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Graphic Novelist Calls For Better Game Violence 465

eldavojohn writes "Landry Walker (alternative comics creator of X-Ray Studios) has a brief opinion piece at Elder Geek asserting that all he wants for Christmas is more realistic game violence. While he acknowledges the world probably isn't ready for it, he wishes that getting shot in a video game was a bit more like getting shot in real life. From his piece: '... that's my problem with video game violence. Bullets are something we shrug off. Point blank fire with a machine gun is something that a tiny bit of flexible body armor and 20 seconds sitting on a magic invisibility inducing gargoyle can cure. Time and time again, I've heard people claim that they want to see a greater degree of realism in video games. But that's a lie. We don't want realism. We want fantasy. We want unlimited ammo and we want rapid respawns. We want to jump out of second story windows without a scratch. We want to dodge bullets and shake off mortal wounds without pause.' What say you, reader? Would this bring a new level of impossibility to video games or would there be a way to balance this out?"
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Graphic Novelist Calls For Better Game Violence

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  • "Realistic", eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sparton ( 1358159 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:07AM (#30580438)

    I'm fairly certain actually realistic shooters exist. It's just that realistic mechanics, from a player perspective, are extremely boring, except for in a few limited cases (only one I can think of that is fun and isn't at least a bit fantastic or sci-fi is Counter Strike).

    With the whole rise of casual gamer shenanigans going on, making games realistically punishing isn't lucrative in the slightest. Even the most successful hardcore/brutally evil game that has come out recently, Demon's Souls, has a lot of unrealistic elements in it (such as excessive hit points, predictable AI, magic, etc).

  • Simple solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:12AM (#30580450) Homepage Journal

    I want an accessory that is worn on your torso (as a vest) and delivers a paintball-like punch when an in-game bullet strikes your avatar. That would teach stealth tactics better than anything.

  • Re:"Realistic", eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by loutr ( 626763 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:26AM (#30580502)

    I'm fairly certain actually realistic shooters exist. It's just that realistic mechanics, from a player perspective, are extremely boring, except for in a few limited cases

    Canard PC [] (French PC gaming magazine) recently published an article written by a professional soldier about ARMA II, which is regarded as one of the most realistic shooters available. His conclusions were that ARMA was (very) far from being realistic, but that it was OK because it would have been boring and tedious to act exactly like a real soldier in a real war. So no, I don't think realistic shooters exist, and for good reasons.

  • Typical mistake... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:39AM (#30580544) Homepage

    Adding more realism does not equal to making game better.

    Especially when it is "mind jerk" where you use realism to make game harder to play - it feels and sounds awesome because person who suggests it also imagines himself pwning in that game and getting to top of things using his innate "realistic combat skills".

    It is somewhat similar to, say, people wanting hardcore pvp in mmos with full loot. You only suggest something like this if you can imagine yourself always on the winning side. Because otherwise, theese mechanics suck.

    In some rare idealistic cases, people want challenge to be added to game (and of course, imagine themselves besting challenge while being awesome enough to get style points). That is, however, not something you automatically get if you make game harder and leargning curve steeper that eve.

    Give him realistic fps with one-hit-kill bullet and he will not play it for long. You do not keep playing game you suck at, and adding some mechanics means that pretty much everyone ends up sucking.

  • more better violence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:39AM (#30580546)
    I've been wanting more realistic violence since forever. I don't want great big clouds of blood shooting out from someone unless it's called for. I don't want NPC's to fly back when you shoot them. I don't want NPC's to insta-die unless you hit them in the head or central nervous system. But more realistic violence doesn't necessarily imply more realism for the player. The player character can be genetically modified, enhanced by nanotech or whatever handwavy technology you want to use.

    Say you shoot someone in the general torso area, you obviously miss the spine since he doesn't ragdoll and you take cover as he returns fire. When you pop out of cover the target is nowhere to be seen. When you find him he's on the ground aspirating blood and generally bleeding out. Or when you finish a firefight there is not silence but lots of poor fuckers screaming from their pain as they bleed out. If nothing else that might make you want to take the more stealthy route or make sure you aim better.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:40AM (#30580558) Homepage Journal

    wow, really, you haven't heard of Codemasters' master piece Operation Flashpoint? The default setting is "get shot and you die".

  • Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bertok ( 226922 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:42AM (#30580564)

    I definitely agree with the article, unrealistic games are terrible. I've found myself gravitating towards games with realistic damage rates and weapon accuracies.

    For example:

    - Counter Strike: Used to be really good in the early betas, then went to hell once the whiners in the forums resulted in every weapon being nerfed. I stopped playing it after I emptied a clip at point blank into a guy's head, missed with every bullet, and then had him turn around and knife me. Over 90% of players had never played CS when it was good, and have no idea just what they're missing...
    - Day of Defeat: started off awesome, then slowly went downhill, but never to the same extent as CS. Players who thought they were 'l33t' at CS got massacred when they joined DoD games.
    - Team Fortress / TF2: feels like you're using nerfbats at first, but there's lots of instant-deaths, more then you'd expect, which makes up for it. (snipers, spies, crits, etc...)
    - Left 4 Dead 1 & 2: I love the way that one bullet from most guns will kill a dozen zombies in a row. Not only that, but Valve made the guns in #2 better, not worse! Someone at Valve is clearly learning!

