What happened to the FPS genre?
#1
Remember when FPS games used to be fun and imaginative? Early 2000s banged out Halo, FEAR, HL2, Rainbow Six Vegas, SWAT, early Battlefield games, which were amazing. Even games like Medal of Honour, which are less talked about now, managed to be really popular (some of the first pvp gaming I ever did was playing medal of honour on PS2). But now, looking at FPS games, they're all total garbage. I guess I can answer my thread question by simply tasting monololisation by COD and largely Battlefield just turned the genre into a boring affair using the same gameplay mechanics. Even WW2 has largely become inane to play as, since it feels at least every other FPS game (talking more realistic, less arcade-y stuff line DOOM) is a WW2 game.

But now if you look at FPS games, most of the PC available ones are all mutlipalyer (because developers can better direct resources by allowing for emergent play instead of scripting it all for single player missions) see games like Squad, Hell Let Loose, Post Scriptum, Insurgency, etc. The non-multi-player games are also more sandbox like instead of scripted levels: Ready or Not, ARMA (to be fair Arma and operation Flashpoint was always sandbox, but still). So if I just want to play a realistic military style shooter, by myself, there are basically zero options. You either get arcade-y style games like COD, multi-player, or entertain yourself style stuff (Ready or Not, while mechanically fun and sounds/looks great, if you play solo you spend half your time looking under doors, not shooting, so what is the point).

I really miss that tight, scripted level design you had in the old Rainbow Six games. While games like DOOM (2016) are great, what if you want to play a realistic game? Your options for "normal" stactical shooters are ultimately fairly limited, which is sad. A genre that used to be fun and exciting has devolved into a bifurcated mass of lowest common denominator dopamine farming (COD) and spend 10 minutes running to die from a shot you didn't even see (HLL and Co).

I miss the old days!!!
#2
I think the trouble, which is a general one for video games, is that the driving force in the 2000s was upping fidelity on all fronts, not just visual technology. The trouble we've hit now is that unimaginative successors take 90% of that for granted and think it can be taken or left and that we're in a bold new age for games because of how far visual power has come. In the early 2000s when this stuff was new the thinking was "what can we do with the potential of this power", now it's "fuck it we can render our heroine's nostril hair blowing in the wind so that's our WOW factor sorted".

The state of fps is particularly sad. I miss AA games that you could play through in a braindead way because it was more using the fps perspective and tropes as a vehicle for a novel experience rather than a compfaggot platform or a hard and unimaginative simulation of exactly how being an operator works irl. My go-to example of how this gave us cool things is Shellshock 2: Blood Trails. This game got kind of shit on when it came out, there are youtube videos calling it badly designed which all say nothing of substance. What made this game cool wasn't the extreme fidelity of combat simulation, it also had no multiplayer. What it was was basically a walking simulator with a decent amount of shooting. You shoot things, but this isn't the appeal. Shooting is just a visceral spicing up element for various violent and extreme situations the game wants to present. It's a holistic experience in which the shooting parts obviously weren't meant to be the key point.

A big part of the problem with 'fps' in particular is the label 'fps'. I've been thinking a lot lately how this industry takes language and labels way too seriously and so has its thinking constrained, first on a critical level in shaping how people receive these things, and eventually at a top level when the memes get to the people making the games. Maybe the reason Shellshock 2 was poorly was received is because it was called a first person shooter. What if I were to call it a walking simulator with guns? Is it still bad now? It's maybe a poor fps compared to Rainbow Six 3, but it's obviously not trying to compete in that field.

And the other thing, several types of games that people loved 10+ years ago are basically dead now, but this isn't widely recognised due to poor language. First person action games with a heavy focus on narrative and spectacle are mostly dead. But people aren't used to calling them that. We call FEAR and Halo: CE and Shellshock 2 "fps" games. And so it doesn't make sense to say we don't get these anymore. "Fps" is as alive as ever, look at how many people are playing these retarded skinner box slave-trap call of duty sequels. Those are "fps". FPS is booming. "Real time strategy" is dead? Nonsense, look how many people are addicted to eternal gook-off wars in Starcraft 2 or Age of Empires 2. You want games like the Starcraft 1 campaigns again? Fuck you it's all "rts".

