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First Person Shooters (Games)

Ten Maxims Every FPS Should Follow 155

Posted by Zonk
from the do-it-right-the-first-time dept.
The Game Career Guide site has up a story that tries to lay down some rules for a good First Person Shooter. The article advocates in favour of player choices, fast action, and rich environments; keep the boring cutscenes and make sure the players are getting a great bang for their buck. From the article: "Don't allow the player to play the game half-heartedly, which is a dangerous stumbling block at any point of the game. Example: Half-Life 2. While the introduction presenting the environment of City 17 was much more effective than the tram sequence of Black Mesa from the game's predecessor, the sheer length of time between point insertion and getting the crowbar would never have worked in any other game."
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Ten Maxims Every FPS Should Follow

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  • HL2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:44PM (#18172910) Journal
    HL2 worked because you still had things to play with and see. You could still throw cans at the CP or make that hoola girl dance. It had enough small things we were entertained until the "main game" started. Plus at the time HL2's graphics were (and maybe still are) amazing, so when you saw all the tiny details you drooled instead of going "I need a gun!"

    HL2 was deeper than gun and run even if that is the game play in effect. That is why it could do stuff without a weapon.
    • by feepness (543479)
      Slashdot tip of the day : Tags are not comments, they're ment to help people search for topics. Write a comment or leave

      I dunno if this is tip of the day.... I've seen this several times recently.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrNiceguy_KS (800771)
      HL2 was deeper than gun and run even if that is the game play in effect. That is why it could do stuff without a weapon.

      What I loved about the opening segment of HL2 was the "chase" scene. You're just an unarmed civilian franticly running, trying to get away. I liked that aspect of the airboat chase as well, though that broke down a bit during a couple of "stop the boat and fix the ramp" puzzles. That stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit too far.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Belgand (14099)
        Personally I felt that these sequence, while done very well, was more confusing than anything. You were thrust into a plot with little to no warning and immediately expected to understand what was going on and side with these rebels or something that you know little to nothing about against an enemy you also know little to nothing about.

        I felt that, compared to the plot of the first game with it's more easily understood "Get out. Oh NOES, they want to to cover it all up! Escape!" theme worked much better at
    • by RyoShin (610051)
      Having just started Half life 2 this past week, I have to agree. At the very beginning I found myself wandering a bit, wondering where I had to go, but the game constrained my movements just enough that I wound up where I needed to be. I believe I had a good 10 or 20 minute trek before I got to the point that I had even a crowbar. While I did wish I had a gun, I fully understood why I didn't have one, and the game was set up in such a way that, even had I a gun, it wouldn't have done a lot of good at that
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grumbel (592662)
      Maybe its just me, but I found the first 10-20mins of HalfLife2 to be *by far* the best part of the entire game. It was good especially because you didn't have a gun and because you really hadn't all that much to do. You where after all in a city ruled by Combine, so you had to follow their orders and couldn't just wildly run around as you please. The beginning of HalfLife2 was great because it felt realistic, because it made sense, something I can't really say about the rest of the game. At the point where
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cyanara (708075)
      I still don't understand why people think HL2's graphics are/were amazing. Has anyone even played Far Cry, FEAR, COD2 etc? HL2's textures are painfully low res. You need a 1GB FakeFactory mod to bring most of them anywhere near acceptable. There is the occasional nice pixel shader, say in a glass door, but lighting is pretty pitiful, with pretty mild bumpmapping. The torch does not blend well with any of the weak looking shadows. The added HDR comes across as way too heavy handed and tacked on. And despite
      • by cgenman (325138) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @09:39PM (#18176144) Homepage
        The thing that people forget is that HL2's art direction was amazing. I can't think of another title in recent memory that had a higher level of visual cohesiveness on a reasonable polybudget. For example, darkness consistently equals safety throughout the game, whereas any point you're exposed to sunlight [sfhomeworld.org] is a location shrouded in danger [blogs.com]. This is consistent both internally and externally [angelsworld.de]. No-one, to my knowledge, has followed this color styling, yet it is an effective technique at making the player feel like an unwelcome outcast.

        You can see how minimalist this tree really is [ign.com]. They only gave it just enough branches to cover the illusion, but not so many that it holds up to actual inspection. Another shot of said tree, from a more common angle [regmedia.co.uk]. By not wasting any polys, they really can afford to put more on-screen. Heck, look at leaves [tripod.com]. Artificially close, they are a big smear. But from the distance you normally see them, they can stick thousands of these things on screen, and they look beautiful.

        Love the look of brick? Notice how in this shot [hrycaj.free.fr] they've burned the bump maps and damage maps and everything into the same texture? The increases the repetition in texture, but if you vary your geometry sufficiently the player will never notice. All they'll notice is a lot more is going on on-screen than they're used to. This technique looks terrible for big-open walls, but Half Life studiosly avoids big open walls within proximity of the player.

        They even used a distinct pallete of blacks, muted browns, and light blues. [hlfallout.net] This was far before anyone else was using anything but super-saturated primary colors.

        Ignoring any technical accomplishments, this [d3vour.com] is an achievement of strong visual composition and consistent, solid art direction.
        • I hate that (Score:3, Interesting)

          My favorite games are the Half-Lives and the Halos. One is made by Bungie, who is owned by Microsoft, and will only play on their console (or Windows Vista) -- although there was a sort of halfhearted port of the original Halo. The other is made by Valve, which was founded by a bunch of guys who left Microsoft to make games.

          Halo has decent tech, except you have to buy an xbox to experience it.

          Half-Life has absolutely awful tech. Half-Life 2 still has loading screens, and they're awful -- no progress bar, bu
    • he's forgetting the most important thing: skippable cutscenes, remember how annoying gears of war was where you have to wait for the cutscene to finish?
  • TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:46PM (#18172952)
    Why are so many first person shooters poor, repetitive, linear, and formulaic? This question came up during a conversation with a friend, and he and I came up with some ideas that we noted were present in what we considered great first person games. From that and succeeding conversations, I came up the ten maxims that every FPS should follow.

    1. Get into the action early

    Draw the player into the world by force; use that initial confrontation to set the tone. This first impression must be followed up by developing the tone.

    Example: Call of Duty. The speech of the commissars at the beginning of the Russian campaign, mixed with the planes, explosions, and machine gun nests is dangerous, intense, and doesn't go on forever.

    Don't allow the player to play the game half-heartedly, which is a dangerous stumbling block at any point of the game.

    Example: Half-Life 2. While the introduction presenting the environment of City 17 was much more effectively than the tram sequence of Black Mesa from the game's predecessor, the sheer length of time between point insertion and getting the crowbar would never have worked in any other game.

    2. Create a world that invites, encourages, and rewards smart thinking

    Combining fallback points, fortified positions, and stretches of exposed ground intelligently allows the player to choose when to make a run for safety or to take a stand.

    Example: Far Cry. The mixed terrain and objects gave the world a "real" feeling, allowing stealth or brute force to move Jack through the game.

    Always running in circles or darting around the same corner to pick off one enemy at a time is boring, and forcing the player to figure out the "trick" is an exercise in frustration (not challenge) if done poorly or too often.

    Example: Painkiller. Despite featuring a wide array of locales and enemies (and lots of them) every level managed to be the same combination of jumping in circles as enemies appeared from every side.

    3. The game world is the real world

    There should almost never be just one way from one place to another; the player should never feel constrained in their options.

    Example: Halo 2. The open city environments allows Master Chief different ways to complete his objectives, adding replay value to the game by rewarding the player for doing nothing more than exploring their environment.

    Highly linear game play quickly becomes repetitive and predictable; using false paths to provide the illusion of free choice only serves to make players angry.

    Example: Quake 4. Every objective that Kane is given is straightforward and straight forward. The rationale behind each one is obvious: in order to delve deeper into Stroggos, the various companies need enemies cleared out. Throwing the player into a tank offers little variety; each mission is either an arena or a tunnel through the various installments.

    4. No one lives forever

    While playing, there must be a sense of urgency and empowerment; there must be a meaningful reward for timeliness and effectiveness (even if not immediately so).

    Example: Call of Duty 2. Sitting still is not an option, and trying to fight the war alone is a suicide mission. Furthermore, the player's participation is not optional; there are no invincible allies that can clear the room while you hang back.

    Failing this, the immortality or immediate mortality of allies or enemies that hinges upon whether the player is present makes the player useless as a hero; they are relegated to the role of mute witness.

    Example: F.E.A.R. The Point Man has the amazing ability to be one room over or one second too late when anyone that can help him is in danger.

    5. Make the character's abilities and options suit the world they inhabit

    A player's armaments, protection, and surroundings need to make sense in terms of their location, power, and weaknesses. Done right, the player ha
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Music. Nobody ever mentions the contributions that the musical composition in a game (or even the soundtrack's implementation in the game's sound design) even though humans are intrinsically affected by music. Evidence of this pops up all over the place. Sociology experiments ask strangers to socialize find that they talk about what most and first? Music. Surveys ask (admittedly sometimes self-selected) respondents how important music is to them? They say 'very'. The human predisposition for music is very t
    • by Sibko (1036168)

      3. The game world is the real world There should almost never be just one way from one place to another; the player should never feel constrained in their options. Example: Halo 2. The open city environments allows Master Chief different ways to complete his objectives, adding replay value to the game by rewarding the player for doing nothing more than exploring their environment. Highly linear game play quickly becomes repetitive and predictable; using false paths to provide the illusion of free choice only serves to make players angry.

      Personally, I feel he got this one completely wrong. Halo's levels were open and allowed you to reach and complete your objective in different ways. Halo 2 doesn't even come close; you get railroaded through a confined passage of enemies everywhere you go. Sure, the levels themselves were MASSIVE, but invisible barriers and instant kill zones stopped you from exploring anything.

