First Person Shooters Practical

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					                              First Person Shooters

                          INFO111/MAS111 Computer Games

First Person Shooters (FPS) originated in the early 90’s with such games as Wolfenstein 3D,
Ultima Underworld and Doom. They quickly grew in popularity, and have evolved beyond the
basic single player, combat focused, type. Other examples include multiplayer, where players may
be independent or act in teams (for example Quake III, Unreal Tournament and the Battlefield
series), games where the players controls a team rather than a single character (for example the
Rainbow 6 series and Hidden and Dangerous), games where stealth is more important than combat
(for example the Thief series) and games which include RPG elements (for example the Deus Ex
Some of the basic features of an FPS game are:
    1. Avatar: The player interacts with the game world through one (or occasional more)
    2. View Point: The player views the world through the avatar’s eyes (and can therefore not
         see the avatar, except perhaps for its hand s and feet). This distinguishes them from
         otherwise similar Third Person Shooter games, where the avatar is clearly seen
    3. Combat: Aiming and shooting are the primary activities in most such games. In fact as the
         player moves their view, the gun follows, linking the acts of looking and aiming.
         Gameplay consist of attempting to damage (usually at range) other player or computer
         controlled avatars, while remaining alive.
    4. Levels: The game world is typically divided up into levels, the player must complete one
         level before being allowed to access the next.

These are not the only features you will find in an FPS, nor are they always implemented in the
same way. In this practical you are going to look at two FPS games and see how these, and others
feature, are implemented in them.

The two games we are providing for you are Bioshock and Call of Duty: Modern Combat. Call of
Duty: Modern Combat has military setting, very common in first person shooters. Bioshock has a
science fiction setting, set in an alternate 1950’s. Call of Duty: Modern Combat is a sequel, fourth
in the Call of Duty series. It is a departure, in that the previous games in the series were set in
WWII. Its gameplay is relatively standard FPS fare, with a concentration on the acquiring and use
of continually bigger and more effective weapons to defeat your enemies.

Bioshock is an example of a FPS shooter that incorporates RPG elements. Unlike most FPS games
the character in Bioshock has attributes which can be developed (although as extensively or as in
detail as in an RPG). There is more interaction with the world than in most FPSs, with
opportunities to talk to non-player characters, and achieve goals by stealth rather than direct
combat. There are also some moral choices to made, unusual for an FPS, where shoot first and
don’t bother with the questions is the typical order of the day.
Here are some areas you might like to consider in your analysis. We don’t expect you to address
them all in your one-page report (there’s not enough room, but if you choose FPS games for your
assignment then you will have more room to be more complete) and you might thin of other
aspects to discuss as well.
The Player Character: (also known as the avatar). Are you able to customise your character to
start with? How much time do you spend doing this? How easy was it do?
Movement: The player interacts with the game world through the avatar. What movements are
possible. Forward, backwards, side to side are standard. What about kneeling, crawling, jumping?
Even if present in both games how are they implemented? Can you jump as far or as high in both
games? If you can run, how fast is it? The same in both games or not? How do these choices
affect how the player can interact with the game world?
Level Design: Level design is a key part of first-person shooter design. How well are the levels
designed? Do they make sense? Do they provide interesting challenges? Is each fresh or are they
all the same after a while? This is one of the most important aspects of FPS design.
Combat Realism: How realistic is the combat? In reality, one shot is often enough to kill people.
Some FPS are like this, but most aren’t. How much damage can the player take? How much can
the enemies take? How realistic is the implementation of the weapons (are they real or made up?
What about their recoil force and reload times?) Some games even to the extent of having the
avatar’s breathing cause wobble in the aim, especially when using the zoom. Do these games?
What effect do the various approaches have on the game play?
Bosses: Many games, not just FPS, have the occasional encounter with a very powerful enemy
(colloquially knows as a “boss”). Do these games use them? How effective are they? Does the
game prepare the player for the boss encounter in any way?
Tutorials: Does the game include a tutorial? How good is it? Is it part of the game proper or
separate form the game story?
Plot Development: Most first person shooters, including these two, have a story. How is it
conveyed? Is it interesting? How well does the game immerse you in its setting?
Gameplay: Is combat the only choice or not? If there is more, are the options all equally valid?
How well balanced are they?
Puzzles: Many FPS’s require some puzzle solution (find the key, flip the right switches, etc). Do
these games? Are they too challenging, too easy or just right? Do they seem a natural part of the
game world or a forced addition?
Enemies: In a shooter you have to have something to shoot. Are the enemies interesting and
varied or too much the same? Are they fixed in location and number? Or do they randomly spawn
in, even after you have cleared an area?
Artifical Intelligence: The enemies in a FPS should fight back. How good is the AI? Are the
enemies stupid or clever? How well do they aim and fire at the player? Poorly? Well? Or so-
superhumanly accurate that it makes the game too challenging? Do they seem real or just cut-outs
waiting for the player to arrive?
Interface: Generally how easy, informative, etc is the game interface? How easy is it to navigate
through the options? Is there a mini-map? How does the player know where to go next?

That’s over a page of questions, we don’t expect you to address them all in your report. But try to
cover the parts of the games that strike you as interesting and where they differ.

By answering these questions you should start to see how these two games differ at the design
level, even though they belong to the same genre.

All games involve challenges and actions, as we’ll discuss later in lectures. The player has
challenges to overcome, and has allowed actions to overcome them. In the above we’ve covered
movement challenges (to do with moving around the game world) and combat challenges amongst
others. In thinking about the challenges facing the player, also think about the possible actions the
game gives them to overcome these challenges.

Your report is to be approximately one and a half to two pages in length, addressing some of the
questions above.

You will submit your report electronically, no more than four days after your practical (so if your
practical is on Wednesday you must submit your report by 9am Monday). Your report will be
returned in the next practical.

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