The Future of Shooters - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

Thread Tools
post #1 of 3 Old 04-09-10, 03:03 AM Thread Starter
Elite Shackster
Ares's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 6,170
My System
The Future of Shooters

The Future of Shooters

Some of the biggest names in shooters gather to talk about what's next for the genre.
by Steve Butts

April 8, 2010 - Like most games conferences, the Triangle Games Conference is a great link between game creators and those who want to become game creators. Though all of the panels and lectures have been interesting, the one that stood out the most to me was The Future of Shooters. Gathering together five of the leading names in the genre, the panel explored the questions of how shooters will evolve in terms of content, character and control over the next five years.

The panel was moderated by Epic's director of operations John Farnsworth. He was joined by Juan Benito (co-founder and current creative director of Joystick Labs), Patrick Sebring (lead technical designer at Atomic Games), Jeff McGann (creative director on RedStorm's unannounced project), and Shaun McCabe (production director at Insomniac). The panel shares a rich history, and many of them have worked together on titles from Red Storm's Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series as well as Atomic's ill-fated Six Days in Fallujah.

To kick things off, Farnsworth turned to the question that most gamers are eager to answer: which is your favorite shooter of all time? Though McCabe, along with Benito, was quick to cite Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as a recent favorite, his all-time favorite shooter remains Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, which was what eventually drew him to Insomniac and gave him the chance to work on Up Your Arsenal. Sebring called out the original Half-Life as an early favorite but revealed that it was Counter-Strike that really drew him in. He still hosts servers to this day.

Left 4 Dead's approach to coop is the most promising direction for new shooters.
McGann, searching for an alternative to the Ghost Recon projects he was currently working on, found himself enthralled by Unreal Tournament 2003, particularly for its rich modability. Benito jumped in to praise the original Quake, joking that he spent more time on that game than he spent in college. The title's unique combination of 3D graphics and fluid controls won him over.

Farnsworth next asked which game elements or features are going to be the most important in moving the genre forward. Is it story? Characters? Interactions? Multiplayer? Relevance to contemporary events? Without exception, all the panelists agreed that cooperative play is the most important element in developing and sustaining the popularity of the shooter genre. McGann says it's part of leveling the playing field for players like himself who aren't competitive enough to enjoy adversarial play. Co-op also allows players to create an unscripted story where their own actions determines what happens.

McCabe not only agrees but takes things one step further. Left 4 Dead, he claims, really has no story. Described purely as a single-player game, Left 4 Dead doesn't think it sounds very appealing to him, but the cooperative gameplay is the hook that makes it all work. Given the success of Left 4 Dead and other cooperative shooters, it's no longer an optional feature; it's something that consumers demand. Benito was hopeful that cooperative play might extend to other platforms and even speculated that one day iPhone or Facebook games might have a cooperative tie-in to more traditional console games.

How can publishers get the general public to accept content drawn from real life?
That said, members of the panel were also quick to point out that cooperative play still needs interesting characters and settings. Left 4 Dead succeeds as a cooperative experience in part because the characters are iconic and possess a look and language that makes them relatable. The balance is in presenting enough personality but not so much that the characters are no longer empty vessels for the players to fill.

Farnsworth next asked which settings are likely to be relevant in shooters five years from now. Nearly all of the panel members agreed that real world events will continue to dominate content. Benito suggested that the controversial nature of simulating real operations and real war zones requires a careful and responsible approach. Though designers will have to abstract the rules of combat and dramatize the action, the industry needs these real world settings in order to create meaningful shooters. Without them, we're left with the empty exercise of simulating context-free violence. McGann cautions that although game levels might be ripped from the headlines, war is best used as a backdrop to tell stories about characters

McGann agrees that gamers want something that connects with their own experience, but wonders how you can stay fresh. "How many games can you play," he wonders, "where you're just killing terrorists?" During focus tests on Red Storm's unannounced project, McGann was surprised that, without any supporting narrative context, the focus testers all referred to the enemies as terrorists. There was no indication of that within the game, but gamers today automatically assume that enemies must be terrorists.

Benito concedes that it's overdone, but also that it's a natural expression of the political zeitgeist. As a mirror of the times, games are naturally going to reflect the current situation in the world, and as long as killing terrorists makes players feel important and heroic, they will continue to be featured as enemies.

