cliche-breaking FPS

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cliche-breaking FPS

Postby strange_person » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:04 am

First, read this. The TVtropes Wiki might be useful too.

What can the assembly creative minds which is the UJ forums come up with, as a concept for a game which is clearly a first-person shooter (as compared to a "first-person sneaker" like the Thief games or Splinter Cell, or a first-person puzzle game like Portal) but which defies the cliches of the genre?

My first thought is to set it on Mars, or in a nanite-infected lab, or both. The player starts out with an assortment of heavy weaponry, but as the game goes on, dust and/or hostile Ufog accumulates in whichever weapons are used most, eventually causing them to jam or fail spectacularly. It's possible to clean weapons, but costs valuable time and/or supplies.

Next is crates. If you've got a crate full of grenades, and you open it up by blasting it with a shotgun, not all of the grenades will be in usable shape afterwards. Some of them might even detonate prematurely. Crate full of medical supplies? Similar problem.

Keeping with the nanotechnology angle, there might be a better explanation available for item drops and the disappearance of low-ranking corpses: your character's nanoscale universal constructor can theoretically convert any substance to any other substance, but for in-the-field fabrication of ammunition and first-aid supplies, it's faster and more efficient to work with stuff that already contains a wide variety of trace elements and a reasonably high energy density. Like, say, a fresh corpse.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Relee » Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:55 am

You must be able to take many more hits than your enemies or the game ends instantly;


What, like in Ghouls and Ghosts? Or maybe that's why everyone secretly hates that game. ^.^;;

And yeah, the crate/forklift pallete thing is old tradition that doesn't make much sense.

Why not set it on the moons of Mars? Nobody has ever done THAT before. *sarcastic*

The weapons failing thing certainly follows the cliche breaking rule, but as a wise man in a hat once said "When has weapon degradation ever been a good idea?" It's just not fun. We don't do that for the same reason we don't make the player oil their sword every day or wipe all the blood off or take their armour off when they travel.

I'm just saying, in order to really satiate this goal, you not only need to break the cliches you need to make the game fun.


Plenty of games have boxes, crates, and barrels that you merely open instead of blowing up. World of Warcraft even has things like that, food crates and water/milk/juice/enchanted dew barrels.



Nanotechnology is also getting kinda old hat. Biotech is a little more hip but it's been done before too. Why not do something like Planescape, where you're traveling through pocket dimensions shaped by the thoughts and beliefs of people?
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Monthenor » Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:25 pm

I'd make a game with the usual supply of ten weapons of increasing power and set it in a completely unpopulated city, like what I hope Fragile is going to be. The city is mostly intact but every single surface is destructible and you can create quite a bit of havoc with your guns. Eventually if you turn up enough shaped charges you could domino some skyscrapers...from a safe distance. Any plot you want to shoehorn in would be delivered by ransacking apartments and offices for notes a la System Shock 2. I think I'd mostly have it be inane human correspondence, though. Nothing about a tragedy or plague or anything.

Maybe animals roaming the streets like that I Am Legend movie.

Main goal of the game is to find your way out (most of the egress points are blocked with rubble or fallen into the ocean or something; high-explosives are near the center of the city so you can't just de-rubble your way out immediately), at which point you meet exactly one other human being. They greet you with a level of horror directly proportional to the amount of damage you inflicted on the city and ask what the hell you did all that for. Cut to black, roll credits.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby OtakuMan » Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:49 pm

What are your opinions on BioShock as a cliche breaker?

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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby strange_person » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:18 pm

Mars particularly because it's close enough to seem like plausible near-future scifi, it's got an atmosphere, it's got low-enough gravity to be nifty and cinematic, and there's dust everywhere, which might reasonably be a problem for terrestrial firearms not specifically engineered to be used in deserts.

Relee wrote:The weapons failing thing certainly follows the cliche breaking rule, but as a wise man in a hat once said "When has weapon degradation ever been a good idea?" It's just not fun. We don't do that for the same reason we don't make the player oil their sword every day or wipe all the blood off or take their armour off when they travel.

I'm just saying, in order to really satiate this goal, you not only need to break the cliches you need to make the game fun.
Well, perhaps if understanding the workings of the weapons was itself a contributor to the fun of the game...