To bring it back to your original point OP, I think the problem runs so deep its cooked into your own thinking. Did something happen to fps? Maybe we should try to reframe this problem without using the term 'fps'. The "fps" games you liked and the "fps" games which succeeded them are in my opinion barely related. They aren't so much successors as new species of experiences. A certain kind of game which used first person perspective and shooting to completely different ends used to exist. Games which use first person and shooting are still made, but that doesn't mean the greater tradition does. It's effectively a dropped genre/sub-genre. The dropping of which was effectively obscured by the poor language gamers are accustomed to using.
#3
(06-28-2022, 05:18 AM)anthony Wrote: I think the trouble, which is a general one for video games, is that the driving force in the 2000s was upping fidelity on all fronts, not just visual technology. The trouble we've hit now is that unimaginative successors take 90% of that for granted and think it can be taken or left and that we're in a bold new age for games because of how far visual power has come. In the early 2000s when this stuff was new the thinking was "what can we do with the potential of this power", now it's "fuck it we can render our heroine's nostril hair blowing in the wind so that's our WOW factor sorted".

The state of fps is particularly sad. I miss AA games that you could play through in a braindead way because it was more using the fps perspective and tropes as a vehicle for a novel experience rather than a compfaggot platform or a hard and unimaginative simulation of exactly how being an operator works irl. My go-to example of how this gave us cool things is Shellshock 2: Blood Trails. This game got kind of shit on when it came out, there are youtube videos calling it badly designed which all say nothing of substance. What made this game cool wasn't the extreme fidelity of combat simulation, it also had no multiplayer. What it was was basically a walking simulator with a decent amount of shooting. You shoot things, but this isn't the appeal. Shooting is just a visceral spicing up element for various violent and extreme situations the game wants to present. It's a holistic experience in which the shooting parts obviously weren't meant to be the key point.

A big part of the problem with 'fps' in particular is the label 'fps'. I've been thinking a lot lately how this industry takes language and labels way too seriously and so has its thinking constrained, first on a critical level in shaping how people receive these things, and eventually at a top level when the memes get to the people making the games. Maybe the reason Shellshock 2 was poorly was received is because it was called a first person shooter. What if I were to call it a walking simulator with guns? Is it still bad now? It's maybe a poor fps compared to Rainbow Six 3, but it's obviously not trying to compete in that field.

And the other thing, several types of games that people loved 10+ years ago are basically dead now, but this isn't widely recognised due to poor language. First person action games with a heavy focus on narrative and spectacle are mostly dead. But people aren't used to calling them that. We call FEAR and Halo: CE and Shellshock 2 "fps" games. And so it doesn't make sense to say we don't get these anymore. "Fps" is as alive as ever, look at how many people are playing these retarded skinner box slave-trap call of duty sequels. Those are "fps". FPS is booming. "Real time strategy" is dead? Nonsense, look how many people are addicted to eternal gook-off wars in Starcraft 2 or Age of Empires 2. You want games like the Starcraft 1 campaigns again? Fuck you it's all "rts".

To bring it back to your original point OP, I think the problem runs so deep its cooked into your own thinking. Did something happen to fps? Maybe we should try to reframe this problem without using the term 'fps'. The "fps" games you liked and the "fps" games which succeeded them are in my opinion barely related. They aren't so much successors as new species of experiences. A certain kind of game which used first person perspective and shooting to completely different ends used to exist. Games which use first person and shooting are still made, but that doesn't mean the greater tradition does. It's effectively a dropped genre/sub-genre. The dropping of which was effectively obscured by the poor language gamers are accustomed to using.

In response to being precise on language, I'm forced to agree. There is indeed still a thriving (if we count sales, I suppose) FPS genre, capturing the minds of millions still, so it is still existent. To rephrase, I think I should have said "why has the FPS genre, once known for a wealth of different experiences, become so tedious?" The general inter-genre trends for perhaps the last decade have been towards homogenization, and when a new trend (such as Battle Royales, Hero Shooters) come along, they suck up a lot of the attention and effort that would have gone elsewhere. How many early access BR games were there? How many large games (CoD, Battlefield, even Halo to a degree) dedicated resources in developing these modes? I think largely it has been an adaption to market trends, but all the same, the games feel much less fun. Maybe I'm just getting old (is this what it is like when you listen to the music the younger generation likes) is?

