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.