Maybe something like Girl Genius? You start out as a budding mad scientist, equipped with an array of absurdly-dangerous gadgets salvaged from your mentor's lab, and gradually develop the skills required to break devices down into their component parts, then recombine those parts into even more dangerous (or more specialized) contraptions. Occasionally, an individual part will break, most often under the stress of combat (either you overusing the weapon, or someone else hitting it in just the right spot). When this happens, you can either switch to some backup weapon, try to locate and repair/replace the damaged component, or reconfigure the weapon entirely so that it no longer requires the damaged component. With a good system, that last option is not necessarily as tricky as it sounds, especially if it's something like
[select >> power supply]
[remove >> gaussian stabilizer]
[add >> fuze (timed, 3-5 sec)], thus converting a laser pistol into to a very expensive grenade.

Replacement/upgrade parts could be found in all kinds of random places; rather than being a race to find the biggest gun, or the deadliest combo, the game could turn into a Pokemon-like multi-elemental rock-paper-scissors scavenger hunt. To keep people from just hoarding all the coolest components, maybe some kind of Majora's Mask-like overarching time limit?
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Relee » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm

Majora's Mask worked 'cause you could turn back the clock and teleport to all the boss rooms. I'm not sure that you could do that again without seeming derivative. It was awfully specific. ^.^;;

If you go with the mad scientist approach with weapons that occasionally break, you'd want to make it a ranged-combat game. Having your chain-sword break down in a melee is pretty much fatal. We ignore the fact that you'd do your best to maintain your chainsword outside of battle, because the details would be boring and you just wanna chop stuff up. "You don't have to load it! We did that shit for you!"

Also you would probably want to have a lesser-but-still-defeat-the-boss-able weapon like the Mega Buster. A plasma pistol with a self-replenishing power source would be great for your archetypal "Blaster". It's simple and efficent despite being high tech and powerful.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Alikat » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:35 pm

My idea for a cliche-breaking FPS: Something along the lines of Kingpin, where if you walk around outside with a weapon showing in public, people freak out, but if you holster it before you hit the streets, it's all good.

What I'd like to see is an old-fashioned Film Noir detective setting, a Philip Marlowe in a shabby office with a bottle of hooch in the desk drawer, who has to go around talking to people, but occasionally he has to fight or outwit someone like Marlowe did in "The Big Sleep." Sometimes he just has to hide in the shadows and wait while something plays itself out. At the end, he's not entirely certain that the trip was worth it, but he guesses it is, because the dame WAS a murderess, after all...

In other words, I'd like an FPS where you only shot your single revolver maybe a few times total in the entire game, but you were busily engaged in chasing down leads and getting socked in the head and interrogated by once-friendly, now-angry cops.

I would like the next FPS to have voice recognition software built in so that you can actually talk to the NPC's as if you were a real detective, and they would have a large library of programmed responses to key phrases and it would FEEL like a real conversation.

So less eye-candy, loads less shooting, loads more player-NPC interaction, voice recognition, a huge script with many possible outcomes and responses, and a storyline that doesn't require me to believe in Satanic invaders on a Martian moon.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby OtakuMan » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:00 pm

You know Alikat, I was just reading through your wish list for a cliche breaking FPS, and I realized that some of what you are asking for...

...has already been granted.

http://www.interactivestory.net/

Playing this game and writing feedback on it was required for a college class of mine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fa%C3%A7ade_%28interactive_story%29

Along with Narbacular Drop, this is another experimental game that is

a) FREE!
and
b) ALL USERS ON THIS FORUM SHOULD PLAY!

I'm not kidding, this stuff is genius!

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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby strange_person » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:40 pm

Alikat wrote:In other words, I'd like an FPS where you only shot your single revolver maybe a few times total in the entire game, but you were busily engaged in chasing down leads and getting socked in the head and interrogated by once-friendly, now-angry cops.

I would like the next FPS to have voice recognition software built in so that you can actually talk to the NPC's as if you were a real detective, and they would have a large library of programmed responses to key phrases and it would FEEL like a real conversation.

So less eye-candy, loads less shooting,

I agree that that would be a fun game (I've played that game based on the Godfather movies, has a lot of stuff like that, although it seems a bit too easy to buy off the coppers in the middle of a gunfight) but, as I specified with Portal and Thief references earlier, it's not really an FPS anymore.

As a guideline: unless at least 50% of play time is Pointing At Things and Making Them Die, and the buildup to/recovery from such activities, it's not an FPS, it's an FP*.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Relee » Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:13 pm

From what Alikat was saying, I think I would prefer that to be a 3rd person over-the-shoulder game than an FPS. I've never really liked FPS games. You've got no peripheral vision and you can only point your weapon/tool straight ahead.

