Wednesday, August 18, 2010
FPS features we're dying to see, devs
Open letter to developers the world over - don't give us the same shooter formula, the predictable enemies - the cool, futuristic weapons. Don't give us enemies who think flank is just a type of steak. No, no, please give us shooters that let us take control of any vehicle we see - that allows us to have a learning curve on weapons and armament our characters have little knowledge of - and mostly, allows us to deviate from the mission for TOOs ... targets of opportunity.
Basically, since you are going down this path to realism, double-time it, por favor.
Please, devs, don't take this is the end-all list of features we shooter fans want. No, keep innovating the genre. Don't let it get stale - aim to make this as real as possible. Granted, most of us will never see combat and I have nothing but respect for the men and women who have served - and died - protecting our country and our freedoms, but the arenas developers like Infinity Ward and DICE - and even Bungie - have crafted for us are awesome ways for us to escape the sagging economy, our thankless jobs, our cramp studio apartments.
Let me kick things off - readers, please, feel free to jump into the discussion.
1. Offer more insertion/extraction options. MW2 did an awesome job of this. The Gulag mission is the most memorable, as well as the SEAL style insertion onto oil rigs the mission before. Both of those missions put gamers into an environment that was unlike anything the average person has ever seen. Offer us more. Give us a FP HALO (stop, PS fanbots and READ) jump - high altitude, low opening from a C-130 or C-17 from a few miles up. Make it so real that we will feel the need to hurl. Give us faulty parachutes (not all the time, but make it unexpected) and force us to punch the reserve one. Allow us to use any vehicle to get out of dodge after we complete our mission. Force us to swim back out to the submarine that dropped us off, with the enemy in hot pursuit. Don't just fade the action - let us escape and let us catch our breath, THEN fade out. One movie that sticks in my mind is the John Wayne Classic, The Green Berets. At the end of a mission to bomb this officer's house, two sets of Green Beret made off into the night in a motorcycle and sidecar, and the others were cramped into an old-school Citroën.
Which brings me to point 2. Force us to improvise. Don't always have supply crates scattered all over the place. Limited ammo - jammed weapons (Far Cry 2 did this very, very well) and faulty radios. Make gamers do their missions - by any means necessary - even if it's unconventional. Don't end missions when we don't shoot an officer's arm off - let the game continue to play and see how missing the mark forces the men and women of the U.S. military's special forces to operate with precision. Show gamers how letting a big fish slip away equals a nuke strike on a major U.S. city.
Point 3. Keep it real(istic). Cars run out of fuel. So do jets (and boats). Weapons overheat. Sometimes, our teammates are hit with friendly fire and are wounded and die. Other times, we are given an order by a commander lightyears away from the action and a soldier up close to the action knows how critical disobeying an order is to the mission's success. Force gamers to chunk down MREs or like my boy Solid Snake - stock up on nutria, pythons and any other rodents.
Point 4. Evolving AI. Make the enemies pin gamers down, and seek cover. Force players to lay down suppressing fire to move from point to point. Have hourlong firefights - or have us pinned down AND have the enemy advance. Make it so intense that we'll stay in cover until someone figures out a plan. Have NPCs go nuts as bullets whiz by. Let the enemy be downright dirty. As Swayze (RIP) said in "Red Dawn" "Geneva Convention? I never HEARD of it!"
Point 5 - win the hearts of the people. If you mistreat the farmers, villagers, they won't fight back, during the day. At night, they'll hit you with all they have. Do good deeds for the farmers and villagers, and they'll slip you intel. If you do side quests for them, they'll tell you everything about the enemy.
Point 6 - let us pick one role and stick with it. Truth be told, I love flying the Predator Drone in MW2. Let us fly it for an entire game. Let us go through training - and play 14 hours just doing one task. When you run out of ammo or fuel, return to base, refuel and rearm and go back for more. Or let us drive a tank - fly a helo - drive a Humvee - or just be a foot soldier. Give us more than one choice and don't jump around unless we can choose to.
And my final point - Point 7 - reward heroics above and beyond the call of duty. In real combat, if a soldier does something above and beyond the call of duty, they are rewarded a medal. After the soldier make it back to camp, let the other soldiers give them props - or even have their superior recognize their work. Have the enemies spooked. Have captured prisoners talk of the exploits. Just like the honor/dishonor system. Put that into shooters and force gamers to be responsible for their actions. Even do a cutscene where gamers face court martials, Senate hearings.
I doubt any of these requests will be acted upon, but as gaming evolves, it's a benchmark that should be pondered.