    Contrast these games with the likes of Quake, Unreal Tournament, Tribes, or the like. In those games, three or four direct hits with a rocket weapon is not enough. It's like using nerfbats. What's worse, Tribes basically had no hitscan [] weapons, so at range, you couldn't even hit anything moving, and even if you did get a lucky shot in, it would do no significant damage.

    I've found that the games with accurate, lethal weapons result in very different game play. People jump around like rabbits less, stick to cover more, crouch, avoid open spaces, etc... Basically, they play just like you see soldiers or SWAT behave in real life. It's also gives me a much bigger adrenaline rush. Periods of quiet stalking interspersed with real terror, ending with either sudden death or a panicked getaway make for great tension. Jumping around like idiots in glowing neon green armor is just boring after a few hours.

  • by Cbs228 ( 596164 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:48AM (#30580584)

    Urban Terror [] is a good example of a game that makes an effort to have "realistic" weapon damage effects. In the game—a free, open-source FPS—players square off using modern weapons and equipment. When you spray machine gun fire at your opponents, your accuracy degrades. When you get hit, you start bleeding, and you must bandage your wounds quickly before you bleed out. If you are shot in the leg, your movement speed decreases, and you also take damage to your legs if you fall from heights greater than one story. If you are shot in the arm, your accuracy decreases. Reloading your weapons takes time, and in the middle of combat it is usually more expedient to draw your trusty sidearm, rather than reload.

    Unlike most FPSs, where players engage in running gunfights that can last for tens of seconds, the typical Urban Terror engagement is very short; players frequently die before they realize they are under attack. This turns the game into an unending quest for the perfect ambush—attacking with surprise, from behind, almost always ensures victory. Many players tend to be snipers or campers, since the gameplay mechanics make very difficult to "run and gun" effectively. With that being said, it is still possible to power-slide down a hallway, turn, and take out two alert enemies with well-placed bursts—it's just very, very difficult.

    Nonetheless, UrT distinguishes itself for its reliance on teamwork. There are almost no plain Deathmatch servers, since UrT Deathmatches simply aren't interesting. Instead, it is all about the team-based gameplay: team-DM, CTF, and bombing run missions. A lone man is easy prey, but squad of two or three players can take and hold an enemy base for some time, provided they know what they're doing. In UrT, working with others is the key to victory, and your ability to score frags can increase exponentially if your team-mates are nearby. If you like teamwork, and don't mind the occasional insta-gib, then you should consider checking out UrT. The game is based on ioquake3 and will run on almost any Windows/Linux/Mac system that's less than ten years old.

  • Re:"Realistic", eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:49AM (#30580590)

    Game realism with regards to dying from wounds and no respawn is truly not fun. Especially if you spend more time being dead than actually playing the game.

    Counterstrike as an example, is probably about the limit for which fun can be said to be had with the relatively short rounds of gameplay.

    I found Counterstrike quite awful, exactly because it was so unrealistic. It's life on fast-forward. A firefight at ridiculous speeds. I much preferred the more mellow pace of America's Army. And leg wounds really cripple you there. Another feature which I quite appreciated as lay there bleeding on the ground.

    I'm not a fan on shooters or RL armies, but for a piece of military propaganda, AA was a pretty decent game.

  • Re:Bushido Blade (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plasticsquirrel ( 637166 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:55AM (#30580628)
    Bushido Blade was awesome, and it is still among the most, if not the most, realistic deadly fighting game ever made. Its simplicity came from its realism, so the complexity that it had was all related to how you were actually fighting. For instance, which stance you were in, or the way you swing your blade. The realistic simplicity also let it break out into three dimensions, so it was one of the very first fighting games to really allow you to run wherever you wanted (not just the lame side-stepping that fighting games still often use). It's still certainly worth a spin for those of you who (for some reason) still play PS1. Just a simple fight between two players in the bamboo forest is tense. There are only a few (sometimes one) unblocked swings between your character and its death.

    Of course, most people were more interested in playing Tekken and Mortal Kombat with their fireballs and snap-your-neck-to-take-away-20%-of-your-health type moves. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with that, but Bushido Blade showed that the simplicity of realism can give developers room for real substance in the gameplay.
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:58AM (#30580646)

    If I'm going to play a game, I want fun and excitement without any real threat of getting killed or suffering pain.

    Ah, but what counts as "fun and excitement" for you? For me, the risk of failure is part of the excitement. The challenge of minimizing that risk is part of the fun.