I've often said that Rockstar should drop the gangsters and make detective games. <3
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby OtakuMan » Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:54 pm

Third Person actually has worse camera controls though. Dodgy camera angles are a pain in the royale arse.

With an FPS, you can't really blame the camera for you not looking the right way, or examining your surroundings more carefully. Also, with the introduction of 16:9 resolution High Def TV screens, peripheral vision becomes moot. If you don't like FP perspective, then oh well. But you can't solve FP problems by going Third-Person.

That's just lazy, in my opinion, because it doesn't address the issue of making BETTER FP games! It's like, "You know what? Screw it! Let's just go third-person."

And has ANYONE taken a look at Facade yet? Anyone?

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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Alikat » Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:08 pm

strange_person wrote:I agree that that would be a fun game (I've played that game based on the Godfather movies, has a lot of stuff like that, although it seems a bit too easy to buy off the coppers in the middle of a gunfight) but, as I specified with Portal and Thief references earlier, it's not really an FPS anymore.

As a guideline: unless at least 50% of play time is Pointing At Things and Making Them Die, and the buildup to/recovery from such activities, it's not an FPS, it's an FP*.

Bah, you ask for a non-cliche FPS and then when it doesn't follow one of the most standard of FPS cliches (the shoot-everything-that-moves-until dead cliche), you claim it's not an FPS because it isn't cliche enough? :p

Look, it's First Person, and you have a gun, it's just that you don't use the gun for everything including opening boxes. The gun is for more appropriately-paced action.

The deal with most FPS games is that they become a twitch-fest. Sargeant farging ROCK didn't fire off as many cartridges in HUNDREDS OF ISSUES as I do in one decent deathmatch. That's not realistic, if I was to fire my weapon that many times in one short session in real life I'd melt it down and my shoulder would be like a wad of purple hamburger, plus I'd be deaf and half-blind after a day like that. In World War II, it's estimated that only a tiny percentage of our soldiers actually fired at the enemy with intent to kill.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Relee » Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:44 pm

Third person camera controls have come a long way. Joypad games which use two thumbsticks allow you to control your direction and camera perspective simultaneously, giving you completely fluid movement and a clear field of view. Third person also gives you a much better field of vision and sense of pressence than first person perspective games. They also allow you to see the position of your appendages, allowing for semi-realistic sword-fights like in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In the First Person Perspective the best you're going to do is something like Oblivion, run straight forward and just keep clicking and 'oh they moved to the side where did they go?'. I don't know about you but if someone is right up in my face I can turn my head to see where they're going when they side-step me, while still holding my sword in place. If you have Oblivion I suggest you try it in the third person mode; it's not well implemented, but it's good enough to show you how limited and confined the first person character becomes. Walk around, strafe, crouch, jump, swing your sword, shoot your spell, that's IT. No sommersaults, no crawling, no hanging onto the edge, you can't even swing your sword in a circle around you, you can only hit something directly in front of you.

Likewise modern technology can't replicate a sense of balance, sense of smell, sense of gravity, or sense of touch. They barely convey a sense of pain by red flashes coming from the 'direction' of your attacker. All of these things can be covered for in a third person view. When you can see your body, you can understand the situation it's in. When you can see behind yourself a little, you can replicate your ability to sense things in close proximity.

Not everyone has a 16:9 monitor, and even those who do, the things can only replicate a field of view of about 90 degrees. This only covers the direct field of vision and continues to overlook peripheral vision. The average human has a field of view of 180 degrees, including their peripheral vision. In order to replicate that you'd need a monitor that wrapped around you in a semi-circle, or at least a 3D Visor.

Furthermore a third-person game gives you much more control of your position. In a first-person game you can't see your body, unless there is a mirror. You usually have the option to crouch, but that's it. In a third person game, you could cling tightly to walls, climb up a ladder and shoot while hanging on, do acrobatics, cling to a ledge and slowly edge yourself across a gap. The fact that you can't 'feel' your body in a first-person game means you can't tell where you are without 'seeing' it in your tiny window. In a third-person game you make up for your lack of feeling by seeing the body in motion.

You think third person is lazy? I say FIRST PERSON is Lazy! When you make a first person game you don't have to make complicated animations for all of the manuvers your body can take, because your body can't take any complicated manuvers. Likewise it's more work to make a good camera control system than it is to just tie the point of view and weapon to the mouse.

The biggest thing though is that any time using a first person perspective might be better, like precision aiming or examining details close up, you can always move the camera inside the player's head and ta-da! Temporary first-person. There's almost always a 'look around' button just for that purpose.

Finally the third person perspective translates better into cinematic sequences than the first person. Instead of suddenly being pulled out of your body and forced to watch from an unfamiliar perspective, you're already out of your body, and things flow naturally.




It sounds like you may have played a third person game with a bad camera in the past. It happens, not all games are 'up to snuff'. Super Mario 64 certainly had some 'issues'... If you want to see the sorts of things I'm talking about, I can reccomend a couple of PS2 games.

Okami has the best camera controls I've seen in a third person game. I'm constantly completely aware of my location and the location of my enemies. I typically control my movement by running 'forwards' and changing my camera angle so that forwards is the direction I want to go. It works majestically.

Shadow of the Collosus has some of the most detailed third person climbing and jumping mechanics I've ever seen in a game. You'll get a load of them on the trip to the first Collosus' domain, too, so you don't have to play long to see what I mean. It takes a bit to figure out the controls, they're a little convoluted, but once you've gotten used to them you can manipulate your character in ways you couldn't imagine in an FPS.



P.S. I followed the link to Facade but it didn't seem very interesting. I don't think it's my type of game.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Chameleon » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:23 pm

The first and foremost thing I'd want in a FPS is some backup (because I'm too inept at the genre to beat them without cheat codes). Instead of the usual "Tens of thousands of monsters and aliens are converging on your position. Here's a pocket knife, good luck. You'll never see me again." How about starting me off with an entire team of marines to back me up. Maybe even make me the team leader and if I'm good they will stay alive and we will defeat the monsters together. If I'm a moron I'll get them all killed and end up having to fight the horde alone (at least I can raid their corpses for more ammo).

While making the a FPS completely realistic may suck some of the fun out of it (getting shot in the head will actually kill you!), some bit of realism would be interesting such as having the player move slower when badly injured. If I'm at 1% health, I don't think I would be able to dash across a room and leap over objects while quickly dispatching dozens of enemies on multiple sides of me. And there's nothing more confusing than conveniently finding a magic box capable of restoring my health laying on the floor right before and/or after a boss/difficult fight. How about I complete a task, then after I succeed (via cheat code in my case) my character is actually patched up by an actual doctor while I await my next assignment (but I suppose that can't happen since my character is the only one in the universe capable of dealing with the threat).

I want to be a coward sometimes. If I run out of ammo, I want to pull a white flag out of my pocket and surrender. Sure they'll probably just walk up and shoot me right after, but if they don't a whole new level of the game is created by allowing the player to try to escape from captivity. Or at least give up all of the good guy secrets to save your own butt.

Conversions. A couple of years ago I made my own computer game where you roam around a dungeon and fight monsters. Some of the monsters in the game consist of vampires and werewolves. In my game if a vampire or werewolf kills a human (this includes human allies), that character will turn into a vampire/werewolf, including the player. It adds a whole new element to the game. I'd like to see more games where being killed might not be the worst outcome for your character. If a zombie eats your brains, you should be able to continue playing as a zombie and start eating the brains of your former friends.

Locked doors. I hate them. Why can't my bazooka open a locked door that is made out of plywood? Who needs keys when you can just blow things up.

Ditto for walls. I'm lazy. The door is all the way on the other side of the room. I want to make my own door...or at least accidently collapse the roof on top of myself.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby strange_person » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:31 am

Alikat wrote:
strange_person wrote:I agree that that would be a fun game (I've played that game based on the Godfather movies, has a lot of stuff like that, although it seems a bit too easy to buy off the coppers in the middle of a gunfight) but, as I specified with Portal and Thief references earlier, it's not really an FPS anymore.

As a guideline: unless at least 50% of play time is Pointing At Things and Making Them Die, and the buildup to/recovery from such activities, it's not an FPS, it's an FP*.

