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Old 05-16-2005, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

The E3 announcements have been going on now for the better part of May now, and I'm sure you've all been deluged with tons and tons of information on every manner of game under the sun. Personally, I've been treading water making sure that when we are ready to announce games #2 and #3 on Ritual.com, that these games are going to make you wet yourself.

So while the Ritual Head Honchos are at E3, I'm going to do two questions this week, one old (from the days when Ritual was known as "Hipnotic"), and one new (from the days when Ritual was known as "those sneaky bastards who wouldn't announce their products with the rest of the known universe").

First the old: When playing through a level, do you notice your surroundings or are you focused on attempting genocide?

Now the new: What features do you feel are "played out" in first-person shooters? It could be anything: jumping puzzles, stacking/sliding puzzles, crates, anything.

And again, thanks a lot for your feedback. We have multiple people here at Ritual who are reading every single post (yes, even the ones from Mac users) and taking this feedback to heart.

(Edited: Fixed a typo.)
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Old 05-17-2005, 04:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edit

I'm very much into soaking up the scenery and the atmosphere it creates. Billboards, discarded newspapers, notice boards in offices, ads on the sides of buses, tv shows on in the background (or radio broadcasts), domestic arguments going on in the next room. All go toward creating the illusion of a living breathing world. I know HL2 gets pulled out of the bag for every question but compare the environments there with something as basic as Doom. Doom was run, get ammo, kill stuff, get key, kill stuff, look as the lovely pixel textures etc. I couldn't go back to something so simple now I have been spoiled too much. On a graphical level, a game's realism comes from the talent of it's texture artists - no complaints about previous Ritual titles but lifelike looking textures & scenery are expected (unless you follow the XIII cell shading route and then you have license to play around a little)

Jumping puzzles have and always will suck total ass
I understand that you need to strike a delicate balance with puzzles, you don't want to confuse the idiot players but you want to try and satisfy the veterans - some people manage that - the resident evil titles at times have had seriously frustrating puzzles, seemingly caring little for younger/less puzzle happy players but they are no less popular for it.
Put puzzles into an FPS context and due to the nature of the game you don't have all that many options. Pushing/Pulling scenery to get to other area's is fine by me. Picking up "puzzle" items and delivering them somewhere else is fine by me (so long as the run back and forth to get them isn't painfully long and boring).
The "two switches up, one switch down" to activate "teh tactical nuke" is fine by me also.

Mentioned this before in previous QotW but "on rails" levels where you are the passenger in a vehicle with only the option to shoot at enemies you pass has to be one of my most hated features.

Going through computer terminals for information also doesn't hold the same awe for me that it used to circa SiN, these day's I play FPS titles as a break from RPG's and as much as I always like to see RPG features in character progression I ultimately just want to blow stuff up, going through screens, picking up passwords from bodies or notice boards just to unlock some door somewhere... no thanks - have your "JC" sidekick deal with that side for you.

I may get shot down for this but vehicles in general (different from the on rails comment above) bug me.With maps getting more expansive with each new generation of title I can see the need for a better way than walking but I did find the hoverboat levels of HL2 quite dull - the buggy ones were better as you had numerous stop off points to go and get into trouble on foot but using vehicles just for the sake of having them - and then going out of your way to create a large arena to drive through (with nothing to think about other than get from a to b) is pointless.
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Old 05-17-2005, 02:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

Woohoo, more questions...

1) Notice surroundings or attempt genocide?
I would have to say that I notice the surroundings, but, am focused on killing anything that moves. Now, one BIG factor in this that does make a difference is how interactive the environment is to the gameplay. If physics/etc. are involved, then paying attention to the environment becomes even more important.

There are a couple of other envrionment factors that seem to make a big difference (at least to me). The first one is that no matter how BEAUTIFUL a level is, if the gameplay within that level sucks, then the extra work put into the environment is basically a waste (lots of eye-candy, no payoff). I felt this way about a good many of the UT2003/UT2004 levels.

The second factor is that as pretty as some game levels are nowadays, if a game doesn't "live up" to some of the current standards, then it's often seen as bad, even if the gameplay is 10X better than the "prettier" game(s). It's a bit of a double edged sword. The levels MUST play well first, then they must look good/work within the scheme of things.

