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A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/26/2008 5:13:39 AM   
RyanCrierie


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The following is a bunch of semi coherent rants I did on the PC Gaming industry about a month ago on a different board, your opinion, guys?

------------------------------------------

IMHO, the gaming industry has come full circle back to where it was in 1992/93/94.

Back then, the stupid tricks and conventions in games such as "Monsters will always be hiding behind secret doors in a FPS and leap out when you come by" among others, were acceptable since the overall game environment was still very new, and consisted of small teams of people programming, so there wasn't a lot of funding or time to think things through.

However, we've had about 500~ FPS games since Doom, and at least 5 X-COM Clones since then to see what works and what doesn't. So it's annoying to see multi-million dollar, multi-year productions created by a team of dozens, if not a hundred people, come back to the same basic simplistic gameplay and mechanics that were fresh in 1993, but by now are just tired, such as "no matter how many people you kill, the AI will just keep blundering in."

Doom 3 is a particularly egregious offender. It starts out actually pretty good, and then turns into a bland game; in which everything is constantly dark; and monsters jump out of nowhere, including from behind doors or hidden passages -- exactly like Doom 1/2 in 1993/94.

Other games have different annoying tropes.




HITMAN Blood Money

In this one, I simply climbed up on top of the elevator, garroted someone in the elevator, and lifted them up through the service hatch. Repeat x30 times, they wouldn't even figure out how to climb up to get me, even when they saw someone being garroted and lifted right in front of them

You Tube Video of Half-Life 2 massacre

That kind of "genius" from AI driven NPCs was acceptable in Mid-1993, when the top of the line computer was a Pentium 60, maximum memory was what, at most 8-16MB, and hard drives were at best 100~ MB. The graphics and sound engines needed a lot of system overhead, so there wasn't a lot of room for advanced AI.

However, since then, overall memory has just exploded; we've got video cards on the general market with 1 gigabyte of RAM for reasonable prices ($200 or so), and you now have 2 GB of RAM available (max you can get with Win XP). So what excuse is there for stupid AI like in the picture above?

It's just a matter now of bookkeeping to create the illusion of "smarter" AIs. For example, you could assign each discrete room and corridor in a game level with it's own byte (0 to 255 range) tracking the "death count" in that room.

Back in the days of a 640k memory limit and when we had to use such things like QEMM (remember that?) to load everything into expanded memory to get that mighty 620kb free we needed for Aces of the Pacific, etc; such things weren't possible since they ate too much memory, etc.

Now, we can do that; and script the AIs in our game to when a room reaches a certain "Death count", the AI's stop going in there, they take cover outside the room, and call in tactical teams to clear it with grenades, etc, instead of blundering in one by one.

Other gripes I have are:

Level Design: Why is it that most game designers still design game levels to be incredibly linear, like it's still 1994 and they're hacking DOOM WAD files? You should be able to infiltrate the enemy base via multiple routes rather than being limited to just one route. Same for once within the base; you should have more than one way to get to the secret lab where the big gun prototype is.

Moronic Enemies: I went into a little of that above with the Hitman and Half-Life examples. They simply don't respond like real people would do. You can literally walk into a top secret military base on top of a pile of corpses because there's no "talk" between the AIs in different parts of a game level.

Good example is in Hitman Blood Money. You can go on a bloodthirsty rampage on the 20th floor of a Las Vegas casino with a M-16 kitted out with Beta-C Magazines, kill a bunch of cops who come up via elevator, etc; and then when you go back down to the ground floor....it's full of tourists wandering around, and other "normal" things. Your rampage on Floor 20 had no effect at all.

Additionally, leaving corpses around does raise the alarm; but from there on, it just seems that the reaction is disjointed, even on the hardest difficulty level and not cohesive. I mean for example; if you kill someone in an opera house in Paris and leave their body lying there, it causes a flurry of police to appear, and drag away the body in a body bag; but there doesn't seem to be a logical progression of events, like police interviewing people, etc, and a net of suspicion slowly tightening around you.

Likewise, when stealth is implemented in games, it's in absurd extremes. It's either "oh no, someone spotted you, you instantly fail the mission", or "bubble universes", where you can kill everyone in one part of the level, and the other people in the other parts of the level are partying or researching like nothing happened.

A more realistic stealth mission would have a constantly increasing difficulty level; it would still be possible to win the mission, but it gets harder and harder, and it would reward players for making correct calls. For example, you encounter a lone guard, dispose of them, and put on their clothes. You had best hide the corpse and do whatever you came to do fast; because eventually someone is going to call the guard, and when he doesn't respond, a search party will be sent out for him, and the alert level goes up a notch.

Loud noises like gunfire, etc will cause everyone on the base to go crazy, for example; you'll see floodlights flick on, guards pouring out of barracks, doubling of guards and shorter intervals between patrols; as well as limited lockdowns; e.g. several doors which previously anyone could open, are now electronically locked and you need at least a level x cardkey to open.

And this alert level will not go down in five minutes. Oh no. They're paranoid; and won't go back to relaxed posture for at least an hour or so. If they find a dead body, it gets kicked up another notch; and they won't go back down to relaxed posture EVER.

If you wipe out a security team, then the alert posture goes up even more. As in "we better call a rapid reaction force" which means more guards will arrive from another base, or the special forces team will be flown in by helo to deal with you. As a bonus, virtually all the interior doors lock, and can only be opened by calling the base security HQ and answering with the correct pass phrase.

Now, it should be possible to get the secret weapon from it's high security area, even if you go crazy and trip the place to DEFCON DELTA, just really hard, and requiring a lot of creative thinking, like using alternate passageways or creating your own by blowing down walls with explosives.

A concept game that would be groundbreaking and fun to play would be a remake of the 1990 PC game The Terminator by Bethesda Softworks, back when they were a small local game company near me.

It had a 6 x 10 mile area, vehicles you could steal and drive in, you could even rob banks to get money, bust into national guard armories, etc.

In the remake, you'd be a T-800 series terminator sent back to about like 2000 to kill someone, and to add to replay value, there would be no pre-set target; just a bunch of random ones coded in by the game designers ranging from a derelict hobo on the street to the Mayor of California's son, etc, with increasing difficulty to terminate.

And far from being a kill-a-thon, if good thought was put into it; it would be very fun.

For example, you wouldn't be able to keep up your disguise for long if you simply walked in guns blazing, killing everyone; because your face doesn't regenerate. Oh, I'm sure if you get shot in the cheek by a .45 and you extract the bullet, clean the wound, and bandage it up; your skin will eventually scar over and regrow.

Same thing with a chest shot; you can bandage it up, get new clothes and you're fine. However, if someone shoots you in the head repeatedly, your disguise will no longer be worth anything, I mean, you could cover up a bullet that grazes the top of your head revealing shiny metal underneath by getting a hat of some kind, but massive damage to your biological covering can't be easily explained away; and there would be intense government interest into why a robot of somekind is walking around.

So this would mean no walking into a gunstore full of customers killing everyone, and taking their money and guns; you'd be able to do it, but you'd be shot up pretty badly in the process; and you'd be on camera. However, waiting until night time (we can have a "wait/sleep" function) and then catching up with the gunstore owner as he closes shop, beating his head on the wall, smashing the video camera recorders, and leaving with a few guns out the back door is doable.

Yeah, it would make a great sandbox game -- the GTA series is a lot like this; but in order to get the full experience with GTA, you have to go through their stupid missions to unlock all the good stuff...

When I told someone else about my idea and how you could buy things; he said:

"You would have to get money somehow first."

You're a terminator -- walk up to an ATM after stealing a can of spray paint. Spray over the Camera (you've IDed where the camera is on the ATM, you're a terminator, remember how in both 1 and 2, they had extensive diagrams of just about anything). Once the camera is disabled, you punch your fist into the ATM and rip out the money bin...

Also, you'd have an enormous range of options, like if you need to get through a secure door, you could either wait until someone opens the door, then cack him and take his ID card, or you could just kick the door in with your hydraulically boosted strength....it would all be up to you on how silent or noisy you want to be...

----------------------------------------

Sorry if I got a bit preachy or ranty here guys. Pay no attention to me.

Attachment (1)

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Post #: 1
RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/26/2008 9:34:26 AM   
JudgeDredd


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An awful lot of valid points.

I daren't go into the detail you have, but I would hazard a guess that...

1. I think your mainstream FPS games are designed for the younger audience
2. Fast turnaround and bucks. Making as much money as possible with as little effort as possible.

There have been shiners. Attempts at smarter AI, noticeably Far Cry and FEAR. Both, whilst definitely still lacking, had some intelligence.

In FEAR there were occasions where if you "hold up", they'd try and flush you out with grenades. They would also flank if there was the path to do so. What was seemingly a locked door to you was utilised by the AI.

With Far Cry, the AI actually split up. They would be alerted and a jeep with additional forces did turn up sometimes. The enemy tried to flank and the reason they did that wass the levels were very open. The AI had the room to do so. Not like other FPS games (even FEAR) where you were generally locked in corridors. I didn't play Far Cry much because it didn't grab me.

I've been saying for years....for me, personally, I like games with a story. The problem with this particular view is the story isn't going to appeal to all. As an example, Far Cry with it's more intelligent AI than most FPS games, just wasn't my cup of tea because the story didn't grip me. That, for the devs, was a waste of resourceful thinking. ON the other hand, I remember alot of internet talk about the AI being superior for that game and that most probably had a positive affect on sales....I bought it

I think some devs have tried. Others, the bigger ones, don't care. Same tripe time after time and watch the bounty roll in.

Alot of games out there have a lot of features and if they could just amalgamate them, we'd have a stormer of an FPS game (same is true of strategy gaming).

Mafia....great story. Great open environment...pretty dumb AI. Fantastic game.
BiA:HH...great story. Channelled gaming...pretty dumb AI. Fantastic game.

Far Cry...bad story. Great open environment...half decent AI. Terrible game.

Just that tiny little snippet shows you that their's no pleasing everyone all the time. So I guess devs probably aim for the main market. Run and gun types.

I mentioned BiA:HH to a friend, saying how good it was. He got it and was disappointed at how often he died. He also didn't like the gameplay. He wanted to run and gun...didn't want to use the engine how it was designed.

Alot of the features you suggest above turn the "run and gun" FPS into a sneak and peak game. In your example of the base and escalating security, the suggested route is to sneak around in the shadows so as you do not suffer the lock down doors and rapid reaction force.

In the example of Half Life, perhaps they could do the body count as suggested, but instead of camping out, chuck grenades to show you that you can't just sit there.

In Medal of Honour Pacific Assault, which was widely slated by the community, actually tried some different things. They had a medic, and if you were hit to the point of dying, he'd come over and bandage you. But if you had ran into a swarm of enemy, more often than not, he was too busy fighting himself, or bandaging a pal, to come and help you...so you'd die. They done this to make you think before running in and to give a "little" realism whilst not making it a given that you'd survive. They wanted to remove the "med" packs that are rampant in games. The idea was poo pooed all over the community.

Crysis. Some great features. A suit that you could switch to invisible mode. The energy used to make you invisible would increase as you moved and increase dramatically as you ran. The invisible feature would immediately switch off when you opened fire. So, you couldn't stay hidden forever, nor could you stay hidden for too long whilst moving and nor could you fight and stay invisible. On the other hand, sometimes the enemy were close enough that they would see the "anomaly" of you being invisible and detect you. One of several great features in that game. Also, when you were detected, again the enemy tried flanking, as in Far Cry. But they were still dumber than a rock at times.

Again....story was rubbish and didn't hold me.

However, what you suggest is not for everyone. And yet, they do need to change some things.

It's defo not the progression one would've thought over the last 15 years, but I think some progression is being tried.

Sorry for the somewhat disjointed post. I tried.

(in reply to RyanCrierie)
Post #: 2
RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/26/2008 9:49:09 AM   
Matti Kuokkanen

 

Posts: 1848
Joined: 4/2/2004
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quote:

However, we've had about 500~ FPS games since Doom, and at least 5 X-COM Clones since then to see what works and what doesn't. So it's annoying to see multi-million dollar, multi-year productions created by a team of dozens, if not a hundred people, come back to the same basic simplistic gameplay and mechanics that were fresh in 1993, but by now are just tired, such as "no matter how many people you kill, the AI will just keep blundering in."

There are several opinions about such. For you (Classic) Doom 3 could be same old * as the original, but someone else welcomed it just for that reason! MegaMan 9 is described as one-to-one with the ones from 1980's, and it's good. Go figure...

quote:

Level Design: Why is it that most game designers still design game levels to be incredibly linear

There is limited amount of man-hours. With only one (or 2) way in, that single way can be more detailed than what would be possible with multiple ways. That's the choice most developers take. In some such games there are short cuts available (in Halo 2 you can drop down from bridge to ground below instead going down there through another building), but then you'll miss part of the fun.

There are games (even FPS ones) with more open maps, called sandbox games/maps: GTA, Fallout and Delta Force series and original Deus-Ex comes to mind.

quote:

Additionally, leaving corpses around does raise the alarm; but from there on, it just seems that the reaction is disjointed, even on the hardest difficulty level and not cohesive. I mean for example; if you kill someone in an opera house in Paris and leave their body lying there, it causes a flurry of police to appear, and drag away the body in a body bag; but there doesn't seem to be a logical progression of events, like police interviewing people, etc, and a net of suspicion slowly tightening around you.

Good point. Hitman serie, and the first one in particular, can be very... atmospheric: hotel gig, where 47 jumps from balcony to another, shall remain one of my favourite parts of ANY game. But they are still just games, and creation of everything you describe might either take unreasonable amount of time and resources, or leave some other parts of the game less complete.

quote:

Likewise, when stealth is implemented in games, it's in absurd extremes. It's either "oh no, someone spotted you, you instantly fail the mission", or "bubble universes", where you can kill everyone in one part of the level, and the other people in the other parts of the level are partying or researching like nothing happened.

Play some Jagged Alliance 2 (use only throwing knives if you want keep it low), and come talk about that again ;)

quote:

A more realistic stealth mission would have a constantly increasing difficulty level; it would still be possible to win the mission, but it gets harder and harder, and it would reward players for making correct calls. For example, you encounter a lone guard, dispose of them, and put on their clothes. You had best hide the corpse and do whatever you came to do fast; because eventually someone is going to call the guard, and when he doesn't respond, a search party will be sent out for him, and the alert level goes up a notch.

Metal Gear Solid 2 has exactly that feature. But it works only in 'bubble'. Still, player has to hurry to get out of the 'bubble', or find hiding place before guard's lack of response is noticed.

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Post #: 3
RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/26/2008 9:56:59 AM   
Matti Kuokkanen

 

Posts: 1848
Joined: 4/2/2004
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quote:

ORIGINAL: JudgeDredd

Just that tiny little snippet shows you that their's no pleasing everyone all the time. So I guess devs probably aim for the main market. Run and gun types.

There are very small number of games, which are aimed at audience you describe, what are essentially what you describe, and STILL they can appeal for more serious gamers... like (some of) us. Halo and Half-Life series did just that.

[edit]
Halo games have great story too. Try it out, JD

[another edit]
If you want play game that provides sufficient challenge without cheating, play it with/against other people! Not much of story in such style of gaming though...

