First Person Shooters Practical INFO111/MAS111 Computer Games Introduction 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 series) . Some of the basic features of an FPS game are: 1. Avatar: The player interacts with the game world through one (or occasional more) character. 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. Analysis 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. Submission 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.