News | Forum | People | FAQ | Links | Search | Register | Log in
Modern Action Game Development: Is It DOOMed??
Split from Doom4 topic as I believe this is a pretty pertninent and passionate issue in it's own right.

All of us folks on func are passionate about some form of old skool gaming, right?? Almost certainly Quake / Doom and some their contemporaries, as well as tangential franchises such as Thief, System Shock, etc.

As such we have a pretty strong appreciation of what made those titles great (and often still great). Including but not limited to: User-friendliness, direct controls, simplicity, freedom of movement and exploration, fast paced action, atmosphere, purity of purpose, etc etc.

But also most of us have some passions about modern contemporary titles. Fallout4, Witcher3, Skyrim, XCom EU, Soma, Wolf TNO. Slick graphics (well okay not FO4...), cinematic presentation, strong stories, dialogue, cutscenes, RPG elements, specific missions etc etc.

(I'm skipping low budget indie games here but feel free to compare those if it's relevant)

Nevertheless, as per the Doom4 thread, I think there is a general feeling that games these days are missing the characteristics that made older games great, and that attempts to recapture those characteristics are incompatible with the demands of modern gamers AND the ethos of modern studios, and that attempts to blend old and new and especially remake or reboot old games are doomed...


Is this the case??

First | Previous | Next | Last
Now, my opinion: You know what? The problem is the pursuit for realism.

The ammo boxes in Quake are huge. They look ridiculous when we walk into them with full ammo and the chasecam activated.

But the reason for this is not FOV; it's that the player must notice the ammoboxes at any costs. If they were realistically sized, they could be mistaken with environment detail, and this is a frequent problem with many FPSs since Half-Life. Who never had any bit of trouble finding exactly where a bullet clip was when leaving it on the ground and coming back for it later?

Screw absolute realism; realism should only matter where it isn't detrimental for gameplay. 
"There have been many explanations of why a variable FOV is difficult (or more accurately "inconvenient") for devs to implement"

Yes, redoing art and optimizing levels for random FOV values is ... inconvenient. :-/ 
This FOV thing is going to get interesting as ultrawide monitors become more common. Surprisingly high number of games already support the 21:9 aspect ratio, at least ingame. Menus, cutscenes etc. often get pillarboxed into 16:9 (GTA V, Witcher 3)

Interestingly Fallout 4 deals with 21:9 pretty well, apart from UI element background shadings being detached and fat crosshairs (and pillarboxed main menu, but cares about that). 
Good post.

Can one balance out realism (I don't mean real world realism, I mean realism as per fantasy universe) with fast paced fun gameplay?? 
Of course. In 2D platformers, Giana Sisters' Twisted Dreams is a great example. The same approach is possible in 3D, but it seems that many devs don't try to do it.

But my experience with modern games is limited, I've been purchasing mostly single-dollar bundles. 
Ammo Boxes, Realism Etc. 
I agree that realism is often afforded too much importance in modern games, but then again you can also go too far the other way. For instance I never liked Quake 3's bouncing health balls, they felt like something out of a cartoony platformer. It's a sort of over-gamification, that often goes hand in hand with ultra-competitive games.

That brings me neatly on to the point that competitive gamers are often afforded a lot more flexibility in their game settings than gamers who go for more story-driven experiences. For instance, you can often switch between 3D and sprite-based pickups, turn graphical settings ridiculously low and indeed tweak your FOV. I guess this is because esports/deathmatch/etc is less about immersing the player in an imaginary world, so it doesn't matter so much if the art starts to look a bit wonky on extreme settings. 
Another problem that hasn't been mentioned is text and UI scaling on high dpi displays. Again, this is something that many games have no problems with while others are terrible.

It seems game devs all have perfect eyesight with super sharp monitors right in their face and never gave a thought to what things would look like on somebody's living room TV.

For example, the Fallout3/New Vegas games scale the UI fairly well at higher resolutions. On the other hand, Kerbal Space Program was apparently never intended for anything higher than 1024x768.

The tiny, dot matrix style KSP font is all but unreadable at 1920x1080 from 8 ft away on a 42" TV, and text windows shrink to such a small size, I have to walk over to the TV in order to have any hope of reading them. 
This Would Seem Out Of Place But 
Since we're talking about modern AAA gaming, I say it'll be nice to have limited regenerated health if we have to keep it while still having some tension.
Like, your health can only regenerates a total of two times by sucking up some sort of health-tanks you have on your body/armor, and you gotta pick health-tanks so your health can still regenerates when it has to.

