Mods And Ends: Minecraft’s Weeping Angels

By Adam Smith on October 28th, 2011 at 5:44 pm.

Seriously. My dreams? Haunted.

‘Tis the season to be unjolly while hiding under the bedsheets or behind the couch, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a little mod that’s been darkening my nights this week. By some measures, it’s a very simple mod indeed, but it’s one I’ve found myself hopelessly enthralled by. Minecraft, meet Weeping Angels.

Let me admit something. I’m a fairly hardened individual – not in a fist fight, wherein I’m undone by my habit of crumpling to the ground at the very sight of an actual fist approaching me – but when it comes to horror, I’ve seen it all. From the ultra-gory to the sleep-troubling and potentially psychologically damaging, I love the stuff.

Being scared, while actually as safe as can be, is one of my life’s great pleasures. So when it comes to horror games, I’ve braved the lot: the corridors of Resident Evil, the streets of Silent Hill, the prison of Amnesia. Haunted cathedrals and hotels are my playgrounds, and I have tackled everything from The Cradle to many a grave.

That's no moon. Texture packs can be scary too!

But here’s the rub. I’m not claiming that I’m immune to the effects these things are trying to have on me. They scare the living daylights out of me, and for all my experience and training, even a bump in the early afternoon sometimes sends shivers up my spine. I’m not one of these horror fans who can’t wait to loudly tell everyone how unfrightenable he is and I strongly suspect that if horror media didn’t terrify me, like those proud souls, I’d find it all a bit boring and do something else instead.

Now that admission. Minecraft sometimes gets right under my skin. Less so in recent times because the more busy it becomes the more I walk around going ‘cor’ and ‘oooohhh’ with a quizzical inflection, rather than ‘argh’ and ‘oooohhh’ with an unnerved inflection. But when night falls in the blockular world, I run for bloody cover as if I were stuck in no man’s land and the shells were about to start falling. It can be a horrifyingly vast and empty world, and knowing that I have to rely on myself to build the walls that keep the horrors at bay is sometimes too much responsibility.

Don’t even get me started on my forays into the underground, which invariably end with darkness, panicked and ineffective upward scrambling and death. As much as anything else, I’m useless at actually building anything of worth in the game, so it tends to be a case of slogging from one miserable shack to the next. I’m a pioneer of pixelated peril, a frontiersman of fabricated fear.

you must now look at this for the rest of your life without blinking

So, with my weak constitution, I definitely shouldn’t be trying to make Minecraft even more petrifying. That would be silly. Why, then, have I spent so much time this week playing with the Weeping Angels mod? Is it because Halloween is on the horizon and I was looking for something scary to share with the world? Partly. Is it because I find the idea of being aghast at such simple visuals incredibly fascinating? Definitely.

But it’s mostly because nothing else has made me laugh and shudder quite so much in a long time.

For those who don’t know the Weeping Angels, they were introduced to the impressionable children of the world in an episode of Doctor Who, which I’ve never really been a big fan of. But this episode, Blink, is a great bit of television.

If you look at them, they stop moving, turn your back and they come for you. Blink once too often and you’re dead. It’s great, because it means you can avoid showing a monster move, which often takes away its power, and it makes hiding very difficult indeed. It’s a concept so simple and devious that I’m sure it’s been done before, although I can’t think where right now and that probably means if I have seen it, it wasn’t as effective. Either that or my brain is being a sieve again. It happens.

The Endermen, as people will quickly point out, are in many ways the opposite of this idea. But it’s the angels who get my vote for most ‘orrible thing that’s killed me in a game for a long time. Probably since old flappy jaw in Amnesia actually, although with that I was just as likely to quit the game before I actually died, as soon as something pounded on a door or started snuffling around a room, because that’s how much of a coward I am.

Here’s a video which demonstrates how the angels work (and sometimes don’t), while highlighting both the comedy and the horror of the mod.

I was hoping to find more ways to convert mine and your subterranean adventures into trouser-wetting voyages of anxiety, but am alarmed by the lack of quality stuff out there. A more conventional Halloween mod is progressing at a steady rate and should be ready by the time we’ve all forgotten about Halloween. There’s also the generally agreeable daftness of the Horror Mod, which adds celebrity monsters to the world, along with haunted houses for them to live in. This is the one to watch though, I reckon. Not a lot to see yet but it’s singing from the right hymn sheet.

But I haven’t found anything currently released that matches up to the delights of those sliding angels, sometimes speeding past me at a rate of knots as I turn a corner unaware of their presence, other times blocking me inside my own home and forcing me to back into a corner, my eyelids pinned to my face.

Why, hello.

