Trends in the Gaming Industry
Where are FPSs going?
has always been a trendsetter in the industry of computer games.
Starting from way, way back when with Castle Wolfenstien, the
Doom series, and more recently Quake 1 and 2, each release has
been a breakthrough in technology. With the release of Q3A, id
might just go and do it again. Certainly there are some new concepts
in the game. But as you look through forums and newsgroups and
talk to people, you inevitably come across people saying Q3test
just isn't the same. Somehow it doesn't seem realistic. Has id
lost their edge?
all, for those who say Quake 3 looks "cartoony," you have NOT
seen it in 1024x768x32. That game is absolutely amazing with the
right hardware. I had a Voodoo1 until recently, and I thought
it looked cartoony as well... then I got a TNT2 Ultra. Wow.
be a multiplayer only game. This is a big step for id, as it seemed
they were getting deeper into the single player scene with Quake
2 (which had a single player game more developed and involved
than any id game so far). This is an important thing to consider
when you evaluate the game because, let's face it; Q3A isn't very
realistic. The bubble health things aren't realistic. The floating,
bobbing, rotating weapons aren't realistic (weapons that actually
lie there are becoming increasingly popular). The damage tone
isn't realistic. The voice saying "excellent" and "you take the
lead" isn't realistic. The jump pads aren't realistic (and so
on and so on). But Q3A is multiplayer only, so in order to make
any money, it has to offer the best possible multiplayer experience.
What we can see here is a shift away from realism and towards
gameplay. Those bubble health things are easy to see and identify
quickly from a distance; same with the floating guns. The damage
tone is a great feature that enhances fights. The voice telling
you if you gain or lose the lead lets you know how you're doing
without forcing the player to look at the HUD. The jump pads add
a whole new dimension to gameplay, especially when coupled with
floating powerups (not possible previously).
Now I'm not
saying realism doesn't have it's place. I spent the better part
of a week playing Unreal and being amazed by the scenery. Half-life
stunned me with its immersive environments. Those were great,
and the realism was certainly not out of place. But once again,
we have to consider the multiplayer perspective. That Quake 3
rocket launcher, while not very realistic, makes for great battles
and fast-paced gameplay. Would you really want a rocket launcher
like the one in Half life? There were enough complaints about
the Quake 2 rocket launcher!
at this from another perspective. id software consists of about
12 people (I think). They're good at what they do, but there's
12 of them. Now look at Epic (makers of Unreal). They have many
more people at their disposal. Dozens of artists, skinners, mappers,
modelers and programmers contributed to making Unreal what it
is, and are working to make Unreal Tournament what it will be
eventually. Valve (Half-Life) has about 30 people. These companies
can produce more than id, simply because they have more manpower.
Back when Quake came out, the quality of its single play didn't
really matter. The Quake engine was so revolutionary that it would
sell regardless. But now competitors are catching up - the Unreal
and LithTech engines are very advanced and serious competition
to say the least.
single player game is a lot of work. While id could probably whip
up 30+ maps and some models, skins and sounds, they just wouldn't
be able to compare to the visual beauty of Unreal, the awesome
AI of Half-Life, or the haunting realism of either. For sheer
lack of resources it would seem a pathetic attempt in comparison.
So they dropped it. Now id is concentrating solely on multiplayer.
They are making it better and adding more maps. This is not a
bad thing at all.
We can learn
a lot from this. Since id isn't trying as hard for realism, emphasis
will, hopefully, be placed more on good map design rather than
making the maps realistic. A good example of this is dm4. This
is a simple map; it doesn't have any complex architecture and
uses a total of maybe 10 textures. But it's designed very well
and remains one of my favorite maps to this day. In addition,
Quake 3 is not limited to one theme. In Quake2, for instance,
there was a space marine plot. You were on another planet. All
the maps id made had to stay in that theme at least a little.
Now they're just making arenas. What kind of theme would q3test1
fit into? Some kind of demented castle? What about q3test2?
I'd like to talk about the future. Will other companies follow
id like they have in the past? Maybe. Unreal Tourney looks like
it might be following the same kind of path. With Quake3Arena,
id's taking a risk. Personally I think it'll be very successful,
but we'll have to see. I don't, however, think everyone will follow.
I enjoy a well done single player game, and there's still a large
market out there for them. Both realism and id's vision have a
place in the future of gaming - I know I'll be buying both.
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