Listener Homework: FPS games--no new frontiers?
  • This week's Listener Homework tackles FPS games in general, and wants to know where you feel innovation lies.

    Personally, I feel FPS has GOT to be running thin soon. It's not a question of there being too many FPSes, but it's more a problem of how much more advanced can you look at things and shoot? Sure, we've come a long way since Doom, by adding in elevations, and then Descent emerged with true 3d maps, and on we go. Recently, we're looking at things like Portal, which are bending maps in interesting ways. Is this part the last frontier for FPS games? Adding new options isn't enough. Is there a new way to play the game? Everyone seems to want to play an FPS and be quicker, andmore accurate than everyone they play against. What can possibly be next for an FPS, besides looking pretty and being hyperactive? (which is what Crysis looks like to me.) Adding real cover systems, like Rainbow 6: Vegas, wasn't innovation enough in my eyes. Having used to play a lot of FPS, I was used to ghetto-cover by standing behind a wall. :)

    What's next for an FPS? Tell us your thoughts below.
  • I think shooters are just getting interesting. Console shootersd have caught up graphically with almost all the PC games. I think with the next gen systems they can really evolve. Look at the Wii, its made for shooters. Capcom are producing Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles on it. Crysis looks great, and seems to play great from the videos I've seen. With advanced AI in games now perhaps FPS will be even harder and more tactical than it already is.

    Also, first person has to get better and evolve. The third person shooters (Gears, Resi 4, Lost Planet) are really getting popular.
  • Well, we had 2-d shooters, 3-d shooters, shooters like Descent with spherical orientation, they've added flight, squad-based shooters, now we've gotten a whole slew of psychic/demonic shooters, and the upcoming dimensional elements of Portal... Is the innovation gone? I'd like to think not. But I guess that means its time for a game premise presentation from me. :P

    I'd like to re-explore an FPS genre that has been somewhat left out of the latest collection of titles, the magic/fantasy shooter(ala Hexen). There is a huge amount of untapped potential for a re-envisioning of the fantasy shooter sub-genre. That latest Might and Magic title doesn't count in my eyes, it was too plain and boring, everything being obviously set-up and staged.

    I'm thinking more along the lines of a grandiose fantasy war, like LotR or Warhammer(again, they had shooters for the 40K kind, but I'd like to see departure from conventional weaponry). The basic idea is to place you on a huge battlefield, playing key roles. There might a castle defense level where you man the ramparts, firing heavy explosives on enemies at range, before descending into the castle to meet the enemies as they break through the gate. Another stage might have you ascending an enemy mountain to stop a super weapon of sorts, helping your allies push through the defenses. There could be a stage in a haunted forest, where the environment itself attacks you as often as the enemies(and attacks them, too, if you know how to trigger the forest defense-reactions). A sky intensive battle over vast plains, where you can let loose with your lightning based repertoire. Or an oceanic ship-based battle, where you can go from vessel to vessel, snagging enemy supplies to boost your abilities and when necessary being able to use a short range levitation/teleport to keep on the move.

    So how would we mix it up, make it unique and fun? The key lies in the endless possibilities of magical abilities.

    Yeah, you'd have your basics like exploding fireballs, chain lightning, magic missiles, blizzards, acidic clouds, chaos, etc.

    Games like The Darkness demonstrate that its fun to be able to summon minions to fight alongside you. So a number of choices would be fun. Will you summon a hulking Minotaur with a Great Axe, who can run straight through a group of small enemies, knocking them about, and able to fight toe to toe with bigger enemies? Or will you choose the flying imp whose damage output is lower, but who is all but immune to regular attacks, and is able to lock on to, and zoom away towards enemies from an absolute long range for tactical ease? Perhaps you'd prefer the hulking ooze monster, slow but sturdy and able to inflict pestilence on all nearby enemies, able to use large AoE attacks?

    But you're probably still wondering about what kind of spells would make it unique. An obvious treat I've enjoyed in titles before is possession of enemies. There is a little-known game called Metal Arms: Glitch in the System that allowed you to do just that, sneak up on enemies and take control of them, including certain bosses. Very fun idea, and adds a lot to gameplay IMO. So in one level a battle going poorly for your side might be interrupted when a large dragon shows up to go on a rampage. But then you possess the beast and use it to dominate your enemies, taking in the moments of glee as they roast in the fiery breath of your new pet.

    As you play and get a stronger character, auxiliary effects might occur on the basic spells. So that boring fireball might become a spread blast. The chain lightning might also summon a ball lightning inflicting extra damage. The basic magic missiles might rapidly multiply in number, until each casting sends 36 individual blasts, making it the ultimate peon killer. Certain AoE spells would obviously get bigger, but other effects could happen like giant icicles rising from the ground during a blizzard to add more punch against big enemies, or the acidic cloud becoming a huge deathly mist that covers a whole level and debilitates enemies like the ooze summon(and the effect of which would combine with the ooze monster AoE to become an instant kill against weak enemies). The Chaos spell might transform a number of those infected into loyal AI servants.

    But huge scale fights have their own problems to deal with. How do you keep it from seeming like the enemies are paper targets for you to accumulate a high KO count? Especially when you consider the abilities I'm presenting, which seem pretty powerful for a shooter. Well, the essential key there is that the enemies must act like a trained army, working together. The enemies will have their own spell casters, offensive and supporting. The front line shock troops will advance with defenses raised until they reach sprinting distance. If you spam a single spell too long, the enemies might use a shielding spell that negates a large portion of the damage. Along with human sized enemies you would also have much larger brutes and bruisers, things that would draw your attention due to their lethal nature if you ignore them. Also, the way you deal with ammo/cooldowns/manapools has a great effect on this. Spells might be grouped by several classes: basic, multi-hit, AoE, summon, etc.

    Another kicker that I'd love to see is the ability to make choices that affect the outcome. In this particular example, I'd love to dispense with the 'black and white' scenario with the 'good guy and bad guy'. Maybe you're working for a Holy Empire that has become corrupt at the top levels, pandering to the interests of a small group of wealthy elitist nobles. Maybe the 'villain' is a charismatic character who has won the support of many, upset about rule under said Holy Empire, and offering you a chance to join him and create a fairer and more just world. There would be a sort of twist involving a source of the corruption, that would change the ending depending on whether or not you 'betray' the Empire, whose abuses have become more apparent over the course of the game(which would offer plenty of opportunities to alter gameplay if you decide to rescue folks or divert supplies or whatnot, maybe even ignoring specific orders completely at points), and join the charismatic rebel or not. The idea revolves around an unexpected use of the 'super weapon' I mentioned briefly above, something that has the power to destroy a town, or equally large target. ;)

    If done right, it should be a unique and thoroughly enjoyable title.
  • better AI and more enemies and allies on the screen at the same time, might not be ground breaking but its an area for massive improvement still. Matters a lot more to me than psycic powers and complex gimicks.
  • Well no matter what FPS's come out in the future they are all gonna be held up to the Halo standard. I think for the most part developers don't need to add to much innovation to them they just need to FEEL GOOD. I can't even estimate how many FPS's I have played that were just poor quality. If controls are responsive, graphics are good and the game is fun to play word of mouth is going to spread and the game will be a success. This goes for pretty much all games. Technology is always going to increase and new ideas will be brought forth but the bottom line is that if your game doesn't respond to your input nobody is going to like it.
  • I'd like to see a FPS with a nice Leveling system, or with classes that you can level and get certain skills. Kind of like an FPS that plays like an MMO.. I'd be hella interested in that.

    Sniper:
    Enhanced Hearing/ Vision
    Steady Breathing
    Enhanced Ghilie Suits

    Infantry:
    Speed Increase
    Armor Increase
    Weapon Specialization

    etc. etc. etc.

    Or say you start out as just a Civilian, and as you use more weapons you gain proficiencies with them and adapt skills with them as well. Something to where if you did it in real life, it was likely to happen.. I'm not going to be a perfect shot with a sniper rifle right when i pick it up, so i kind of feel that it should be the same way in the FPS world, a person should have to earn their proficiencies with their weapons.
  • There is still alot of room for improvement. Games like Project snow blind were one of them, having massive amounts of enemies in one screen without slowdown and tacticaly taking them out or just going balls to the walls. I think we are still in the age of improvement still. Yea Crysis was over hyped like hell and some of the off parred shooters were alright but not the shooter we were expecting. Killzone two and halo 3 are amongst those shooters that are supposed to be highly evoloved from where they once were on there original systems. Lets just hope that all the hype for these game are settled and are true instead of lies and just gimmicks to selling them.
  • Sin said:
    I'd like to see a FPS with a nice Leveling system, or with classes that you can level and get certain skills. Kind of like an FPS that plays like an MMO.. I'd be hella interested in that.


    You mean Huxley? (Not counting PlanetSide cause it sucks balls,)
  • Sin said:
    I'd like to see a FPS with a nice Leveling system, or with classes that you can level and get certain skills. Kind of like an FPS that plays like an MMO.. I'd be hella interested in that.

    Sniper:
    Enhanced Hearing/ Vision
    Steady Breathing
    Enhanced Ghilie Suits

    Infantry:
    Speed Increase
    Armor Increase
    Weapon Specialization

    etc. etc. etc.

    Or say you start out as just a Civilian, and as you use more weapons you gain proficiencies with them and adapt skills with them as well. Something to where if you did it in real life, it was likely to happen.. I'm not going to be a perfect shot with a sniper rifle right when i pick it up, so i kind of feel that it should be the same way in the FPS world, a person should have to earn their proficiencies with their weapons.




    But that would bring a churniing element into FPS's that most people tend to dislike in JRPG's
  • Sin said:
    I'd like to see a FPS with a nice Leveling system, or with classes that you can level and get certain skills. Kind of like an FPS that plays like an MMO.. I'd be hella interested in that.


    Dude, read Gwenster's thread on Enemy Territories: Quake Wars. It's got exactly that, and the implementation is perfect.

    Personally, I feel they need more keyboard FPS's where you battle with your mad typing skills.

    I'm still waiting for Counterstrike: The Typing.

    Yw
  • yuzo said:
    [quote=Sin]I'd like to see a FPS with a nice Leveling system, or with classes that you can level and get certain skills. Kind of like an FPS that plays like an MMO.. I'd be hella interested in that.


    Dude, read Gwenster's thread on Enemy Territories: Quake Wars. It's got exactly that, and the implementation is perfect.

    Personally, I feel they need more keyboard FPS's where you battle with your mad typing skills.

    I'm still waiting for Counterstrike: The Typing.

    Yw[/quote]
    Smacks Yuzo with a dead cat that was ran over. LOL Sorry guys we haven't been able to house breake him from typing cheeziness. LOL Some typing games are cool but man not shooters.
  • LOL Some typing games are cool but man not shooters.


    Blasphemy! This game is first person. And you shoot. By typing.

    image

    Who sez nostril oil isn't tasty?

    Yw
  • Typing of the Dead is fucking wonderful, it distracts the hell out of you the further you go, with some real off-the-wall things to type that have me laughing while trying to type.

    As far as someone mentioning bigger battles, more people on the screen...have either of you played a full 40+ man battle in Resistance? There's nothing less fun than being repeatedly killed by someone you never see...ever.

    :( So I don't think scale is the next big thing, although if implemented properly, could be awesome. Maybe a medieval large-scale first-person battler (I don't wanna say shooter for that time frame.) I really am not sure. There IS a lot of innovation at the core of Shadowrun, so I need to hand it a lot of credit there. Being able to mold your character into your playstyle...is wonderful.
  • Ah, resistance:fall of man. The only reason I play the hell out of this game is the fact that it seems more balanced then any of the FPS today IMO. If your human you are much more difficult to hit, radar is available, and you can run without taking any sluggish damage. THe Chimera however CAN SEE THROUGH WALLS BITCHES, but they take damage if you engage that feature too long and they are easier to hit with their size and fucken smoke-flames shooting out when they run.
    My sum up of FPS
    FPS true app is Counter Strike. CS forever
    Halo is the arcade style "anyone can play cause it's easy" FPS
    Quake, I can catch you cause you running too fast FPS
    Resistance, holding me over till Killzone2 and Crysis.
  • I personnaly don't need innovations in my shooters, fps is my favorite genre and i love them as they are, don't go fucking around with my genre or i will kill you (amessage to all the developers out there)
  • FPS NEEDS amazing online play. I was hooked on Socom 1/2, and even though the online play sucked, for its' time on a PS2 it was amazing. There was a still pretty active community of gamers (Around 30,000 a night) going on after 2 years. It's a shame that Socom 3 sucked, or I'd probably still play it.... damn you.... lag.
  • What I touched on, and what Drunken Haze also mentioned, is, what I guess you could call convergent AI. The easiest example would probably be to think about a flock of birds flying in the sky, like the large migratory groups. Notice how they all move and turn in unison, like a single unit. AI needs to do this. Its the main reason why military shooters are lame if you stand back and think about it. The enemies don't function as a group. Its all heavily scripted battling made up to look like the AI is cooperating.

    When entering an area, the AI should do checks almost like an RTS game. What resources do I have, what is the enemy using, can I limit the effectiveness of said resources? So in my Hexen-esque example(sorry if I bored you all to tears/skipping that big post), the front line melee guys might form a defensive phalanx formation and walk forward until their ranged casters could attack you. Then they'd get buffs based on what weapons/spells you've displayed, and th melee guys would sprint towards you, following a volley of attacks, or a smoke screen designed to make your attacks less effective.

    The AI can also draw attention by unleashing large Juggernaut Berserker style enemies. I doubt you'll be targetting the spell casters behind a wall of shields when that 20 ton monstrosity with six foot horns is charging at your face.

    But in my example, the AI would take note of your attention shifting towards the monster. The units would form a crescent formation around you, plucking away with various ranged attacks while you aren't looking.

    If you place enough nodes, smaller groups might run from cover to cover, half of them attacking at range while the other half moves(kind of like squads of soldiers in the military).

    The idea is to get away from brain-dead aggressor AI. That and to increase the scope of battles to make things way more impressive than the standard 'walk down a corridor and shoot four guys, repeat until end credits' gameplay we see today.
  • AI in these games is always talked up a lot but is SHIT, really. "OMG look in our game...if you take cover...THE ENEMY WILL JUMP ONTO THAT COVER TO GET YOU. THAT IS REVOLUTIONARY!!" No, fuck you developer, it's not. It's not tough to tell an enemy "go towards player, if encountering an object that you can get over, do this animation and go up." Fuck that. "The enemies work as a pack! They take cover when getting hit!" Well guess what. That's not AI innovation. To have an enemy take cover and pop his head out every once in a while isn't fucking intelligence to me. I still haven't seen amazing AI in a game, not truly amazing AI. Where the hell is innovation besides these so-called 'smart' enemies? And don't get me started on AI friendlies, and how fucking retarded that is. I can't give you a true body count on how many friendlies have managed to move into my line of fire. Or how many get stuck on a barrel. Or a wall. Or a fucking cup on the ground. FUCK! That's the next new goddamn frontier in gaming, anyway, is AI. Graphics are about as useful as taking a shit in the woods these days. As long as my mind can get a good enough picture of what the fuck is going on, then that's all I need. I LIKE seeing when I scare the enemies, they shit their pants. I LIKE shooting holes in shit. But it's no substitute for AI. AI, motherfucker, do you speak it?
  • If you haven't seen it already:
    http://www.gametrailers.com/moses/moviesthumbs/21344-timemasteryhd.jpg

    Its a FPS called Timeshift that uses Prince of Persia style time control, except that you move independently of the changes. So falling still kills you, as does getting hit, but anything else goes. This means you can stop time, grab somebody's weapon, and shoot them with it. Its a gimmick, but has been getting good reactions from the trailers. Innovation, or aforementioned gimmick? ;)
  • Sunflower4000 said:
    AI in these games is always talked up a lot but is SHIT, really.


    Well, you have to keep in mind that AI is _hard_. Especially in 3D games where you have to worry about general pathfinding, shooting, and group tactics. As far as I can tell, the only FPS that had somewhat impressive AI was FEAR, and even then, they were just ok on the grand scheme of things. I think it'll be a few more years before you truly see an impressive AI show up in most computer games -- everyone is still spending a majority of their CPU cycles on graphics and only just recently has physics started to get a share. AI won't really take priority for a while, not to mention the problem space is a few orders of magnitude more complex. It took decades before we had a computer that could reliably beat a grand master at chess, and that's an 8x8 board with a few types of pieces.

    There is only one game I know of in all of video-gamedom that has a _very_ well respected AI that can trounce most people. And that's Galactic Civilizations. They spend tons of cpu on AI (and even have their own threads) and have been focusing on it since the original Gal Civ when it was on OS2.

    Yw
  • Dart said:
    If you haven't seen it already:
    http://www.gametrailers.com/moses/moviesthumbs/21344-timemasteryhd.jpg

    Its a FPS called Timeshift that uses Prince of Persia style time control, except that you move independently of the changes. So falling still kills you, as does getting hit, but anything else goes. This means you can stop time, grab somebody's weapon, and shoot them with it. Its a gimmick, but has been getting good reactions from the trailers. Innovation, or aforementioned gimmick? ;)


    I have an old pc demo for TimeShift lying around here somewhere, but I've never even put it into my machine. I should play it and report back although it supposedly has changed drastically since it's earlier stages.
  • Yeah, that would be the Atari demo, which is supposed to be horrible. Download a newer demo when it gets released.
  • Battlefield creators DICE seem to be trying to spark some life into the FPS with a couple of new projects. The first is Haze, which isn't all that revolutionary except that it uses the first-person perspective to mess with your mind about what your character is actually seeing and what they are imagining.

    The second is called Mirror's Edge, a parkour inspired first person adventure that seems to be like a free-form, first person Prince of Persia. The idea is not to gun down hoards of enemies, but to keep running from them through massive obstacle-course-like city streets. DICE are aiming to shatter the old FPS convention of the player being a floating gun by instilling a real sense of body into the character. The camera moves in a realistic way, your foot-falls make the right sounds, your body has inertia meaning that you don't just hold down a button and start sprinting at full speed, your perspective gliding over the ground like a ghost. You'll be able t see more of yourself than just your hands and feet. Imagine jumping out of a high window, twisting in mid-air to fire at the guy chasing you, and being able to see your whole body flying behind you. As you're weaker but faster than your enemies, the combat (when present) is focused on movement and evasion. Think of those movies where a man with a gun is firing wildly at a ninja bouncing around the room, slowly moving closer, until eventually he's right up close and makes the kill. You'll actually be able to be the fast-moving blur from that scene.

    The idea is very ambitious, and it may not work, especially as DICE want to avoid using any face buttons so as to keep your thumb on the right analogue and have thus simplified the controls. Still, it shows that someone has taken those frustrating jumping sections in many FPSes and is trying to make a whole game of it.

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