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 Post subject: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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Missing since: 15 Apr 2004
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This has been a subject of some discussion lately, mostly in the context of "White people don't 'get' Silent Hill like the Japanese do". I have always found this to be a curious statement.

So, I'm inviting you to participate in an experiment: Describe what you think the 'point' of the series is. It is entirely acceptable to say that there is no point, by the way. I just want to see how much consensus there is.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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Well, the 'point' of Silent Hill on an economical basis is to be a cash cow for Konami...;)

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?

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Ryantology wrote:
This has been a subject of some discussion lately, mostly in the context of "White people don't 'get' Silent Hill like the Japanese do". I have always found this to be a curious statement.

Never heard that before. Do such people ever give a reason behind that train of thought?

Anyway, as for a point... I've never really given it any thought before. I think things just exist/happen. There's no rhyme or reason to them because they just are. :?


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Soulless-Shadow wrote:
Ryantology wrote:
This has been a subject of some discussion lately, mostly in the context of "White people don't 'get' Silent Hill like the Japanese do". I have always found this to be a curious statement.

Never heard that before. Do such people ever give a reason behind that train of thought?


Well, that's merely a sensational (though honest) way of saying "The Western developers ruin everything because they don't 'get' Silent Hill". Doubtless you've come across that sentiment.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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There is no point. It's just a game...or is it :twisted: Unless you're asking what the meaning is?


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I feel that people see the franchise as one that is strictly based off of Japanese horror and other things Japanese, and that since it is made by a Japanese company then wee white folk have no idea. It's silly, though. The franchise has many Western influences in it...

Maybe they're all just 'wee-a-boos.'

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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peronmls wrote:
There is no point. It's just a game...or is it :twisted: Unless you're asking what the meaning is?


I'm asking that, if there's some 'essence' of Silent Hill, one the western developers allegedly cannot grasp, can we identify this essence in terms which would make any fan say "yes, that is what Silent Hill is all about".

It should then be the easiest thing in the world to demonstrate how the first four games have this essence and the how latter games lack it.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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Okay gotcha.

SH (Western) they should just to stick with the SH (Jap) way as it should be. One interview for SH downpoor someone said " There are less locked door to make it more realistic" Its a game and there are monsters in it. Thats realistic?
Picking up really any item and chairs to throw at mosters? Silent Hill is not action combat. They also change how the otherworld comes. mirrors, ice, water? What next? Paintings of the otherworld that you touch?
WAIT dont forget when you get grabbed by a schism you get ripped in half! Totally SH.

To me SH western dosent care how the game is because they just want money unlike SH jap/ they just had fun doing what they were doing and had a good team. Thats what makes a good game.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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To make a horror-themed adventure game that would outdo Capcom's Biohazard in detail, scale, and scariness. For differentiation, cues were taken from Stephen King concepts instead of B-grade zombie flicks. That the PlayStation couldn't really do that led to all of the signature bits of Silent Hill that have defined it, ever since.

Or, in shorter form, to take Capcom's money. :)

It never really worked out.

Silent Hill (that is, the first one) built up its cult of enthusiasts, I think, largely due to its play on the imagination. Along with the discomforting scenery, sounds, and music, there was a sense of uncertainty brought by the muddy graphics and a storyline with details that seemed an unintelligible mishmash of horrible things that, at the same time, had some alien logic behind it that it may prove better not to understand.

Really, all theorycrafting aside, the first Silent Hill can be rendered down to "an unintelligible mishmash of horrible things," built upon a solid foundation of a realistic town with realistic facilities and a realistic and easy-to-relate quest of a father finding his daughter.

A school is a solid, concrete, and familiar thing. The reason you went is a solid, understandable reason. That bloody torture chamber it morphed into, on the other hand, is incomprehensible. Those children that float out of the darkness and look nothing like their character art are incomprehensible. Why the fuck is there a giant lizard in the basement, why is it wandering around a giant bonfire, why the fuck does its mouth open vertically, and why is its mouth so much larger than its body implies it'd be?

Silent Hill 2, if anything, is an excellent complement. It takes everything established by the first game -- by the limitations imposed on the first game -- and shows another facet to it. What can Silent Hill and its incomprehensible magic do to the kind of man James Sunderland turns out to be? For all the power fans ascribe to the second game, it really only has meaning because of the first game. It's the other side of the coin, so to speak.

To blame the downward spiral of the series on Western developers, I think, is an easy out. The way I see it, the series has been in decline starting with SH3, and its for reasons that aren't readily blamed on one person or one culture. If the series had continued to be in Japanese hands, we'd probably still have video series and discussions about how the new games are nothing compared to the originals.

