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Hodgman

The ultimate FPS game

4 posts in this topic

I got the chance on Sunday to play IRLShooter's first game, [url="http://irlshooter.com/patient-0/"]Patient 0[/url]. It's a multi-player co-op realistic zombie survival horror video game, in real life.
[b]**Spoiler warning for those with tickets to the Melbourne event**[/b]
[url="http://imgur.com/a/Ls51a"]http://imgur.com/a/Ls51a[/url]
[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbUHXS2Ql4w[/media]
^that's my play-through, but search for IRLShooter on youtube brings up a lot of other footage.
[b]If/when this comes to your city/country, go play it![/b]

[b]The good:[/b]
The guns are awesome. They weigh a bit more than a real M4 carbine, at ~3.4Kg/7.5lb, and look/feel very real and dangerous. I have a new respect for the video-game soldiers that I control after trying to carry that thing for an hour -- I was making heavy use of it's sling in order to operate my team's radio, and my arms still hurt.

The gun doubles as your "HUD", with a small backlit LCD screen indicating your ammo count and "infection %" (hit points).

Using the real holographic sight was really cool, but I only found out afterwards that it has buttons to adjust it's brightness, which would've helped in the primarily dark environments.

The shooting makes use of very modern laser-tag type equipment, with everyone's individual stats being recorded, and the zombie actors being able to tell when they've taken a head or body shot.

The "AI". Every monster/NPC is powered by a 3lb supercomputer known as a "human brain" [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img] They know when to hide, when to jump out, and have the ability to improvise.

There were different types of zombies, with the "fast movers" being impervious to body shots, and the "boss" being invulnerable except when you've temporarily activated his weakness... which you have to figure out on the spot, just like a typical video game.

This is done by TV/Film guys, so the sets/costumes were top-notch. The lighting design was excellent, although on the camera it looks very exaggerated, and much darker than it really was.

They've put a ton of effort into the back-story/universe:
[url="http://deebaxterdrake.com/"]http://deebaxterdrake.com/[/url]
[url="http://dbdresearchinstitute.com/"]http://dbdresearchinstitute.com/[/url]
[url="http://dbdwatch.com/"]http://dbdwatch.com/[/url]
[url="http://www.greyareaprotectiveservices.com/"]http://www.greyareap...veservices.com/[/url]

I even received an in-character letter, brochure ([i]for the fake mercenary outfit you're a part of[/i]) and key-card in my mailbox, and several in-character emails in the lead-up to the event. Different members of the team also got different emails with individual secret missions to add a bit of intrigue and competition to the coop play, which was clever.

The game isn't just about shooting zombies; the exploration was fun even though it was almost completely linear ([i]especially with such creepy sets[/i]), there's optional objectives, hidden items, puzzles ([i]though some were broken on my play-through[/i]), key-cards, moral choices and alternate endings.

The radio was a nice touch, with you being guided by an officer in a control room who has access to CCTV of the facility. They keep you up to date on your objectives and keep you on-mission. This also added a very Doom-3-esque element, where in order to give updates to the impatient control room, I had to take a hand off of my weapon ([i]which is also your torch[/i]) -- the zombie actors often seemed to synchronise their assaults with moments of weakness like this, or when we'd announce we were ready to open a door, etc...

Besides your controller, there's also other NPCs in the facility to interact with.
The "angry sergeant" stereotype who briefed us at the start must be losing his voice doing that role all day! They really try to shock you into the immersion right from the start with him.

After watching a few other people's recordings, there's also add a lot of uniqueness ([i]"procedural content" [/i][img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.png[/img]) to every play-through.

[b]The bad:[/b]
The guns were simultaneously amazing and pathetic. They looked and felt so damn good, and the aiming tech was great, but the effects were lackluster.
Force-feedback was completely missing, as was muzzle-flash, and the audio sounded like a toy and was too quiet. At 10m from my team-mates, it was hard to tell if they were actually shooting or not.
Part of this is because customs intercepted/confiscated a lot of the parts that they were planning to use, because apparently they were illegal to import, so they had to improvise on a short time-frame...
Apparently the force-feedback will be added by the January sessions, and I only hope they get the muzzle LED's and audio fixed too. Perhaps they need to investigate a mechanical noise-maker instead of a speaker...

