Comments on

Finding the First Person

Original entry posted: Wed Aug 17 20:31:21 2005

Corvus @ Wed Aug 17 05:05:49 2005 EST

I think the point about the successful FPS innovation over the years revolving around viewpoint is a good one that's often overlooked.

The FPS, after all, gave us WASD which is used as a control scheme in many non-FPS games today. And if I had a dollar (sorry, inflation) for every time someone I've heard bitter complaints about the lack of strafe in a game, I'd make a serious dent in my mortgage.

In a way, I suppose, it could be argued that a lot of innovation springs from the FPS. It just doesn't stay there.

Josh @ Wed Aug 17 08:25:33 2005 EST

Jet Grind Radio, eh?

I'll be the first to admit I wasn't entirely successful, but at least someone was trying to fight the derth of rollerblade deathmatches ;)

Thomas @ Wed Aug 17 08:58:23 2005 EST

Corvus: For me, it's always been WAXD. I use my thumb to back up, and S becomes a use key for games that need it. But I agree that many of the mouselook conventions have become much prominent in other games--perhaps because it's such a perfect replacement for the console analog stick. We need a way to manage different movement speeds besides just chording, however.

Josh: Good lord, is there any mod you haven't made at one point or another?

Josh @ Wed Aug 17 09:36:55 2005 EST

Heheh, well I'm personally responsible for more mutators in UT2003 than any one person :) I didn't play the game, I just modded it. I've actually played the unmodded version of UT2003 and 4 probably less than, I dunno, 10 hours total.

There's a couple I didn't finish, though, and a few involving the mechanics I had on my RT that I didn't really get started.

Re: mouselook ... you know, I think there isn't a single FPS convention which has caused more problems than being able to look up and down (and diagonally), and yet it is so vital. Still, watch a newbie try to play and it's clearly an issue.

If it weren't for the pro-gamer crowd, I'd like to see some FPS's try locking mechanics, a la Zelda. It would make the FPS less about analog skills and more about tactics/strategy.

Thomas @ Wed Aug 17 10:12:34 2005 EST

As long as the lock-on is handled better than Zelda does it--I never could finish Ocarina of Time, just because the combat felt so clunky. Metroid Prime, on the other hand, did a pretty good job.

The only real reason that a realistic game would particularly need a mouselook would be aimed-shots. Most of the time, you're probably shooting at people on the same vertical plane as yourself. Perhaps a lock-on that let you "bend" the target reticle off toward the legs or head with the second stick would be a good compromise between accuracy and ease-of-use.

handsome bunny @ Wed Aug 17 12:26:02 2005 EST


pseudonymous @ Wed Aug 17 16:08:07 2005 EST

What about "Thief?"

An FPS, built with the Unreal engine, I believe, but if you shot anybody, tried to pick a fight, you were dead man. I have had gaming thrills before, but it was a whole different experience in "Thief." You could be pinned down in a dark hallway with five guys with swords wandering about, and all you could do was wait. Screw up and ten more swords would flock to the area looking to kill somebody.

I'm talking about bolting down hallways trying to escape those guys, fearing for your life, knowing you can't turn around.

Part of the problem with FPS is you never have to run from a fight. You're never scared. "Thief" had consequences and a purpose that couldn't be accomplished by railgunning your way down a concrete hallway, and that's what made it fun.

I loved "Unreal Tournament," but to be honest you could technically just stand there and as long as you had a bigger gun and started shooting first, your opponent would die first, and you could make it to health before he respawned and found you. If you die, so what? Respawn, be quicker on the draw next time.

The problem isn't so much a lack of verbs for the player - Deus Ex let you do a ton of stuff - I remember getting high and jumping off the 'Ton Hotel in Hell's Kitchen just to see what it would look like (just like you'd think it would). The point is forcing the gamer to expand his vocabulary. If all I have to do is get rid of the guy in front of me, and I have a gun, and it works, and I'd be rewarded, I shoot the guy and everybody around him. Then, I get high and jump off of buildings.

But if you have to do something more than simply eliminate him, guns don't work or aren't available, and getting high and jumping off a building is a bad idea, developers and gamers might have to get creative. And that would push people to give us a few more verbs and to use them in the game.

Thomas @ Wed Aug 17 16:31:21 2005 EST

The point is forcing the gamer to expand his vocabulary. If all I have to do is get rid of the guy in front of me, and I have a gun, and it works, and I'd be rewarded, I shoot the guy and everybody around him. Then, I get high and jump off of buildings.

This is true, but I think we're discussing the same thing from different angles. I think if we give players other options, not only can we create incentives to use them or disincentives to use violence, but players will take advantage of them just because they'll be more interesting.

Thief did offer an interesting take, but many of its new verbs were just guns that didn't kill people. Instead, for example, the moss arrow would carpet the floor, or the water arrow would put out torches. I agree that those functions are much more creative and interesting, but they're still just creating effects instead of immersion.

To be honest, I'd really like to see the entire adversarial relationship between player and entities removed or altered in a future first-person game.

Thomas @ Wed Aug 17 16:31:59 2005 EST

Please ignore the fact that I used the word "interesting" about 12 times there. I really need to expand the size of this comment box.

Josh @ Wed Aug 17 18:38:50 2005 EST

Actually the first Thief to use Unreal was Deadly Shadows. First two were a homegrown Looking Glass engine. But that is beside your point.

Thief was definately innovative. Way innovative. Defined the First Person Sneaker subgenre, and for which we wouldn't have fine games like Splinter Cell without, or at least not yet.

But in some ways, Thief is also a pretty simple evolution. It's less about combat and more about non-combat. In MMO terms, it would be all bout not aggroin' anyone. I think FPS genre needs a bigger bang than this, it needs a game to take something and just change it in a way nobody really expected to see from the industry.

Corvus @ Thu Aug 18 06:33:47 2005 EST

If I were to draw the line in the sand between FPS and non-FPS, Thief would squarely fall in with the non-FPS crowd.

I find the concept of a non-adversarial FP game to be intriguing and I'm trying to think of a play style that would be better suited to another perspective.

I'm working on a puzzle game concept right now, in fact, that was briefly going to be first person, but I tossed out the idea in favor of a more traditional puzzle viewpoint of "3rd person omniscient". Perhaps I should explore the first person concept of it more fully.

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