Sign in to follow this  

Why no grid-based first person "dungeon crawlers" in a sci-fi setting?

This topic is 1609 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Well, topic says it all. During a Grimrock session, I wondered why there are so little games like it set in a sci-fi/cyberpunk setting while there are more first person fantasy dungeon crawlers than you could shake a stick at. The only notable and ancient exceptions I could come think of are Whale's Voyage and Hired Guns.

 

Do you see any problems which the premise? What would it need to convince you to play such a game?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I honestly think that Sci-Fi was just late to the party on that one.  Fantasy was established with the Ultima/Bards Tale/Wizardry series early on.  Then technology quickly leaped forward so that gaming wasn't limited to grid-based maps anymore.  (Stonekeep?)  I don't see any problems with the premise.  It could work well if done right, but that's true for anything, really.

 

The original System Shock used grid based maps, but the player's movement was not restricted to the 4 cardinal directions.  Just sayin'... it can be done.

 

Bottom line is that I'd play a Sci-Fi grid-based game without much convincing.  If it's any good, I'll play it to the end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meatsack raises an interesting point with the history aspect. I was thinking more along the lines of the environment vs. the tools you want to use in science fiction. Firearms and such lend themselves to long range and more open spaces. Furthermore, when most people think of "dungeon crawlers" they literally think of some dank hole in the ground with lots of twisting stone passageways - not a lot of tech for a scifi game to explore.

 

Of course, that is all very much subjective and you could change/fix all those problems. I could certainly see a scifi roguelike being popular.

 

Though on another note, Space Hulk and other WH40k type scenarios very much resemble scifi dungeon crawls. A lot of inside environments from 40k - be they ship corridors or the confines of some massive planetary installation - are claustrophobic, twisted, and most importantly filled with monsters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I see a problem with first-person view in games with a prevalence of very powerful ranged attacks (rocket launchers, beam rifles etc.): losing party members because you forgot a corridor or didn't turn around every turn is Not Fun. First person shooters avert the problem by not having to worry about many people and by general spatial awareness of where enemy fire could come from, top-down or isometric turn based games (including Space Hulk and its computer adaptations) let you see everywhere without accidental blind spots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Furthermore, when most people think of "dungeon crawlers" they literally think of some dank hole in the ground with lots of twisting stone passageways - not a lot of tech for a scifi game to explore.
... Space Hulk and other WH40k type scenarios very much resemble scifi dungeon crawls. A lot of inside environments from 40k - be they ship corridors or the confines of some massive planetary installation - are claustrophobic, twisted, and most importantly filled with monsters.

I'm pretty sure in the early 90's there was a grid-based, first person, 40k Space Hulk dungeon crawler ;)
That whole genre is pretty dead/dated nowadays though -- the modern equivalent would just be a sci-fi FPS, like natural selection 2, etc.
To stick with the old-school genre, you'd have to have been a fan of it, and if the genre happened to be full of fantasy games, then there's a good chance you're also a fantasy fan ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Furthermore, when most people think of "dungeon crawlers" they literally think of some dank hole in the ground with lots of twisting stone passageways - not a lot of tech for a scifi game to explore.
... Space Hulk and other WH40k type scenarios very much resemble scifi dungeon crawls. A lot of inside environments from 40k - be they ship corridors or the confines of some massive planetary installation - are claustrophobic, twisted, and most importantly filled with monsters.

I'm pretty sure in the early 90's there was a grid-based, first person, 40k Space Hulk dungeon crawler ;)
That whole genre is pretty dead/dated nowadays though -- the modern equivalent would just be a sci-fi FPS, like natural selection 2, etc.
To stick with the old-school genre, you'd have to have been a fan of it, and if the genre happened to be full of fantasy games, then there's a good chance you're also a fantasy fan ;)

 

 There was both a board game and a PC game. Played the PC game, though I was young at the time that I couldn't get very far in it. No trigger discipline when the baddies showed up - blew all my best weaponry right away. I should track that game down again and give it another try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably not a huge factor but sci-fi concepts age in a way that fantasy does not, which makes it hard to build a common vocabulary and immersive experience.

 

A poorly rendered, low-res cave would still be recognizable to me as a cave and I would be able to get on with it. It's much harder for me to will myself into believing a similar backdrop is a "good enough" representation of what the future will be like. Not to mention video games became big alongside some pretty way-of-life-changingly-transformative technology. The 70's and 80's saw a lot of futuristic fantasies become real, stripping the impact from their presence in a game. Wizardry has not seen such rapid and massive development since video games became popular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a problem with first-person view in games with a prevalence of very powerful ranged attacks (rocket launchers, beam rifles etc.): losing party members because you forgot a corridor or didn't turn around every turn is Not Fun. First person shooters avert the problem by not having to worry about many people and by general spatial awareness of where enemy fire could come from, top-down or isometric turn based games (including Space Hulk and its computer adaptations) let you see everywhere without accidental blind spots.

