Sunday, July 3, 2011

Once more into the fray!

Upon writing this, Duke Nukem: Forever has been released for roughly a month. It was not a great game. However, at the same time, it was not a bad game. It, like Bulletstorm before it, is a game that suffers from conflicting game play mechanics that, for a lot of people, destroy the potential experience a game like it should offer. Once again, I blame modern FPS game play mechanics and the need to appease a crowd of simple minded, non-resource-manageable 'realism' obsessed kids that think Halo and Call of Duty are the greatest and most skillful FPS games ever made.

I actually stopped playing at the strip club section, much to the dismay of my inner 12 yr old

I don't really care about Duke, how he behaves, his sexist attitude, his immaturity and all that crap. To me he is simply a video game character. If people want to get all worked up and feel somehow offended by his actions then that's their problem. What I do find rather absurd though is the amount of general hate and malice the game has received, especially from non-fans of the series. If you were a long-time fan of Duke Nukem 3D and felt let down by its rather late sequel, fair enough. If you are simply a sheep, jumping on the bandwagon of negativity and hate, describing how terrible the game is without having even played the damn thing, then to you I present my most exasperated and fatigued '/sigh' face I can muster. Wanting to hate something or simply disliking something to be part of the cool club is one of the most despicable things I can think of, and something that is both common and unmentioned in our society (regarding other topics of course). Also, comparing something like DN:F's facial animations to that of LA Noire and describing that to be completely unacceptable in a game nowadays is like complaining that Doom II had a lack of bunny rabbits in it. It was not designed for it, so who the fuck cares?

I am by no means defending DN:F. I played it and found it to be a pretty standard modern day shooter in my opinion. You could at least jump. There are just times that I see social trends emerging across the gaming community that irk me somewhat, especially when they are unwarranted. Nevertheless, I am reminded of why, generally speaking, I dislike most modern day FPS games, and so, comma, I have decided to make a short list of 5 more aspects that should be included in FPS games if you want them to be a success:

1. More than two weapons
Yep. This 'press-button-to-change-to-other-weapon' bullshit has to go. I don't care how realistic it is for a super soldier (lol?) to only be able to carry two weapons, the fact of the matter is that the more weapons a player is allowed to character, the more fun they potentially can have. That means there should be more ammo scattered around the place for said weapons. That means maps should support said weapon/ammo variety. That means they should stop being fucking linear, funneling the player towards the next ammo dump for them to refill at. It is obvious how aspects like this bleed into one another from a design perspective and how something as simple as reducing the number of weapons a player can hold has totally destroyed the explorative qualities of an entire genre.

2. Faster game speed
I have brought this up before, but relating more to the movement speed of the player's avatar. Now I am proposing that the speed of FPS games be increased as a whole. Basically for the same reasons. A slow game is boring and a boring game has limited re-playability. Think about it. What are some of the old arcade-like games you come back to every now and then? Were they, to a point, fast in terms of game play? Why was that enjoyable? Exactly.

Zankuu Hadouken!

3. Movement speed options
Again, something I have mentioned many times, but not clearly enough for it to be considered a principle design factor. Dodge-jumping, bunny hopping, rocket/grenade jumping, jump-pads, jetpacks, accelerators. All mechanics employed by oldskool FPS games that gave speed and freedom of movement to players both skilled and newbie alike. Sure, mastery of a technique works in favour for those who have mastered it. Sure, this gives said players an advantage. What's stopping everyone from learning these new and interesting techniques? They should be embraced and encouraged instead of shunned and removed, and if you can't do it on a controller ... well then maybe you are using the wrong platform mate.

4. Modability
Some of the best games ever made have come from mods. Some of these games have gone to e-sport levels, and still are today (CS 1.6/Source, DOTA). When you provide games with open source development tools, you effectively hand control of your game's potential fame and enterprise to the gaming community. This should be seen as a good thing. Look at Valve. They started from a small company using the code from ID Game's Quake 2 engine. They are now in charge of the world's most popular software distribution network because of the success of mods made for Half-life.

Lauren: The best bot in any game outside of Xan and Xaero

5. Bots
A dying breed, but FPS games with factory made bots are so rare nowadays it is saddening. The last proper game to support true FPS player-like bots was actually UT3 released in 2007. To an extent, this is understandable. The explosion that has been multiplayer gaming has removed the need for a company to even consider programming AI to do the same tasks as a player, except worse. Why would anyone make bots? The answer isn't so straightforward, but it does exist. First and foremost, there does exist a breed of player that enjoys playing offline and experimenting with game mechanics without having the face the troll/rage fest that is the average online experience. For example, the birth of Coop Vs AI in League of Legends has shown how beneficial experimentation can be in non-serious games. Secondly, having an AI framework allows even more possibilities for both custom gaming and modding by the community. Players willing to fight outnumbered against hordes of AI opponents have traditionally been in for a thrilling time, cooperating with other human players to work the system and perform the impossible. Translation: fun.

Personally I feel things are starting to come around. People are slowly seeing just how boring and mindless some of today's FPS game play mechanics are that a slight resurgence of the oldskool design philosophies are coming through. They may not have reached the minds of developers yet, but the community is becoming slightly more aware of it each week. Perhaps it is worth hoping after all.

Also, Doom II had a bunny rabbit in it. So ... yeah.

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