Hey. So I’m working away at the prototype elements (which is/will be detailed on my portfolio blog here) I’m going to be posting articles on this blog looking into features and design ideas as well, primarily things that don’t involve deep levels of programming.
This week’s programming post covers the design specifics of the demo, laying out the aim for each one and then covers the first progress I’ve made. This post is going to focus on the inspirations for the game’s idea and design.
So the the idea germinated when talking to a friend of mine on Facebook one evening. He has a dislike of modern third person shooting games. So one evening I grabbed him just to nail down exactly what he dislikes about it. From that, I learnt thus:
- Third Person Shooters are dull – crouch, pop up, pop off shots, drop down, wait to heal, rinse repeat several hundred times.
- Enemies in most take way too many rounds to go down – in Gears of War its most of its bad guys, in Spec Ops its many of the later opponents.
- AI in many games is very slow to attempt to flank the player or push them from cover
So we started to look at ways to fix this:
- Increase the pace of cover based shooting – make players want to move around a lot more to get flanking shots.
- Everyone is fragile – body armour helps but no one is going to be a tank walking around. Getting stuck in one place is very bad idea, especially if enemies have a drop on you.
- Either 1) fiendish AI with good navmeshes showing things like ambush points and such OR 2) human vs human.
This is where many of the foundation ideas come from. In fact, this conversation kind of kicked of the idea to start this project.
The rest are populated by looking at other games.
Gears of War
It may not have been the first game to use cover systems in games but by god did they do it right. Using cover in any of the games just feels so natural. Stuff like cover to cover transitions work very well in the game and features like the Roadie Run and blind fire are important features. Seriously it is the benchmark implementation. I went to visit a studio with my university course and one of the developers told a tale about them making a third person game. After a few attempts writing their own system, they ended up talking to Epic.
In addition, the manual of Gears of War has some of the best diagrams for showing cover system concepts. Two pages and most of the understanding is there.
On the other hand, it does some things badly. The health of enemy characters can make some firefights feel like whack a mole or pumping endless rounds into bad guys. I’m also not really a fan of “fingers-in-ears-to-cover-up-loads” but that’s such a minor thing.
Spec Ops: The Line
I’m a huge fan of this game. It has some issues but the storyline and layers of subtlety they threaded into it is great. I like the physicality of many of the execution moves and the gradual decay of clothing. The main thing is that it’s a modern combat cover based shooter with fewer bullet sponges and a pretty vulnerable main character.
Well worth playing.
Modern Tom Clancy Games
I’m lumping these together because they kind of share some ideas. Rainbow Six Vegas and Ghost Recon Warfighter are the starting points but Future Soldier and Conviction/Black List have nailed down the mechanics of a fast flowing cover system. Vegas’s is a little odd being a first person/third person switcher but its plays very nicely. Warfighter’s is pretty clunky but lays down a nice idea. Future Soldier’s cover system nails it. Moving between cover under fire is quick, fast flowing primarily as you can simply point at the next piece of cover, hit the button and move to it. Blacklist is an even greater improvement – the controls help it to let players move quickly and efficiently around a map.
Future Soldier also has a ton of cool features. Many of the co-op focused moments, such as the squad moving together is an idea I’d like to implement. The weapon customisation is of the level I would like as minimum, having both internal and external upgrades. In addition, I really like the character designs and animations – lots of modern kit some of it worn in less than standard ways (rolled sleeves, customised bandanna, tomahawks etc). The game also starts off with a pretty cool (if repetitive) formation sequence protecting a hostage that could potentially work well with the “Snake In” formation detailed below.
Metal Gear Solid 4
Kojima is a mad man when it comes to the gameplay. Despite it being a stealth game, there is a reason it includes the word “tactical” in its box front description. The vast number of weapons, attachments and camo options appeal to tweaking and playing around, especially with tweaks to the vest colour and the multiple options for things like grips – both just about aesthetic rather than a gameplay bonus.
However, the main feature that really sticks with me is the range of motions Snake can do (quite impressive based on his age). He can sprint, crouch, crawl, lie prone, lie flat on his back (my personal favourite). All these actions are incredibly easy to do, letting the player effectively stealth or in my case roll around like a mad man between getting in huge gun fights.
I’m also a little unhappy I missed out playing MGS: Online which sounds like it what very similar to what I would like my game to be. Lots of customisation (within reason going off the picture above), focus on teamwork and a large number of guns. Sadly no plans for robot ninjas.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Peace Walker is perhaps a step back in gameplay from MGS 4 but does pull a lot of punches when it comes to the co-op mode. The first point of mention is the co-op commands. Via a short series of button presses, players have 12 phrases good to go, helpful when working with players you might not share voice comms. These phrase range from useful to oh so spamworth.
The other system I like is the camaraderie system. The more you play with another player, the higher your camaraderie rises which gives you various gameplay bonuses such as slight increases in damage and reductions in reload times. This acts as an incentive for players to work together more and to play together repeatedly. I’d like to add a system like this as part of Stage 2 (multiplayer) but I have to nail down exactly what it changes. Partially I think it should be partially in the background, partially selected by the player.
Finally, a system I fully intend to rip off is Snake In system. This is a co-op specific system, where players can stack up on each other. This makes the lead player control all the movement while the other players who have joined the formation concentrate on aiming as they move automatically. It’s a great working system which should be cool for players to utilise while at the same time looking really, really good.
There are currently no plans to implement the fulton recovery system.
In part 2, I’ll take a look at some other games that form part of the inspiration. Most of the second part is focused more on specific features rather than the entire game.