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NukeJockey

Are FPS games going backwards?

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Last night I hired Call of Juarez: The Cartel for Xbox 360. Within 10 minutes I was bored with it already.

 

Its not that it was a bad game, the graphics were okay and the gameplay was similar to that of COD. But it got me thinking.

 

Are games going backwards?

 

19 years ago the gaming world was rocked by Wolfenstein 3D and a year later it was rocked even harder by Doom, the 2 games given credit for shaping/creating the FPS genre, but it leaves me wondering, how far have we really come since then?

 

One answer is obvious, while Wolf3D and Doom use 2D sprites and basically no vertical axis for aiming, newer games are TRUE 3D, you can aim up/down etc. and ofcourse with that, we have the grapical improvements. We're not going backwards in that regard, but lets forget about that.

 

What about the core of the game? In Wolf3D and Doom you make your way through fairly linear levels, sometimes this requires a bit of back tracking and maybe some slight puzzle solving (the extreme of the former and the latter being finding keys and the doors they are used for to progress).

 

When you look at them like that, they're fairly simple, but have they really changed all that much? I'll use quite possibly the most popular FPS franchise of all time as my first example.

 

Call of Duty, Now, there is no denying that this is a popular FPS, but not so much because of its SP. The SP is very simple I feel that it really hasn't evolved all that much since Doom, it may even be argued that it has taken a step backwards. Once again, forget about the technological advancements, these add nothing to the gameplay. You run/fight your way through linear levels, doing only what the game will allow you to do. You often hit checkpoints in a level, meaning you can't backtrack, your path is always forward, you can pick up different weapons, but your ways of killing people are similar to that of Doom and Wolf3D, just aim and shoot, pretty simple right?

 

What makes the COD series compelling ofcourse, is its story and presentation, this really shines through with IW's COD games like COD1/2 and the MW games. But once again we're back at the start of the argument, the core gameplay itself, has not really changed at all. I'm still shooting faceless bad guys that I don't give 2 shits about, I'm only killing them because they want to kill me, right?

 

What about Bulletstorm, made by People Can Fly, the same group that made Painkiller back in 2004, Bulletstorm was said to be a reinvention of the FPS genre, with new gameplay that changed the genre completely, all they did was add a points system to your kills, there was a little bit of world interactivity, but it was nothing that hasn't been done before, just now you get points for it. Weapons were really the only original gameplay element, with the whip and the ability to punt bad guys across the map. Is this progression? I don't believe so. You were still set on a linear path, once you passed certain points you were unable to go back. You just fought wave after wave of bad guys.

 

So I've given my views on AAA games that I feel are old and stale, that haven't evolved the genre all that much since the early 90s, every other genre has evolved in some way, shape or form over the last 20 years, but why not the FPS? Is it because (as someone said to me) there is no way to evolve it? Have we run out of ideas now?

 

There are always exceptions to the rule, quite possibly the best and most underrated FPS games of all time are the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, they are, simply put, amazing pieces of work. From the weapon ballistics, to the enemy AI, right down to atmosphere of the game itself, they are truly amazing games. But once again, I'm forced to ask, have these really evolved all that much? My answer is, slightly.

 

There is no denying that the S.T.A.L.K.E.R games are FPS', they well and truly are, but they blend other Genres in with them, most notably the RPG mechanics to completely change the whole style of gameplay, open world, inventory systems, upgradeable weapons, a money system, quests, factions etc. Just about everything a game needs to be classed as an RPG, except ofcourse, for a levelling system, many will claim that isn't a real RPG if there is no character development. This isn't to the detriment of the series though, if anything it helps them.

 

Is S.T.A.L.K.E.R a true evolution of the FPS genre? I like to think it is the best FPS ever, but its far from an evolution, its more than 1 genre in 1 game, that makes it truly amazing to play through.

 

Its my belief that we have run out of ideas with the FPS genre, the only way for it to go forward is to be able to tell an epic hollywood style story like the COD games, have stupidly fun (but not altogether original) gameplay mechanics, like Bulletstorm, or be joined with other Genres to flesh the game out more.

 

How many of you can describe the term FPS with more than a few dot points?

 

What about RPGs?

 

From what I can see, the FPS is falling behind compared to just about every other Genre. Even Arcade fighting games are evolving more than the FPS has.

 

Is this a bad thing? Or is it just that Singleplayer FPS' are falling by the wayside, opening more doors for multiplayer? Is multiplayer the true FPS evolution? Theres no denying that MP FPS' have evolved over the years, more game modes, levelling systems, etc.

