May 20, 2012 8:00 PM | John Polson
"It seems like a lot of these modern FPS games take themselves way too seriously," says Brad Carney, the developer behind Wrack, an upcoming shooter which is looking to capture the high-speed, retro feel of classic Doom, albeit with updated, cel-shaded visuals.
"They're way too focused on realism, which I think hurts them in a number of ways," he continues. "Visually, the games are photorealistic and drab, and it's not too interesting to
With Wrack, Carney wants to offer a first-person shooter for gamers who are feeling bogged down by realism, and want to return to good old-fashioned arena-style blasting. The single-player campaign for the title pits you against the invading alien Arcturan empire, with nothing but speed and a wide range of weaponry to help you off the hordes of monsters, traps, and bosses you'll face.
It's not just graphical advancements that have impeded progress in the shooter genre, suggests Carney. "From a gameplay standpoint, it hurts a lot too. In most of these games, you play as a really slow character that can't dodge anything, so most of the gameplay involves hiding and waiting around for your shields to recharge."
"To me, having all gameplay come to a complete halt every time I take some damage so my shields recharge is really boring."
Carney says that "It all boils down to fun," an element that modern day FPS games are missing. With Wrack, he hopes to resurrect what the genre was doing right all those years ago.
"Wrack doesn't strive for realism, so that gives it all kinds of leeway to be a fun game. Usually you're out in the open using your fast speed to dodge missiles that fly by, and the action doesn't slow down when you take a hit."
The game will not coast along on this ideal alone, however, as new gameplay mechanics will be introduced every couple of levels to keep the action fresh. Boss battles inspired by epic fights from 2D platformers such as Castlevania and Contra are also on the cards to give the experience a bit of a twist.
There's another key element that Carney is focusing on too, as he attempts to bring the FPS genre full circle -- modding. The game will come with its own level editor called WrackEd, which will be made available to modders even before the game launches, so that a community can be built up before the release.
"I think the most important thing is that it's got to be really intuitive," Carney says of modding tools. "People generally prefer to not have to look at tutorials (especially not a godawful manual), so the better you can design things in accordance with their natural instincts, the better. If you're constantly battling the editor trying to get it to do what you want it to, or if things just don't work the way you expect them to, you're probably not going to have a very good time with it, and probably won't stick it out."
He continues, "If you're able to figure things out on your own though it's going to be very rewarding, and that's what I've tried to do with Wrack's level editor."
As part of creating his own level editor for the game, Carney has also built the game's engine from scratch. "I'm pretty particular about the things I've wanted in Wrack, and how those things should be implemented," he says, adding, "I don't know how well an existing engine would suit Wrack's needs."
"I also think adding features and effects to an existing engine would be problematic due to the lack of familiarity with the engine you're working with," he notes. "Since I've developed the Wrack engine from scratch, I know it like the back of my hand and as a result have a very easy time adding features or fixing bugs."
Of course, building the game via his own engine also means that Carney doesn't have to pay a percentage of his profits to license an engine from another company.
"That's money we can put back into the game and hire more artists and designers to make an even better game," Carney says, although he notes the flipside to this -- "I can understand though there are times when it makes sense to license an engine - I'm fortunate to have had a lot of experience working on FPS games prior to Wrack, and may be in the minority on that."
Carney's prior experience includes Skulltag, an expansion for the original Doom that adds online multiplayer and new features, and is still popular to this day.
"A big reason that Skulltag and Doom in general are still so popular today is because of the modding," he explains. "People have made, and continue to make some really amazing maps which not only helps keep the game fresh and interesting, but it also helps build up a community."
"That's definitely what I want for Wrack as well. I hope people are making maps and mods for it for years to come!"
[This article originally appeared on Gamasutra, written by Mike Rose.]