Also worth mentioning as we head toward this haunted weekend is the fact that I’ve finished my playthrough of White Night, the Amnesia mod I talked about a little last week. It’s hardly an original premise – mental asylum, memory loss – but it’s definitely worth a look, if only for a little more of that Dark Descent feeling.

Enjoy and, as always, the comments are the place to tell me about fantastically terrifying Minecraft mods I may have missed while peeking at the internet from between my fingers. And, yes, I know about Herobrine.

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74 Comments »

  1. TotalBiscuit says:

    Nope x 1million

    • spedcor666 says:

      I would have thought someone who produces content for the internet himself and talks a lot of sense about how badly negative attitudes are expressed on the internet, could be a little more constructive with their own comments. I really am quite disappointed.

      • Elbo says:

        Actually, a single ‘nope’ can refer to something that’s to scary/gross to interact with. Imagine him saying nope like this.

    • phylum sinter says:

      Agreed x10,000,000,000

      RPS talent is too great to be splattering this about. Granted, i like Minecraft and all, but please… stop it.

    • Premium User Badge JB says:

      One post is splattering it about?

    • abigbat says:

      Am I missing something? Why shouldn’t they “splatter this about”? It’s a mod a writer is interested in…

    • yhalothar says:

      Cocks.

  2. Alextended says:

    Hmm? Isn’t the coming update supposed to add enemies that behave a lot like this mod’s angels already? Lol @ Majora’s Mask moon…

    • Kaira- says:

      I thought they already added them (Endermen)?

    • Alex Bakke says:

      I thought you deal with Endermen in an opposite way – Instead of looking at them whilst backing away, you deliberately *do not* look at them. If you do, they go apeshit.

  3. kikito says:

    Wasn’t that what the Super Mario ghosts did?

    • Koozer says:

      Ah but the difference is in a side-scrolling platformer you can always see them, even when floating up to you. The angels are (supposed) to be only seen when stationary. The atmosphere is kind of ruined in that video when you start to see how they move.

  4. Miodrag Kovachevic says:

    Why would anyone do this to themselves?

  5. Lipedal says:

    Why is it that my RSS RPS feed doesn’t show pictures anymore, on Google Reader? Did you guys do that? I suddenly lost all my willingness to click and read RPS posts, now that they’re all a bunch of titles and text :(

    I even let “Crimson Blaggard: Red Rogue” pass yesterday, since I had no idea what it was about, and turns out it’s a exquisite pixelated platform roguelike. That is unacceptable.

    Only clicked this one post because it says “Minecraft” on it, and I needed to complain somewhere about this recent RSS lack of imagery.

    • empfeix says:

      Ya its kinda strange

    • PodX140 says:

      They replied earlier that the rss is temporarily broken, but it’s being worked on.

      See the stronghold 3 comments for the post.

    • Lipedal says:

      Oh, thanks for the information! You see, as there aren’t images, I don’t click on RPS anymore and then I didn’t see the Stronghold 3 comments. Sad story huh.

  6. Jake says:

    I also find Minecraft terrifying at times – I’m not very brave which makes horror games/films all the more fun Those angels are clearly moving a lot in that video, I think that would make them a lot less scary – plus they are from Doctor Who which is a good programme but it’s still a bit of an odd thing to see here.

    Minecraft could use more extreme peril, it has the potential to be the most horrific game around – something about the fact you are all alone and have to build your own refuge, and you have no idea of the extent of pitch black caves under your hovel.

  7. Nim says:

    So for those who hasn’t seen Dr.Who. How are they beaten?

    • Premium User Badge Big Murray says:

      They aren’t. Well, they got them to look at each other in one episode so they’d be frozen forever, and kind of … sucked them into some wibbly wobbly time vortexy thingamy in another, but those probably aren’t options in Minecraft.

    • Burning Man says:

      It’s timey wimey not time vortexy thingamy! Sheesh. Get your facts straight.

    • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there’s stuff.

    • Baines says:

      In the Minecraft mod, they are apparently beaten with a few stabs from an iron pickaxe, going by the final video above.

      Mind, also going by the final video above, they are somewhat broken as well. While the commenter says they are supposedly rare, they completely mob the player. The movement music doesn’t work. The line-of-sight calculation is off enough that you often see them moving, both sliding and hopping, for various reasons. (Line-of-sight is probably being done from center of body to center of body, so they will move about a third or halfway past the edge of a blocking object. You can catch them moving at the edge of the screen when turning, as well. And they are quite happy to jump around when standing on the other side of a window.) This is all going by the video, at least.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      Spoilers.

    • Stupoider says:

      The cracks weren’t timey wimey, they were spacey wacey.

  8. Temple says:

    Glass house, shurely?