I just had a quick look at Shellshock 2 and you can immediately tell it is a different style of game. Flicking through the full game video, the whole thing gave me a claustrophobic feel, which considering the topic is really well done. Circling back to what you mentioned about increases in fidelity, this is absolutely true. You can take the latest Horizon Zero Dawn game as a great example, where they waste resources modelling and rendering tiny facial hairs on Aloy's face, as if that matters in the face of generic open world, collect items to craft ammo, style gameplay. It is a total crutch to lean on the fact that they're creatively bankrupt. How many games can't even manage to get working mirrors, when FEAR could over a decade ago? (To be fair, Ready or Not has working mirrors in at least one part that I played). It seems that games just realistically don't have anything valuable to say anymore, they're vessels to push monetization schemes, and since games are active, requiring that element of participation into the ludonarrative, the gameplay itself suffers as the gameplay needs to be an extension of the narrative, to push their ideas. I think (just from a quick glance, obviously) you can see this in Shellshock 2, and other good ludo games like Souls games. So ultimately the gameplay suffers, because without having anything exciting worth exploring, the gameplay cannot be unique. You don't see the diagetic gameplay of Far Cry 2 menus, instead you have gameplay centered around characters (all this hero shooter garbage like overwatch) which may as well be an extension of the "Coldsteel the Hedgehog" type of 'fanfic' character development. Overwatch could have you playing as some faggot in a rainbow flag whipping a dildo around, that would be the type of characterization led gameplay that we already see. This crutch of making gameplay follow lockstep with characters is simply because the people working on these games don't know anything about making games other than "writing" them. 

One of my favourite recent (well, it's now a decade old) FPS games was Bulletstorm. It was just stupid, arcade-y fun, kicking people into giant cactuses and seeing special score points pop up for each exciting and unique kill you achieved. But this type of rewarding gameplay, rewarding achievement, has faded out for progression systems like Battlepasses, or some other lame grind. The ironic thing on this front is I used to be able to play a game like Halo Reach for MONTHS, with little progression incentive and be satisfied, now I try out Halo Infinite, and the progression just balks me, I am uninterested, it is unappealing even if it has little effect on my overall experience. Even the good games which manage to recapture the old style of play, modernising it, games like Ion Fury in some ways, still herald a type of nostalgia. They adapt games, like giving System Shock actual 3D mouselook, but they don't develop onward. As Indies they only have a small budget to work on, so they have to do a specific old thing really well and polished, instead of trying their own thing, since that is a better use of resources. 

Ultimately, I think what you said is the most important thing to realise: "They aren't so much successors as new species of experiences." Like rock and roll from the 50s eventually transmogrified and spawned man different genres of music encapsulated as "rock", the FPS genre now encapsulates, in terms of definition, a certain experience that is a far cry from the "good old days", so while I can lament this loss, for younger people, perhaps it is all they've known. All of these little changes are indicative of a general mentality shift, not only within society, but within each person. So the loss of the older styles of play denote a potential retardation, a type of shallowness, for people in the future. I can only hope that someone revolutionizes the concept of play within the FPS genre as Souls games have done for action rpgs.
#4
Regarding the semantic question, I would first say that FPSs are a subgenre of "first person action games" (FPAGs).

And here we have basically only 2 "types" regardless of whether or not it's even a shooter game: the Half-Life clone, and the CoD/Battlefield clone (albeit those are all shooters).

The former are characterized by a somewhat more "classic" style, lots of weapons, environmental interactivity is usually very simple (just press E on anything), but there's a lot of stuff to be interacted with even if it's "crude." Walking simulators belong to this one, even the most simple ones where you're supposed to do nothing but gush over fancy environments. (I'm looking at you, Dear Esther, you pretty but boring son of a bitch!). Puzzle elements can be present too. These games are the reason why playing Half-Life feels generic if you never played it before but played other games - because literally every single one takes after it. Gunplay can suck, too. They feel "dry" and "coarse."

The latter are "cinematic," or rather, "theatrical." Environmental interactivity is basically nonexistent, and where you have to do it, there's usually separate buttons depending on the nature of action. Everything is a lot more scripted, controlled. Gunplay better. Often a (semi)realistic setting, military themed. More complex mechanics at the expense of freedom. They usually feel "saucy" or "soft."

Then there's the new kid on the block - VR shooters. I think it's just gonna be another "Half-Life derivative" situation due to Half-Life: Alyx though.
#5
If you want to talk about "genre then" versus "genre now" you really need to look no further than MMORPGs. Dare I say that no genre has been exterminated to the extent original style MMORPGs have been, and that is likely due to the fact they are subscription-based (no players = server gets shut down). To my knowledge there is not a single commercial original style MMORPG on the market anymore, remarkable for a genre only about 25 years old.

These games went from "you and your buddies playing a tabletop game, but with like 50,000 of you" to "milking legitimately obsessive-compulsive people (mostly women) into buying 100 identical but palette swapped versions of social items in order to be 'completist' through microtransactions, oh and you nerds can absolutely go FUCK yourselves with this RPG crap, it's now a Dance Dance Revolution game but for your fingers."
#6
I think nigger female squad commando is what happened to the fps genre
#7
(08-16-2022, 09:13 PM)Oakist Wrote: I think nigger female squad commando is what happened to the fps genre

This is a big part of it. More particularly it's what I said in the Halo sociology thread (which I intend to continue). The spirit from which cool games emerge is dead. Men who like cool man stuff are basically barred from working in creative fields as anything but beasts of burden to handle technical stuff. The point is not to be an outpouring of truth (what is cool is true), these games are now constructed monuments to untruth. Games are made to force a fake image of reality as a bunch of weirdos want it, not to affirm, enhance and complete the world as it is.
#8
(06-28-2022, 05:18 AM)anthony Wrote: I think the trouble, which is a general one for video games, is that the driving force in the 2000s was upping fidelity on all fronts, not just visual technology. The trouble we've hit now is that unimaginative successors take 90% of that for granted and think it can be taken or left and that we're in a bold new age for games because of how far visual power has come. In the early 2000s when this stuff was new the thinking was "what can we do with the potential of this power", now it's "fuck it we can render our heroine's nostril hair blowing in the wind so that's our WOW factor sorted".
I said this before in the "Great Flattening" thread, but I'll restate it here in more detail:

The increase in graphical fidelity de facto reduces the fidelity of other aspects by increasing the absolute cost of production. Recall the square-cube law: a 2048x2048 texture has sixteen times the surface area of a 512x512 one (and such a drastic jump is not a thought experiment). Likewise with the poly-counts of 3D models. Linearly increasing the standard of visual fidelity quadratically increases the number of artist-man-hours needed to add anything visible to the game; thus, when graphics pass a certain threshold, the production of a new game becomes an economy of scale akin to the production of a new prescription drug. Risk-taking is discouraged. Artistry is a fast-track to making expensive mistakes.

Fancy-looking games require fancy-looking hardware to run. The owners of expensive gaming hardware - hardcore enthusiasts who make up a large part of the market - will be inclined to buy games that make them feel like they're getting their money's worth; in other words big-budget games, which due to their big budgets need "safe" methods of "ensuring engagement" (read: compfaggotry). Hence "hardcore gamers" with Brahmin equipment (1000 terashits / megafart RTX42069 graphics card) and Dalit taste (4000 hours in Apex Legends).



It shouldn't be overlooked that most of the indie-game scene's breakout successes have been graphically constrained in some way. Take Undertale, for instance: a modern game, built with a modern game engine, that employs a faux-16-bit art style to shift the focus to gameplay and story... most of the time. What makes Undertale interesting is that it deliberately changes its graphical fidelity to make certain elements of the story more impactful. The final boss battles, for instance, far outstrip the rest of the game in visual complexity, color, and general prettiness; and two of the final boss themes are hi-fi reworks of the SNES-esque tracks you hear at the beginning. I think this practice of selectively sacrificing modern graphics for the sake of everything else may be the model to follow for upstarts trying to do something new and different in gaming.
#9
I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has yet touched upon the influence of competitive players. After Halo 2, I believe a lot more emphasis was placed on the e-sports/competitive communities and they were given significant influence on balancing decisions, which is almost always for the worse by making gameplay less variable and dragging an arena down to the level of simply being able to move and shoot skillfully. Modern CoD games don't even have recoil, it's pathetic. Any random or map-based element that could make engagements anything other than an aiming contest were substituted in for movement mechanics at best.
#10
(09-30-2022, 04:24 PM)Corvid Wrote: I'm surprised that nobody in this thread has yet touched upon the influence of competitive players. After Halo 2, I believe a lot more emphasis was placed on the e-sports/competitive communities and they were given significant influence on balancing decisions, which is almost always for the worse by making gameplay less variable and dragging an arena down to the level of simply being able to move and shoot skillfully. Modern CoD games don't even have recoil, it's pathetic. Any random or map-based element that could make engagements anything other than an aiming contest were substituted in for movement mechanics at best.
Been saying this forever. This development philosophy is most readily apparent in LoL; while not a shooter, it nevertheless fits within the genre of glorified chinese mobile games that have been slowly dominating the western vidya market for the past 10 or so years, and provides a clear example of why this happens with every multiplayer game nowadays. 

Somewhere in the mid-late 2000s, companies realized that games over a long period of time aren't capable of sustaining themselves on their own, it was a fruitless task to adopt an expansion model for them (save MMOs), and it was more financially prudent to develop parallel professional organizations for an existing product than to develop another title. Thus, a "competitive scene" forms, and the game slowly withers away as the developers pump money into events, prize pools, and teams. Top players are made into influencers, YouTube channels take on a more professional approach to "studying the game", and balancing and updates are all directed towards the .01% of the playerbase, which ruins the fun for everyone else. On the other hand, the shareholders are immensely satisfied with the new revenue streams. 