      The only exception was Metropolis [The city level] wherein you could get on top of buildings with clever jumping. But once yo

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:46PM (#18172966)
    1. Split your limited content onto multiple pages to increase ad impressions
    2. Say stupid and inflammatory things you know people will disagree with, like: "The story isn't more important than the game" (Don't bother having a plot) or "The player must always know the objective" (Don't even think of making something that has elements of adventure gaming)
    3. Include useless flamebait at the end of the article like proclaiming MMOGs as bad, or announcing that one game company is superior to others.
    • Really (Score:5, Insightful)

      by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:53PM (#18173080)

      The article was on 2 pages. Were we reading the same article? I don't consider that amount of content to be too little for 2 freaking pages.

      Inflammatory? Nowhere in the article did the authors insinuate that games should not bother to have a plot, their assertion was that a good plot would still make for a boring game if the gameplay elements are not there - and I reckon the vast majority of gamers will agree with that.

      And where in the world did the article claim that MMOGs were bad? Not to mention one of the authors lists "Guild Wars" amongst his favorite games - hardly an anti-MMORPG fanatic.

      • by ivan256 (17499)
        And where in the world did the article claim that MMOGs were bad? Not to mention one of the authors lists "Guild Wars" amongst his favorite games - hardly an anti-MMORPG fanatic.

        Keep reading.... You were so close!
      • Why, why was it on two pages! There is *no* reason! Even dialup can handle all the text of the article on one page without trouble. The only reason is to repeat the ads.
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The only reason is to repeat the ads.
          What ads? [adblockplus.org]
      • by Hubbell (850646)
        Guild Wars is NOT an MMORPG, it's nothing more than a larger scale Diablo.
      • From the article: "I do not have the audacity to call these ten concepts rules, but I do feel that these ideas are of primal importance to this genre. No amount of flashy graphics, deep story, or sophisticated artificial intelligence can trick the smart gamer for long. I also believe that in the end, those previous three concepts are not memorable; graphics and A.I. will improve, and players want a game, not just a story."

        He doesn't say directly that games should not have a plot, but he definately state
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        The article was on 2 pages. Were we reading the same article? I don't consider that amount of content to be too little for 2 freaking pages.
        Still, that's something that doesn't make any sense on the web. We don't need to split content into "pages". This is not a printed page with a limited surface to print content on. The only reason to split content on many "pages" is to get more "banners print" revenues.
        • by p0tat03 (985078)

          I really don't get why the Slashdot groupthink is so against ad profit. The way I see it, if the article is chopped into so many fine pieces that it becomes a burden or a chore having to leaf through all those pages, then it's excessive. But if it's chopped comfortably into substantial pages that take a significant amount of time to read through and process, then they're free to make some ad impressions on me.

          I am, after all, consuming their content. There's a difference between seeking profit and all-out

          • by Yvan256 (722131)
            I was not talking against the ads directly. I was talking about the splitting of pages itself. It makes no sense to split content into "pages" for a web page.

            If people don't read half your text, they won't load page 2 and see the new ads. Similarly, they could put ads all along the height of the content but display it on a single page. Even better, it would lower the workload of the server since you will only be serving "1 page load", won't have to load the website interface twice, etc.

            • Breaking it up into two pages can give you a bit more information:

              Page 1 hits = number of people who got to your article
              Page 2 hits = Number of people who actually read the thing.

              If you have a content writer who may have a lot of hits on page 1, but significantly fewer hits to subsequent pages then you know people don't want to finish reading what he wrote. If all you had was page 1 hits then you would lose this metric.
    • Well said. Has anyone else noticed a trend toward:

      1. Split your limited content onto multiple pages to increase ad impressions

      happening more often? Slate started doing it recently, even for a second page with one small paragraph.
  • Nearly all right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by megalomaniacs4u (199468) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:49PM (#18173004)
    Not bad, I agree with the list but they missed some pet peeves:
    • Thou shall not steal my carefully collected, especially the one decent gun I like and use.
      Examples: Red Faction, Quake 4, and too many others
    • Thou shall not have pointless out of character stealth levels in an out & out action game.
      Examples: RTCW, MoH:AA
    • Thou shall not use dumb jumping puzzles to slow the player down
      Examples: HL2, Jedi Knight - Jedi Outcast, Prey*

    * = Although the gravity & portal puzzles made a welcome change, they were used as a substitute for jumping puzzles.

  • by RichPowers (998637) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @05:55PM (#18173122)
    Too many FPS games get so caught up in their own little world that they forget about making the experience fun. I recently beat Doom III (three years late, I know) and one word best describes it: boring. Sure, the weapons and environments (Mars, hell) are damn awesome, but the actual gameplay is monotonous and contrived. I actually turned on God Mode just so I could beat the game faster...

    Now look at Team Fortress Classic. No other online FPS is as fun and entertaining, for me anyway. And the game is almost 7 years old! TFC has no story, virtually no learning curve, no preset environment, and the graphics aren't that great. It just has balanced classes and some awesome maps (Dustbowl is one greatest FPS maps ever crafted). Red Team and Blue Team just kill each other amid a sea of gibs for no reason...and I love every second of it!

    Games need to step back and realize that it's not all about production values and storytelling and graphics (though these things are important). It's about fun and entertainment, too.
    • by Mex (191941)
      You too?

      I'm surprised, I've talked to a lot of gamers who were so bored with Doom3 that they turned on God Mode and just went at it to see the end boss.

      I did that with Quake4 too. The challenge just stops being fun, and it becomes boring.
      • by grub (11606)

        I'm surprised, I've talked to a lot of gamers who were so bored with Doom3 that they turned on God Mode and just went at it to see the end boss.

        That was me. I got tired as hell of flipping between a flashlight to see in impossibly dark corners and a gun to kill whatever jumped out of the "monster closet" that passing over some point opened.

        I love the first 2 in the Doom series and play Doomsday [doomsdayhq.com] all the time with the high-res packs but Doom3 was a boring waste.
      • Well, Quake 4 wasn't so long, and was actually decently fun to play -- once.

        But Doom 3, after awhile, Godmode just goes on. The game was too damned long and repetitive. The atmosphere is about the only thing it has going for it -- the sound, the lighting, the direction, and the monsters jumping out of walls was pretty awesome, once.

        But playing a second time through is only really fun to show people that we have games on Linux, too, and that's getting old -- Beryl is a bit more useful these days.
    • shit, you consider tfc to have no learning curve? your general fps gamer these days doesn't know how to bunny hop or rocket/conc jump
      • your general fps gamer these days doesn't know how to bunny hop or rocket/conc jump

        One of the best things about "Gears of War" is no retarded jumping around.
      • your general fps gamer these days doesn't know how to bunny hop or rocket/conc jump
        Do you know this because Harvey [wikipedia.org] knows this?
    • by jchenx (267053)

      Too many FPS games get so caught up in their own little world that they forget about making the experience fun. I recently beat Doom III (three years late, I know) and one word best describes it: boring. Sure, the weapons and environments (Mars, hell) are damn awesome, but the actual gameplay is monotonous and contrived. I actually turned on God Mode just so I could beat the game faster...

      Actually, a lot of people would agree with you here. Doom 3 ratings on GameRankings [gamerankings.com] are decent at 88%, but more successf

    • That's me - I enjoyed Doom III a great deal, and even finished it. Half-Life II? Extremely impressive art direction, credible environments, etc, but I couldn't get into it to the same degree.
    • by gerddie (173963)
      What you need to know about Doom III: This is not a FPS, but a memory game. If you don't use GOD mode, and forget about the Save/Load option (i.e. when you fail, you have to restart the level) you will soon realize this.
  • A FPS based on Maxim magazine content!
  • by Clazzy (958719) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:06PM (#18173336)

    An unbalanced game alternates between hordes of enjoyment-less cannon fodder (that only serve to drain ammunition) and ill-equipped players battling bosses. Example: Serious Sam II. The game moves from one grind to another, the only viable strategy is running in circles, hoping that the boss will show up before all Sam's guns are empty.
    Sometimes just playing a game where you just mindlessly kill stuff is very enjoyable. You don't ALWAYS want a deep plot or innovative gameplay, you do occasionally want to have hordes of enemies charging at you. FPS games could probably be subcategorised anyway. You'll want your deep, immersive enivronment like HL2, fast action like Serious Sam or maybe more of a horror FPS like FEAR.
    I can agree with the writer at places, but one person's set of ideas for what an FPS should be will be completely different to that of others.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by physicsnick (1031656)
      This is very true. This is what made Diablo 2 so popular; some people love just slaughtering vast hordes of enemies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ichigo 2.0 (900288)
        I'm guessing you didn't like D2, at least judging from your comment. IMO the reason D2 (and WoW) is popular, is because people like collecting stuff, be it runes, magic items or experience. It gives a sense of accomplishment, even if it is just a series of bits.
        • Actually I loved D2, I've poured hundreds of hours into it. Back in high-school my friends and I were addicted; we'd have week-long LAN parties, where a few friends would bring their computers over to my house for days on end, and we'd play all night every night and even drive home on our school lunch breaks just to get that extra half-hour in. We were addicted.

          Thing is, I never cared about collecting things. I don't even pick anything up when I play until I get at least to Nightmare difficulty, aside from
          • D2 was Gauntlet on steroids, not a collecting game. WoW is just a lame timekiller in comparison. Alien Shooter has more in common with D2 than WoW does.
    • If you want a plot, play through Halo and Halo 2 for the first time, on whatever difficulty is still doable, and not insanely frustrating, but not easy.

      Want hoards of people to kill? Play on Easy, and just grab a tank and let loose. Would be perfect if the cinematics were skippable (although I don't often skip them).

      Unfortunately, I haven't played many games that do both well. Probably need to actually start buying some new games...
  • The amount of games that have useless "cinematic" cutscenes, just for the hell of it it seems, seem to be growing.

    It doesn't only affect FPS games either: Neverwinter Nights 2 - even though it is more in a "stop and talk" genre was full of trying-to-be-cinematic-but-not-quite-there cutscenes. The kind that tweak the camera position every time a new sentence begins, and don't really add anything significant to the story.

    These are the kinds of things I can't stand! If you are going to jolt me out of playing
    • by jandrese (485)
      NWN2 is supposed to be like having your computer turn into a Dungeon Master, you really have to expect a lot of talking in a game like that. Personally I think it works quite well, although it does limit the replayability a bit since my patience will likely run a bit thin at sitting through the same story again.
    • Final Fantasy X: that first Blitzball game, and the destruction of Zanarkand. The assault on Bevelle.

      Halo 2: Return to Sender. Also, Helljumpers, and Johnson meeting the Arbiter.

      Then there are the cinematics that aren't so amazing that they make me glad I bought the game, but are also fun and entertaining and nothing I'd ever skip, even when they are skippable:

      Jak II and 3: Multiple, particularly Jak getting his voice in Jak II, and the end-of-the-series cinematic for Jak 3.

      Doom 3: Your first Pinky. One of
  • by tomaasz (5800) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:12PM (#18173478) Homepage
    The article doesn't really say anything interesting. The authors merely express their wishes as players. As an inspiration for game designers, this is more to the point: http://www.theinspiracy.com/Current%20Rules%20Mast er%20List.htm [theinspiracy.com]

    And here's my favorite game design rule:

    In every game there should be a five second goal, a 30 second goal, a 10 minute goal and a 5 hour goal (actual times may vary of course):

    5 seconds - see what's behind next corner, shoot an enemy.
    30 seconds - get to next floor/building, find key, make something explode, see nice scenery.
    10 minutes - get new weapon, encounter new enemy, finish a level.
    5 hours - finish the game.

    As long as the goals and rewards are enticing enough, it's all fine.
    • by Artaxs (1002024)
      The author has some good points, but he left out the most obvious and important one of all: Thou Shalt Make It A Good Online Multi-Player Game. The Single Player mode is only fun for 1 (maybe 2) plays through. What makes a FPS game continually enjoyable is a well-balanced deathmatch or objective-based team game. TFA lavishes praise on CoD2 (also excellent to play online, though he doesn't mention it) and half of the article's points are about HL2... but no mention of Counter-Strike?!? CS:Source is the
    • The game sure as hell better last more than five hours!
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:19PM (#18173566) Journal
    So as far as HL2 goes, was getting the crowbar that late in "half hearted" or not? Because I sure as hell felt the panic of someone chased when running through the apartments completely unarmed while CP stormed the place, and after they've been shooting at you while you frantically looked for an exit from the train yard, it's rather satisfying to club a CP thug to get your first pistol to gun down his buddy. Not too half-hearted if you ask me.

    The gunships always felt kind of contrived though, and taking them down was nothing like the immense satisfaction you got from blasting the chopper that had been harrassing you through a good chunk of HL1. Or maybe I'm just jaded.

    FPS's in general though are getting really quite old. In virtually all of them, you zip around on perfectly flat surfaces at cheetah speeds shooting with perfect accuracy due to your glass-smooth and unfaltering run, with your main interface to the world being your always-visible gun. Games like Gears of War may not be advancing cliched concepts much, but are at least shaking up the stale control mechanics somewhat. Normally I rail against "console-ification" of games, but I can only welcome these developments.
    • The gunships always felt kind of contrived though, and taking them down was nothing like the immense satisfaction you got from blasting the chopper that had been harrassing you through a good chunk of HL1. Or maybe I'm just jaded.

      Yes, you are. Maybe I'm just too young to remember, but it seems to me that the HL1 chopper wasn't as obviously or as persistently harassing. Just a flyby every now and then, dropping a few troops, maybe.

      In HL2, the chopper chases you for quite awhile, and you're frequently havin

  • by oni (41625) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:20PM (#18173586) Homepage
    You want to know what the best FPS ever was? Quake 3 with either the Threewave CTFS mod or CPMA mod.

    The reason is simple, the action is fast and well-balanced. I'll talk a bit about both points:

    1. Action - playing quake in either of these two mods is like being in a fucking kung fu movie. That's the way it feels. You get in people's faces. You dodge, you rocket jump, you move fast.

    When I play Halo or Half Life or (god help us) CS, I feel like the goal of the game is to hide and creep. If you turn a corner and find yourself with a bad guy, you hold down the trigger and spray and pray.

    The feeling in quake is just so much better, in part due to the running speed, and in part due to the ability to rocket jump off of walls. I played UT for a while and it was better, but I still felt like I was stuck in molasses.

    2. Balance - in quake 3, the weapons are better balanced than any other game I've ever seen. A rocket hit does exactly as much damage as a railgun, which does exactly as much damage as a shotgun (up close) or a nade. What that means is, the guy with the railgun doesn't necessarily own - not if you out smart him. Get in close and your shotgun is more powerful. This also means that switching weapons is a useful tactic.

    What I see in other games is that some weapons are clearly better than others. That simply isn't true in quake (unless you are a complete newb). It also means that nobody can camp you in quake (unless you are a complete newb). Case in point. Everyone remembers the map q3ctf4. Play that map (in threewave mode) and let someone get on the railgun platform and start camping. I guarantee you I can kill him. All I have to do is dodge his one round, then jump on the bounce pad. I'll be up on the railgun platform before he can reload and I'll have a shotgun, so now I'll have the advantage.