  9. Fistulator says:

    I’m a pioneer of pixelated peril, a frontiersman of fabricated fear.

    I believe this is the best sentence.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Agreed. Adam Smith is awesome. If only his name was a little easier to make fun of. :(

    • Fistulator says:

      In time, he too, like all the other hivemind fragments, shall be easy to make fun of. We just have to wait for his running gag to pop up.

      Until that time comes, we can claim that he is another fragment of Quinns’ mind.

    • Prime says:

      “Agreed. Adam Smith is awesome. If only his name was a little easier to make fun of. :(“

      One anagram of ‘Adam Smith’ is ‘Madam Shit’. Will that do until something better comes along? :)

    • Wulf says:

      I feel something could be done with the presence of ‘damn’ in his name, but I’ll leave that up to more creative sorts.

    • kavika says:

      Except that there is no `n` in “Adam Smith”

  10. Shooop says:

    Hahah, they took the moon texture from Majora’s Mask. Nice.

    EDIT:

    Bah, Alextended already beat me to it.

    • Urthman says:

      The best part of having a Majora’s Mask Moon in your Minecraft is that as the sun sets and the moon rises, it looks horrible and terrifying, and then just before dawn as the sun is about to burn away all those horrible creatures, the moon is upside-down, looking silly and harmless as it sinks below the horizon.

  11. Yage says:

    What massive nerds in that last vid.

    • westyfield says:

      It’s a Minecraft mod based on Doctor Who and you’re surprised that they’re nerds?

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      On a PC gaming website, no less!

    • The Tupper says:

      I’d rather nice nerds like on Yogscast than that dick-nerd from the Blizzcon video yesterday.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      You speaking bad of The Yogscast?

      We don’t like your kind ’round these parts.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, the YogsCast guys are fairly amazing, and they’ve earned my respect. I love watching their shenanigans. Their Portal bit and breaking the way the DLC was supposed to be solved several times (I believe?) was entertaining.

      To me, they’re the new Dominic Diamond. Or the new Violet Berlin, if you prefer, but that’s a bit more of an odd comparison and I’m not sure what I’d be implying, there.

    • The Tupper says:

      @ Wulf

      Re: “the new Dominic Diamond”. That’s unfair – what did Yogscast ever do to deserve that?

    • Phydaux says:

      Yea, the Yogscast guys are great. :D

  12. Althilor says:

    The worst part about these things for me is whenever someone tells you not to blink you always end up blinking more.

  13. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    SCP-173 predates the weeping angels, and as someone above mentioned the ghosts in mario are uh… sort of similar.

    http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-173

    SCP is a great read if you like to get the heeby jeebies, highly recommend it.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Even if it wasn’t original it was a very well done episode. We’re in a time where so many creative people are producing so many products that true originality becomes harder to reach. Execution should count as much, if not more than creativity.

    • Davie says:

      173 haunted my nightmares for months. That website contains some of the most original horror stories I’ve ever read. Props to those mad bastards.

    • The Tupper says:

      Ha! I’d not encountered SCP before (thanks). Just when I was getting jaded about the internet, new wonders present themselves.

    • Jake says:

      Thanks for that link, spent several hours there so far.

  14. Reinhardt says:

    It isn’t clear to me exactly how these differ from the Endermen. The post makes it seem like it should be obvious but their description sounds identical…

    Help?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Don’t look at Endermen. Don’t look away from Weeping Angels.

    • westyfield says:

      Basically, Enderman have a trigger that makes them attack (looking at them), whereas Weeping Angels do not. Otherwise they’re the same (once they’re attacking, don’t look away).

    • Reinhardt says:

      Do the Angels have an aggro radius, then?

  15. Gaff says:

    My kids asked me to install the Weeping Angels mod a couple of weeks ago.

    My daughter (8) seems to really like it.

    Hell, Minecraft has probably been the best purchase I have made for both of them gaming-wise, as they have played it a ton and make me install probably a dozen mods a month for them, depending on what they feel like doing at the time.

    • The Tupper says:

      Having bought it just over a year ago at Alpha, I couldn’t begin to calculate the fun-per-penny ratio of Minecraft. And the fact that it’s intelligent fun for kids as well is a bonus: although I don’t have any myself, I have a niece who’s mad fer it.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Still makes me laugh so hard that I cry!

    • wererogue says:

      I camee here here to post that :V It was the scariest part of those games (although they tried so hard!)

  16. Kid_A says:

    YOU FOOLS
    THE IMAGE OF AN ANGEL BECOMES AN ANGEL

    • Nevard says:

      I really, really wish they’d just left it as one episode
      All the stuff they tacked on in the next one was just ridiculous!