Just throwing that out there. 
Apps are guilty of font issues as well. I'm looking at you, ZBrush. 
Remember When Deqer Had Font Troubles In Trenchbroom? 
I played FEAR not too long ago. It had two font sizes, really, really small and just a tiny bit bigger. The new Shadowrun series has a high dpi text setting that works pretty good.

Lack of adequate text/UI scaling has been annoying me for a while. I usually end up playing older games at 1360x768 just so I can see stuff. Of course, older games often max out at 1024x768 anyway. 
Limited Health Regen. 
WOFLMAO did that. It would regen to the nearest 20%, so if you got knocked down to 47% it would go to 60%. Still kept the challenge up that way. 
RMQ Did That 
It would regen to <skill dependant number, but never above 25> and while it was regenerating, you were dealing double damage.

For everything that didn't work about that mod, this bit was just right. 
So, I'm just playing Borderlands 2. I've got cheatengine running which increases movement, probably by about 30%, and jumping. I've also disabled reloads and recoil, ain't no one got time for that shit.

Basically this feels like any 90s fps. I've currently got some super fast sniper rifle that bounces bullets all over the show at a rapid fire rate (like an mg) and is laying waste to everything. Not too easy though, there's still plenty of bullet sponges in this game.

Just sayin... that's a game that (with a couple mods) feels old skool, but with modern day standards. The only thing it fails at is bad save points, and maybe fixed FOV but I haven't looked into that. Oh and no fucking skill settings, which is why I've got cheatengine on.

In your list of examples, yep I hate unbindable controls. I've pretty much been forced back to WASD instead of using the mouse for forward/back movement. To be honest WASD is much easier on the hands, so I use glovepie to use both during a game. If in combat I'll use mouse for movement, if I'm just wandering around I'll use wasd - it gives the mouse hand a break. Most games can be rebinded though.

FOV? Do many gamers really care about that. Or headbob? I've never really played a game and given one thought to headbobbing. Console gamers probably don't even know what FOV is.

Unskippable ads/movies/cutscenes. These days though, the partners need to get their shit in there. I'm sure the developers don't want those ads in either, but it's necessary. Just like movies.

But cutscenes, to be honest, there's very few games that have unskippable cutscenes, and even less that put save points just before them. I can't actually think of any example. I know there's some, but I haven't found that it's a large portion.

Skill settings; most games still have them. Most games don't appear to do a good job of them and most skill settings there ends up being barely any difference.

Invisible barriers... well in old games' defence, the only reason they didn't have invisible barriers is because they couldn't handle doing large open, outdoor environments. In Quake you didn't need them, it would just have a wall or a door. I really don't want to go back to all indoor games just to avoid having a barrier. But some games are far worse than this than others, usually the more budget games. Big budget ones seem to handle it better and don't put you on an invisible path.

My big issue with modern games is checkpoints instead of quicksave. That shit has ruined the challenge in games, because I haven't to put it on a skill level to ensure I'm not dying much, because I can't stand having to replay through shit I already played. Back in the 90s I'd be a quicksave whore and save after every fight, so I was never replaying anything from too far back. Checkpoints especially ruin boss battles, because there's no way I want to sit replaying a boss battle over and over again.

Also games' tendency to only allow 1-3 weapons at a time is completely fucked.

There are good things about modern games though:
I personally think health regeneration is better than collecting health packs.
Most games have levelling and upgrades now, which is usually interesting. Though perhaps it'll get tedious after a while if every single game has it.
Story and cutscenes, further bridging the gap between games and movies, which I think is a good thing. I like me a good story in my game. Someone suggested on the Doom4 thread that it should have no story, just individual levels. If that happened I think Doom4 would have really failed at taking advantage of what being a modern game is. Sure make them skippable, but ya gotta have story. 
"Sure make them skippable, but ya gotta have story. "

Man, I totally disagree. Doom doesn't need a story. Fallout does, and I'm glad it has it. But Doom ... not really. 
You can't say Doom has no story. Having no story would be the equivalent of a game that's made of squares and just wanting the player to roll with it.
Story at the most basic level for a game means context; Mario has to save Peach from Bowser ; Demons from Hell have erupted in a base of Phobos and you gotta wipe them out. Context means the game exists as an actual fictionnal piece and makes you care as a player, and that's the bare minimum that should be done at the very least.
The antithesis of this would be to have a story without context. See BF3's singleplayer for example: stuff is going on for sure but the context is nowhere to be seen. 
purity of purpose

I think this is arguably the biggest factor. Doom and Quake were both products of a studio that really didn't have to answer to anyone financially or creatively. They made the game they wanted to make.