    When I play a game, I want to suffer. Real life is easy and pleasant enough already.

  • That ain't realism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:07AM (#30580938) Journal

    Operation Flashpoint, ArmA, the Rainbow Six aren't realism. The game mechanics are slightly more realistic, but that is it.

    Realism would mean you play once for 10 minutes, get shot, possibly through no fault of your own, and are permanently out of the game because in that game you are dead. No one wants that. Reality sucks. War is not fun. Sometimes skill counts but just as often dumb luck or being born on the right side does. War's not meant to be fun. Playing warrior is.

  • Re:Americas Army (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:21AM (#30581276)

    Americas Army is shit all realistic. The netcode doesn't work for a realistic shooter (it's great in the Unreal Tournament series though). Ravenshield uses the same code and has the same problem.
    Shots are delayed (instead of damage delayed, like CS), so people just walk around in circles while emptying clip after clip, hoping that the opponent is there when a shot hits.
    Or use frag grenades. Both games have 10-30 frag grenades going off in every round, before the actual combat starts.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:30AM (#30581346)

    I don't remember the game's name, but I remember an air combat game that went too far on the realism. It wasn't in terms of "Do a patrol where you do nothing." No, there was always something to be done. The problem was that you, as the pilot, did precious little most of the time. Your mission might have you bomb a couple targets. Well ok, your plane had the whole mission route in its computer. You'd have it fly on auto pilot to the destination, it'd give you a countdown until you should signal for bomb release. When that hit zero you'd do so and it would drop the bombs when the time was right. You'd then fly home.

    Ok well this is, in fact, how it works. Our planes are highly automated. Gone are the days of close up gun-based dogfights or carefully lining up a bomb with crosshairs. Now air combat is often engaged beyond visual range with data fed to you from an AWACS, and bombing is done on auto pilot. Even squeezing a trigger doesn't actually do anything, it just tells the plane it is clear to release weapons, the computers decide when the release will actually happen.

    As such it is pretty boring for a game. The player really has very little they need to do.

  • Feh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:43AM (#30581432) Homepage

    Ever play Rainbow Six Vegas 1 or 2 at Realistic difficulty? Try it, then cry as it makes you its bitch.

  • by VikingBerserker ( 546589 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:40AM (#30581840)

    This reminds me of the old discussions about realism in pen&paper RPGs.

    It can work as a system incorporated into RPGs. There is a James Bond RPG that uses a damage system with about five stages to it, from uninjured, through moderate wounds, to outright killed. Depending on the weapon used, you may take one additional level of damage (say, by being hit with a rock), to five (rocket to the head). Your general effectivenes drops as your damage accrues, and the likelihood of scarring increases, making you a less effective spy in later missions.

    Of course, there are advantages to paper-based gaming; the GM may alter the game accordingly to help players saddled with too many problems to be effective. If a computer game could effectively substitute for a human GM, then I might be more easily persuaded to try a game with such a realistic damage system.

  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:53AM (#30581962) Homepage

    I would also love to have more realistic violence in video games, but the thing to realize is that is that it just wouldn't work in current day games, as those games are from their in their very core extremely unrealistic, not just what the violence is concerned. On average you kill like what, 200-300 people in a single play through of a shooter, maybe even more in some games. Reality just doesn't work that way, unless you drop bombs from a plane you just don't get to kill that many people without getting yourself killed, a lot.

    I think a sensible way to introduce realistic violence would be to tackle it in a basically non-violent game. See Mirrors Edge for example, that style of game has some huge potential in that area, as its core is not about killing people but about traversing terrain. You don't shoot people, but instead you get shot. Of course the game kind of butchers its own core mechanic by introducing level design that basically forces you to shoot at other people and its extremely terrible at presenting the shooting in a realistic manner (everybody is a clone, small girl survives more bullets then armored police man, etc.), but its a type of game where you could introduce realistic violence and get away with it. In fact it would even make the game better when you for example had a choice between shooting somebody in the leg, along with consequences, instead of just having him rackdoll himself to the ground. I would much prefer it to have the game show realistically that death of the opponent is something that should be avoided, not something that should be done on a casual basis. Another thing the game misses is in-game character interaction, you get kind of a glimpse at it here and there, but you don't really see much of it in the game, which is again kind of a bummer, as realism doesn't start with violence and death, but with having non-violent ways to interact with NPCs.

    The one big issue of course remains player death. It is really hard to get away from rapid respawn. You could Sands-Of-Time your way out of it, but even that is just a cheat to avoid consequences of player death. Another issue is that such instant-kill kind of gameplay leads to lots of trial&error gameplay, which doesn't seem to be all that popular with todays audiences.

    Another way to do realistic violence is of course to make it all story based, like in an adventure game, where its not something the player does, but something done by other people to the player or friends of him. Heavy Rain might have some interesting stuff to show in that area, but if it really works or will be panned as a series of QTEs we have to wait and see.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire