Friday, July 27, 2018

Introducing the Devstream

A number of people have been asking me to do the occasional Darkstream dedicated to games and game development, so I gave it a shot last night and it appears to have been reasonably well received. Because I anticipate considerably more discussion on this front in the coming months, and because a lot of the people interested in it will have no interest in the other subjects regularly addressed here, I'm not going to post Devstreams here, but on the DevGame blog instead.
The interesting thing to me about Fortnite, and the reason why I consider Fortnite to be essentially the game designers more or less giving up, is because what we have been doing as FPS designers from the very beginning is attempting to provide meaning and structure and story and experience to the action, and unfortunately we've been fighting the tendency of a certain group of players - who I am not at all convinced are the majority of players, but there are a lot of them - and they have a tendency to simply run around like chickens with their heads cut off. If you've played any online game starting back in the days of Doom and Heretic - yeah when we were playing with 4-player and 8-player networks - what you would see is some people would play strategically, some people would camp, other people would would team up and move cooperatively, but you always had the people who just run around like crazy, blasting away like crazy, and basically behaving in a way that you can't even possibly consider anything that is remotely approaching anything credible or realistic.

And so, with Fortnite, and I have played it, and it's a very good example of what it is the Battle Royale genre and so forth, but ultimately there is no purpose, there is no story, the action is the experience. Now that's ok, that's fine if that's if that's what you want, but you see, for years designers have been trying to hide that, they've been trying to keep that under control, and what Fortnite represents - and it's obviously not the first Battle Royale game, it's not the only one, but it is the most successful, the most symbolic of the concept - it's basically the designers throwing up their hands and saying, "you know what, you guys just want to run around like chickens with your heads cut off slaughtering each other, here you go!" And to their credit, they give you the means to do that, so that's what's different between that and Call of Duty and Battlefield and all these other FPS games. Almost all the other games were trying to limit that, they're trying to limit it through the level designs they're trying to limit it through the ammo drops, and all that sort of thing.
I can't say more about this at the moment, but there is a very real possibility that we will soon be moving Alt-Hero into the game space as well as the movie space in the not-too-distant future. So, it's best to be prepared for that.



Blogger James Jones July 27, 2018 6:39 AM  

Maybe Fortnite will suck up all the headless chickens, leaving less of them on Battlefield etc.

I watch a Pue Die Pie video of PUBG (similarish to Fortnight arena) and it was fascinating and highly tactical. But it was team play, so maybe that's the difference.

Blogger James Jones July 27, 2018 6:43 AM  

Oh, and even more great content on my favourite blog. I presume you will link from here so we don't miss new posts there?

Blogger VD July 27, 2018 6:53 AM  

I presume you will link from here so we don't miss new posts there?

Sure, I'll just post a paragraph or two with a link in case people happen to be interested.

Blogger Insight July 27, 2018 6:55 AM  

"There is a very real possibility that we will soon be moving Alt-Hero into the game space"

A game where you can kick the shit out of lefTARDS and Cuckservative traitors? That's a game that would be good for civilization.

Blogger VD July 27, 2018 7:04 AM  

And collect skulls to present to the Dark Lord in homage.

"Dammit, I just can't seem to master the Silvering Skull minigame!"

Blogger Andrew Brown July 27, 2018 7:12 AM  

A decent, competitive RTS game would be brilliant.

Blogger Doktor Jeep July 27, 2018 7:18 AM  

You risk saving the field of game development doing this stuff.

Blogger Gurpgork July 27, 2018 7:27 AM  

City of alt hero would be an instabuy for me

Blogger The Observer July 27, 2018 7:37 AM  

City of alt hero would be an instabuy for me


Blogger Avalanche July 27, 2018 7:46 AM  

(Okay, girl-player here -- well OLD-and-girl player: so, I loved CoD, played Halo through a gazillion times, liked Unreal, LOVED Unreal Tournament, and so on. Please take or ignore my comment as appropriate.) I'm one of the running around, shooting everything, (finding the goals, struggling with the minigames), and avoiding MMOGs and 'teams' and coordination and such.

Could there not be (is this blog entry not sort-of suggesting -- or identifying and deprecating) a single-person 'melee-type' of game? There may not be enough "I can't do strategy or team mgmt" folks out there to carry it; but (as I remember and that's how both my husband and I both I played) with Unreal Tournie, a singleton could just jump and shoot and shoot and jump. (No missions, no coordination.)

It would get us run-arounds out of the way of you strategy and company-leadership types. Might not be do-able in the same game, but as a way of 'bleeding off' us annoying types out of your serious gaming.... it's a thought?

(So-like, a class of "casual" FPS games? Pick up and drop when you have time, no long-term gaming to the end? I look wistfully at my big gaming rig and the 65" DPS TV and get a wee shot of adrenaline seeing Halo playing in my mind -- but my life currently doesn't allow a couple\several hours of serious continuous game play... So, it's Match 3 and Time Mgmt games for the foreseeable future. {sigh} But I miss running and gunning...) (Anyway, just me, out here on the fringes, being solipsistic...)

Blogger VD July 27, 2018 8:09 AM  

Avalanche, you're not paying attention. Fortnite is exactly what you want. It's a single-player melee casual FPS. Drop in, fight until you die, then join the next fight.

Blogger veryfunnyminion July 27, 2018 9:26 AM  

Why don't I just mail you my checkbook, it'll make it easier to support all these projects.

Blogger MrNiceguy July 27, 2018 9:39 AM  

Knowing the Dark Lord, Alt-Hero: The Game is almost certain to be squad-based tactical. I tend to prefer single-player story-driven games myself. I'd love something along the line of the Batman: Arkham games, or if you want to go back a ways, Spider Man 2 from the Xbox/PS2 era.

Blogger Avalanche July 27, 2018 9:45 AM  

@11 "Avalanche, you're not paying attention. Fortnite is exactly what you want."

Oh, I really was -- but a lot of what you said went right over my head. I will never be a developer or even a serious gamer -- but found the DevStream interesting - and will keep watching. (Even though I've never heard of many of these games...)

I will go check out Fortnight! Thanks!

Blogger VD July 27, 2018 9:46 AM  

Knowing the Dark Lord, Alt-Hero: The Game is almost certain to be squad-based tactical. I tend to prefer single-player story-driven games myself.

No, I have another dev project to scratch that particular itch... Elven Raider.

Blogger English Tom July 27, 2018 10:08 AM  

Vox, I am not a gamer but my two youngest and my grandkids (along with many others) are obsessed with Fortnite.

Why is this game such a craze? Any ideas?

Blogger Chris Ritchie July 27, 2018 10:09 AM  

Loved Doom and (dating myself) Wolfenstein. Got to some of Clancy's cooperative games and liked those. Played through Medal of Honor a couple of times. Then Unreal Tournament showed up. I tried to like it. I couldn't figure out the point. I went to a couple of LAN parties for that but just gave up the games after that. Migrated to single player games like Splinter Cell. I would get back into some gaming if it wasn't a free for all shooting match.

Blogger VD July 27, 2018 10:10 AM  

Why is this game such a craze? Any ideas?

It allows low-level gamers to indulge themselves. They want to run-and-gun without complications, and Fortnite is designed to encourage that.

Blogger English Tom July 27, 2018 10:12 AM  

Thanks Vox.

Blogger Damelon Brinn July 27, 2018 10:49 AM  

Back in the 80s, I thought it would be so cool if you could play games like Elite against other people, but multiplayer gaming has been mostly a disappointment. Most games I've played devolve to some equivalent of the tank rush -- one tactic that players figured out defeats all others -- and it's usually a simple mash-the-button tactic that rewards all-day practice over thinking.

I've watched some PUBG streams, and the good players there use more tactics than it sounds like Fortnite encourages. They still move quickly, but with purpose, and just running around gets you sniped. There's no story, though, and a lot of run-around-and-shoot players who would rather get sniped quick and start over than play smarter. I've been told Stalker gives you that kind of tactical gameplay in a single-player with a story, but I haven't tried it yet.

Blogger L' Aristokrato July 27, 2018 11:48 AM  

Would be interesting to hear you discussing editing and writing as well.

Blogger maniacprovost July 27, 2018 1:30 PM  

Alt-Hero: The Game is almost certain to be squad-based tactical. ...

No, I have another dev project to scratch that particular itch... Elven Raider.

Hmm. Disappointing. Besides TBS, I would be interested in a super hero CRPG, but it's a crowded space right now and they all have large amounts of content as well as technical issues.

A mobile game might work. More similar to a web-based game rather than farming trash. You know, you get action points / resources each hour, and you have to compete strategically. So people set their alarm clocks to play at 2 am and lose their jobs.

Blogger maniacprovost July 27, 2018 1:34 PM  

Oh, of course you could do an open world game like FarCry: Grand Theft Zelda, but with mutant crime fighting. If you have $20 million to get it started, that would be pretty cool.

The genre lends itself toward social gaming though.

Blogger hadley July 27, 2018 1:41 PM  

Jeez! All I want to do is run around, shoot up zombies, Find new weapons, discover secret passageways and avoid traps … on my own computer … by myself.

I don't want to create combat teams, chit-chat, plan strategy or the rest of that junk. I am not looking to create meaningful relationships with complete strangers out in Internetland.

Isn't there some new Doom or Quake for people like me that doesn't require a remote internet server, account, and monthly payments?

Blogger Riejun July 27, 2018 3:31 PM  

I played a lot of MMORPGs pre-becoming a Dad...

I certainly enjoyed the early 00s games, such as Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) (pre-Jedi BS) and Dark Age of Camelot (DAOC) that were more "sandbox" in their game style and in faction based. Our guilds had a purpose and your character had goals that were yours, not what some developer wanted you to do. I never got into WoW... I did play City of Heroes, and enjoyed it, but it was too "themepark" and controlled. From what I recall, there wasn't as much independence in what could be done.

So for my two cents, maybe I am aging myself, but an AH game that was more "sandbox" and less "themepark" might have more long-term appeal. For example, I loved the original SWG classes and progression. You didn't have to be a combat oriented class to progress and your non-combat skills/talents were needed. The economy was player driven, lots of crafting, role play opportunities, etc... great game IMO.

Blogger CoolHand July 27, 2018 3:53 PM  

Many of the guys in my fraternity nearly failed out of school when we discovered Half-Life multiplayer could be run locally over the house LAN with essentially zero lag (the school's internet lagged so bad that to play on an open server was to endlessly spawn and then get schwacked immediately while you were waiting for the damned thing to load.)

I expect we were all the kind of player you don't care much for. The house's favorite map was called "Killbox", which was just a giant white cube with platforms and rocket launchers laying everywhere. No strategy possible, just missiles going everywhere. It was a hoot.

Then Counter Strike was released, and fully 30% of the entire school failed more than half their classes that semester. They actually instituted Counter Strike intervention groups to go and pry guys away from their computer and send them to class. It was hilarious.

Engineering school, obviously. 85% dudes, huge CompSci department, etc. As you can imagine, not a lot of showers were taken by a certain cohort (it was bad enough that the MechEng department had a long running design competition going that aimed to build a waterless & touchless cleaning station that the CompSci guys would be required to walk through in order to get into and back out of the CompSci building.)

I liked Team Fortress Classic, Unreal Tournament, and Half-Life, but Counter Strike was too much trouble, and sucked up way too much time, so I got off the merry-go-round at that point. Just haven't ever been the kind of gamer that was willing (or able) to sink hundreds of hours into mastering a given game.

Favorite game from my past that I DID invest hundreds of hours in was called ShadowGate, but that was a text/image based dungeon crawler from back in the late 80's. It was great though. When you bit it, the screen showed a grim reaper with the words "Thou Art Dead" and played a little midi dirge. Saw that screen so many times...

Blogger Vanilla I C E July 27, 2018 6:35 PM  

I enjoyed the Devstream. Hope you do more in the future.

Blogger Paul M July 27, 2018 11:00 PM  

hadley wrote:Jeez! All I want to do is run around, shoot up zombies, Find new weapons, discover secret passageways and avoid traps … on my own computer … by myself.

Isn't there some new Doom or Quake for people like me that doesn't require a remote internet server, account, and monthly payments?

What's wrong with Doom or Quake? Surely there are still people out there creating levels and modpacks?

That's the thing - the game you are describing has already been done.

BTW: Have you played Magic Carpet II? I still enjoy it occasionally

Blogger Solon July 28, 2018 12:49 AM  

I'm probably right around the same age group as you, DAoC veteran, never played SWG but I heard great things. WoW was good before they railroaded the crap out of you. Paradoxically, when it took a hundred years to hit level cap, you really didn't mind wandering off and exploring or shooting the crap with random people in trade chat.

Anyway, as much as it pains me to admit, the era of open-ended, sandbox-type MMORPGs is dead and gone. Back in the day, people had way more free time to sit in front of their computer for five or six hours and spam chat in Ultima Online. Nowadays, you're lucky if you can keep anyone in your game if it takes longer than ten minutes to level up.

The gaming generation of today has lost the appreciation for time commitment: they do not understand that something is only as valuable as the time and effort it took you to achieve it.

Dark Souls and other Souls games have touched on that, but even those are primarily single player experiences. Trying to transfer that to a massively multiplayer open world leads to players crying, leaving a bad steam review so no one else buys the game, and then quitting forever. It's a vicious world for MMOs these days.

The Repopulation was a game that tried to recreate that SWG feel, but they started their work with Hero Engine... And then Hero Engine tanked, they had to spend months porting everything over to a different engine, and lost all their fans in the downtime. Sad story, it had potential to be pretty good from what I had played of it.

Blogger Forge the Sky July 28, 2018 11:10 AM  

@24 not really my thing, but I'm sure it's out there. They did make a new 'DOOM' in 2016 looks like, why not check that out?

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