Nearly all of my friends have quit the game multiple times, and all of them unanimously attest that independent of nostalgia, the game was much more enjoyable in the earlier seasons when everything was allowed to be unbalanced and there wasn't an ever-present meta dictated by top level competition. The strategy objectively works, however; most of them follow the pro circuit, and some of them even stay up to watch regular season Korean games in the early morning. Worst of all - even though they almost never enjoy playing anymore, they all still come back at some point to check out an update or after being inspired to reinstall by the pros, purchasing microtransactions along the way. RTSes suffered this as well, but failed, losing all of their relevancy in the process, as the skill ceiling is infinitely higher and 99% of players never had an aspiration to enjoy anything other than Co-op vs. AI or custom arcade games. I imagine something like this has taken place for shooters, too, with the recent rise of the Battle Royale genre being the best example I can think of.

This may be a case of convergent evolution with SaaS in the wider tech industry, or maybe it was inevitable that video games shed their casual skin to become hyper-competitive at every level to simulate IRL competition. The time demand to play a game and "get good" has now exploded as a consequence; when you're regularly playing against people who dedicate most of their free time to the black hole of minmaxxing and playing the meta, it's legitimately hard to excel enough to have fun in your own way. There are two wolves inside of you; a meta-slave, or a casual who gets stomped every match. The only winning move is not to play.

 Regardless, most of the gaming industry is now all troonfun cope.
#11
I've been saying this for a while now but I don't know if I have here. The development model of Halo 2 onwards was basically two games (or rather two experiences) in one, and this is what Call of Duty adopted, and then it became an industry standard without anybody really understanding why and how it originally happened. Old Bungie were nerds. Their interest was in pushing tech to realise fictional worlds. They were autists interested in how much stuff they could render and have interact in a lively fashion in real time, and they were culture nerds with an interest in creating strong and intricate genre fiction.

Their early fps games were very high concept. Execution of finer points was largely limited to textwalls, but they were interested in pushing what was possible and acceptable. Their interests were writing elaborate science fiction, and creating lively and reactive worlds to play through. Their first big FPS 'Marathon' has friendly and talkative NPCs who don't really do much of anything in a mechanical sense, they're around because it's cool to see more autonomous behaviour in a game and because they contribute to the experience with their presence. Like the writing this part has no direct influence on the "game" part, because Bungie didn't make purely mechanical "computer games". They were always more like experimental multimedia artists incorporating heavy game elements into their genre fiction.

After Marathon they made Myth (and sequel), which has some cool if generic fantasy lore, and is more interesting for how you can see them pushing the 'living environment' fascination. The intention is clear. 50+ guys on screen all behaving largely autonomously.  Before Lord of the Rings Bungie already understood the appeal of fantasy battles. And that's what this game is. There's some mechanical challenge involved, and room to exercise skill, but the primary focus is clearly 'violent fantasy world in your computer'. Wikipedia knows better than to call it a 'real time strategy' game. But it's still not right. It settles for 'real time tactics'. But the experience isn't fundamentally tactical. This game is not Combat Mission. There's heavy attention to fidelity in how the moving parts of the world interact. But this isn't done with an aim towards creating more tactical depth, even when that does happen. The aim is to make it feel alive. Physical matter collides and interacts, intelligent actors respond to their surroundings and make comments. It's all about selling that there is a little fantasy world in your computer.

[Video: https://youtu.be/vHBLA1aOOO0]

There are many 'competitive' oriented games in which players will strip off the aesthetic dressing of the world because they believe that it gets in the way of the competitive mechanical challenge they're focused on. It's not what they're there for. Here is what this looks like in Age of Empires 2.


[Video: https://youtu.be/z5VusA9beuw]

Obviously nobody has thought to do this with Myth. If you can understand why, you should be able to understand why I believe the language we use to describe games and sort them into genres is completely wrong and awful.

The fine details of Myth cannot 'get in the way' because they're the point. It's more likely that more players believed that the game's mechanical challenge was 'in the way'. And Bungie understood this. It's why their games come with 'Easy' settings.

With this in mind anybody should be able to understand how this ties into Halo. Halo has a lot of old Bungie DNA. The lore is a kind of less wordy spin on Marathon, while the mechanical workings and vision were originally based on Myth. Halo started out life as a science-fiction Myth using Marathon-like lore. It couldn't have been further from an 'fps' driven by concepts like 'meta' and 'weapon balance'. It was another 'world in your computer' work. With the fairly elaborate lore and production values coming together to create a sleeker Marathon-like multimedia experience. If Myth was the coolest parts of Lord of the Rings playing out in your compute, Halo would be the coolest parts of Aliens.

