Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday Warfare

Bring Out the Big Guns

Today I broke out the big guns of FPS games with installing and playing a few hours of Modern Warfare 3, which is one of those brands that has people cueing outside shopping malls for two days straight to get the first copies. I waited a few months for the cues to die down and then bought myself a copy online :)  I am looking at the game to see what modern FPS games look like and to pick up a few tips for my own FPS Game Making project; Reloaded.

Result of Play

It was the first game that frog marched you at gunpoint right into the action, with the player (me) abandoning all the usual precautions of conserving ammo, selecting good save points and admiring the view.  The game moves so quickly, you are flying through scenes that probably took months to create and refine at the speed of a bullet. After about two hours, I decided to get off the roller coaster and catch my breath. I finally stopped in the South African jungle at the start of that mission so I could study the trees, water, player mouse look, jumping, guns, zoom modes, scenery, shadows, lighting, sky effects, explosions and anything else that popped up.

Analysis of MW3 Gameplay

I am pretty certain this is not the game which best describes how FPSC Reloaded games will be presented. MW3 tends to design a narrow linear rail along which the player is forced to follow, and any deviation is met with an invisible wall you cannot jump over. This allows the artists to put a lot of nice details into the path they know you are going to take, but it does leave you in no doubt that you're not free to roam. I charged through wasting lots of ammo, charging headlong into the fire, then restarting again until I got further, blasted through the gorgeous cut-scenes and story plot, followed the instructions as the game presented them. 

I really liked the simple way the gun system works, with nice depth of field effects when zooming, slick shifting between the various melee and gun options, reload, grenade, all the basics done very well.  I think we have most of them in FPSC now, but I think a little polish to the input controls and effects would make a world of difference.

The shadows and lighting in the game where mostly fixed, with some dynamic shadows, again it seems from a single 'sun' point and only on certain objects too. In the forest for example, every tree cast a good quality shadow, but only one or two actually had moving shadows (and moving trees). My guess is that this was to keep performance as high as possible, but the quality of the static shadows is pretty remarkable so I might look further into how they did this!

I am not a fan of being told to run down one path, press a key, move somewhere else, press another key, and more or less get through the level unchallenged. As two dozen enemies swarm into a scene, it's great fun picking them off, but it does not require any higher level thinking, just reaction skills and remembering to pillage some ammo or a new weapon from time to time.

If there was one reason for keeping this installed on my C drive (that's right, it would not let me pick another drive, grr) is the explosion and gun firing systems. The flak, sparks, tracers, fire, smoke, debris, splashes, whips as the bullet narrowly misses your head, all add to a visceral combat experience and is what perhaps puts MW3 on the map. 

Summary of a Game

As I say, despite it not something I could play every day, it has a lot to teach me and with luck, I can achieve an approximate level of player control and technology in Reloaded.  Art will always be a tough nut to crack, and to create a game that rivals MW3 would be pretty much impossible for a small team, but thanks to the Game Creator Store, Reloaded will start with over 5000 game objects for users to create levels and games with, and of course more items are always being added.

Signing Off

I know I promised no blogging at weekends, but it made sense to record my thoughts off the back of playing a new FPS game, and it means I have been a little productive during the day which is always nice!


  1. You may like Black Ops 2 a bit better. It's still the constant action and at a generally breakneck speed, but there is a degree of exploration. Even some alternate paths are offered if you choose to go into the missions with a certain perk equipped or not. And there is player choice that honestly does significantly affect the outcome of the story.

  2. Must be careful not to buy too many FPS games, lest I run out of time to actually write one of my own ;) Thanks for the tip!

  3. Don't forget to check out the multiplayer versions of these great games!

  4. QUOTE: "MW3 tends to design a narrow linear rail along which the player is forced to follow, and any deviation is met with an invisible wall you cannot jump over."

    I'm surprised a FPS game of such magnitude would do this but I can understand their possible reasoning. Of course it sort of depends on the genre of game as well.

    This brings a question regarding issues of the player becoming stuck in the mire of meshes. :) FPSC has always had this problem and although there is the "kick out" key it can be frustrating for the player. There was a level I was helping with where I did the same thing MW3 did mainly because if the player left the "trail" he would more than likely become stuck somewhere. This might be something to think about when redesigning the physics or whatever it is that causes a player to get stuck. It also must have to do with the actual object model in its design.

  5. FPSC suffered from this because we had TWO collision systems fighting each other. In the new system we will be dropping both and replacing them with a single PhysX physics engine which can handle both player controller movement AND object dynamics. No need for Lee to fudge the missing parts of ODE :) The result 'should' be a uniform experience for collision using multi-core techniques to speed everything up so you probably won't notice collision in the new product; it would just 'work'.