials anytime. To enhance the horror experience, it’s best to use colors that aren’t very saturated:

The left has 255 saturation in HSV terms, and the right has 150.

:o2: — Objective :white_check_mark:

There’s nothing worse than creating an awesome game with all these nice, scary effects–and then your players leave the game because they are lost and don’t know what they have to do. :frowning_face:

It’s always recommended to have an objective in a horror game. For example, take the non-Roblox horror games Slenderman, Granny, and Slendrina. They each have a goal that players need to achieve in order to win the game. But, you may be thinking: if players win the game, won’t they just never play it ever again?

Well, there are several ways you can combat that:

  • include various difficulty levels
  • add achievements/badges
  • update the game often
  • add secret ways to win
  • plant some Easter eggs (hints about what’s to come in the future or ones that vaguely outline a storyline)

Let’s talk a bit about the last bullet. Easter eggs are very interesting especially when you find them as a player. Many songwriters and singers use them today, such as Taylor Swift (oh man, she doesn’t have a music video without a single one) and they cause this sort of hype and excitement. You can bring that over to your game by simply adding pictures, words, patterns, notes, etc. that foreshadow something (perhaps your next game) or allow players to piece together the information and picture the backstory.

For example, take a look at this and try to piece together the story:

ANSWER: Guest 666 was bullied horribly by several students. One night, the bullies pushed Guest 666 off the roof of the high school and he died. If you don’t already know, this is from @ObliviousHD’s Guest 666 series.

That was kind of fun trying to figure that out, right? This is the same with players. They love piecing together backstories and spreading rumors and conspiracy theories about the story.

However, when I say that players should be able to get the story in your game, I’m not saying to make it really obvious. One of the key factors that can really make your players shiver is the fear of the unknown. Humans tend to get more anxious when they don’t know what is about to come than after the revelation (no matter how scary). They have a premonition, but about what? When? From where? This is one of the greatest ways to establish horror in your game.

Basically, try to include a way to guide your players throughout the course of your horror game.

:o2: — Originality :green_circle::green_circle::red_circle::green_circle:

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen games and movies replicate the exact same aspect from other games and movies and then switching the characters, objects, items, and the setting with something different to hide the replication. Take, for example, a game where you need to find 8 runes to escape the evil rune temple. This sounds very much like slenderman where you have to find 8 papers to escape. Same aspect, just different items to disguise the acting of copying. And also, when a Youtuber played a horror game (I can’t remember which one), I still remember them saying, “Oh, so it’s like slender!” This is something that shouldn’t happen to your audience. Originality is key to a successful horror game.

If players find out that a game is very much like another game, they tend to beat the game more easily. This is because they are familiar with the other game and know how to beat it.

A simple tip for fabricating a new idea is to just sit down and meditate for 5-10 minutes. In your thought process, start somewhere. Anywhere. Start with the objective in mind. Perhaps, the player has to obtain lost treasure in a creepy temple? Oh, that sounds good. Maybe, you can have an evil ghost roaming through the corridors. And also, the player has to watch out for traps and dangerous animals. Wow, that just sounds so good, doesn’t it?

That is literally what I thought of when I meditated for about 10 minutes. It’s really easy to get creative while in this relaxed state of mind!

In short, just don’t get impatient and stress out about coming up with something new (which is where many people go wrong). The correct thing to do is to stay patient, because who knows–an idea may just hit you when you least expect it!

Review of Key Information

  • darkness
    • low brightness
    • utilize black fog
    • set the time to night or midnight
    • dark color values for Ambient and OutdoorAmbient properties
  • lights
    • use them to guide your players
  • relevant audio
    • music
    • sound effects
    • elevate music to raise the suspense
  • realism
    • no low-poly
    • but no need for textures–materials are enough
  • colors
    • low saturation (in HSV)
  • objective
    • make sure your players are not lost
    • have an end goal that players need to achieve
    • do not lose your players after they complete the game
      • update your game frequently
      • include secret endings or secrets in general
      • add Easter eggs–form a story in the players’ minds or foreshadow a future event of any kind
      • allow players to play in many different difficult levels (easy, medium, hard, insane, etc.)
      • have badges and achievements that can be obtained by doing special things
    • don’t make it too obvious–keep in mind: fear of the unknown
  • originality
    • come up with a completely unique idea for your game
    • if you have any difficulties, meditate and brainstorm

The End

This is my first dive into informing you about elements of horror and I want to see just how well I did it. Please take some time to leave your feedback:

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Thank you for reading and for your feedback,
and happy Leap Day once again :rabbit2:!