It has more to do with the nature of the concept, itself.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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peronmls wrote:
To me SH western dosent care how the game is because they just want money unlike SH jap/ they just had fun doing what they were doing and had a good team. Thats what makes a good game.

If you truly believe this, you're only fooling yourself. Video games are a business, like any other form of media entertainment, and the main behind any project is money. At least, if you're doing it professionally. Of course, there will always be people that are very passionate about what they do, but it doesn't change the fact that it's their job.


I've come into this thread to respond about three or four times now, and every time I begin typing I feel I run in circles.


The original "point" of the game has both changed and stayed the same. As mentioned numerous times, it was an attempt to get into the market Capcom was cultivating. They were successful, in that they created a dedicated following and sold many copies over the course of several games. However, survival horror has been in a nose-dive (by popularity standards), and has fallen deeper and deeper into irrelevancy, purely on the basis of how it classifies itself. RE has adapted, but SH has lagged behind greatly. The financial point still stands, in that they tap into the fanbase for cash, but it's an ever dwindling resource that is growing more fickle by the day.

Fans and video game enthusiasts typically seem to think the "point" of the games is to make their wildest dreams come true with more of the same thing they were given over ten years ago. However, as most all of us are aware, these perceived notions tend to change on a regular basis from what is and isn't considered to be "silent hill" or what's even a good game. Not to mention that there were tons of things wrong with the older games that needed fixing, but I digress.

In regards to "the west doesn't get it," I think it's only a half truth. It's not that the west doesn't get it, but that they aren't trying to get the same "point" that fans are wanting. The ever-shrinking market has an amorphous concept of what it is they want and enjoy from SH games, and when developers try to build a framework around that, it doesn't resemble the shape of what the player thought they wanted. Western devs are certainly doing it for money, but it's no longer an in-house project scenario. I feel these devs have much more to prove, and the "point" of the series for them becomes this impossible task of pleasing the audience/keep their jobs, because that's where the guaranteed money should be coming from. The problem with this, is time has passed. What was considered acceptable by original standards has changed, the way in which we interact in games has advanced and changed, and the way these teams function with the public and their superiors has changed. You'd hope they could break through to the mass market, but I just don't see that really happening with the way trends are currently. It's not outside the realm of possibility, but it would demand they step much further away from the framework of how SH games typically operate, much like RE did.



To address your post about the mythical "essence" of silent hill, Ryan... There's no one thing. I know there's not really a need for me to explain it or even really directly discuss it with you, because you're one of the few people on the internet that has as incredible grasp of the series as you do, but yeah. It's sort of like the Bioware problem with Mass Effect. I'm a fan of the series, and I preferred 1 to 2, but there are many people who are die-hard about one of the games and rant about the other. Games change, the way the industry operates shifts, certain trends no longer become welcome in the market, new ways of doing things are developed, and devs want to be able to grow a product along with their audience. Some people will complain endlessly, justified or not, and some people will take things in stride. It's the fans of SH being too invested in what they originally enjoyed to allow the games to change. Does that mean that what the games have changed into has been for the better or "right?" No, in fact, they're still just as flawed as the originals were, but in different ways. I would be disappointed if a SH game wasn't borked in some way, haha. However, it feels more and more like each new game has a dev stretching to plug a new hole that has sprung a leak in the wall, but they never actually get around to fixing the dam.

I'm not really suggesting that they do a complete overhaul of the series, but they need to do something. The old model isn't working, the attempts to tack on new concepts isn't pleasing players, and, generally, isn't fully realized. Something needs to happen to either get a dev/konami to be willing to step much further out of their comfort zone and players be willing to give it a chance. The problem with that comes back to the money situation, which will always be the albatross around this series' neck, until (unless) the popularity of survival horror gets a second wind. Or, maybe they get lightning in a bottle in the same way that Capcom had with RE4, bringing their work back into relevancy. Who knows?

I feel I've now lost the "point" (har) in this post, but yeah.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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Kenji beat me to everything I wanted to say.

The thing with Silent Hill is that it captures the imagination via mindfuckery, but after a few games, we've figured out the 'rules' to it. Except if you deviate from the rules, fanboys get fucking butthurt and throw a shitfit.

So really, there was never a way to keep the series going at the pace SH1 and SH2 brought us into. It's like when you watch a new show; reruns are never as good as the first time.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?

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I think the "point" of Silent Hill is simply to tell a good and deep story through an engaging interactive medium. Preferably a story with deep psychological roots, although that is not always required to be the case. And I think the "western" developers have lived up to this perfectly. Shattered Memories is my second favorite SH game yet. And Downpour looks pretty damn good, at least.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?

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Nurses' tits and legs. What else?

