I have thought on this for months now and I wanted to discuss with anyone that might be interested in this topic and have some insight into other FPS games.
Halo stands out from the crowd as the unique legendary game of all FPS for the following reasons, and I list them in order of most important first.
1. Fire fights are engaging and take a while to conclude. Unlike other FPS where you get shot and you drop, Halo leverages the futuristic story to create a fantastical body armor that keeps you alive and able to respond. It is the fire fight engagement that is fun, and with Halo that fun is lengthened far more than any other FPS that I know of.
2. The animation of body movement (smoothness/realism) is the best on the market today.
3. The story behind Halo for each title is not one of many, but a part of a whole - thus the legend continues.
4. Until Halo 4, the maps are typically bright and sunny ambiance and crisp graphic detail, rather than dark and gloomy ambiance and foggy or fuzzy graphics detail.
5. Halo is said to be the best policed game for multi-player against hackers and cheaters.
6. The theme music.
I agree entirely. The problem with so many FPS games is their rigid adherence to hyper-realism: they seem to think that players want realism. And they're right: players do want realism. But do they want hyper-realism? No. Players want games like CoD and Medal of Honour not, I submit, because of their gameplay mechanics but because of their broader design and art style. It's a fact that some people get turned off by Halo's sci-fi vibrancy. It then just so happens that all their options are filled with hyper-realistic games where you drop in an instant.
Many players complain about unrealistic firefights: players who can withstand many bullets are simply not realistic, in both Halo and various hyper-realistic games. But is it not equally unrealistic that there is such a high accuracy rate? The accuracy rate in shooters is incredibly high compared to real-world situations. In the end, I think gamers and designers both need to recognise that games are not intended to be technically realistic, only apparently realistic.
I'm interested to see two strands of shooters in the future. Classic sci-fi shooters a la Mass Effect, Gears of War, and Halo and "hypermodern" shooters that capitalise on current and upcoming technologies to create gameplay mechanics and firefights that interestingly and cleverly combine aspects of hyperrealism, realism, and sci-fi styles. Remove the adherence to hyperrealism; keep the art style; pay attention to current tech; and incorporate gameplay mechanics from the futuristic shooters. That, I feel, would be an interesting direction for the industry to take. Alas, the dollar rush in hyperrealism may yet have years to run.
Email me at xnoklu[at]gmail.com should you need to contact me.
In reply to this post by mrgreenwithagun
Theme music. It's all the theme music.
Light can be just as blinding as Darkness. Bring some Sunglasses.
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In reply to this post by noklu
I think there are some hyperrealistic games out there, or "sims", but as this is a niche audience or market and application (training for real-life situations, not games) the time and resources spent on AAA titles simply aren't involved. So on the art end, or networking end, or overall bells and whistles to make the graphic aspects of the game feel real, or modes that take the mechanics and put them in a fun and competitive context, versus focusing solely the mechanics.
I imagine the problem is user feedback like "this game is so realistic and complex, but as a game, it's not fun, learning curve is really unforgiving to me even though I play 'hardcore gamer' titles, and the complexity seems shoehorned into controls not meant for it."
There are tons of unused button combos that could be made for shooting games. Especially those without "special abilities" that now need a bunch of different controller schemes, none of which are ideal, and thus can't or won't put in the time to develop deep controls for fear that it would reveal exploits that would break the game. One controller scheme, with maybe the ability to do southpaw and of course the inverted and such controls, but leave it at that so you can put the time into making a bunch of deep controls via button combos.
Let's say that for zeroing a scope on a certain axis, you hold the y button (halo controls) and adjust your scope angle on that axis, click the scope button on the analog stick to confirm. This could be done at any scope level that you were in when you initially held down the Y button instead of tapping it. If there were other paramaters to edit, those could all be done step by step, clicking through with the scope tick to confirm. A preference could be set to remember which paramater you were last editing, so if you needed to stop zeroing your scope on a weapon and toss a grenade, switch to another weapon, or test the current settng, you could do so without having to go back through everything.
2. Player skill versus player character skill.
Reticle bloom, recoil, flinch, reticle drift, these are all essentially the player character responding to ballistics, not the player. In a realistic game, how do you decide what to put in and what to leave out, and is the player character allowed to increase in skill or equip buffs that give one sort of character a specific advantage versus a certain situation? If it's all player skill, there is only force feedback in the controller at tops, and flashbangs should never ever completely whiteout the screen or impossible to see with visual trails and such. That seems very limiting, so some accomodation for character skill seems like a necessity.
2. SF Tropes as a barrier or a power-up to games approaching real-world mechanics.
The HUD is a huge glaring SF trope that many don't realize is there, it's just little bits of the fourth wall, and realistically would have no place in a virtual sim. But remembering where your gun is pointed means iron sighting for a game without a hud, even though that's not necessary to know your aim IRL. So accuracy can be higher than IRL or much lower just through the HUD design alone, not even getting into ballistics. If it needs to be rationalized, a low-tech display eyepiece or something as high-tech google glass would be fine for an as-close-to-plausible setting as possible.
Finally, combining hyperrealism with SF, especially (post) cyberpunk seems like an incredibly fertile route. One of my fave eps of Standalone Complex was the Saito (the team's sniper) origin story, where he's facing off against the Major and her squad during before they're all a part of Section 9 in Japan. Because they have artificial "cyberbrains "that interface with their fleshy ones, they can download fire control software that works with their motor control systems, basically instant muscle memory, but it takes time for that to integrate and one would assume they don't have infinite space in their cyberbrains for new software, compression takes time, cloud computing can open their cyberbrains up to malicious viruses, etc.
Basically, they have a wild-west shootout with different weapons at a very close neither weapon is meant for, and it's also a race in nanoseconds to see who downloads first.This phase of combat could only be included in a 1v1 game where both shooters can see each other (red reticle), and the game checks for that and the game enters a slow motion state (both players are in combat, aiming at each other). Maybe there's a minigame similar to the "quick reload" feature in GOW.
A player now has a tradeoff to make choose to take the shot without trying to buff their player character's accuracy (tighten the random reticle drift, for example) but runs the chance of missing and waiting for the next bullet to chamber. Meanwhile the other player may have downloaded and shot him in a vital region already. Cyberization also allows for some elements of response to a threat, where unlike real life, one bullet to just about anywhere in the body doesn't make it really difficult to return accurate fire.
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