Thank you for the tutorial, it helps a lot since I sometimes lose passion. This though, is just amazing because how detailed it is.


The title scared me, was too scared to click.

Jokes aside, thanks for this! I’m making a horror game and this is coming in handy!


Keep up the good work and don’t be discouraged.

I don’t agree with a lot of the points you made;

  • People can still be terrified in board-daylight, fear is a state of mind not something you can turn on or off just by using photons.

  • Nothing is 100% original, everything is an iteration of a product/service that existed before.
    Definitely be creative you’ve got to be but remember that “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

  • Your game needs to have replay value to be played repetitively; no one is going to play your game twice if it’s the same experience.

  • Horrors games are not about the Jump-scares, it’s the terror and anticipation, the dark clouds that comes before the storm and the fear of it coming back but not knowing when the unknown, mysteries and an unfolding story, play Anxiety and you’ll understand that FNAF didn’t become popular because of just the Jump-scares.

  • Audio is important, I agree with that.

  • There so many ways to scare the player and strike terror into their hearts; you take away a certain amount of control, put them in a dangerous scenario, the unknown; people fear what they don’t understand, knowing something will happen but not when, knowing something will happen but not how, knowing that someone is after them but not who, not knowing why something happened, taking away their senses, hearing, seeing and control.

  • Having a similar gameplay to other games’s is a blessing not a curse, you don’t have to teach players how to play your game and you can focus on other aspects, don’t reinvent the wheel, make a better one.

  • Making the game immersive is also important, if the player doesn’t feel a sense of horror, trill & danger then your game has failed as a Horror game.

  • And you forgot the most important ingredient that make games, games; FUN

There are great examples of successful Horror games out there, study them; success leaves clues.


True, there are many phobias that come up in people regardless of time–but I’m talking about a majority of people who are more scared of the dark.

Yes, that’s a good point. Building on top of other’s ideas and improving them is definitely okay. But, what I emphasized not to do is copy a game’s idea and substitute the characters and items with something else. To me, finding 8 papers and finding 8 runes are basically the same thing but different items to look unique. It’s like the fraction 1/2 and 2/4–both are the same thing but different numbers. Instead of finding things, there are many more possibilities of what the objective can be (rescuing people or retrieving lost items). That is what I mean by originality–yes, nothing is a 100% original, but a new horror game cannot be directly parallel to an existing one.

I don’t know what you mean by “replay value.” Take the horror game Granny, for example. Many Youtubers have played that game and even completed it. However, they keep rolling out updates such as extensions to the house or new ways to escape to get the audience back in. If there is a new way to escape, a Youtube is very likely to play it again just to fully “complete” the game again (and show how it is). As a result, many watchers come back to the game with a huge new wave of players. So, updates are a great way to bring your players back.

I completely agree with you that horror doesn’t rely majorly on jumpscares–it actually relies much more on the fear of the unknown. People tend to be more scared before the jumpscare as opposed to after it. It’s like the rising action of a story’s plot diagram, sure the climax is really intense, but after that, everything calms down.

Yes, it’s better to improve and build off of someone’s work as opposed to just replacing the specific elements of it with something else to disguise the copy.

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Jumpscares are considered by horror pros a cheap way to scare people. The true horror should rely on realism, on the fact that the situation represented in the game is something that could happen to anyone in real life.
This video explains it pretty well:


Hey there! I wanted to give you some more in-depth information on heightening suspense with music, because it’s not just about pitch; it’s about much more than that.

Heightening tension in music requires what is called discordance. This is the idea that two notes do not either A) Exist in the same chord or B) the same scale. All music is actually based on the idea of creating tension and then releasing it. But for horror games specifically, let’s look at a few basic ideas and concepts that can really help.

The Minor Scale

There are varying scales in music, but the two most common(outside of jazz or blues) in western music are the Major and Minor scales. For this, we’re going to focus on the minor. The following is how to build your minor scale:

C D Eb F G Ab Bb C or The Major Scale with a flat 3rd(Mi), 6th(La), and 7th(Ti),
or Do Re Me Fa Sol Le Te Do

Those were just different ways of creating the same scale, which can exist in any key. This scale creates a far darker sound than you traditionally get with the major or pentatonic scales.

How to Use the Minor Scale

Let’s say you’re writing Happy Birthday for your horror game with the following notes in the key of C Major(Just the first phrase):


Now, let’s turn it minor by flatting the 3rd, 6th, and 7th of the scale(Any E’s, A’s, or B’s):

G G Ab G C Bb

If you listen to this in any audio software(My license recently expired, which is why I can’t give recordings), you will notice a much darker sound in the second than the first. This is the power of the minor scale. So, as you can see, using the minor scale will greatly improve the sound of a horror vibe.


What are these, you may ask? These are fancy names for large chords. I’m not going to break down chord building here, because it would take too long, but I will provide you with an example of each.

Slash Chords

So as I said earlier, music is about building and releasing tension. For horror games, you want to build a lot of tension before release. One way to do this is using slash chords, which is when you have a chord over a note that isn’t the root, or bottom, note of that chord. One of my favorite examples of this is C Major over D(C/D). It creates a suspenseful tone that is normally resolved by dropping to a G Major chord, but it sounds happy. For a horror game, all you’d have to do is create a C Minor/D to create a similar effect for the genre.

Side note: To create minor chords, create a major chord and flat the third).


This is a fancy way of saying chords stacked on top of each other. C Major/D Minor creates an intense clash in tone that hurts to listen to but when resolved down can create the tone you want for a horror game.


Believe it or not, there is a musical element called the suspension that is possibly the greatest tool to use when trying to(guess what) create suspense! The suspension is a note that exists from a previous chord that is kept into the next chord. For example, going from F Major to C Major, one can keep the F from the previous chord to create a Csus4 chord, which prolongs the resolution and builds tension for that F to resolve down to the E in the chord.

This is by no means a perfect or fully explaining guide, but it is some tools that help composers create these kinds of effects for not just horror, but any genre.


The above link is a piece I composed for myself that uses a lot of the above elements to create it’s tone. It’s a sad tone, not horror, but you can see clearly each example above.

Good luck out there!


This is a great post and a great tool for people making horror games but there are a couple points that I have gripes with.

  1. Your Views on Utilizing Darkness

You made the point to use low brightness and to set the time to night or midnight. Using this technique can work but it can also be a lot more effective at times to just have the game based on a normal sunny day. One of the biggest things that make horror games and movies scary is the fear of the unknown, Using the same setting and time that all of the other horror games are using is going to take away that unknown and can remove the players fear by making the game predictable.

An example for this would be a jump scare from the first Insidious movie. The movie makes you think that your going to get scared by the dark and generic horror setting but it throws you for a loop and gets you were you would never expect there to be a scare; The bright house in the middle of the day populated with people.

The Clip:

  1. The Story

I don’t think that you emphasized enough in your guide just how important the story is to horror games. How scary would games like The Backrooms or any SCP game be without a story? Sure they could get a few players with some cheap jump scares but without a story that’s all the game is; a bunch of jump scares. You want your players to get attached to the main character and to get invested in the story of the game so that when things start getting scary they can actually feel involved.

  1. Updates to the Game

I didn’t want to sound like I disagree with everything you listed so I will give you some positive feedback. I really strongly like your idea of how you say to update horror games. I think adding new things for players to explore and new tid-bits of story hidden in Easter eggs is a perfect idea. Doing this gives player a purpose to come back to your game and a purpose to replay it multiple times.

Anyway that’s my feedback on your post. Overall I think you did a great job with all of your other points especially audio and updates. Keep up the good work! :slightly_smiling_face:


No, that’s all right with me! Besides, a Forum is a place for free opinions.

Yes, my post does emphasize on the fear of the unknown.

However, without darkness, the same amount of fear is not achieved. Although it is very trite to have dark settings in horror games, it’s an essential element. You would have to be extremely skilled in horror to make the players feel anxiety during the day.

I did try to emphasize this with the little hands-on mystery with the three Easter eggs. But I didn’t elaborate too much to keep the topic from getting excessively long. I just want to share the idea of it with other developers and they can decide on how proportion they should be used in their games.

But, I do appreciate your feedback!


Jumpscares are literally just a get out of jail card. They are over-used and plain unoriginal.

What makes games great is subtly, having something like a clock slightly rotated (or something the player will notice) is an original way to give them the creeps…


I actually have a slight way to save money with the audio and sound effect. I’ll add more when I’m not on mobile, but here’s a sneak peek: use GarageBand for free, and upload all sound effects as one audio file. You can script the effects as a ‘play sound at certain length’ function. I believe it saves money not to upload tons of separate sound effects and just upload one slightly longer one.