Oh, and what Kenji said. Again. :P

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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To me, Silent Hill is a horror game--or at least, thriller game--with a plot that encompasses lots of symbolism and is generally psychological in theme. That's about it, though I also think the Otherworld--in any form--should be included. That's it. It's not the combat, it's not Alessa's Otherworld, it's not the Cult or any specific monster.

If the game has a well-told, cerebral story in a horrific--or at the very least creepy--way, it can be a main-series Silent Hill game to me. Shattered Memories, for instance, while it floundered in the horror (for me), had a great plot and plenty of psychological elements. Book of Memories looks to be like a fun Silent Hill-themed romp, but a spinoff so I have no problems with it.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?

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Ryantology wrote:
Well, that's merely a sensational (though honest) way of saying "The Western developers ruin everything because they don't 'get' Silent Hill". Doubtless you've come across that sentiment.

Yes, I have heard the whole "Western developers" thing. Honestly, I still don't get that point of view either. Sure, I'll admit that the "Western" SH games have felt different to the "Japanese" SH games, which is quite odd considering the source material used for inspiration was Western stuff, but nevertheless, things still felt different. I don't know if I'd really put that down to where the developers are from though. I think it's just the different developers and the approach they've decided to take rather than nationality.

Ryantology wrote:
peronmls wrote:
There is no point. It's just a game...or is it :twisted: Unless you're asking what the meaning is?


I'm asking that, if there's some 'essence' of Silent Hill, one the western developers allegedly cannot grasp, can we identify this essence in terms which would make any fan say "yes, that is what Silent Hill is all about".

It should then be the easiest thing in the world to demonstrate how the first four games have this essence and the how latter games lack it.

I don't know if one could put this down to the "point" or "essence", but what I liked about SH1 was how surreal the whole thing was. Things felt almost dreamlike and bizarre. Even the voice acting added to that WTF feeling with how off and unnatural it was. The newer games don't, imo, have that same level of surreality as the first games. The closest Homecoming came to that feeling was Hell Descent.


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Someone might have mentioned this already, but Silent Hill was the Japanese take on Western horror. Kind of why I find it funny sometimes when people whine about actual western companies taking a crack at it.

Anyway, the "point" of Silent Hill to me is the psychological journey of the human being and in some ways, the human condition. It's a place that takes all the things that make up a human being, and turns them on the human, to see if they can withstand their own nightmares and self inflicted pain and misery.

To me, Silent Hill is your decent into madness, and your attempt to come back from your own personal hell. It's a haunting place to find yourself and deal with what has happened to derail you from life. A self inflicted purgatory in which your only means of escape is to face yourself, and some how survive.

Overly dramatic enough? :P


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If I may, I'd like to go a little further on the duality of SH1 and 2, especially since I'll be gone for awhile. Specifically, on one of the common complaints of recent Silent Hill games:

Why is every protagonist a murderer or have something to do with wrongful death, perceived or actual?

The answer, I think, is a little more complex than the usual standby of "Oh, Westerners are fundamentally uncreative," which is bullshit and everyone here, deep down, knows it.

Instead, it has more to do with how James relates to Harry, as a concept.

Harry was, if anything, the most unassailable protagonist attached to the most unassailable quest. The quest to find Cheryl is supposed to instantly destroy any reason to not continue onward. This is as much an excuse plot as "Save the Princess" or "the President was kidnapped by ninjas."

You didn't think about Harry. You weren't supposed to think about Harry. If anything, Harry's quest and motivations were straight-up impervious to being questioned. He was designed to synchronize perfectly with your quest, as the player, to finish the game.

Anyway, the first game was wrapped up, went gold, and went on to sell whatever, picking up a small cult-like fanbase. The question of a sequel came up, and a problem immediately arose.

Resident Evil, like its B-grade zombie flick inspirations, dealt in a mystery surrounding a military-industrial conspiracy. Its sequel merely increased the scale, turning a zombie infestation of a remote mansion into the infestation of an entire city. In this sense, one of the ways Konami intended to one-up Capcom -- the increase in scale from mansion to town -- failed because it was already too late. By Resident Evil 3, the entire apparatus of Umbrella and the Federal Government were involved, pretty much reaching the upper limit of scale.

However, Silent Hill's ambitions were that of a horror-themed adventure game instead of a horror-themed adventure game, so it couldn't simply increase the scale and get away with it.

After all, the first game was built around creating an unintelligible mishmash of horrible things over a solid foundation; at this point, the elements established in Silent Hill had already become more-or-less solid. You can't simply put, say, a young man looking for his lost girlfriend and hope to achieve the same effect, because Harry and his quest were never the point. They were the excuse to keep you from questioning why the protagonist was as willing to go on as you were.