 

What are your thoughts on the matter?

 

Have we come that far since the days of Doom and Wolf3d?

Edited by NukeJockey

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I think you already pretty much answered your question in a way by reasoning it out, we have got to a point were game devs merely replicate what others have done not really reinvent the wheel or anything like that although for me the last FPS game that was one of those blow you fucking mind kind of games was probably HL2 (combination of compelling story, gripping universe, excellent game length and overall an extremely well polished offering from Valve), COD4 came pretty close I think but that was merely just a follow on from COD2 sort of gameplay

Edited by nesquick

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I think we have got to a point that very few games nowadays are actually "new". This is due to that and the fact that so many are coming out

 

To be honest, the aforementioned Call of Duty is a great example of this. After Call of Duty 4, it's pretty much been a copy + paste old game ideas with new story, for me. Sure, World at War had Nazi Zombies, but that was it

 

You can't keep painting over old paint, sometimes you gotta strip everything back and start from scratch

 

EDIT: About the only new games I enjoy that introduce some new features would be Valve, but not much new has come since Portal

 

Oh and Sanctum is interesting :P

Edited by nobody813

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I think you already pretty much answered your question in a way by reasoning it out, we have got to a point were game devs merely replicate what others have done not really reinvent the wheel or anything like that although for me the last FPS game that was one of those blow you fucking mind kind of games was probably HL2 (combination of compelling story, gripping universe, excellent game length and overall an extremely well polished offering from Valve), COD4 came pretty close I think but that was merely just a follow on from COD2 sort of gameplay

I sort of agree with you there, HL2 and COD4 were amazing games to play through, but once again I still feel as though they did nothing new. Half Life 2 was simply a follow on from gameplay mechanics set up by Half Life, slightly more fleshed out, technological advancements definitely help alot, with physics based puzzles and the like aswell. COD4 was just a good story told in an amazing way, the production values of the game are second to none (except maybe MW2) but the gameplay itself was quite boring and far to linear for my liking, even the sniper missions, which were quite fun were partially ruined by the fact you had your hand held the whole way.

 

I really think that the way forward for FPS games is with the online components, the online in games like COD and the Battlefield games certainly dwarf the singleplayer experience. I guess the problem now is that gaming is so much more about making money than it used to be (and dont get me wrong, it has always been about making money) with companies like EA and Activision pushing out sequels every 12 months, it just feels like the genre is becoming stale, I know this has been mentioned in another thread and I whole heartedly agree; Publishers don't want to take a risk on a new game when they can throw out sequel after sequel and know that they will get money from it.

 

As far as gameplay goes, the COD series online component hasn't really evolved all that much, I still think COD4 is the definitive online version, the sequels/spin offs (treyarch's versions) simply added more perks, weapons and kill streaks, while leaving the core gameplay intact.

 

Another question: Does anyone think that consoles are to blame for this? One could argue that the limited memory and cpu power of consoles can really limit how much a developer can put into a level, but I think the argument loses ground as soon as anyone mentions GTA4 and RDR :P

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I don't think there's a great deal that can be done to expand upon the core gameplay (this also applies to most genres).

 

What devs should be focusing on, more than anything, is a well paced, well thought out design and overall, a balanced (action/story/puzzle solving/whatever else) game.

HL2 is a great example of this, I think.

Not to say that HL2 is the perfect model for other developers to mimick, or copy... but taking notes would be welcomed.

 

While the Call of Duty games for example have indeed found great success, the gameplay is copy/paste, and all they really do is try and out-do the previous game in terms of action scenes and overall intensity.

This is all well and good for a couple games in succession, but then developers should be trying to find ways to expand upon the game's variety a little, which would also result in an increase in length, as you'd be doing more than just shooting your way through scripted action sequences.

 

I enjoy FPS, it's probably my most played genre... though my interest is lacking lately due to all the overly generic FPS games popping up.

Many of them look kinda cool, or interesting... until you play it for yourself.

I hope Battlefield 3 is the game to rectify this.

Edited by Reb1rth.

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Why do people say this " This Xbox game had okay graphics".. Xbox graphics are all shit..its an xbox lol but i agree with the majority of what u said.. I guess there just getting lazy nuke :(

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Well how much more can you add to a genre that, by definition, is shoot other people/things? Once you come away from that you are in another genre. It's always just going to be tweaked and expanded upon. I don't think you can blame anyone for being lazy. Those first few games didn't even let you jump. These days you get a fleshed out story or a bazillion things to kill and everything in between.