This has probably been posted somewhere on here before but this: is a great example of a Doom / Quake pastiche made by just one person, so there's no pressure to recoup a big investment or grab some kind of market share. It'll be released and hyped by the people who want to play this kind of game and maybe trickle over into the realm of wider recognition.

The "purity of purpose" games usually come from developers who fall into these two categories

- scrappy self-funded team who assemble with a vision for the kind of game they want to play (Doom/Quake, Half-Life, Minecraft, etc.)

- huge, established companies who make so much money that their "purity of purpose" is mostly unconstrained by time and money so they can realize their grand visions (Oblivion/Skyrim/Fallout 3 & 4, Grand Theft Auto series, <insert open world game here>)

And then there are the thousands of games that don't fall into either category that you may or may not have enjoyed but their purity of purpose was not the driving force behind their production.

Maybe I've been unlucky, but every single game I've worked on has had an external partner who had checklists for things they did or did not want in the game. Decisions that came from people outside of the people who were actually creating the game. In the case of sequels, expansions, etc., this is a given. You need to fulfill expectations set by the original.

But even outside of the realm of sequels and expansions, there's always a ton of decisions being made for you (the developer) by whoever is funding the game.

It'd be interesting if there were more games made by people looking to solve a problem. Half-Life (again) is a great example of that. It wasn't like a group of people got together and wanted to make *any* game, Gabe specifically wanted to have a cinematic experience with realistic AI and mostly achieved that goal.

There are a lot of developers out there now who are trying to push their pure visions into the world, but run up against funding issues. The result is the developer works on something they don't have that unquenchable burning passion for, and a mediocre/OK/uninspired but good game is the result.

Great games are rare because having a great idea for a game and having the money / technical ingenuity to bring it into the world is also extremely rare.

I don't know anything about Doom 4's production, but how could it possibly have a purity of purpose when it's the 4th incarnation of a 20+ year old game and none of the original principals are involved. It just doesn't line up.

There will always be great action games, the better question is, what problems still need to be solved to make something that stands out above everything else? Better AI? Graphical fidelity? How visceral the weapons feel? 
(sorry, I'm pretty bored) 
Wow, Thanks For The Link To Http:// 
The game looks very interesting. Hopefully it will not be like Serious Sam or Painkiller in terms of monster placement, though.

Will keep an eye on this one. 

Right, that's a good way to put it. Doom doesn't have a story ... it has a context. And for games like Doom, that's all you need. 
The game looks very interesting. Hopefully it will not be like Serious Sam or Painkiller in terms of monster placement, though.

Procedurally generated levels. Don't expect too much depth from the monster placement. 
See Now There Are A Pair Of Relatively Recent Games That Should Have.. 
...worked in an old-skool fashion but didn't.

Painkiller: no atmosphere, a bit too hordey.

Serious Sam: less than no atmosphere, 2D, far too hordey. 
But, But 
I like Serious Sam.
With modern games tendency to throw more and more shaders and polygons at the expense of <cough>gameplay<cough/> and monsters count it was a breathe of fresh air. I would even say that it felt old-school-ish.

Hordeness was one of the things that made that game so great, for me at least.

Yes, it's as flat as CS/COD levels, but it fits gameplay perfectly. Actually there was few places with intense vertical fighting and that just didn't work for that game. 
But Serious Sam motto was exactly it. It was designed as a 3D FPS implementation of a 2D arcade shooter. 
I liked both those games.

SS is a Doom clone, and a pretty nice one. I even liked the melee it introduced in the last one.

Painkiller had great weapons and I liked the card mechanics as well.

But yeah, neither had much atmosphere. 
First | Previous | Next | Last
You must be logged in to post in this thread.
Website copyright © 2002-2022 John Fitzgibbons. All posts are copyright their respective authors.