Bah, you ask for a non-cliche FPS and then when it doesn't follow one of the most standard of FPS cliches (the shoot-everything-that-moves-until dead cliche), you claim it's not an FPS because it isn't cliche enough? :p


If you don't want shoot-everything-that-moves, I would be perfectly satisfied with having a game where the enemy has medics and retreats when wounded, and where the objective is completely separate from the kill count. If you can shoot a guard in the leg and run past him to the exit door while he sits down and screams for backup, that's just as much of a victory. Or, a game where you can gain some benefit by accepting surrenders and/or taking hostages. In either case, it would definitely not be shoot-everything-that-moves-until-dead, but the player would still be spending most of their time shooting things and/or getting shot at, so I would consider it an FPS rather than, say, a noir detective game with an FPS interface.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby strange_person » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:40 am

Chameleon wrote:"Tens of thousands of monsters and aliens are converging on your position. Here's a pocket knife, good luck. You'll never see me again."
That's what I was thinking with the reversed equipment curve thing. You start out crazy-oversupplied with all manner of weapons, but one by one they jam, break, get stolen, or you're forced to discard them to lighten your load. Fits with the whole survival-horror concept.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby OtakuMan » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:53 pm

Relee wrote:P.S. I followed the link to Facade but it didn't seem very interesting. I don't think it's my type of game.


That's no excuse! You should still download it, play it, and learn from the experience. Facade isn't my kind of game either, but it's a fascinating technical experiment about story telling via an FP perspective.

I'm sorry, but I will not talk FP with you until you have played that game. To me, it's THAT important.

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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Relee » Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:08 am

Well I'll have to try it later, then. Right now I'm too preoccupied with irl business-ness and other things.

In the mean-time I'll just assume you agree with me about 3rd-Person Superiority.
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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby OtakuMan » Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:28 pm

Relee wrote:In the mean-time I'll just assume you agree with me about 3rd-Person Superiority.


No.

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Re: cliche-breaking FPS

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:59 pm

OtakuMan wrote:What are your opinions on BioShock as a cliche breaker?

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I was ultimately disappointed in Bioshock. When you strip away the colorful veneer, really, all it amounts to is a very standard FPS. We've seen everything in that game before - in Voyager Elite Force, in Unreal 2 (not tournament), and others. The basic gameplay is Doom. Doom and a little Duke Nukem. Other than the Objectivist, period environment, really, no new mechanics whatsoever. Shoot, shoot, boss, shoot, story, shoot, upgrade, shoot, exit level.

There has only been one true cliche breaker for the FPS, in my opinion, and that would be Portal. Portal has fantastic story told to the player in an unusual manner, and the gameplay, despite being a FPS, is very different - study problem, shoot hole in spacetime, make other side of same hole, use hole for observation, use hole for transport, use hole for collection, use hole as weapon, use hole as distraction, use hole as means of harnessing inertia, use hole as ? (new uses are still being found), exit level.

The typical FPS offers many guns, and many things to shoot. There are story sequences, now, that interrupt the shooting. A level begins, the player moves through it to a goal, shooting as they go, collecting new guns and ammo, until they leave the level. Bioshock has no difference to that old model whatsoever. Saving or killing Little Sisters? Repaint the Little Sisters as powerups with side effects, and that takes care of them. Big Daddies? Just a boss fight.

Portal gives the player one gun, one tool, and that tool cannot directly hurt anyone or anything. It can only indirectly affect things, by projecting hyperspace conduits. The player gains only one powerup - the second half of the function of their portal gun. There is nothing to collect. There is no ammo. There are no monsters that hunt, and nothing that chases. There are only the occasional stationary prop-up turret. Where the inevitable FPS is 'kill enemies until exit', Portal is 'solve the environment through four-dimensional thinking until exit'.

I would say that is a cliche-breaker. I would say that is the first cliche breaker for the FPS... so far. Ever. Portal is it. Portal turns the entire genre on it's ear.

But Bioshock? Just any tired FPS in Objectivist Drag. You gots your shotgun, you gots your chaingun. You gots powerups. You gots boss fights. You gots enemies to run and gun down. You gots the occasional NPC that will yak at you, then, likely as not, turn on you and become another enemy to take down. You gots your end of level door. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Portal and the usual FPS have only three things in common: they both have distinct levels, they both have a first-person, gun-in-hand screen view, and you shoot to interact with the world.

But the difference between shooting lethal bullets (energies, plasma, whatever) and shooting holes in spacetime makes actual gameplay utterly different.

Bioshock: Unreal 2 in Drag.

Portal: New genre. The First Person Think-em-Up. FPT instead of FPS.
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