The price. I got in at $100 per person by being a "backer" during the crowd-funding stage, but due to the ridiculously huge demand that they've received, prices keep going up. It's now $137.50 for a Mon/Tue/Wed, or $180 for the other 4 days of the week ([i]AUD, but the exchange-rate is roughly 1:1 with USD[/i]).
It's also $44 if you want to use a helmet-camera to record the event like I did -- for this you do get to keep a 16GB micro SD card with your footage on it though.

The tutorial. As mentioned above, I didn't know about the adjustment buttons on the holographic sight until afterwards. I saw another team trying to figure out their M203 launchers to fight the boss, eventually asking comms and being told they weren't equipped with any grenades ([i]the M203 is only there to house the electronics![/i]). One of my team needed help to find their reload button in the dark, and I fumbled for the auto/semi switch. The two-eyes-open sight also isn't something that you can just pick up and be good at, especially when shooting under pressure. Adding a firing range to the armoury at the start to allow people to familiarize themselves with the weapon in decent lighting would help solve these problems.

Breakages. My original booking was cancelled because they didn't account for stupid people who used the guns as battering rams to open doors, kicked props, and decided that the super-glued down props must've been the intel they were looking for. They need more equipment to cover breakages, but have dealt with these problems for now by having the intro staff tell you not to pry off glued-down props, and having the sergeant explain that real soldiers don't use guns as breaching equipment nor do they t-bag zombies.

The on-film lighting. As above, the lighting was good, but it doesn't record well. It would be nice if they got their lighting designer to do a walk-through of the set with a helmet camera and make adjustments. There was about a quarter of an hour of black footage on my card. Alternatively, if it's possible to get a camera that can pick up some IR light, that would help too ([i]many of the rooms are already lit with IR lights so that the night-vision CCTV works[/i]).

[b]Other:[/b]
The RFID key-cards were a really nice feature, but we each had one from the beginning. Every old school FPS used to have a "find the red key" objective, which would've made a great addition to their puzzle/treasure-hunt mechanics.

We were all drenched with sweat afterwards, in desperate need of a beer, and nursing a lot of muscle pains, but I still would've loved for it to be longer than 1 hour.

Multiple paths would be cool, based either on choices or dictated by whether you've found certain clues / solved puzzles / progressed at certain speeds / etc, would make the facility seem a lot more real (and not "on rails"), and also help encourage people to play again.
This could also be used for time-management to avoid the delays that have occurred -- if a team has gotten bogged down, have them directed down a 'fast path' to catch up, but from their perspective they don't realise that they're taking a "non-standard" path.

In the long-run weapon variety would be cool. To emphasise the team-leader's responsibility in communication over combat, he could be given just a pistol. Another member could be given an LMG or an SMG or a shotgun, to create a support or point-man role.

Ammo and health-picks ups wouldn't go astray. We had more than enough ammo, but running out would've just sucked, because there was no solution to it. If there were clips to be scavenged, then running out of ammo would be fair, and create would create interesting situations where someone must be protected until a pick-up is found.
Likewise, the death/HP mechanics don't seem well fleshed out. No-one in my squad died, but it wasn't apparent what would happen if someone did die... This could be explained in the breifing -- e.g. if your team-mates gun starts flashing red, that means they are infected and their weapon auto-disable has activated, so they must be rushed to an emergency disinfection wall-station ([i]which would be conveniently mounted in every room[/i]) in order to continue. etc, etc...


Despite this being a very expensive-to-create game, they must've made an absolute fortune on the Melbourne show, so I hope they use that cash to address all of these issues for the next game. Edited by Hodgman
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That looks very fun. Worth a trip to Australia. Might be good training to take with me to mars, because who knows, right?


L. Spiro
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Haha, I wouldn't spend an international flight for it, unless you're already planning a trip here [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img]
They plan on touring overseas with it after Australia, but I don't know what country will be next.

And yes, either that, or you should [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghosts_of_Mars"]take Ice Cube with you[/url].
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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1354545423' post='5006606']
having the sergeant explain that real soldiers don't use guns as breaching equipment nor do they t-bag zombies.
[/quote]
Wow, I would have loved to see the reaction of the staff upon seeing players t-bag the actors.
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