Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Next Gen FPS

First person shooters have existed for the past 10 years. Over time, they have slowly developed to include new features. DOOM had your arsenal of weapons, and made you run around arenas, pick up keys, open doors, and shoot enemies. As the years progressed, games like Half-Life came around, where it wasn't all about shooting. New features were introduced like sneaking around, solving puzzles, using vehicles, and new weapons.
And now it's been about 15 years since the first First Person Shooter came out-what's so different about today's FPSs?

Bare Minimum
- Players should be able to stand, crouch, and go prone (especially for outdoor maps).
- Players should be able to pull themselves over short ledges, even if they can't jump over them.
Interaction With the Enviroment
FPS's for the most part have mainly been combat situation after combat situation in a series of arenas. Games like Half-Life 2 add physics to the equation and make the gaming world a more interesting place to play in.
Interaction with the enviroment barely exists in most FPS games today (e.g. Call of Duty), but utilizing it could do so much more for the game.

America's Army would probably score a 6/10 for interaction. In AA, you can lean, roll, crack open doors, and do some other stuff.
CS would score a 3/10 for interaction. Some custom maps allow for more interaction, but the basic gameplay allows none.

Destructive enviroments have been in games for a long time now, but they seem to do little more than act as eye candy for the player.
Enviroments should change the gameplay, and shape the gameplay, and understanding the enviroment should be useful to the player.

- Lighting is a key factor in any game. Make the lights shoot-outable, have light switches, fuse boxes, power conduits that control an entire room, and other things that control electricity.
- Players should leave footprints, kick up dust, and leave blood if they are shot.
- Enviroments should be destructable and alter the gameplay. A well placed nade should blow up a door, or destroy a section of a wall to create an alternate entrance.
- Objects should be pick-upable and furniture should be able to be moved to create blockades.
- You should be able to shoot down trees, create avalanches, bury yourself in the snow, push a rock off a mountain, or climb up a rock wall.

Skill, Teamwork, Wits, and Manpower
The more ways there are to win, the better.

- Having a primary objective is always better than deathmatch, and including a secondary objective usually makes it even more fun.
- Different objectives=More ways to have fun. Counter-Strike has bomb-planting, hostage rescuing, and VIP missions. America's Army has single objectives by pressing USE on a special object. Call of Duty has Capture the Flag, and Headquarters mode. Battlefield has take the entire map by controlling special zones. You could take all these together and make even more objectives, creating diverse, fun, and different maps.
- Winning should NOT be all about skill. There should be many ways to defeat the enemy, including being skillfull. Other ways might be using teamwork, outsmarting the enemy, flanking the enemy, creating a barricade, rushing one choke point, or some other alternative.
A skillful player should be able to kill an inexperienced player, but an inexperienced smart player should be able to kill a dumb player, no matter how good the dumb player is.
A team of mediocre players using teamwork should be able to defeat a team of professional rambos acting independently on the other team.

For Example (Putting all this together):
2 players enter a building. In today's Counter Strike: Source scenario, all they can do is shoot each other, nade each other, or knife each other, and the enviroment around them is unchangeable, and non-interactive. (Yes you can shoot those wacky crates, break those little bottles in two, but doing those things serves nothing really except for being eye candy.)
The players should be able to shut out the lights, chase each other down in the dark, hide under tables, desks, and chairs, and interact with everything in the enviroment.
One player could cut out the electricity in a section of the building, disabling all lights and doors. The other player could enter the ventilation shaft, and sneak around the rafters.
The first player could set up himself in a room and blockade all the doors and hide in the corner, waiting for his opponent.
The enviroment should be able to kill the other player. Shooting down objects from the ceiling, pushing down bookcases, and shooting explode-able objects should do it.
Then you can add objectives into the map, and having special ways to complete each of them. This makes the conditions for victory change, introducing new gameplay factors, and different ways to play a map.



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