While looking for footage to show off how Halo originally looked I actually found this video. Very handy, I can just leave the finer details to this guy:


[Video: https://youtu.be/p5Mfd40gxe0]

I hope you get the point. Halo was not an 'fps'. Halo was a living science fiction action world experience. Bungie ultimately decided that it should be experience from a mostly first person perspective, and personal action taken during the game's events would be mostly shooting, but this was not their idea of the point. Again, this game has an Easy mode, and I believe that Bungie would prefer that you appreciate the finer living workings and intricacies of their world than that you master the game's combat systems. They put an extraordinary amount of work into controls and movement to make mechanically interacting with the game world as smooth and easy and seamless an experience as possible. But this was not to facilitate challenge. It was actually the opposite, to make the game as easy and unimposing as possible. If mechanical engagement is natural and thoughtless, one can better lose themselves in the greater experience. Halo CE has ultrapolished industry-defining controls for the same reason Myth has physics interactions. Fidelity and smoothness make the world feel real.

Halo: CE was an enormous success, but it had a rather mixed and confused reception which haunts us to this day. Like all good art/media that becomes popular a minority of customers really appreciated the intentions and vision of the creator, and everyone else was just kind of along for the ride and admiring the general craft and novelty of it of the thing and the social phenomena around it. The good thing about popularity is that all of them give you their money. And rube money is just as good as high-brow money. Halo was popular and beloved. But was Bungie's vision of Halo popular and beloved? In my opinion nowhere near as much.

It's easiest to explain this particular point while still on Halo CE. Halo CE had 'multiplayer' features. It had a co-op campaign, which was just two people getting the full main experience at once on one console, and it had what Bungie called 'party mode' while working on it. Party Mode of course was the player versus player battle modes. The lack of online play limited the value of this, but it was still enjoyed by a lot of people. Key point is that Bungie called it 'party mode'. It wasn't what they were making Halo for. It was a fun little side thing they could assemble mostly out of the parts they had already made for the campaign, the real Halo experience.

The success of Halo prompted Halo 2. Bungie had other projects in the works too, but Halo eventually consumed them all. Halo 2 was more of the Halo vision. Reactivity, scale, spectacle. But you can see normalfag influences bleeding in over the nerd sensibilities. The guns and armour look 21st century military rather than anime science fiction, and perhaps more due to the xbox and halo engine being pushed to their limit than style or taste, the scale of certain technical elements is smaller. There's lots of cool and ambitious stuff like next-generation feeling spectacles playing out in real time, the space station intro is still impressive. But there are generally fewer friendly characters incorporated into action sequences and the game feels a bit more linear and constrained.

More importantly, the game is now running on Xbox Live. Multiplayer is still 'party mode', but it's gotten a lot more work. More people will  be putting more time into it and Bill Gates is counting on them being the reason to get Xbox Live. Online gaming was still new to a lot of these people so it wasn't the appeal. But it was a big factor. Between the hype factor and Xbox Live I think it's safe to say that the Bungie vision was being overshadowed.

You see where I'm going, by Halo 3 Xbox Live is the thing Halo is for. The Multiplayer still resembles what it was when it was a side-project made out of recycled parts from the main single player Halo experience, but it's now what most people are here for. I loved Halo growing up and didn't have Xbox Live. For me Halo was the Bungie vision. I loved that it was a game that felt alive. Other games felt sterile and static by comparison. I liked the world, the story, the look and feel. I didn't get an Xbox 360 right away so I kind of missed out on Halo 3. But a lot of other people I knew were getting it. And most of them had never really played Halo before. Halo was something a bit different to everyone who played it, but to most of these people it was clearly nothing like what it was to me.

I remember playing a bit of the campaign with a friend, who didn't really care for it. I remember he found my fascination with stuff like the behaviour of marines, and my desire to observe the game at work frustrating. He just wanted to smash through it like he was playing Goldeneye or something. To him it might as well have been. Everything about Halo that was essentially Halo and essentially Bungie was more or less lost on him. He was about moving forward and shooting. The thing I really remember is that at the point in the game where the frigate 'Forward Unto Dawn' pulls up and lands near you he called it 'The Mothership'. Nobody in the game calls it that, nothing really happens to suggest that it's anything but a military vessel in a fleet of many. But to him it was 'The Mothership'. This wasn't to say he had some elaborate worked out unique meaning of this ship was in his head. More that it meant so little he didn't even bother working it reasonably into the context of its surroundings. He just mentally smashed it down into a simple generic video game fiction form. Thinking back I wouldn't be surprised to learn that at the time he thought Master Chief's name was 'Halo'. We were about 12 at this time, not 5.

Again, I think you see where I'm going. Around the days of 'Myth 2' Bungie's audience was probably mostly composed of people who got it. People who knew what they were going for and appreciated their games because they liked the same things as Bungie. And this was enough to keep them going. By Halo 3 Bungie are well and truly bouncing right off the skulls of most of their audience. Halo CE feels like a true piece of multimedia and is best appreciated as one, as the multimedia vision is just about all there is. There's a masterfully assembled "game" in there making up the core mass of the experience, but it's given greater meaning by what it's embedded within. Halo CE is truly about everything that it is start to finish. It is a complete whole of which every part is important. Halo 3 feels like a game. A computer-game made to simulate movement and shooting for the excitement of people who enjoy movement and shooting. In CE the parts of Halo CE are used to make a party game. In Halo 3 it might be more appropriate to say that the parts of a party game are used to finish Halo 2's story, which is the main focus of Halo 3's campaign. Halo 3 was mostly enjoyed by people who just wanted to strip the mechanical 'game' element out of the greater vision. That's how the party mode won.

Of course the series held on a bit, the money was still largely going to Bungie. But they had largely expressed themselves and were done. To wrap up their contractual obligations with Microsoft they gave us Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach. I see this last stretch as them attempting to fit as much expression and soul as possible into what only needed to be iterative multiplayer releases, for the few people who actually cared. ODST in particular is very indulgent in that old bungie way. It feels like it was built to be a museum of Halo lore that you play as much as an action game. The self-driven exploration sections were extremely Bungie, and completely unlike anything that has happened to Halo since they left.

Halo is of course still here, but its creators have little idea what they're doing. The situation is not helped by how ignorant most Halo fans are of what it is they even want. Halo is now a mechanical action "game" about moving and shooting at other people who are also moving and shooting at you. Almost completely stripped of the original vision, setting, and framing that Bungie created these mechanics to serve. I see this situation as a kind of cultural equivalent to post-apocalyptic cavemen taking the wheels off of cars to use them as frisbees. And this isn't even enough to succeed now as the series has been hit by the double blow of losing original talented and creative Bungie staff, the games are now made by Microsoft's contract-serfs, and the market share has been diluted to hell by massive competition in this 'online move and shoot' field.

In response to this shitshow Microsoft tried to bring back some Bungie factor for the latest instalment, Halo Infinite, but between a lack of driven talent and a lack of coherent direction this of course failed too. The game's 'campaign' isn't a creative and expressive vision. It's a cry for help. I believe that a lot of people did kind of half-get the bungie factor, but not enough and not clearly enough to make coherent demands. It's only because of vestigial Bungie management calls that the game even has friendly marines running around here and there. Halo Infinite is not a living science fiction world in your computer. If it wanted to be it could probably do so incredibly due to increased computing power available. But that's not what 343 made. They took cues from Doom: Eternal and basically made a Halo themed Quake level pack about moving and shooting at retarded things that move and shoot back at you. You can now move insanely fast because there's nothing around you worth stopping to look at (despite the insane investment in visual fidelity compared to CE) and nothing of real interest to engage with for organic reasons beyond the next thing to shoot.

Bungie made a rather particular type of game for a rather particular kind of person (me). And most of its degeneration, and that of "fps" in general, is just an inevitable sink to the standards of the mass consumer after the original driven creators drift away. These games used to be made by and for the kind of person who would find the 'party game' fps boring. Halo, like Call of Duty, was not made to facilitate running around in circles shooting your friends or strangers in the back for 10,000 hours straight. You could do that within them, but they aspired higher, and once customers wanted higher.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/GH6b9Tv/image.png]

(Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/xwqjg3/t...tory#ulf-1 )
#12
(10-01-2022, 12:27 AM)anthony Wrote: [...]
Do you think there's something to be salvaged with hyper competitive esports? Don't you think it's admirable to see the camaraderie between youths, how they flex their skills and dominate their opponents? Of course, with a game more focused on esports, the world building and aesthetic would be put off to the side and it would attract (more so than others) lots of dysgenic mystery meat orcs.
#13
(10-12-2022, 10:09 PM)chungus Wrote: Do you think there's something to be salvaged with hyper competitive esports? Don't you think it's admirable to see the camaraderie between youths, how they flex their skills and dominate their opponents? Of course, with a game more focused on esports, the world building and aesthetic would be put off to the side and it would attract (more so than others) lots of dysgenic mystery meat orcs.

Having a hard time writing out exactly how I think about this. I believe that human excellence emerges through the pursuit of absolute world mastery. The natural and unconstrained exercise of power towards natural goals pushes and exercises all parts of our being towards perfection.

Unfortunately as we are not animals we create circumstances more sophisticated than parts of our nature. Compromise and concession enter the picture Both in goals and pursuit. A compromised pursuit of world mastery is the life of the court intriguer, or the banker jew gangster. Real power, real existential security, real posterity. Real goals secured through means which compromise the human animal whose interest is meant to be served by them.

We also have whole and natural pursuit of contrived goals. This is the world of sports and games. In sports and games it is accepted that you do anything and everything you can within accepted arbitrary constraints to win. We create games and sports more or less naturally I believe from an understanding that a natural, self-driven pursuit of something we want tends to be good for us. It's good to put all of ourselves into the pursuit of things that we want. When deprived of pursuits we contrive them. Through these contrived pursuits we're able to recover a degree of the natural cultivation we lost as our natural goals and options to pursue them became limited and specialised.

I see esports as basically made up of the worst parts of a banking job and sports without the benefits of either. Competitive games of fetch would bring out more in the human animal than competitive Halo team deathmatch. Arguments on metaknowledge and strategy are worthless. Even fetch would develop a meta. Anything which is competitive will. There are no positive arguments to be made for 'esports' beyond the natural attraction it has to a certain kind of person. A low unstimulating kind of 'fun' that mostly appeals to the stupid and broken.
#14
(10-01-2022, 12:27 AM)anthony Wrote: I hope you get the point. Halo was not an 'fps'. Halo was a living science fiction action world experience. Bungie ultimately decided that it should be experience from a mostly first person perspective, and personal action taken during the game's events would be mostly shooting, but this was not their idea of the point. Again, this game has an Easy mode, and I believe that Bungie would prefer that you appreciate the finer living workings and intricacies of their world than that you master the game's combat systems. They put an extraordinary amount of work into controls and movement to make mechanically interacting with the game world as smooth and easy and seamless an experience as possible. But this was not to facilitate challenge. It was actually the opposite, to make the game as easy and unimposing as possible. If mechanical engagement is natural and thoughtless, one can better lose themselves in the greater experience. Halo CE has ultrapolished industry-defining controls for the same reason Myth has physics interactions. Fidelity and smoothness make the world feel real.
You should try Metro Exodus.

The first two are linear hall shooters with good universe building - but Exodus incorporates several open world levels that remind me of what I think you're getting at when comparing Halo 1 and 2, even if I don't share your recollection of the game being open in any true sense.

My memory of Halo: CE was that the supposedly open levels just required you to do a lot of backtracking if you went in an unintended direction and that this could get extremely frustrating if you lost your warthog but lived. I spent quite a bit more time exploring just New Mombassa, abusing some of the mechanics you mentioned with friends, than all of the exploring we did in the first game.

Anyways, yes: give Metro Exodus a shot. It's one of the few games made in the last few years that actually felt fresh. If you haven't played the first two I'd still recommend them, but I can't think of a reason they'd be necessary to understand what's going on. Glukhovsky's original novel was also very good (the second was bad, third - mixed) and is available for free online.

You'll went to play on "Hardcore" your first time and then play on the hardest difficulty settings if you want to New Game +. The first two games in particular are completely merciless if you start on the hardest difficulty, which is not nearly as fun as it sounds when ammo is very limited.
#15
(10-15-2022, 05:21 PM)calico Wrote: You should try Metro Exodus.

The first two are linear hall shooters with good universe building - but Exodus incorporates several open world levels that remind me of what I think you're getting at when comparing Halo 1 and 2, even if I don't share your recollection of the game being open in any true sense.

My memory of Halo: CE was that the supposedly open levels just required you to do a lot of backtracking if you went in an unintended direction and that this could get extremely frustrating if you lost your warthog but lived. I spent quite a bit more time exploring just New Mombassa, abusing some of the mechanics you mentioned with friends, than all of the exploring we did in the first game.

Hmmm, never been recommended Metro before. Might take a look. And yes it could be easy to get lost in Halo: CE. Never bothered me too much though. I spent most of my time replaying the first few levels. They had the most interesting stuff going on. I could never get tired of playing around with scenarios that had marines and aliens.
#16
If you're into classic linear shooters with a challenge to them Metro 2033 is great and Last Light is incredible. They're on sale on Steam now for only a few dollars but you can also just pirate them.

"2033 Redux" eliminates a lot of the jank from the first and updates the graphics, the redux to Last Light doesn't really add anything except a few graphics and gameplay tweaks. Both have a strong stealth element to them if you play on "Ranger Hardcore" difficulty, which makes both you and opponents drop in only a few shots, but as I mentioned earlier you'll probably get extremely frustrated if you start off on that.

They're quite soulful and have a nice paranormal gloss.


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