"... soon, and for the rest of your life"
Although this year most of the big FPS games seem to be multiplayer focused, with only
Daikatana amongst the big name single player games likely to see the light of day in
1999, this doesn't mean we're witnessing the death of single player. In fact according
to Cliff, "single player gaming is [still] in its infancy".
"We can do so much better in this area, I know I'm dying to do another single player product.
Multiplayer slanted titles will be big, but never big enough due to the simple fact that you're
not the hero. In single player YOU are the man, you're the hero, you're the king, in multiplayer
you're a grunt."
What is likely to happen, according to Tim, "is that the genre will branch in many different
directions, to encompass a wide range of different styles of 3D action."
Kenn agrees, pointing out that "games like Heretic II and Half-Life are adding new angles to
the genre and they have been successful as a result. In order for the FPS market to STAY
viable, the developers need to keep pulling new tricks from up their sleeves."
"New technology with the "same old same old" game isn't going to cut it for much longer, in my
opinion. The days of re-releasing Quake with different weapons and art and having that be a
viable game are over."
What this means for the gamer is a wider range of playing styles, and more creative games
instead of the endless succession of "me too" games that were released in the first few
years AD (After Doom).
Already we're seeing FPS games branching out into a whole range of styles including deathmatch
tournaments (Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament), goal-based teamplay (Starsiege Tribes and
Team Fortress II), squad based tactics (Rainbow 6 and Hired Guns) and more.
So what does the future look like? "Very exciting" according to Kenn. "New technology, better
systems, and better hardware tell me that future games will ROCK in terms of features and eye
"I also think that digital technology is going to provide faster net connections and nearly
instantaneous internet download times. This will certainly help the viability of online only games."
When it comes to multiplayer games, Cliff says "the ones that will do well will make no assumptions
about the player's intelligence or game experience level. They will guide him and teach him how to
play the game and train him well before he jumps on to a server."
"Jumping on to a server will have to be a piece of cake, and each games' net performance will have
to be stellar or it will die a violent death."
Of course, this means more newbies and Joe Six Packs playing the games, which I'm sure sends a
shudder down the spine of many "hardcore" gamers. But at the end of the day our little community
has to grow and expand to take in all these new players, because they are our future. Without
them our "market" will never be big enough to encourage publishers and developers to produce more
games like Unreal Tournament, Quake III Arena and Starsiege Tribes.
The next few years could be a little rocky, but at the end of it we should be in an even better
position than we are in now, with dozens of games to choose from, tens of thousands of servers,
and literally millions of players to frag!
At the other end of the spectrum, Kenn sees single player games moving towards a more movie-like
experience. "I think that games are becoming more and more like interactive movies all the time.
There will come a time in the very near future that FPS games look and feel like something you'd
go to a theatre and pay $10 to see."
Hopefully that won't mean a resurgence of the terrible "interactive movies" of the early '90s,
when the new CD format allowed companies to stick three hours of grainy badly acted film on a
box full of CDs and pass it off as a game by including the occasional "yes or no" choice...
Instead we'll be seeing a truly cinematic experience, but one in which YOU are the hero. The story
will be revealed to you as the game goes along instead of via intrusive FMV cutscenes or having to
read the manual to find out what the hell is going on!
Games like Half-Life (with its use of scripted sequences) and Shogo (with its in-game cutscenes,
and the ability to change the course of the game at one point) have already taken the first small
step towards this.
And it doesn't just apply to traditional single player games - Cliff also sees a bright future for
more co-operative styles of play. "Imagine being Ripley and going into a hive of Aliens with your
buddies as you hear their screams... you see your friend get his head ripped off right in front of
you and this is *scary*."
"Then, imagine what it would be like if you had someone Dungeon Mastering the whole incident,
creating new experiences for you and your friends..."
Aliens meets Dungeons & Dragons meets Rainbow 6? Sounds good to me...