Shooty shooty bang bang

Bad Company 2

How does it work? There have been may different genres of gaming, some dead (like adventure games, which are are now resurrected, like Dracula, on the PC and the iphone as “indie” games, while they were the height of the money grabbing franchises way back when), some barely alive (I mean look at RTSes. There were 4, count ’em 4 releases in one month because no one wanted to compete in the same blog space even as Blizzard’s behemoth, so scared are they of losing their diminutive market. What happened, they used to epic, EPIC, I say!), and some morphed into their own uber genre (third person action adventure. Time was you saw your character on screen because it helped you sell the fantasy. Now it’s a behemoth that covers superhero fiction, RPG-lits, platformer, action, and the weird God of War/Ninja Gaiden hyper violent space that has no description, just QTE), but no one has been able to change the first person shooter fundamentally.

I mean, we have been playing as Shooty McPistolhands since forever now, no?. Now don’t get the wrong idea. We’ve been playing the same perspective, not the same genre. There have been straight up shooters, on rail shooters, RPGs, stealth and even brawlers in this perspective. But the perspective has not fundamentally changed. You are still an amorphous pair of hands, doing nasty things to (hopefully) evil people.

This isn’t to say that the perspective is broken, but truth be told it isn’t real. When I walk down a street, I don’t see my hands in front of me all the time, and my peripheral vision sure as shit is better than that. I also see the edges of any visor/helmet thing I wear, though why I would wear such a things is questionable.

Safety first?
Safety first?

And yet that perspective, that view of seeing the game world works, persists, and keeps on troubling me with random World War 2 or Afghanistan scenarios.

One argument is, of course that this makes me feel like I AM that guy. That is utter bollocks for everyone but marketing people, and marketing people are evil. I do not for a minute think I am Gordon Freeman or nameless muppet soldier. I am Serious Sam, with Mrs. Serious Sam (though with the way she treats gaming she’s Mrs. Very Serious Sam, which leads me to think of Lolcats. A man’s gotta have hobbies.) shouting at me to eat food, and I am killing these virtual beings because hahaha they ‘splode funny. Maybe 12 year old boys who trick their parents into buying them18 rated games think they are Shooty McPistolhands, but because some parents refuse to educate themselves about their child’s vicious doings is no reason for a genre or perspective to exist.

Marketing dude or a man who got his parents to buy him GTA when he was 5? The latter, but he now works as a former.

The other argument, of course is that it make you see the world better. I would actually tend to believe that if I was a one eyed pirate dwarf from Middle Earth who has not seen more his ship’s masthead and some rocks at any given point. I mean filmmaking 101, right? The more you pull the camera away, the more you see. It’s like magic!

So what remains? That it makes for entertaining gameplay? Sure, but have you played Modern Warfacre 2? How in the world is that entertaining. Clearly entertainment is a factor of well made games, and not a sole purview of how you see the virtual space.

I think the strongest argument that leaps at me is that seeing just the gun and the mark is like Zen shit, or like Arjun only seeing the eye of the bird. “All I see is my target, master”. Though of course, that theory has broken down after modern games choose to dress your target with all sorts of accoutrements like EXPLODING barrels.

I guess ultimately the perspective isn’t the question, what matters is what you do with it. It’s just a bone. Like Carl Weathers said, “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going. ”

With modern First Person games, they have enough of a stew going, I guess, though one of these days I’d love to see a truly ballsy First Person game. And I don’t mean like Left 4 Dead, which was a ballsy move as a business, but like Zeno Clash, which has fucking balls of IRON.

Ultimately you might think I made a random post just so that I could quote Arrested Development, and that is true. Because, why not?

5 thoughts on “Shooty shooty bang bang

  1. Well something surely got you riled up for this post. On two random points, I have never found LOLCats funny, MW2 is indeed boring and BC2 is superior in every way.

    Regarding the rest of your post, if i’m understanding it right (My perspective and all…seewhatididthere?) its a simple case of specialisation. When people talk about games, no one talks about the fact that in terms of pure money generation, it is the world’s largest entertainment industry. Yes, bigger than movies also for those of you not in the know. The profits generated might not be the same because of the sheer nature of the business, but pure revenue generation, there is no other entertainment business in the world right now that does it like games.

    And if you want a decent part of this pie you gotta specialise. But specialising in the gaming industry I think is a totally different thing compared to movies or music. Developers and publishers are intrinsically linked to the fate of a game unlike in movies or music. A good script might save a movie from terrible acting, a catchy beat might save a terribly worded song from not catching on but this doesn’t work with games.

    Music won’t save a game. A good story won’t save a game. A good graphics engine won’t save a game (As much as marketing departments would love this to be so). The moment a gamer picks up his pad or m&kb and the game doesn’t control right, instant fail right there. And in this day and age of specialisation? We’re talking expert control baby!

    That quote by Carl Weathers you used? It applies to games more than any other form of entertainment. But unlike movies and music, where other parts of the stew might make the rotten potato edible, this won’t work in games. If the potato itself is shit, the whole stew is shit.

    I’m not sure if you’re more annoyed by the limited vision (Literally and metaphorically) of many, many, many games today or that gamers seem to want more of the same limited shit every year or whether you’re just generally annoyed by games at the moment (I am but this still doesn’t stop me drooling like an idiot at every video of Starcraft 2, damn you Blizzard)…..I don’t know, I get the feeling i’m displaying familiar feelings here but coming from a totally different angle?

    All i know is this, if the game doesn’t control right, everything else about the game instantly falls apart. Prime example: Ubisoft’s PoP reboot last year, qte nonsense platforming garbage of a game that should never have gone beyond the concept stage.

    Also, putting Ninja Gaiden in the same category as the at times qte fest that is the GoW games…shame on you. :p

    Do I make sense?

  2. You’re making perfect sense. (first of all though, I thought BC2’s single player lacked the last extra bit that may have made it great rather than good, but the MP design and the controls more than make up for it.)

    I agree with you, it has to control right. I always bring up left 4 dead in this discussion, but after I picked up that game, I was reminded what the PC shooter is capable of. The controls were perfect and the way the works reacted to how I moved was sublime. (L4D2 is more of the same but it’s still pretty good. )

    I am a bit annoyed that the gamers tend to ask for more of the same pap, and that developers are not taking enough risks with a genre that is again coming back as THE bread and butter genre. But yes, mostly I’m just disappointed with games in general. Not that there aren’t good things about the ones I play. But time was I’d pick up a marquee game and have my brains suitably blown and my pants thoroughly soiled.
    Now it’s safe choices after safe choices wrapped up in shiny graphics and stellar animation. I am stubborn, and tend to take away a nugget or two of goodness from most, but I wish they’d ale more risks and let us have the next big one. (did you play bioshock 2? Man, was it just a safe game or what. I did think that the tower defense mechanic employed for your big sister parts was fun, though. Now section 8 – that was one fresh take, wrapped in bugs. )
    Next post will make more sense, I promise 🙂

  3. I have a solution for all our woes. Treasure. Any game by Treasure.

    I love Treasure. I swear by Treasure. I want their HQ to be made a world heritage site. Did I say I love Treasure?

    Go play Sin and Punishment 2. Treasure’s games give me the same giddy high that Pixar’s movies do. They occupy the same reverential space in my mind.

    Go play something by Treasure, anything.

  4. Bangai-o spirits was great too. Only, it belongs to that time where I was being excited by videogames on a regular basis.
    My Wii has been in a bad way since forever, so S&P remains unplaurd as yet.
    With even the Japanese developers getting risk averse, I found tri-ace also doing some things differently enough. Resonance of Fate remains an obtuse strange game, but utterly fresh.

  5. I’ve actually been missing my console gaming since I moved to Mumbai. Contemplating picking up a PS2 and catching up with the stuff I missed on it. Especially in the rpg/jrpg department and the other quirky stuff that came during its later years.

    But i’m getting this dreaded feeling that eventually i’ll just run into the same old patterns of rinse and repeat no matter how innovative the game may claim to be.

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