Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

In the Future, All Games Will Be First-Person Shooters

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 13, 2011

Matt Barton joins the dogpile onto beloved franchises that are being remade as plain ol’ shooters:

Matt Barton Podcast #2 – Absolutely Reticulous!

With word that Syndicate is joining X-Com in reincarnation as an FPS, old-school fans are left wondering what’s worse: that classic games that they loved aren’t being made anymore, or that they are getting borged into FPS titles.

You’ve heard me complain about this enough already. Matt gives it a fresh perspective.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

I don’t know that just refusing to buy these games doesn’t do much. Plenty of others probably will. And if they didn’t, the noble and wise bean-counters in bow-ties will interpret this as meaning, “The PC games industry is dying or dead, just as we predicted. Why, they won’t even buy the absolute BEST braindead made-for-console port we have to offer!”

You know what’s got these guys in a tizzy? Minecraft. Not just Minecraft, but the whole indie game movement, but Minecraft has definitely done more than it’s fair share of taking indie gaming out from under the radar and planted a big ol’ voxel foot in the butt in the mainstream games biz. I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that it’s this era’s Doom. If anything, it may be understating things.

I know it’s going to come off as sounding terribly self-serving, but it’s true: The answer is indie. Every dollar that’s spent on these games are seen as a dollar not spent on the mainstream releases, and the mainstream guys are right frickin’ now asking, “Why?” They are probably coming up with the wrong answers. I suspect I am, too. I don’t know what magic makes one game a hit and another one of equal quality a failure.

With indies, games are being made that address the weird niches. Yeah, they don’t look as good, as Matt points out. And if only a small niche wants to play a game in the style of the original X-Com games, that’s as good as they’ll ever look.  They have to fit the budget to the potential sales.  But the big question is how big that niche really is. Steam has proven, if nothing else, that if you have a big enough audience to expose to quality indie games, and if said games are priced well within impulse-buy range, the market is a lot larger than many expected. It’s just that nobody knew about these games.

But I’m totally with Matt here. When I have time to play games, I’m playing retro, I’m playing indie, or I’m playing some of those more weird B-grade stuff. And if I don’t demand Crysis / Call of Duty graphics, I’m more thrilled with the quality of PC gaming now than I’ve been in a decade. There’s an incredible wealth of games out there – including a few of those first-person-shooters…

Filed Under: Biz, Retro - Comments: 17 Comments to Read

  • McTeddy said,

    I think that that seeing your favorite series respawned by some twisted necromancy only to be mutilated by modern development destroying any chance that modern players to realize what greatness a franchise once held… is the worse of the options. :/

    But hell… that’s what Hollywood is doing too… so why wouldn’t games follow.

    Sigh… I have so many things I want to say but right now all I can muster is “Sigh”

  • Joe Larson said,

    “Retro games are being retooled as FPS. You know what’s the opposite of this? Minecraft.”

    Uh… Minecraft is a FPS. Well, it’s first person anyways. And it’s a first person retooling of a retro-styled game, Dwarf Fortress. So what exactly is your point?

    Want to know my take on Minecraft? Minecraft is successful for the same reason that WoW was successful. It filled a need. People needed adventure and accomplishments, well any video game could do that. But they needed adventure with their friends and WoW filled that nicely and made Blizzard very rich. People needed adventure and discovery and creativity and Minecraft filled that. And just like no game that tried to piggy back on WoW will be half so successful so to will any attempt to copy Minecraft fail. And it may be a little while before another itch develops and folks want something more.

  • Bad Sector said,

    And if only those FPS games were good FPS games :-P. I like FPS games, they are my favourite genre, but not the latest stuff i’m seeing. I only see one really good FPS every two or so years – the latest almost good one i can think was FEAR 2 and before that, Half-Life 2 episode 2 (not even a full game :-P).

    Indies do not seem to touch this genre too, which i find weird since there are many people saying how they prefer to play older titles and how different (usually in a positive light) those titles were than modern ones, so for many people it isn’t the graphics that would hold them. Maybe the “oldschool FPS” niche is too small even for indies? Dunno, although i suspect that FPS games (at least singleplayer FPS games) have a reputation that are expensive and hard to make.

    Which again i find odd, because i would think that making an FPS game is simpler than making a 3D RPG, racing game or flight simulator.

    I wonder what this new “Borken Source” or whatever is called is all about (some indie FPS i hear lately). Hopefully once i get a proper PC again i’ll check it out and won’t be bad.

    (of course with my own definition of what is good :-P)

    As a sidenote, i wonder how comes and some genres practically die. I played ‘Princess Maker 2’ a few days ago and it was a very addictive game (i only slept about 4 hours that night :-P). Still i couldn’t find anything similar, at least outside of Japan. I know of hanako’s Cute Knight (the demo of which i played a while ago, probably a year or two, and PM2 reminded me a lot of this game), but between these two games i couldn’t find anything (not that i look *very* hard 😛 but still it seems as if the genre -if there is any- is dead).

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    FPS are relatively easy to make. Heck, the engine I’m using really, really wants to be an FPS – I have to fight that all the time because its default behaviors and some hard-coded behavior are very FPS-centric.

    The problem, I think, is more that the field is so saturated that it’s hard for an indie to find an underserved niche that would be at all interested in a low-budget entry. That being said, I’ve played a few in the past, but heck if I can remember their names. Same problem… it’s just too crowded for them to really stand out.

  • xenovore said,

    I will agree that many modern games are incredibly derivative. But don’t blame that on the first-person point of view; as Matt himself points out, every genre has it’s clone-fest, whether platformers, RPGs, or FPSs.

    To me, Matt mostly just comes off as a hater of first-person, real-time games. Especially when he calls RPGs like Morrowind and Oblivion “first-person shooters”. Indeed, they have first-person (as well as third-person, I might add), but they hardly qualify as “shooters”. Nor do they play/feel in any way like Doom, which he implies is somehow the progenitor for every first-person game in existence. How about The Eidolon? Alternate Reality? Dungeon Master? Ultima Underworld? Yes, let’s just conveniently ignore that there were first-person, real-time games (and RPGs!) long before Doom (or Wolfenstein 3D, for that matter). =P

    And what other intuitive method for “what am I looking at/interacting with right now in this 3D scene” have we got exactly? Matt’s disdain for the reticule only reinforces my opinion that he doesn’t really “get” 3D, first-person games at all.

    Personally, I’m a huge fan of first-person, real-time games — all kinds: Alternate Reality (ok, semi-real-time), Dungeon Master, Doom, the Quakes, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Farcry, Half-Life, Crysis, Farcry 2, Halo, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Borderlands, WoW, Mirror’s Edge, Portal 2, etc. Why? They provide a level of immersion that I really enjoy. I like the feeling of “being there”. I’ll take a first-person, real-time, “action” game over some 2D, turn-based, “strategic” stuff, any time.

  • xenovore said,

    Sonuva! I left Left 4 Dead off my list! Sheesh, only one of the best FPS games in the last 5 years… O.o

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    Indie games, GOG and publishers like Paradox are the way forward.

    For a while the big/AAA publishers have been moving away from the sorts of games I like to play, but it seems there are always people willing to provide for that niche. I am thankful for that!

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    When I mentioned the B-grade stuff, I was specifically thinking of Paradox. And, I guess, Stardock. Not quite indie, but definitely not amongst the core companies dominating the industry. I guess Atlus, which imports and localizes games from Japan, might also be lumped into that group.

  • McNutcase said,

    Meanwhile, my current gaming crack is Kerbal Space Program. Indie, 3D, rocket-building and simulation. It’s incredibly satisfying to go from blowing up on the pad to orbiting reliably…

  • BellosTheMighty said,

    I note with some amusement that FPSes were pretty indie when they were new, too. Wasn’t Doom initially sold as shareware? Funny the way the world turns… maybe in 10 years we’ll be complaining how minecraft-like games are assimilating everything? ^_^

    In all seriousness, this is no different from back in the 90’s where damn near every new game was being touted as having “RPG Elements”. And even though experience levels and skill trees have become so commonplace as to not deserve mention in the bullet points, we still have distinct genres of games today.

    Everyone always complains about every new design fad like it’s the harbinger of the Second Great Video Game Crash. Am I the only one who knows how to relax and enjoy the games anymore?

  • sascha said,

    @xenovore For the love of god please don’t mention such games like Far Cry or Crysis in the same sentence as Morrowind or Oblivion!

    Crytek might be making a graphically awesome engine but their games are the next-closest thing to a Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay movie! A horribly unimaginative, stereotype story with even more stereotype Hollywood characters and totally misplaced 0815 bland orchestral music. I can’t think of any game that is worse than these!

  • David W said,

    I feel this is a good place to mention this Monkey Island reboot I found today: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/09/13/monkey-island-fps-revealed/#more-73747

  • Rampant Coyote said,


  • Karry said,

    “I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that it’s this era’s Doom.”

    I hope not. Minecraft, that abortion of a pseudo-game, becoming the new standard…*shudder*

  • Bad Sector said,

    @Rampant Coyote:

    The problem, I think, is more that the field is so saturated that it’s hard for an indie to find an underserved niche that would be at all interested in a low-budget entry

    There are many shooters, but almost all of them look and behave the same (or similar). Personally i can’t tell the difference between the latest CoD, Battlefield, Red Orchestra (or whatever it is called) and similar games by looking at the screenshots.

    If there is an over-saturation, that is in the FPS themes and topics, not the games themselves.

    For example, when was the last time you heard about a medieval/fantasy FPS game? The last FPS i can think of is Hexen 2 and if we toss in some RPG elements, it was Dark Messiah. Incidentally both of these games weren’t that good, especially Dark Messiah (although my major problem with Hexen 2 was the constant traveling back and forth to the same places than anything else).

    The way the games are being set up and designed is very similar too: flat levels (almost every part of a level is designed from the top view, taking little advantage of the third dimension), similar health systems, almost (to totally) zero exploration, linear paths, too many cinematics, etc.

    I don’t think that the number of existing shooters is the problem – there are similar (if not greater) numbers of RPG games too (and strategy and generic action titles). I think that most people simply associate FPS games with big budget, dumb, repetitive and same-y games, which is what most mainstream companies make. And of course if an indie tries to do the same, it will only lead to failure.

  • Luis Magalhães said,

    I think we are fusing two separate issues here.

    One is that the “mainstream” developers and publishers are betting way too often on FPS-style games and far too rarely on other genres. This is sad and terrible and must stop, because it robs the medium of that one all-important quality: variety.

    The second issue is beloved series being resuscitated as a different genre.

    I’m ok with this – and by ok, I mean I will wait for the finished game before pass judgement.

    Xcom and Syndicate, beyond being tactical / strategy games, were games about thinking and atmosphere and a world.

    There is such a thing as “the thinking man’s shooter”- Syndicate being an FPS does not mean it will automatically be Call of Duty in the Future. It might very well be a FPS that requires tactics, planning and thought, while remaining faithful to the world and atmosphere.

    Unlikely? Maybe, but I won’t cast stones just yet.

  • xenovore said,

    @sascha: Clearly you entirely miss the point of games like Farcry, Crysis, and Farcry 2. As I was saying before, it’s the immersion that is key in these games. Not some deep plot. Not meaningful character development. Not music to rival Shostakovich or Zimmer or whatever you prefer. (I actually turn the music off in most FPS games as it tends to detract from the immersion.)

    @Bad Sector: I beg to differ; both Hexen 2 and Dark Messiah are great games. Now if you’re saying that they aren’t very good RPGs then I might agree with you. =)