May 18, 2012 2:00 PM | John Polson
In this second of a two-part series, IndieGames explores with several developers what first-person shooter (FPS) mechanics should make a comeback and which are overdone and need to suffer a metaphorical head-shot.
Joining the discussion again are Alan Wilson of Tripwire Interactive (Killing Floor, Red Orchestra), Kedhrin Gonzalez of Illfonic (Nexuiz), Alex Austin of Cryptic Sea (A New Zero), Michiel Beenen of Interwave (Nuclear Dawn), Oscar Jilsén of Coffee Stain Studios (Sanctum), and Mladen Bošnjak of Misfit Village (SickBrick).
Here, developers recall some fantastic older games such as Rainbow Six: Vegas, Redneck Rampage, Duke Nukem, Quake 3, System Shock, and Terra Nova as refreshing sources for future FPS titles.
Developers also rehash mechanics that desperately need to be retired, as found in titles such as Call of Duty and its Modern Warfare entries, Battlefield 3, and Halo.
Where would you like to see the games imitate, as in what old or forgotten elements of FPSes should be revisited?
Oscar Jilsén, Coffee Stain: I personally am a big fan of the secondary fire feature that was common back in the day. It (usually) made the weapons a little deeper and invited the player to switch up their tactics.
Alan Wilson, Tripwire: I've been replaying bits of Rainbow Six: Vegas recently. I always loved the whole terrorist hunt mode in that game. [I'd like] more tactical games, that don't revolve around some Hollywood plot type of thing.
Kedhrin Gonzalez, Illfonic: FPS games have been losing the exploration factor. This is due to short attention spans. The majority of FPS fans just want non-stop, in your face action. I prefer exploring, getting into the environment. It was awesome running around Redneck Rampage and laughing at all the stuff. Duke Nukem, I mean come on. That was so fun! Games take you on a linear track because developers want constant engagement and don't want to spend resources doing some crazy event players might miss. This goes back my FPS RPG argument, [in the first part of this series]. They almost go hand in hand!
Mladen Bošnjak, Misfit Village: Well, I thought that Serious Sam 3 was going to bring back the old Doom-like fun of just shooting hordes of guys, but that's just not working for me anymore. I think that developers making FPS games should look back on the original Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 and see how great just shooting all of those weapons feels. I remember how I always used the ripper in UT just because it was fun to shoot, also the minigun from UT and the one from the original Serious Sam. They just don't make them like they used to.
Michiel Beenen, Interwave: Difficulty. Not every game needs to be murderously difficult, and talk of 'hardcore' switches is plain silly. However, we feel that modern FPS games place too much emphasis on coddling the player from one glorious moment of epic accomplishment to the next.
Games are starting to feel like highlight reels of these unreal, impossible heroes that it's hard to feel connected to them. Kill the player, make them fear the dark and their enemies, and don't make victory a foregone conclusion, please.
Alex Austin, Cryptic Sea: I would like to see games use some elements of pre-Quake FPS games like Ultima Underworld, System Shock or Terra Nova. All of those games had a lot of detail and complex interactions; unfortunately, everyone followed the id Software path of shoot everything. Also someone should remake Hidden and Dangerous 1 with a new engine so I can play it with my friends.
What elements of FPSes are overdone at this point?
Oscar Jilsén, Coffee Stain: I could go on about regenerating [health] and the two-weapon standard. But that's common knowledge. Something I think is overdone at this point is the "cinematic effect". There seems to be more watching than playing in modern FPS games; you constantly get interrupted in the middle of gameplay. If I wanted to just sit and watch, I'd be watching a movie.
Don't get me wrong, though, I don't have anything against cut scenes. Not if they're used at the right moment. But modern FPS games seem to be some kind of half move half game hybrids.
Alan Wilson, Tripwire: Modern warfare, bad takes on asymmetric warfare (i.e CT/COIN), immensely expensive scripted story-line pieces with dodgy voice acting. That sort of thing!
Kedhrin Gonzalez, Illfonic: Well, I do think multiplayer games have become too slow. I'm not saying those games are bad. But every FPS game? Give us back the right to really brag about being a good gamer. FPS games got slower because of how Halo dominated the console market. I think multiplayer is fun in Halo and COD, but not every game needs to mimic them.
Mladen Bošnjak, Misfit Village: Call of Duty is pretty overdone as a series. I think that Call of Duty and Battlefield are hurting their developers in a way that they're not innovating enough. There's only so much you can do in the warfare scenario. DICE did a great thing with Mirror's Edge, but they can't build on that because EA is probably pushing them to make new Battlefield franchise installments.
As for particular game elements I don't know if anything is overdone, maybe just not done enough. I'd like to see more bullet time in AAA FPS games. Fear 3 and TimeShift are the last ones that had it that I have played, and both of those games aren't really good.
Michiel Beenen, Interwave: Martial themes could be turned down a notch or two. These days, it's impossible to have an adventure, it seems, without being some kind of elite commando master sergeant of awesomeness who was removed from service for being too cool for the army.
Half Life's main character was a nerd with glasses, System Shock's was anything from a technician to a psi expert. Drake from Uncharted (not an FPS, but still) is a rogue adventurer. People who don't spend 29 hours a day polishing their shotgun are cool, too.They can go on adventures, as well!
Alex Austin, Cryptic Sea: Linear story. Multiplayer where you run in, shoot a guy, die, respawn and repeat. Perks. Basically Battlefield 3.
[Thanks to all the developers who participated in this awesome discussion. Interested FPS fans can read the first part of this discussion here. I'm very excited about the upcoming 7DFPS (seven-day first-person shooter) challenge taking place from June 9-June 15, which I think will address a lot of these issues in the games they make. (image source)]