    Take a look at this video:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4392915597 663174837 [google.com]

    Note the speed of the game. It's just crazy. They aren't making games like that anymore. Modern FPSs are slow and boring. Even Quake 4 sucked.
    • by dave562 (969951)
      I have to agree with you. Q3 was by far the best FPS ever made. It kind of boggles the mind that it has been 10 years already. I remember my P3 with 64MB of RAM and a DSL line being the only thing I needed to pwn face on Q3. I'm surprised you didn't mention RA3. That add-on was a great addition to an already great game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mprx (82435)
        It was released in 1999, so it's not quite 10 years, but it's still depressing to think that gameplay hasn't advanced at all since then. I can think of two reasons why: the rise of consoles and the rise of LCD monitors. Console controllers aren't precise enough for Q3 speed gameplay, and LCD monitors are capped at 60Hz (even those that sync to 75Hz resample down to 60Hz) and most have perceptible lag. People who say 60Hz is enough obviously never played a fast FPS at high level. I used to play Q3 on a C
        • by dave562 (969951)
          I never got to pro standards, but I'd kick ass on public servers. Another possibility is that pro-level Q3 is the highest possible achievement for human gaming, and the human brain is simply too slow for anything faster or more complicated.

          If you kicked ass on public servers you probably were close to pro-level. I never played Q3 at the pro-level but everytime a "pro" would come onto a pub server I'd end up going neck in neck with him. A friend of a friend of mine who went by the nick "Undertow" was supp

          • If you kicked ass on public servers you probably were close to pro-level. I never played Q3 at the pro-level but everytime a "pro" would come onto a pub server I'd end up going neck in neck with him. A friend of a friend of mine who went by the nick "Undertow" was supposedly pro-level and I didn't have any problem keeping up with him.

            Sigh, I think every person that has play a multiplayer FPS has a story like this. He probably wasn't trying that hard. Either that or he was a "pro" in the sense that he won 15 bucks once at a local tournament. If either of you or Undertow tried to play anyone like Fatal1ty during his prime Q3A days, you would be hard pressed to get a frag on him.

            I was one of those CS pros where I made a few bucks here and there, but we never go too far at the CPL. I rarely tried hard in pubs, but 95% of the time would

    • I'm guessing you didn't use it much in UT.

      I can't play another FPS without feeling like i'm crawling. The original 1999 game translocator made it feel like you were running at super-speed while requiring skill to use and avoid dying. The odd telefrag made it that much more fun.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I always found that Q3 had too many jump pads and required too much of a twitch response.
      Q2 has a better pace that results in games with a more strategic feel, especially with a small number of players.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brkello (642429)
      To each their own. To me Q3 lacked any sort of depth. It was just all twitch. You could kill or be killed in a matter of seconds as every weapon did too much damage. CS is more exciting in the sense you actually care if you die and try to be more cautious. Strategy mattered more as throwing yourself at the enemy would be stupid.

      In any case, this was more about single player than multi-player...and Q3s single player was terrible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mprx (82435)
        Q3 is only pure twitch if you don't know the maps. The strategy is all about predicting the enemy's movements while balancing the need to control as much of the map as possible with remaining unpredictable yourself. When you've played for long enough the "twitch" becomes purely automatic - you see them, you rail them, with no conscious thought in between. For this reason the rocket launcher is the most interesting weapon, as it depends so much on your predictive ability.
        • by brkello (642429)
          I played competitively and was #2 in the largest amateur ladder in North America in Q3CTF. I knew the maps and how to play Q3. What you are talking about isn't strategy. It is key to being decent at every single FPS game. The rocket launcher relies on twitch as much as the rail gun...you are just twitching to where you think the guy is going to be instead of twitching to where he is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by XO (250276)
      Q1 was the best of the Quake series, followed by Q3/Q4 and Q2 .. Q4 i thought was just the same as Q3 but with improved graphics .. really seemed that way.

      I've been bitching up a storm on the Unreal engine forums, about how EVERY game made with Unreal feels like crap compared to Quake ...
    • I can not stand watching those so-called FPS (Halo or Half Life or (god help us) CS). How can one get the adrenalin rush crawling pathetically like that? Sure the slowdown works while you're playing as Gordon Freeman, but in deathmatch or CTF you *do* want to be like Trinity er I mean Neo :) Give me the hurtling head-bobbing speeds of Q1 and Q3!

    • Not exactly an FPS, but it does have Quake3-like speed, especially on Insane difficulty.

      Personally, I like most FPSes, and I care more about whether it's fun to play, has a decent plot, etc, than simply raw running speed. UT04 seems a nice balance between Quake3-like insane brawls and actual patience and skill with things like sniping (there are actually headshots, a concept no Quake seems to care about).

