Tag Archives: game mechanics

darkplaces 2015-02-25 15-21-52-11

Quake and Doom’s Mechanics

So sock, level designer extraordinaire, had a tweet which triggered some interesting discussion:

I didn’t directly participate, as on this subject I find Twitter’s character limit to be too restrictive. Jehar and negke jumped in with thoughts, but I figured I would share mine here. At a glance Doom and Quake seem to be similar games. First person shooters made by largely the same team, and with the same key people of Romero, Carmack, and Petersen at the helm. But they have many fundamental differences, such that I find it hard to articulate it succinctly. As negke has dubbed me a master of verbosity, I shall do my best to live up to that. Continue reading

d1logo

Whatever Happened to Diablo?

December 31st, 1996 is when Diablo was unleashed unto the world. It was great. Excellent even, one of my favorites. It catapulted Blizzard forward into the world like no other, and triggered Diablo 2 and 3 as well. The game world was moody, the writing was creepy, vague in all the right ways, and humorous at the right times. So where is it today? Well, it is scattered across eBay and Amazon used sellers and resellers.

Blizzard may have adopted digital sales, but not for Diablo. It isn’t even in the Diablo Battle Chest anymore. Now the chest is simply Diablo 2 plus the expansion and the strategy guide (which I would wager is woefully out of date with all of the balance changes and mild expansions like Pandemonium Events). Diablo has been left behind by Blizzard. You can’t even get it on GOG. Some of us still have our CDs, but for many, if not most, of those who play Diablo 2 or 3, the original is more a concept than an experience. I would love to see it for sale on Battle.net. Preferably with support for modern resolutions, and maybe, just maybe, a more streamlined store front interface (one of my few issues with the original Diablo). But this is only addressing the availability. We’ve got Diablo 2 and 3! Those are logically twice and thrice as good, right? Continue reading

quakelive_steam 2014-09-30 19-50-30-94

Quake Live on Steam – Thoughts

So Quake Live is now on Steam. For whatever reason, some people insist on calling it Quake which is just silly. I won’t be doing that, but I will be abbreviating it to QL.

A lot of mechanic changes seem to be operating under the auspices of making the game more welcoming, an understandable goal for a Free To Play title. But friendly mechanics can only work if the user can appreciate them, and that involves a useful UI. I’m not a UI expert, but if I’m going for a quick game and choose Team, don’t put me in a full game. I didn’t click Play to Watch.

The real crux is in all of the fairly random game design changes. QL is a modified form of Q3A. Q3A was very friendly to new players. Weapons respawned quickly and set the ammo for that weapon to either a minimum, or current + 1, making camping weapons or timing them a low return effort. This solution unto itself had the potency of Weapon Stay without the visual incongruity. Pair this with the mentality that QL is “too hardcore” or something of the sort. This is inane. QL has a high skill ceiling, but five seconds with any gun and playing two rounds on a map is going to teach you the nuts and bolts. The only not quite observable mechanic is in the finer nuances of bunnyhopping. Rocket jumping and plasma climbing are things you can observe. Item timing is a case of noting the time when you see an item picked up, and noting it again when it reappears. The rest is the mental juggling you would want to do, on par with the precision you would want to practice to improve your aim. Continue reading

t6mp 2014-05-29 19-29-45-81

Improve Call of Duty With This One Weird Trick

Call of Duty has quietly changed in a lot of ways since the release of the initial Modern Warfare. Namely, a lot of bad perks have been gutted, repurposed, or cut entirely. Stopping Power is largely gone, Juggernaut is now the much more interesting Ballistics Vest item, Martyrdom, Last Stand, Commando, and 3x Frag Grenades are gone. But one perk remains that holds the game back. Steady Aim.

An innocuous sounding perk, reduced hipfire spread, Steady Aim is a thorn in the side of Call of Duty’s primary gameplay loop. In Call of Duty the primary concerns of the player are shooting and not being shot. To liven up this dynamic, the game has the ability to aim down the sights of your weapon. Doing so greatly improves the accuracy of the weapon, at the cost of a slightly more narrow FOV, and reduced movement – sometimes drastically reduced. It always takes a moment to aim down sights, but the resulting accuracy is vastly superior to what you experience firing from the hip. Continue reading

Am Gun, Will Travel

It can be argued that the experience of a first person shooter is actually the act of being a sentient roaming gun. Though some 2nd Amendment debates would hold this is the case in reality, it could be more reasonably articulated that it is in many ways the case in games. On a technical level, often the player is just a bounding box with a weapon visible, perhaps some hands, and in multiplayer they are displayed as a character to other bounding boxes with a weapon visible. Metaphysically speaking, now that sounds fancy, the primary input with the game world in an FPS is simply shooting (particularly in the Quake franchise which centers its logic systems around damage or proximity) so obviously the gun at hand is a primary source of expression.

This however is greatly impacted by the inventory and spawning system of the game. In the Quake and Unreal franchises you spawn with a certain supply of weapons, and you find others in the environment. The weapons are expressions of discovery, what you have found, they represent exploration and knowledge. These weapons are also usually fairly distinct, sure they can be broken down by simply hitscan or projectiles, but no one is going to argue that Quake Live’s (and thus Quake 3’s) Plasma Gun and Rocket Launcher are particularly similar weapons. The weapons are intentionally as distinct as their location in a level and are designed to occupy a large range of design space within the scope of the mechanics. Continue reading