      The “images of angels become angels” rule, the fact that they talked (changing from silent and creepy to complete generic ham villain) and the way they just killed people instead of doing what they did the first time (sending them back in time)

      And I guess the Conservation of Ninjitsu rule comes into play too, when you have 200 instead of just 5 they become far less effective

    • CMaster says:

      Yeah, although the episode was quite fun, it did completely ruin the Angels and everything that had been set up about them first. From the image thing, to the fact that they looked at each other all the time and didn’t freeze, to being immune when not observed, etc.

    • Premium User Badge Arathain says:

      Dr Who in Inconsistency Error Shocker!

      It’s one of my favourite things about the show. Leave the silly obsession with continuity to someone else. Do it if you think it’ll be cool.

    • CMaster says:

      I think you misunderstand. There is indeed no point in whining about consistency in Doctor Who – there is none, and the offical BBC line is that there is no consistency, no “canon”. The complaint is that they took a brilliant, scary, implacable enemy from one episode, and took away most of what made them good.

    • The Tupper says:

      I know this kinda chat is more at home on a Who message board but I don’t contribute to any internet site other than RPS, so here goes:

      Fans of the good Doctor should be wary. I worked at the Corporation for a few years and found that there’s nothing so skittish as a BBC commissioning editor. They get paid less than their contemporaries but pride themselves on a self-perception that they’re leading the pack.

      The (frankly bizarre) shitstorm of criticism that this programme, uniquely, endures from people who claim to be its biggest admirers could very easily make one of the aforementioned Nathan Barleys decide that saturday nights need a ‘refresh’ and suddenly the show’s gone for another twenty-odd years.

  17. Rhin says:

    Looks like you need Dr. Watson to help you in the fight against the Weeping Angels.

    Edit: Of course, Ninja’ed.

  18. Pace says:

    There was a basement somewhere in Bioshock that did this. Somewhere in Fort Frolic perhaps?

    • Premium User Badge LTK says:

      Yeah, it had all the splicers covered in white paint. You’d go down a basement with a flooded floor, open a container in the corner, and then you’d hear splish-splash behind you, where there were suddenly a dozen plaster statues.

      I made it a habit to shoot everything made of plaster in the head (or head-equivalent) after that.

  19. Syra says:

    Blink is the best episode they ever made of doctor who, and that mod has sooooooo much potential for utter fear, it made me think of how well the angels could be applied to any first person open world game. The terror it would cause. It’s going to make me pee my pants just thinking about it.

  20. Milky1985 says:

    I may be drunk (and this wouldnt be a first time) but that video was sodding funny and slightly scary at the same time :P was funny how he got rid of the one in the house tho, i would never have thought of that :D

  21. Fireballwhiskeysupreme says:

    What is the texture pack these guys are using?

  22. Craig Stern says:

    I’m holding out for a Weeping Santa* mod.

    * http://www.theweepingsanta.com/art.php

  23. JThomasAlbert says:

    When I was 11, I was forbidden by my parents from seeing the Stanley Kubrick film of the Stephen King novel “The Shining”. In a genius move, I bought a used copy of the paperback and did the flashlight-under-the-covers thing every night to read it. I don’t think I slept again until I was fourteen.

    Anyway, the things in the book that scared me most were the hedges. For those who have not read the book, a writer takes a job as winter caretaker for an isolated hotel/resort. He, his wife and their young son will live at the hotel through the winter maintaining the facilities. The writer hopes the isolation will help him finish his latest book. Since this is a Stephen King story, though, the place is possessed by evil spirits.

    One of the caretaker’s duties is to keep the hedge sculptures trimmed. The garden is decorated by hedges clipped into the shapes of lions, bears, rabbits, etc. One day, after giving them a trim and starting to walk away, the guy looks back and notices they seem to have changed their poses. He turns his back on them a few more times and every time he looks back, they’re a little bit closer.

    The “Blink” episode of Doctor Who tapped into that childhood fear. It really got to me. I don’t usually go for Minecraft mods, but I may give this one a shot.

    Oh, and the weeping angels became infinitely less scary for me when I realized I could just blink one eye, then the other.

  24. HilariousCow says:

    Highly Relevant: Creepy Watson:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13YlEPwOfmk

    I actually did some prototypes on an unannounced project for this. Despite coding it myself, yeah, the “grandmother’s footsteps” effect is creepily effective, and the behaviour would get a gasp out of me when I lapsed into playing rather than debugging.

    I put it down to the fact that it puts you in a solipsist’s nightmare, where you are in total control while you see the mob, but as soon as it exits your field of perception, it no longer supplicates to your will. Wow. A world in which we don’t control the outcome of everything. Scarey, huh?