      Also, did you actually play through Quake 4? I seem to remember that after your Stroggification, you can
  • That guy was just plain cruel to Quake4. Though the level design was linear, it was still interesting and challenging; you always had to figure out how to get through tough enemies in some sections. I also found it pretty easy to find proper switches, save for occasional parts such as the "break the glass" part near the beginning. He also failed to mention the unique parts of levels. The conveyor-belt journey to the purification area was unforgiving, and though it was short, it succeeded better than m
  • but "lots of crates" made the top 3, right?
  • Pet hates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by payndz (589033) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @06:48PM (#18174058)
    In FPS games, some of my pet hates are:

    Enemies who shrug off massive damage
    It's (borderline) bearable in something like Doom. Who knows how a demon from Hell would react to a shotgun blast to the face? But in a game like Black, which is supposedly 'realistic', it pisses me off. If you take 10 M-16 bullets to the head at a range of four feet, you are dead, and I don't care if you happen to be wearing body armour.

    Super-accurate snipers
    Black again (though it's not the only example). If you can see some much as a single pixel of a bad guy, not only can they see you, but they can instantly snipe you while you're still bringing up your rifle. Fuck off.

    Boss battles
    Yes, I know bosses are now an unavoidable part of gaming, however much one despises them. But there's a tendency in FPS games to go for the R-Type approach - namely that some tiny and obscure weak point has to be hit repeatedly with pinpoint accuracy before the boss suffers any kind of damage, then another, then another... Come on! (Even worse are the kind where some weak point has to be hit repeatedly within a time limit, and any error resets everything.) At the very least, offer a brute force alternative - let players just hit them with everything they have. Players who find the weak point can be all smug that they saved some ammo. Everyone else can go 'Well, killed that fucking annoying obstacle. Now I can get on with the game.'

    All these things have made me give up on games that I'd enjoyed up to a certain point, simply because the annoyance and frustration factor outweighed the fun. If I'm not enjoying a game, I'll stop playing it. And I sure as hell won't buy the sequel.
    • Black wasn't meant to be realistic, it was an arcade-ish shooter that was really all about headshots (notice that it had very distinct audio feedback for headshots, the sharp clink of a helmet getting shot off, at the same volume regardless of the distance of the enemy). The pistols kicked ass. I loved it; every level was memorable, and its one of the only shooters I've bothered to clear every difficulty on in years. And Black didn't have bad snipers (they were easily flanked), if you want bad snipers pl
  • by Anonymous Coward
    #1 fancy effects are no substitute for fun level design

    F.E.A.R. wow loads of shiney, then lots of running through empty rooms till you hit the next 'tripwire'. Oh and complete jap film ripoff.

    #2 invincible, infinate ammo teammates are boring

    HL2 - Ep1. lets try and move her into position so she does most of the firing

    #3 running around in the dark with a torch is only fun for about 30 seconds

    Doom 3 - HL2 Ep1

    #4 Episodic content with no 'wow' moments or different gameplay is a ripoff

    compare HL2 Ep1 with HL2. In
    • I thought HL2: EP1 had its moments, particularly the beginning. The hug... wow.

      Otherwise agree with most of your points. I like how Halo makes you worry about ammo, but also prevents you building up an arsenal -- you can only carry two weapons. I like how Halo and Halo 2 don't have loading screens.

      Invincible teammates... First, I'm fairly sure I've seen my Alyx die in HL2: Ep1. But also, it depends how you play it. You can pull back a bit and let Alyx take care of everything... and you can turn GodMode on.
  • Fixed: Ten Maxim magazines are much more entertaining than most of today's video games.
  • no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tartley (232836) <user tartley at ... t a r tley.com> on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @08:06PM (#18175178) Homepage
    I couldn't disagree more. The industry is suffering a crippling dearth of innovation and risk-taking, and suggesting that everything has to match up to some prescribed formula as described could not be more damaging for the industry. How about instead of adding more restrictions, we remove the crippling existing ones that make every darn game the same? How about a FPS with no fecking guns in it, just once?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dr. Eggman (932300)

      How about a FPS with no fecking guns in it, just once?

      I read this statement and almost immediatly thought "How lame would that be?" But after a second thought, I realized that is exactly what Portal [wikipedia.org] will be: an FPS without guns. I am still very excited about Portal, but I didn't even place it in the same category as an FPS, more of an FPP (First Person Puzzler.) I think you're on to something. Innovation is a wonderful thing, and at its core, it is essentially about genre bending. HL1 was great because it brought intresting twists the the FPS genre.

      Personal

    • How about a FPS with no fecking guns in it, just once?

      How about URU, where your not armed. Or the thief series, where your weapons (bow, sword, club) barely work on people who've seen you. Or maybe one of the elder scrolls games, like Oblivion or Morrowind where you've got swords, bows and spells, but you keep them shieved for most of the game. These games don't simply not exist just because you havn't played them and want to bitch about first person games.

      The industry is suffering a crippling dearth of innovation and risk-taking, and suggesting that everything has to match up to some prescribed formula as described could not be more damaging for the industry.

      My guess is that you havn't read through these "formula" either, if you had, you would know they are

    • A FPS without guns? Anyone here ever play Thief?

      I still feel that Thief is one of the best games I ever played. Maybe because it was so original and different! :-)
    • by brkello (642429)
      It is a first person SHOOTER! What the heck are you talking about. Replacing guns with straws and spit wads? Only bows and arrows? It is just going to be the same thing except the graphic of the weapon you are holding will be different. But there are first person games that are different...try Dark Messiah.

      In any case, the reason why innovative games are not as common is because they are not popular. Everyone bought Zelda while no one bought Okami. You want innovation? Then start buying the games t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You should _always_ be able to skip cutscenes, particularly if they're longer than about 10 seconds (Here's looking at you, KOTOR2).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    10: Thou shalt not have boss battles unless thou are DooM. Completely ruins the immersion factor

    9: Thou shalt not force the player to watch long-ass cutscenes. F.E.A.R. did this really well. The few cut scenes were short and sweet, and it went one step further by having an "Interactive Cut scene" in the form of the hallucination sequences.

    8: Thou shalt not have more than 3 minutes between huge-ass firefights. Any smaller number of gunfights can take place between, but you need a bunch of guys to shoot or it
  • by Belgand (14099) <belgand@planetfo ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @04:49AM (#18178794) Homepage
    While it has some good points there were a few that really felt to be antithetical to the way I prefer to enjoy a good FPS.

    First off was the idea that you need to always be under pressure. I acknowledge that some people think this makes a game fun. I remember playing a number of multiplayer mods for Quake where you'd get insta-gibbed if you stood still for too long. Yet I don't like this sort of frantic, don't pay attention to what you're doing and don't plan or think, just move around a lot concept. I like to be able to take a slow, methodical approach to the game. If I think there might be enemies nearby then I'm more likely to hold down the walk key... slink around slowly to keep my noise down and my aim steady and spend my time checking out every corner. I'm just about the only person I know who walked most of the time when I played Sonic the Hedgehog for fear of missing something or running into an enemy accidentally.

    Related to this is the idea that you always need multiple ways to get somewhere. While I greatly applaud not having a single forced path and giving the player a degree of freedom I find that when misapplied it can be even more crippling. Give me two or three paths to a destination and I'm likely to go a little bit down one path, checking it out, then stop, turn around, and go back to check out the other path. After I'm done with any fights I'll probably wander back around and be certain I checked out everything along both paths. Not only to avoid having missed any powerups or weapons or such, but because I'll feel a bit cheated if I don't. While I like multiple playthroughs of a game (though I'll gladly play a linear game many, many times, just the same as I'll gladly watch a movie or read a book a good dozen or so times) I want to experience everything I possibly can the first time through. If not, I feel like I'm missing out on something. I want to see all the possible content and not miss a thing. The difference comes when you go beyond just two or three possible paths and begin to make it really open: e.g. Grand Theft Auto or other "sandbox" style games. At that point there isn't really a path except the one you make and I don't worry that I missed something by taking the left path over the right. Sure I'll worry a bit that maybe there was a better way. Maybe I could have snuck around in some other manner, but I'm generally ok in believing that I saw what there was and made my own choices.

    Finally, the idea that you need to be thrown right into the action buts against my generally laid-back, methodical method of play. I want to slow down in the beginning. Learn about the world and the characters. Get a chance to test out my weapons a bit. Figure out the lay of the land and get a feel for my new persona. Throwing the player right into the thick of things makes me anxious and ill-prepared. It's an unpleasant feeling that makes me cringe and curl up inside. Then again, I'm the sort who always, always reads the entire manual from cover-to-cover before I even load up a game. Not reading the manual is unthinkable. How else do you know how to play it? How do you know what's going on? There's no room for "just learn as you go and fiddle around with things". Maybe, to a degree, in an adventure game where the rule is to explore (although you should still be taught the basic commands and how the parser/control scheme works and have the stage set for you if it isn't done entirely in-game), but that's a special case.

    Ultimately this is only "how to make a better FPS for a specific type of fan". Some of the design ideas are solid, but these are far from the maxims they intend to be.
    • by amliebsch (724858)
      Wow. Agree 100% - I tend to play through games the exact same way. For me Half-Life 2 was one of the best. Started slow, allowed me to explore and interact. Then often through the game there would be chances to just stop and take in the environment. I only drove the airboat about as fast as a small motorboat could go, often just letting it coast, frequently just stopping, getting out, picking off an enemy or two, and taking in the scenery. Superb ambient sounds increased the immersion of the environmen
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I play pretty much the same way. I remember sitting back in Halo and Halo 2 and sizing up the enemy from a distance, then sniping as many of them as possible before even approaching. I guess I'm too old for "run and gun" gameplay.

      -Eric

  • I only have one maxim: don't make me try to care about your cheesy backstory. WarCraft III (OK, different genre) did a good job of this. If you had a lot of free time on your hands, you could sit back and watch the cut-scenes and middle-school-level plot. However, if it you clicked right through the cut scenes (as I did most of the time), it didn't affect the play of the next round. Same went for the manual. There may have been some backstory in there (didn't really read it), but I didn't care, nor did
  • my list (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Floritard (1058660)
    1 - Eliminate mindless key searching. This includes door switches, members-only jackets, and any other mcguffin the lack of which prevents progress through some point in the game. If you can't find a more interesting way of prolonging the time spent in a level than backtracking to acquire some silly object, your level design probably sucks. Half-Life always did this well. The game felt bigger as you never saw the same place for too long. Backtracking is so gameplay fatiguing it almost stands as an argument

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