< Message edited by Matti Kuokkanen -- 12/26/2008 9:59:12 AM >


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You know what they say, don't you? About how us MechWarriors are the modern knights, how warfare has become civilized now that we have to abide by conventions and rules of war. Don't believe it.

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Post #: 4
RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/27/2008 12:13:29 AM   
jchastain


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From: Marietta, GA
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The other factor you might consider is that a lot of gamers want to win - no matter how bad they are at the game.  As their skill improves, they just want to win more convincingly.  And the final level of their "victory" is getting to the point that the game is not a challenge at all because they have thoroughly conquered it.  They rock.  Yeah them.

An entire generation of gamers has been raised so as never to adversely impact their self esteem.  They were taught that they could never lose and that they are great at everything.  Gaming companies are only too happy to give them games that they can beat - especially if their victory means that they simply have to go out and buy another game.  And they'll do exactly that because they were also raised to believe that spending lots of money is the ultimate definition of success. 

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RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/27/2008 1:08:02 AM   
mack2


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quote:

You Tube Video of Half-Life 2 massacre

That kind of "genius" from AI driven NPCs was acceptable in Mid-1993, when the top of the line computer was a Pentium 60, maximum memory was what, at most 8-16MB, and hard drives were at best 100~ MB. The graphics and sound engines needed a lot of system overhead, so there wasn't a lot of room for advanced AI.


That video shows a player who has exploited the game engine and is using cheats, as well as obviously being on a low difficulty (on the harder levels those enemies would start throwing grenades in there, as well as setting some manhacks (small flying buzzsaws basically) at the player, and even 1 grenade can massively injured the player char, it hardly counts as an example of bad AI.

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RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/27/2008 1:56:48 AM   
Gem35


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When the gaming industry makes a game that it's AI can beat a human let me know.
As stated earlier, every game that has ever been made will have a large portion of the customers "cheating, exploiting, add adjective"
Happily I am not very smart and therefore enjoy all of my game titles I have purchased so far, matrix games and others included.

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RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/27/2008 10:16:02 AM   
Hertston


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From: Plymouth, UK
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Some valid points, but I'm not sure I agree with the overall thrust of the first post. Sure those problems are there, but as with the infamous pathfinding problem in RTS games, I suspect there are usually reasons, partially audience expectation (which is still nowhere near as originality crippling as it is in MMOs) and partially technical. I guess development costs, or reducing them, come into play there.

For me, though, the FPS genre is one I've come back to in the last couple of years, after virtually giving up on it. There have been plenty of great games like CoD4 (SP, I don't rate the MP that highly, maps are far too small), Bioshock, Portal, and (my favourite, if flawed) both STALKER titles; even Left 4 Dead which, while shallow, is just brilliant. All bring something new to the table. Even overall failures, for assorted reasons, such as Far Cry 2 have moved the genre on. All we need now, IMHO, is a genuine successor to Rainbow 6 and/or Ghost Recon (i.e not the dumbed-down console rubbish).

< Message edited by Hertston -- 12/27/2008 10:18:38 AM >

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RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/28/2008 3:46:34 AM   
ilovestrategy


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I think at a lot to do with FPS's  is that there is only so many ways you can crack an egg.


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RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/28/2008 12:10:45 PM   
Grell

 

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I've grown to really dislike FPS's as they are all alike.

Regards,

Grell

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Post #: 10
RE: A Slight Rant on the PC Gaming Industry... - 12/28/2008 7:25:43 PM   
Matti Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Grell

I've grown to really dislike FPS's as they are all alike.

Some people would say same thing about wargames with hexes on them

_____________________________

You know what they say, don't you? About how us MechWarriors are the modern knights, how warfare has become civilized now that we have to abide by conventions and rules of war. Don't believe it.

MekWars

(in reply to Grell)
Post #: 11
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