Articoli marcati con tag ‘tps’
CHAPTER 3 ARSENAL
Every job has its tools, and weapons are a “shooter’s” tools. Let’s find out the way weapons evolved, and how the weapon concept stretched though time, to cover with exotic devices like whirling blades or gadgets to shift time.
You sure you know how it works?
One domain where a lot of effort have been put to evolve the 3D shooters genre is the arsenal at player’s disposition.
The evolution of weapons in shooters is an interesting phenomenon, for it developed, and still does, along two separate directions: on one side we have the increasing overall number of weapons that the game offers, on the other side we have the reduction in the number of weapons in the character’s inventory.
10 years ago the overall number of weapons implemented in a shooter was equal to the number of weapons carried by the character. But as long as the number of weapons grew, the fact that the character had all of them in his inventory was less and less plausible.
At some point, from Halo on (again, and there’s still someone who doesn’t think it is a great game…), the number of weapons that the character could carry started decreasing, so that it’s uncommon, in today’s shooters, that the character has more than 2\3 at a time. Nothing to do with the 8 to 12 pieces standard of the 90’s!
The next chart shows the separate trends for these 2 features: while the overall number of weapons available in games has always been growing (dark curve), the number of weapons in the character’s inventory decreased, stabilizing itself across a low value (average 3 pieces, bright curve).
One of the games that aimed most at this aspect is Unreal. Not only in Unreal there are a lot of different weapons, but almost every weapon has a secondary fire mode, too. The alternative fire mode reveals the second nature of a weapon, thus increasing the variety of the arsenal at player’s disposition.
Let’s take the so called snot-gun as example. This weapon can shoot single green blob-like bullets that blow if they touch an enemy, OR they adhere to a surface and blow after a while, AND as a secondary fire mode the gun can shoot a single bullet, the size depending on how much time the player holds the fire button before releasing it, that blows when it touches something, releasing several smaller blobs that explode too, like a cluster bomb.
Another example is the Laptop Gun in Perfect Dark, a sort of assault rifle that the player can deploy on a wall, making it an automatic defense turret.
The following image represents the increase of the gameplay extension field on the ARSENAL axis between Doom (dark polygon) and Unreal (bright polygon). As you can see, the improved versatility of the arsenal at player’s disposition in Unreal promotes an improvement on the KILLING OPTIONS axis, too.
Another feature that is worth to mention, since it is almost an ever-present, is the relation between the character’s movements and the goodness of his aim. In other words, if the character stands still the aim is good, and even better if he crouches, but it gets worse if he shoots while running or jumping. This feature adds some plausibility to the game actions, and it rewards cold-blooded players that take their time to aim, maybe from a vantage point they gained, compared to the rascals all running and bunny hopping.
I have several pleasant memories of players from all over the world kicking my ass on Battlefield 1942, until I learned how to shoot effectively.
The interventions on weapons move on other directions, too. Some games allow the player to upgrade weapons. Upgrades can be found throughout the levels, or bought into shops at specific locations, and they usually grant more precision, recoil reduction, magazines with more bullets, more firepower, and so on.
For example, in Resident Evil 4 the main character Leon occasionally runs into a shady character that sells (at high prices!) weapons, equipment and upgrades.
Another possibility that some games offer is to equip the same weapon with different ammo types, that goes along with the presence of enemies that are differently vulnerable to specific kind of bullets. This way the player not only has to choose the weapon to approach a shootout, but he chooses also the specific ammo type to employ.
System Shock 2 adopts this solution: the player has at his disposition bullets that are more effective against synthetics, and bullets that are more effective against organics.
In my opinion this features doesn’t have always a positive effect on the gameplay. Switching ammunition can easily become a boring procedure, and it may happen that a feature adopted to expand the possibilities for the player, actually makes him feel even more constrained (did anybody say Mass Effect?).
The last group of features in the ARSENAL domain that I will talk about includes some very original devices that offer alternative offensive ways to common weapons.
I refer to the glaive in Dark Sector, or to the time-slowing device in Timeshift, or to the demon arm in The Darkness. These features are distinctive elements of games that implement them and critical aspects around which entire gameplay sections are built.
When you discuss 3D shooters weapons, you cannot omit the gravity gun from Half Life 2. Considered by many the best weapon ever (in games!), the gravity gun (and the powerful physics engine implemented in Half Life 2) made possible things that the players could just imagine before.
For this reason, many thanks to the Valve guys, and let’s go on!
CHAPTER 4 ENVIRONMENT
Usually a shooter environment is pretty much hostile, and overcrowded with enemies with an intention to kill the main character. Anyway, at some point game designers started to feel the need to give a more subtle and character-friendly role to the environment. Let’s see how this goal has been achieved.
Disclaimer: all pictures belong to their rightful owners.