2) Played out features...
1. Bullet time.
2. Jumping puzzles (for the love of all things Holy, let these things DIE in FPS games).
3. Only ONE jump sound. Huh, Huh, Huh, Huh. People make more than just one sound when jumping.
5. Escort missions (if they can't protect themselves, then they deserve to bite it...hehe).
6. Useless weapons. WAY too many FPS games proved weapons that only have ONE use. Get stuck with it in ANY other situation and you might as well hit "~" and type "quit/exit". [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
7. As a follow up to #6, Console commands. It's 2005, and time to provide menu access to all those little "features".
8. Pits o green slime. Well, unless you can dump someone in them or use the slime as a weapon.
9. Anti-climatic endings. I've heard a good many complaints about such games as Halo 2, Half-Life 2, DooM 3 and more. Whether it's the ending boss batte, or the end (cut-scene) of the game, this NEEDS to be stepped up to offer "something" for the player beyond "Tada, it's over".
10. Dumb "friendly" AI. If the player is gonna be strapped with team mates, make them smart enough to NOT WALK off cliffs, in front of our death dealing guns (at the time we are firing), and, get stuck on walls. This is even MORE important if the player must be "escorting" the AI somewhere (which I already addressed...lol).
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Old 05-17-2005, 05:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

1. I definitly like to take in the surroundings. It gives you more of a feel as if you were actually there.

2. Jumping Puzzles are really stupid I think. If I wanted to do a jumping puzzle or solve some kind of puzzle/riddle, I would have went out and bought a strategy game.
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Old 05-17-2005, 07:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

"oon" what is this?!

1. After I have completely ventilated (played a bit too much UT2k4 this week) every living thing in sight I like to take a moment and look at the beauty of the area I am in. This is, of course, why you need to have very good level designers and artists. I have always been a fan of endless horizions in the games somewhere, but not everywhere, anything that can remind me of the backround of a painting by Salvador Dali is very good.

2. Puzzles are great, but always make the objective obvious while keeping the actual puzzle hard to complete. An example being "Look for some moderately challenging hidden crates to somehow get across" not "Get across some how, but we won't tell you, or put anything useful in plain sight, that would be too easy, you are going to have to enter noclip, and then go around the map and eventually a secret wall will dissapear that is hiding the crates."

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Old 05-18-2005, 03:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

Answer to old question: Yes I notice the surroundings quite a bit, then again I do make levels for others games and I enjoy architecture so I may not be a good person to ask such a question to.

As for an answer to the new question: Things that are played out to much in shooters, I say one of the biggest right off the bat is arcade'ness and or dumbed down shooters, give us more options and or just more freedom, I'm not however asking for more realism, at the same time I'm not asking for more fantasy as much as I'm asking try to put yourself in such a position as someone who is in a war, or someone who has to defend his planet, put emotion into shooters, for example when you run for a long time in a game, you finally go prone in a position to engage the enemy, you feel eager and prepared or scared and undreprepared, so if your eager you may rush in and get killed, or if your less eager you do things kind of sluggish and almost unwilling. How that can be used in a game for instance is there are different levels for different emotions/physical atributes to worry about, lets say your about to fight and your scared your going to die, allow the soldier to grab his crusifix on his necklass and kiss it, and rub his thumb over his wifes/girlfiends picture this will change his attributes and either make him worse off or better to fight, or not even that invlvoed, when in a fire fight your reloading animation for your gun is faster because the crap hit the fan, or your so scared that you have troubles reloading the gun. The only emotion in games nowadays at most is where your chracter might have cut scenes or say things at different parts in the game, yet his reload animations are robotic and the same as always over and over which hasn ever made any sense to me, and or I'm guess I'm talking in terms of simsolider than I am an FPS for the masses, but your the guys who get paid to do this stuff, you can get an idea or gist of what I'm saying.

Since you guys do read this, but you know I'd love more gunplay in shooters, where you can at anytime inspect the gun or dissasimble the gun and clean it or just take it apart and put it back together, or if a gun is laying for anyone to pick it up you can mess the weapon up so no one else can use it, then if someone walks up to it and says hey wow look a shotgun, then they see it doesent work by then its too late and you can score a kill while they are distracted, and or do like in racing games as you progress you can get/earn different better enhancements for your weaponry like scopes silencers bigger clips/magizines, yet not like cs, more like a racing game.

I'd also like to see more use of futuristic yet real weapony like in Ghost Recon where they let you use the OICW.

I also would like detail in areas previously ignored, for isntance if a truck is broken down in a game or any vehicle for that matter the simpleway to do it is have the player either stand beside it and hold down a button as a scroll bar moves like a loading screen, why can't you let the players actually perform the fix, click and drag parts, do circular mouse movmesnts to twist screws on or off? Or heck that'd be a great learning tool for kids who can try working on cars yet without the risk of damaging the family vehcile?

I could go on and on about ideas I have for games, if any of yall want feel free to contact me with any comments or questions rayden4444@hotmail.com
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Old 05-18-2005, 08:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edit

At first, living surroundings, perhaps you guys should test run gothic 2 demo or the first one(dunno if it's still avail to d/l) Oh yeah, it's a medieval rpg game with fps elements. What i want to see, is same feeling of living surrounding world in some fps game, it was so addictive experience when i played gothic first time, that i was sold immedieatly. I had to play it every day, whenever i had even a tiny free time.

Jumping jacksons and Mario bros don't really be necessary elements on fps games, i hate that kind of bs.

Far cry was pretty much, what i want from future fps games, usable wechiles, nice maps and good playablity. Exploring big maps and finding usefull stuff and useless but funny eastern egg's, wouldn't hurt either.

Maybe, solving a game different ways, so it gives different endings ie. simple by John Wayne's style or by Marco Polo's way [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Well, i think i wrote all i wanted, hopefully it's even partially readable [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 05-18-2005, 05:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

I like to pay attention to what's around me only if its the sort of game that tries to get my attention. Like in Serious Sam, I don't really care how many times they got the Dope Fish in the game, I'm going to focus on laying waste to the thousands of things that are trying to kill me so I can get to the next level. On the other hand, in Deus Ex, where the focus was less on combat and more on story and exploration, I'm definitely going to take my time and try and note all the little details, like that "Holy Smokes" billboard and stuff like that. Doom III got it just right, I'd say. There wasn't a whole lot of areas where there were notes on the wall that were just squiggles - if you saw something written on a monitor, you could walk up to it and read what it was. That was really cool, because in most games, whenever you try to read something in the environment, it's like your characters' vision is 20/80 or something.

As for what's been overdone... I'm really not a big fan of jumping puzzles, or even falling damage. Nothing ticks me off more than having to reload a level because I was too busy strafing to notice where the edge of a cliff was. And could somebody please get ladders right? I'm playing Pariah right now on my X-Box, and I have to hesitate for thirty seconds every time I try to go down a ladder because I don't know if I'm on it or not.
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Old 05-18-2005, 06:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

Originally posted by Michael_Russell:First the old: When playing through a level, do you notice your surroundings or are you focused on attempting genocide?
In reply to your 1st question: I think its a matter of which generation of gamer you're marketing to. I'd wager the majority of your younger generation gamers are going to be more interested in committing genocide, as you so put it. Whereas a lot of the old schoolers out there may be more interested in stealth tactics, or how creative they are allowed to be when trying to take out their opponent, silently and un suspectedly, as in "Thief" for an example. While not true for all, many of the younger generation simply aren't interested in this aspect of play, suffering from A.D.D. as they do these days. For me though, yes, I not only notice my surroundings, I like to use it to my advantage if I'm able. Lets take the following as an example of where games are today and where I think this fits in.

<font color="blue">In todays games, if your chasing Joe Schmoe around a map with a Rocket Launcher and he is able to duck behind a closed door, nine out of ten says the Rocket hitting the door does nothing to Joe. Whereas, if REAL physics were applied, not only would the wooden door, or for that matter a metal one would also be obliterated, so would the surrounding door frame, including the drywall or brick holding it and a LOT of the objects behind the door in the next room as well, not to mention ...including Joe!</font>

Originally posted by Michael_Russell:Now the new: What features do you feel are "played out" in first-person shooters? It could be anything: jumping puzzles, stacking/sliding puzzles, crates, anything.
In reply to your 2nd question: "What features do I feel are played out". Again, this may be relevant to the players age group. Some players down right despise and hate being rocketed to death by other players lacking the twitch skills to take them out with a pea-shooter or spit wad using a straw and some toilet paper, while others simply can't take being sniped by a camper. This is more a question of preferred play-style I think.

<font color="blue">But for me, giving it some thought, I'd have to say that I feel the chase itself is played out. There's nothing to set one FPS apart from any other in this single aspect. They all share it and lack enough originality to create new exciting ways to either hunt, or track down your preferred target and wax em.</font>
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

Environments are very important to me. The bulletin boards in Sin is one of my favorite game elements of all time. I love to run around a level and find things hidden in the dark corners. Read the magazines on the tables. See what's on the televisions. I try to take it all in. I examine the geometry making up the levels, the textures, lighting, ambient sounds, etc.

I think that the sub-basement levels are played out and if I never run through another sub-basement again it would be fine with me. The cinderblock walls, pipes, steam vents and what-not are getting old.

Let me run through an office building. Or a hospital with all the weird angled hallways that are easy to get lost in, but all seem to lead to the same place. I want to see windows in the rooms. And funiture. Computer screens with interesting wallpapers.
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Old 05-19-2005, 10:02 AM   #11
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Default Re: QotW: E3 \"Two Questions; One Old, One New\" Edition

If a game is trying to take itself seriously then enviroments are very important, because even if you don't stop to look you still notice the little things - even in the real world, and that's where a connection can be made to immerse the player.

I don't stop to look at the pop can rolling down the street, but I know it's there. I don't stop to find out why the dog is barking, but I can hear it.

As to things that are played out: anything that was designed in a time where they were limited in what they could do. Jumping puzzles are a prime example of this - in Mario it was cool, because what else could they do?

But this is PC gaming and there is a huge difference, or should be (and this goes back to one of the other questions) and this goes double, triple, quadrouple now that we have things like interactive GUI's in-game.

Now that's not to say all jumping puzzles are bad - sometimes in real life I have to jump over something - but they shouldn't be "major" puzzles.

If I jump over a ditch I'm not stopping trafic - it's just one of those things I might have to do.

I think EF2 handled that balance pretty well.
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