Benito and Farnsworth's own experiences with the controversy surrounding Six Days in Fallujah were instructive. The main hindrance to a more general acceptance of real world content within games is the perception of the medium itself. Games are still thought of by many as toys, and the associations of the word "play" can seem to trivialize the content. To counteract the intentionally offensive approach of developers like Running with Scissors, developers need to work to bring about a realization among the larger population that games are, in Benito's words, the most sophisticated form of media ever. Medal of Honor's attempts to tackle Afghanistan is encouraging, says Benito, but the recent Dante's Inferno makes him suspect that EA will take plenty of liberties.

But cultural relevance doesn't always require a realistic setting, according to McCabe. The difference between the Star Wars and Alien movies is that Star Wars feels more contemporary in spite of the sci-fi setting merely because of its style and tone. The focus on terrorists may be reaching a point of diminishing returns as the escalations of Modern Warfare or successive seasons of 24 have shown.

From there, Farnsworth turned the panel's discussion towards the future of hardware, specifically the impact of Microsoft's Natal and PlayStation Move. None of the panel members were enthusiastic about the potential of either system, at least in the short term. Sebring thinks the successful adoption of those interface schemes won't happen soon. He points to Red Steel on the Wii as a painful first step towards motion control but he's also encouraged by the progress shown in The Conduit. Sebring thinks that until a title sets the standard for the interface, as Halo did for console shooters, developers can't begin the process of refining the system.

The Conduit made strides towards incorporating motion controls, but there's still much to be done.
McGann just doesn't see the precision there with Natal and doubts that competitive shooters will work with what he's seen so far from the technology. He and Benito both see the current gamepad or mouse-and-keyboard setups as being fairly neutral. McGann thinks it's interesting to consider Natal's role in stance changes but worries that because we don't all move the same way, it will be hard to map a person's unique actions to the interface. Benito further adds that shooter players strive for an efficiency that's not yet achievable with motion control. On the other hand, if Natal could be made to read body language and sense when a player is getting frustrated, it may be a wonderful way to readjust the difficulty of a game on the fly.

Ultimately, McGann still wonders what's even fun about it begin with. Most game's presentation and input schemes are already designed to encourage players to forget about the controller that transmits their actions to the screen. McCabe agrees that Natal and Move may ultimately make players more self-conscious and aware of the interface, which aren't goals designers should be striving towards.

The panel agreed that advances in hardware should never eclipse the need to create good content. As McGann says, you don't need extra RAM to tell a great story. The success of Call of Duty, he suggests, isn't in pushing more polygons but in selling the experience and humanity of the game actors. To that extent, Benito is hopeful that the addition of more and more processing power will allow for procedural content that is more realistic and responsive to the player. He points to the enhanced replays in Batman Arkham Asylum as ways that multi-core processing is helping to enrich the drama in games.

Half-Life 2's gravity gun lets players experiment with the world.
McCabe revealed to the audience that everything in games that is great is ultimately fake. Big moments have to be scripted, he says, because technology can't handle the procedural content and game designers can't lose control over the experience. (Half-Life 2's gravity gun was acknowledged by McCabe as a convenient solution to save players from breaking a game by physically blocking their own progress.) He hopes that the next-generation of consoles will finally allow for large-scale procedural events -- like earthquakes and floods -- that play out dynamically and rely on physics instead of canned animation to simulate realism. The challenge then will be to produce the content that uses these concepts.

Outsourcing will become more and more of a standard as developers and publishers struggle to produce the volume of content consumers demand. With Assassin's Creed II taking over 400 people and many years to create, shooter developers will look to push some of the burden of content creation onto their users.

The panel's general agreement on the positive direction of the shooter genre was encouraging and suggests some interesting possibilities for the evolution of concepts that are still in their infancy. With so many possible directions for the shooter to grow, it'll be interesting to see where it heads next.

Source: IGN

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ares is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 Old 04-09-10, 11:31 AM
Senior Shackster
Matteo's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Utah
Posts: 476
Re: The Future of Shooters

Good article. Thanks for the post.
Matteo is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 04-23-10, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 6
Re: The Future of Shooters

what happened to id software..when u see their engine they seem way behind
brand404 is offline  


future , shooters

Quick Reply

Register Now



Confirm Password
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
Random Question
Random Question #2

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address



Activation requires you reply to an email we will send you after you register... if you do not reply to this email, you will not be able to view certain areas of the forum or certain images... nor will you be able download software.


See our banned email list here: Banned Email List

We DO NOT respond to spamcop, boxtrapper and spamblocker emails... please add @hometheatershack DOT com to your whitelist prior to registering or you will get nowhere on your registration.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML is not allowed!
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome