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Monday, September 25, 2006

FPS Revolutions

The Bioshock gameplay video brought up discussion on first person shooters and their evolution in general. Much shown in Bioshock is actually "old hat". I first heard about individualist task-based AI when Team 17 was talking up their Alien Breed 3D sequel. Gun and player modifications were done justice with Deus Ex and destructible environments are practically buzzword now.

Not saying Bioshock won't rock. Pulling off these ideas well is achievement enough. Still, I don't think it's revolutionary (maybe evolutionary?).

Here's a few list of things I wish shooters would think about:

Get My Hand Out Of My Face
I'm not sure who first thought that people walk around with objects held up to their head - but it's simply not true. Unless I'm actively using something - it's at best held to the periphery of my vision. I understand that many professional marksmen hold their guns to their eyeline to fire ... but when I'm not holding anything I certainly don't wave my fists in front of me.

I don't need the flashlight in my line of sight to know I'm carrying one.

Consider My Health
Halo broke tradition by insisting that perhaps no - you can't carry your pistol, knife, three machines, plasma ray gun and rocket launcher all in your back pocket. Course, Counter-Strike had considered this some time ago and Deus Ex even considered everything in your pack as it pertained to size.

Virtually nobody has tried to bridge in between the "couple shots and your dead" philosophy of games like Counter-Strike and Action Half-Life with the "this magic box will heal all wounds" of nearly everyone else. Again, Deus Ex came close - with Action HL style damage zones but Quake style powerups. I'd actually like to see someone do the reverse - weigh so that maybe your kneecaps won't get blown off but it's more complicated than simply picking up a syringe to get healed.

This Bustling City Of Empty
Shooters have increased the number of particles, polygons, explosions and crates that they'll render to screen - but we still get the same number citizens and other neutral parties. Heck, we've gotten even fewer monsters since the days of Doom. Our virtual worlds have gotten more photorealistic - but less life-like. Or at least less lively.

And old modder friend of mine, the Evil Dr. Wong, had taken up the charge to play with this aspect and lemme tell you - it can have a real impact. It's a lot easier to believe that everything around you has gone to hell when people are running around screaming.

The "sole warrior against a hoarde of enemies" was interesting for Doom. It's gotten pretty old since then. Sure, games like the Medal of Honor series and even Halo at least represent comrades and arms. Even back in Marathon they were trying to trump up the "solo warrior" motif ... but it's time to move even past that. Games like Half-Life 2 move in the right direction ... but then it still always ends up being Gordon alone in some hallway.

That's all for now. I'm sure there's more. Heck, that's not even thinking about simply multiplayer mechanics.

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jvm said...

A minor historical point: I believe Action Quake 2 had limited weapons and inventory before the other games mentioned in that section. You could have, according to my cobwebbed memory, two weapons or so and a special item (slient slippers, silencer, laser sight, bandolier with grenades, bulletproof vest, pick one). I'm sure I've got the specifics wrong, but that was the gist of it. Was there something before AQ2 that did that? Not sure, but as far as I know the "realistic" combat mods came into vogue as AQ2 became popular.

I've been pretty light on the FPS playing for a while now, but I'm ready for a new one. Black does nicely. The thing I miss is the leaning out from behind corners like you had in GoldenEye 007 and Soldier of Fortune and (IIRC) System Shock (the original). Why is that dimension of movement ignored?

Josh said...

I think you'd be right. Other "realistic" mods contempory to AQ2 (SEALS? I want to say) were mostly weapon mods that didn't change up the actual gameplay much.

And movement would definately be another section. I'm very interested to see how Epic handles it in Gears Of War.