So, with that in mind, there were really only two paths to a sequel:

The first is to keep many of the established elements of the series, transplant it to a different location, and base its references in something other than Stephen King novels and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter from Japanese folklore (where the moonchild -- or Cheryl -- come from). You could base it, say, in Japanese horror movies and the tale of Izanagi's descent into the underworld to find Izanami (among other tales).

That's what Toyama did, when he moved to SCEJ, and Siren was the result.

The second was to invert the structure of Silent Hill, use all of the previously established unintelligible mishmash of horrible things as the solid foundation, and turn what was once the solid foundation into a new unintelligible mishmash of horrible things. For instance, you can destroy the unassailable virtue of the player character and the unquestionable nature of his quest.

That's what Team Silent did with Silent Hill 2, and that's James Sunderland's purpose to the game. The entire narrative of James and Mary was designed specifically to upend Harry Mason and create a new and unexpected source of horrible things.

This is why the stated objective of James's journey -- to find his lost wife -- is so very similar to Harry's quest to find his daughter. Yet, immediately, the virtue of this quest is undermined by the admission that Mary's been dead for three years and that it's foolhardy to expect finding her. Something is up, and the entire game is devoted to that question. The town of Silent Hill and all of the signatures inherited from the original game are actually the solid foundations on which this story is based.

This is why I referred to SH2 as "the other side of the coin" to SH1, because it is literally an inversion of the first game.

This is also why it's so difficult to create a new protagonist. At first blush, that seems a strange assertion, since we only have a virtuous father and an uxoricidal husband. Surely, the bases aren't all covered, right?

Yet, the bases have all been covered. James's legacy is the complete undermining of all Silent Hill protagonists, even to the point that virtuous Harry isn't safe (Shattered Memories being the logical end to what James started). Anytime a protagonist is introduced, the first question on everyone's mind is "what sin did he commit?" This goes back even so far as Heather.

Even Murphy Pendleton, whose been presumably designed to subvert the expectation of a murderer protagonist, can only go so far: Either he did it, or he didn't. Maybe he actually performed a greater or lesser crime, from child rape to petty theft, but that's only a matter of degree -- it doesn't fundamentally change anything, from a design standpoint.

Murphy, like the fog, the otherworld, or the freaky monsters, exists within what has become a predefined ruleset, and a predefined ruleset is anathema to an unintelligible mishmash of horrible things. A true sequel to Silent Hill would find some way to bring back the element of uncertainty, something that no sequel since SH2 has managed to do.

Silent Hill 3 primarily updated SH1 to PS2-era aesthetics, but it also began the trend that's continued to this day: The focus on the game's internal mythology. Or, things only preexisting fans give a shit about. The problem of catering only to existing fans is that their number can't hold steady. Like boiling water, fans eventually leave the fanbase and quit caring, resulting in less and less fans until there's eventually none.

What Konami and the team headed by Tomm are ultimately doing is holding the line, trying to stymie decline for as long as possible. Unfortunately, no matter how good they become, they'll never be able to hold back decline perfectly or forever. This is the problem they must solve, if they want to reenergize Silent Hill... and, to be honest, I don't envy them. I have no idea how this problem would be solved.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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That's the only real problem with the new games, when you start them you always think "It's abut the death of someone" and you always are right... Shattered memories had a gooid variation of this but it had a dead person anyway...

That is one of my main things about Homecoming, they had a real base for good story having a soldier as the main character but they had to copypaste SH2 just for the fandom; that is one of the reasons I like SH4, they managed to create a whole story from 2 memos in 2 different games making it work with an average Joe without any mental issues as the main character...

I hope the new game have a real good story, I hope it won't have a dead person as the center of story; just do what 4 did, give us light about just one of the thousands of misteries that surround Silent Hill... Damn, even the arcade did that having a game based in the Little Baroness story!! Would be cool to have a game about Leonard Rhine or agent Gucci; just throw light about any little cryptic memo from any of the games while you give us lots of new misteries to think about...


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How many times does this have to be clarified? What made it special was western horror influences FILTERED THROUGH a eastern sensibility. The results, and 'points' of this were myriad but were what made the first few games so good, and the most recent, western made games not so.

It also has a lot to do with familiarity. To begin with SH was pretty ground breaking and refreshing but (largely because it's a horror game) as the series went on it became predicable and stale. This was probably going to happen even if eastern developers had carried on making SH games.

Silent Hill is dead. Time for us all to move on.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the 'point' of Silent Hill?
     
         
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Two points.

1. Playing a survival horror game. Finding keys in obscure places and solving puzzles in a creepy enviroment, plus good level design and exploration.

2. Watching scenes that are surprisingly good for video games.

The first two games had both. 3 had the latter and Origins had the former.

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