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Same reason Transformers makes more money than brilliantly told/shot stories.

 

Shiny shit sells.

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Well how much more can you add to a genre that, by definition, is shoot other people/things? Once you come away from that you are in another genre. It's always just going to be tweaked and expanded upon. I don't think you can blame anyone for being lazy. Those first few games didn't even let you jump. These days you get a fleshed out story or a bazillion things to kill and everything in between.

 

There are ways you could flesh it out, other games have added brilliant systems like Adrenaline, fear etc. that change how you can play at that moment.

 

Basically fleshing out the character you play more, so they're not just a senseless drone running forth and taking a million bullets.

 

How about a real damage system and real life accuracy in more games like what ARMA 2 has, that adds heaps more to the gameplay, you need to have your wits about you to stay alive.

 

Or just more open level design, why not give us multiple paths to take through a level?

 

There are plenty of ways they can flesh out the genre, but the majority right now are the bare bones of the FPS genre, run forward and shoot.

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Too much accuracy puts people off and arma has it well covered from all accounts. When you flesh out your character you start to go action RPG a bit in most cases. It all gets driven by the users though. How many times do you read thing like "I just want to know what the multiplayer's like." on the announcement of a new game around here.

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Too much accuracy puts people off and arma has it well covered from all accounts. When you flesh out your character you start to go action RPG a bit in most cases. It all gets driven by the users though. How many times do you read thing like "I just want to know what the multiplayer's like." on the announcement of a new game around here.

 

And thats the point I was getting at, the SP FPS is dying, games like COD and BF are popular because of their multiplayer.

 

No one can deny the fact that the singleplayer FPS is getting stale, rehash after rehash and I'm fairly sure most of the games are made with the multiplayer at the forefront and the single player as an aside now. Its where the money is.

 

Also, they seem to be going for the lowest common denominator, which is console gamers (no offense guys) make a game where you need pure accuracy and its not accessible enough, this never used to be a problem, its all point and shoot now, there are still games (like ARMA2 and Stalker) that require you to know your weapon and aim truly, but most of them hardly even feel like interactive games anymore, you run along pushing 1 or 2 buttons and thats classed as a game? The control systems are almost as simple as PONG these days :P

Edited by NukeJockey

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Personally I think it is because we have come so far with graphics and physics, all FPS games had to build on top of 'shoot the bad guy' were either physics based puzzles, aka Half Life, or beautiful grpahics to wow us with aka Crysis, everything else is inbetween, we have reached the point beyond the threshold and there is nothing interesting here as it is all the same, nothing new.

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I'd say part of it is the proliferation of consoles into the scene has showed the marked decline in FPS evolution.

 

And also the disappearance of mods... people seem to forget that most of the major online FPSs either started as mods or were the direct result of groundwork made by modders... that free era of user input and a vibrant gaming community eager to try something new is long gone... the word "mod" has become a dirty word... and people would rather shell out $120 for a well polished cookie-cutter game rather than give something new a go...

 

The gaming community has become a bunch of old farts set in their ways... no change, nothing new, just shinier and more actiony. and the developers know it...

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The gaming community has become a bunch of old farts set in their ways... no change, nothing new, just shinier and more actiony. and the developers know it...

Foo on you! I've been computer gaming since the 286 was new tech, and I'm still hungry for new content. There isn't much of it.

 

I couldn't tell you why it is, but it seems like the new gamers gravitate to whatever the latest iteration of the same old game is. Maybe people just plain want to play a WW2 simulator, and don't care that there have been 1500 of those already.

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Or.. to put a slightly different spin on it...

 

Maybe you're just tired of FPS games?

 

If I took someone who'd never played a FPS before and put them down in front of a modern FPS, would they enjoy themselves?

 

Would they find it "fun" and "engaging"? I think there's probably a high chance they probably would.

 

It's easy to attribute what amounts to "over exposure" to a medium with flaws in the medium itself.

 

I think modern FPS has reached a point where that's all they can really *do* with the core mechanics, without turning it into something it's not (blending strong RPG elements in etc.)

 

Its no different in every form of creative expression.

 

Music is formulaic.. writing is formulaic. We've been re-singing the same old songs and telling the same old stories for thousands of years. It only appears new because we continue to forget the history of our mediums as time passes.

 

If we're bored with FPS.. then perhaps it's time to move onto something else? Rather than continue to hunt for the "next big thing" that will make the genre interesting again.

 

I think the MMO genre is suffering the same issue. People play WoW till they burn out, they wonder over to the next MMO to try and find that "New, exciting feeling" again.. only to find it's the same game, with different graphics.

 

Football, with a different coloured ball, is still football.

 

Personally, I've taken to playing games types that I normally wouldn't play. Indie games, games from years ago I missed. I'm mixing up my experiences to give myself a break from the "same old".

Edited by neowulf

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Well said, Neo. Personally, I haven't played a single genre over multiple games...well, ever, really. And I quite often haveseveral games on the go at the same time.

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Too much accuracy puts people off and arma has it well covered from all accounts. When you flesh out your character you start to go action RPG a bit in most cases. It all gets driven by the users though. How many times do you read thing like "I just want to know what the multiplayer's like." on the announcement of a new game around here.

 

And thats the point I was getting at, the SP FPS is dying, games like COD and BF are popular because of their multiplayer.

 

No one can deny the fact that the singleplayer FPS is getting stale, rehash after rehash and I'm fairly sure most of the games are made with the multiplayer at the forefront and the single player as an aside now. Its where the money is.

 

Also, they seem to be going for the lowest common denominator, which is console gamers (no offense guys) make a game where you need pure accuracy and its not accessible enough, this never used to be a problem, its all point and shoot now, there are still games (like ARMA2 and Stalker) that require you to know your weapon and aim truly, but most of them hardly even feel like interactive games anymore, you run along pushing 1 or 2 buttons and thats classed as a game? The control systems are almost as simple as PONG these days :P

 

...wait... You aren't about to complain about how consolification of games has led to their downfall have you? I could link you to some other threads on that subject. Maybe you read a couple. :P

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I agree with the sentiment in the OP.

 

I think part of it is corporate influence. 20 years ago there were heaps of small companies and publishers, now it seems like every title is released by EA or 2K etc... Today's games seem to be all about graphics, the budget and dev time for games has exploded due to the demand for ever improving 'realistic' graphics...

 

Due to these big costs you get a bit of an aversion to games that try something new as the suits are more interested in making a profit on their investment... this leads to the development of cookie-cutter franchises like COD. I think this is whats killed Duke Forever - it was basically a COD clone, presumably because the publisher just wanted to get some money back and COD makes heaps of money (although the misogyny/lame jokes didn't help its cause either).

 

Games are getting simpler for mass market appeal, there's no denying that. Civ 5 was a disappointment as they changed so many things around to be more accessible that it really lost its magic. Millions of people learned to play the original game without too much trouble so I don't see why suddenly its important to make it more accessible... oh right, dollars.

I agree with the sentiment that RPG's are getting simpler. Mass Effect 2 was a good example, you could see that they were going for an open world type game in the first one, with the exploring of uncharted planets - unfortunately it looks like they never finished it because most of these are just barren empty rocks. If they'd fleshed the planets out and actually gave you something to explore (instead of just driving over featureless terrain to points on your radar) this would have been an excellent game. The second game was simplified even more, they took this aspect out completely (instead you just 'scan' planets without setting foot on them), aspects of inventory and skill levels were simplified and streamlined etc... Instead of expanding on and improving parts of the game they removed them or made them simpler.

Same with Morrowind to Oblivion - there was definite streamlining/simplification going on there, to the games detriment. Unfortunately it looks like Skyrim is going further down this track too (just with fancy graphics).

 

Its very rare that you get a small dev team that cranks out a blockbuster title now. Terrarria and Minecraft are good examples of games made with a small team on a small budget, and are both excellent in their own right, albeit not FPS games. These are games that aren't afraid to try something new and experimental.

 

I think the root of this problem is, game designers aren't asking themselves 'what can we do better, what can we improve on'.. its basically 'better graphics and make it simpler/easier so we sell more copies'

 

I think the over-emphasis on graphics is also a bit of a detriment in itself -not only in the sense that it blows out costs and takes dev time away from other, arguably more important aspects of the game, but I think there's also an 'uncanny valley' effect going on. To this day Blake Stone is the one and only game I've played where I was so immersed that I was leaning left and right in my chair to try and see around a corner, before I remembered I was just playing a game. I haven't played anything since that engaged my imagination and suspended my disbelief like that. Today's games look so realistic, it just serves everything up on a platter so you don't use your imagination and thus it doesn't draw you into the game.

 

 

If you're jaded with todays games, do what I did and build a 386/486 and enjoy the golden era of PC gaming from the early 90's ;) (could use dosbox but where's the fun in that lol)

Edited by DonutKing

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I have actually worried on a few occasions about when the world will run out of creative ideas but at this moment I think there's still a decent bunch in the basket. It's just the many agendas that has been already mentioned like the dumbing down of gameplay for more consumers for more cash or the multiplayer focus that really alters the integrity of game making these days.

 

In the past there was some really fabulous games where the developers made so much stuff and paid attention to so much detail. One game i was personally fond of that started my PC gaming was Operation Flashpoint Cold War Crisis. That game was a love boat of gaming prowess for me. The gameplay was an amazing take on the battlefield and it lasted me ages. The campaign on that game went for a helluva long time and it was a good competent story too.

 

Now you have this thing called Modern Warfare which makes the campaign a Michael Bay ballz out movie and a multiplayer purely designed to be as simple and imbalanced as possible for more people to use their money on. Cunts like Activision discovered and exploited the pathetic profitable ways of game making and in the heat of the Financial Crisis everybody wouldn't mind that extra cash so many other developers follow their tracks.

 

Luckily games like ARMA 2 and STALKER still have that authenticity but that level of authenticity will remain a minority.

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Fear 3 was half the game Fear 1 was. IT SHOULD THE OTHER WAY AROUND DEVELOPERS!

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Fear 3 was half the game Fear 1 was. IT SHOULD THE OTHER WAY AROUND DEVELOPERS!

 

This is something I can get behind, although not just on a gameplay level.

 

Anyone that has played FEAR will remember how sparks and debris went everywhere when you were shooting up a room.

 

Fear 2 and 3 completely missed that bit of high tech trickery, shooting stuff looked crappy and boring, that was a real step backwards graphically. Gameplay, well there were some fun things, playing as Paxton was a real laugh.

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Yeah Fear 2 was probably the most dissappointing squeal i had to go through.

 

The gameplay was just so damn bland and dry.

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yeh i think op is a little harsh. but i do also think that fps peaked around 2007. i think posting after just playing cartel would put anyone in a negative frame of mind :), from what i hear, its down there with duke as contender for worst fps of 2011. can i suggest crysis 2 to give you faith in the fps genre? i wont use the word innovative as thats a pretty broad term which doesnt mean much imo. ill just list some of the things that make that game stand out from the crowd, and no i do not work for crytek :)

 

- great graphics, even at lowest details. not just the technical aspect. but the fully realised world is amazing!

- can slide into cover (very cool), then can auto lean around or above cover. a more seamless cover system than gears/mass effect imo

- tactical display options is great, but your not forced to use it

- suit modes are carried over from crysis 1, still a blast to play around with. you can go in cloaked and take enemies down with silencer pistol head shots or melee insta kill, or go in tank, rip off a turret gun from a nearby gun emplacement and pretend your arnie from T2 atop the cyberdyne building :)

- did i mention you can tear off gun turrets and take them with you?

- collectables strewn around the game, which give me incentive to explore the area once you've taken out all the enemies.

- heat vision mode is actually pretty damn useful in some situations.

- weapons are customizable, again carried over from Crysis 1.

 

now the game is not perfect, with the story being pretty convoluted when it didnt have to be. but i think it evoles the fps genre in some parts, or at least takes on board alot of the staples of the genre, and hopefully someone like Valve will take some of the above features on board and make an even better fps. imo by the time hl ep2 rolled around, the combat started feeling very stale, with things like melee combat and grenade throw toggle being big ommisions, but the story and awesomely realised game world kept me interested.

 

so do i think single player fps are in danger of becoming stale, i really dont know. but then again i think shooters have plateu'd since 2007 (Rainbow Six vegas, COD4, Bioshock, Crysis, Mass Effect (technically an RPG), gears of war, dead space (technically TPS's)) but had everything ive ever wanted in a fps:

- exciting gun play

- fully realised worlds

- decent enough storyline to keep me caring to see it out.

 

but i certainly dont think it hasnt evolved since doom! i think thats unfair, but since 2007? yeh you can argue that, i mean rage and bioshock infinite look seriously bad ass but probably play alot like borderlands and bioshock (respectively). hell then you have to ask, what can be added to keep things fresh? i mean i listed some things that crysis 2 did, but im sure someone will point out that most/all those things have been done before.

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