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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Nov 12, 1999
   

PQ Mailbag
Week of: 11/12/99

Your Benevolent Master..

Yes, that's right, I am your benevolent master, for the time being. I, Spyke, am in control of the mailbag, your source of valuable reader feedback on the important issues of the Quake community, and also the best place on the internet to see people make fun of incoherency. Wait.. Hellchick informs me that no, I am not the master, that she is the master of all PlanetQuake, and thus, me, as well. Dammit. Wait, does that make her my mistress?

Purists, and Designs, and Irate Readers, Oh My!

Hot diggity damn, a fantastic article and absolutely tons of fantastic feedback on it. Dive right in!

From: Colin Jones
Subject: "A Purist's Rules for FPS Multi-Player Design"

Novus has a valid point, but I think he (she?) takes it too far. The game he describes caters exclusively to newbies and casual players; serious, "hardcore" gamers are often looking for a deeper, more challenging experience. The obvious argument is that mods will add such depth and complexity, but this is fallacious because newbies and casual players, by definition, do not become mod makers. If a game cannot attract the hardcore crowd, it will soon fall by the wayside.

Having said that, it *is* possible to make a game simple and easy to play for newbies, while still retaining the depth of gameplay that will attract more advanced players. Straight, vanilla deathmatch might be the default mode of play, requiring only a click or three to get into a game. Other game types might be accessible from an "Advanced" menu or something similar, but it would still be quick and easy for new players to boot up, install the game, and jump right in.

In summation, it's all well and good, and even necessary, to appeal to newbies; but in doing so, it is very easy to lose sight of the hardcore gaming crowd who will form the core of a game's player base.

Hellchick: I think this is the idea that id is going for in Quake 3: Arena. The game will appeal to newbies more than the first two Quakes did because they're making it more attractive to novices unfamiliar with FPS'. BUT, with luck, the mod makers of the community will see a need for the complexity that hardcore gamers want, and their mods will reflect that. Oh, and I like my deathmatch to be Mint Chocolate Chip please, not vanilla.


From: BLIzBLAz
Subject: SIMPLE SIMON

Man, I agree that to pick up a new game and enjoy it, there has to be decent balance and simplicity, but once these quick easy to learn concepts have been established in our minds, we want more DEPTH to the gameplay. I have been playing FPS's since the days of wolf & doom, and I am quite accustomed to the way they work, and I have reached the point where basic running around shooting other people doesn't 'do it' for me anymore. that's why I like games with loads of weapons with multiple fire modes & lots of player classes and items, like Avp & Halflife. It adds to the replayability of the game because it adds so many new aspects and situations to explore.

-BLIzBLAz

Hellchick: I think this is why we're seeing a lot of crossovers in genres, by the way. (Not crossDRESSING, damn you!)


From: Mearlin
Subject: Simplicity in the game.

To keep a game simple is definatly a way to keep new players from losing interest in it.. However what about those who want something a bit more complicated.. Something with more realistic feel to it.. Look at ActionQuake.. Much more realistic and everyone flocks to it.. Even the "newbie" seems to go for more realistic game.. Now take a look at Expert Quake2.. The croud there is SMALL and even though it adds a hook, the game is more simplistic than the original Q2 (IMHO)..

If you keep a game at it's very basics you will loose the intrest of the larger croud that's been playing since the days of Wolf3d and Doom... Look at the steps.. As each game evolves it becomes more complicated.. We like it.. New players like it too as far as I have seen.. So the complexity, while not going overboard, should be applied to keep the intrest of the experianced gamers as well as the new.

Hellchick: I believe that someday we will load up the game, download all the information into our brains and thus eliminate the need to actually play the game, because we will have downloaded the experience of playing it. Kinda makes this discussion moot, doesn't it?


From: PURE DM
Subject: Purists

Right On!
The game design community must wake up. As more and more people (mainly kids) go online, I'm finding more and more of them asking for help with some aspect of managing their particular game as it's usually so confusing and geared to people with far more time at the console. I play Q2 and spend alot of my time helping others (kids usually) on how to play or giving them resources where they can get simple instructions/explanations about the game. Why don't these companies just release a simple retail "base" version of the game without all the bells and whistles and allow the individual to enhance by downloading features of the particular game at their pace if the want. Servers need to manage their sites also and really allow for the learning curve and set up accordingly. There's entirely to much "Stuff" out there for one person to assimilate when it comes to alot of these computer games right from the get go. From my experiance, most kids find the inital computer gaming experiance disappointing after the inital "woohoo I'm online, now what do I do?".

Hellchick: The problem here is that you then get the moral minority complaining at us all about violence in video games and giving these kids easy access to said games. And I think we all know where that debate ends up.


From: Billy Hladik
Subject: RE: A Purist's Rules for FPS Multi-Player Design

If every developer wanted to get the most gamer user base to make the most profit, then all the games would be simple as Novus wrote. Now all games pretty much have their individuality. For instance, Quake and Duke Nukem 3d (Blurgh) are very different. In Duker Nuker you have a "Jetpack" (and other things) which lets you fly in the air and in Quake you have a whole list (moving in the air, being able to be superman and be able to jump of the CN Tower (I live in Toronto, its the tallest thing I can see) and only loose 20 health).
Guns, If all guns were realistic and easy to learn we would probably use real life weapons. But is that what we want, every game having a handgun, shotgun, chain gun, rocket launcher? Rail guns (Which actually are real life guns, using high power magnets to shoot a projectile at high speeds and make it go spiny), BFG's, and other miscellaneous energy weapons (many in Half life) are what we crave. They might be hard to learn or very easy, that is not the point. If every game had at least 2 unique weapons, they'd all cool and fun.
Half life (Arg, Fragmaster flashbacks) also has many instances where the things are unrealistic, when your on the other planet and the gravity is different. Well, if your able to take one of those hover things and actually be able to see all around the planet, there would be very little gravity, absolutely not enough to keep a jumping human from fly into space, this is not realistic at all, yet it is the coolest thing!
The purpose of games is for gamers to have fun. To enter a virtual world where we can do as we please. So maybe the developers should find a way that a newbie could get a game play it but not be disadvantaged to the experienced players, while still having something for the newbie to learn, and make it fun.
By making games simpler they'd all be similar, and that's not what I want.
Competitively yours,
Fiegn

Hellchick: And they should do it without causing Fragmaster flashbacks, as evidenced by your obvious pain.


From: EpsCylonB
Subject: purists rules

This guy talks about making games simple "out of the box" but he realises the limitations of making a game too simple ("a happy medium is needed" he says). I think ID and Epic have got this happy medium. If you take all his points and simplify them to their logical conclusions then you would end up with Tetris. The fact that fps games are becoming more focussed towards arcade playability does not mean that you need to simplify things. This is because at the moment a pc gamer still has to have basic computer knowledge to start, install and use an fps on the net. Such a person can easily get their head around the rules of quake or unreal and after a few games could easily understand the importance of different weapons. CTF isn't exactly rocket science either.

EpsCylonB

Hellchick: Hey! You makin' fun o' Tetris?! I don't wanna hafta come over there an' bust some heads!


From: S Ryland
Subject: great editorial, roosters have funny penises.

I'd like to thank Novus for a great editorial, it said a lot of things I have wanted to say for a long time. Whilst I have been playing FPS since wolfenstein, there are many people who haven't, and they simply aren't very good to start off with. This creates an imbalance in the community, which consists of 'leets' and 'lamers'. How are we supposed to encourage growth when it takes an average person a year just to get used to the rules, weapons and tactics of a game. Whenever we see 'Player' on a server, we know immediately they ain't gonna last long. Quake is quite difficult to grasp if you are starting out new, yet most good players in the community have no idea of this because they have been playing so long. I've seen it too regularly with my friends. The reason they don't play online, or play at all, is because they say "it's way too hard, i get killed straight away". We need to adapt games so they can be more simplified. Hell, maybe they can ship the game with a 'simple' and 'complex' mode. I don't know. Mind you, I don't know very much.

And roosters have funny penises. (have you ever seen one?! psycho!)

the Feenix

Hellchick: Okay, before I get to the rooster penis comment (c'mon, you know I can't leave THAT one alone), this letter makes you wonder: we were ALL newbies at one point, weren't we? I mean, can't you remember when YOU jumped on a server for the first time? Long before you acquired your l33t sk1llz? How did we get where we were? Maybe we need to all go to our rooms and think about that for a while. Oh, and you need to quit hanging around the barnyard for dates, Feenix.

Spyke: Now did I tell you that was fantastic feedback? Well, all except for the rooster penises. That was only a tenth of all the feedback we recieved on Novus' poop-disturbing editorial. Maybe we need to post articles that will get significantly less feedback, so I won't have to sort through it all. Editorial aside, let's see what else people are consulting the oracle that is PlanetQuake about!




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