 

That's an interesting point indeed - hadn't thought of that yet. Ranged attacks are included in fantasy crawlers as well, but they usually don't cover a range as large as futuristic weaponry. Maybe less open spaces would solve this issue?

 

 

 

Furthermore, when most people think of "dungeon crawlers" they literally think of some dank hole in the ground with lots of twisting stone passageways - not a lot of tech for a scifi game to explore.
... Space Hulk and other WH40k type scenarios very much resemble scifi dungeon crawls. A lot of inside environments from 40k - be they ship corridors or the confines of some massive planetary installation - are claustrophobic, twisted, and most importantly filled with monsters.

I'm pretty sure in the early 90's there was a grid-based, first person, 40k Space Hulk dungeon crawler ;)

 

Ah, how did I forget that one?  wacko.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably not a huge factor but sci-fi concepts age in a way that fantasy does not, which makes it hard to build a common vocabulary and immersive experience.

 

A poorly rendered, low-res cave would still be recognizable to me as a cave and I would be able to get on with it. It's much harder for me to will myself into believing a similar backdrop is a "good enough" representation of what the future will be like. Not to mention video games became big alongside some pretty way-of-life-changingly-transformative technology. The 70's and 80's saw a lot of futuristic fantasies become real, stripping the impact from their presence in a game. Wizardry has not seen such rapid and massive development since video games became popular.

 

No offense, but I think this is kind of silly. I don't think that technological changes or evolving understanding of science is really important to this sort of game. Sci-fi as a setting can work whether it's a 50's-style sci-fi or 80's-style sci-fi. The important point is creating a setting and sticking with it. Look at recent/upcoming releases: Farcry Blood Dragon takes a very 80s approach to sci-fi and nails it. The upcoming Shadowrun Returns takes on the 90s cyberpunk sci-fi setting and it looks amazing. Remember, sci-fi is just science fiction--fiction that is focused on science and its impacts on the world. It doesn't necessarily mean futuristic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How come nobody has mentioned Silent Debuggers yet? It's pretty much a sci-fi dungeon crawler in the most literal sense. Then again, being on the PC Engine probably doesn't help.

 

As for fantasy, I'd say it isn't just dungeon crawlers. Fantasy already had taken over in tabletop roleplaying games, that spread over all videogames that had some resemblance to roleplaying. By the point videogames started trying the idea the standard setting was already heavily established.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So now my creativity glands are pumping about this...

 

Have a spaceship control panel that shows a map of the galaxy.

Select a star to travel there.

Call up the local star system map to see which planets/space stations/derelicts are explorable.

Selecting one of the above brings up an area map showing entry points to the "dungeon".

Pick an away team, some equipment, and explore it!

 

Real-time or turn-based.  (Or toggle like Might and Magic!)

Have a self-scribing mini map with a motion tracker in one corner.

That way you won't have the mobs sneaking up on you!

 

Play it?  Shoot... I'll help you make it if you need it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Probably not a huge factor but sci-fi concepts age in a way that fantasy does not, which makes it hard to build a common vocabulary and immersive experience.

 

A poorly rendered, low-res cave would still be recognizable to me as a cave and I would be able to get on with it. It's much harder for me to will myself into believing a similar backdrop is a "good enough" representation of what the future will be like. Not to mention video games became big alongside some pretty way-of-life-changingly-transformative technology. The 70's and 80's saw a lot of futuristic fantasies become real, stripping the impact from their presence in a game. Wizardry has not seen such rapid and massive development since video games became popular.

 

No offense, but I think this is kind of silly. I don't think that technological changes or evolving understanding of science is really important to this sort of game. Sci-fi as a setting can work whether it's a 50's-style sci-fi or 80's-style sci-fi. The important point is creating a setting and sticking with it. Look at recent/upcoming releases: Farcry Blood Dragon takes a very 80s approach to sci-fi and nails it. The upcoming Shadowrun Returns takes on the 90s cyberpunk sci-fi setting and [i]it looks amazing[/i]. Remember, sci-fi is just science fiction--fiction that is focused on science and its impacts on the world. It doesn't necessarily mean futuristic.

 

 

I think you are misinterpreting my point, and in any case I said it wasn't a major point.

 

Check the bolded section in the quote above. Shadowrun Returns may look amazing, but the details that amaze didn't really have an analogue in the period I'm talking about. With 80's era sprites and gameplay features, would it be equally amazing? Would it be just as recognizably science fiction? Think of the scenery in [i]Moonraker[/i]. Did all that sheet metal with blinking lights soldered in look futuristic at the time? Does it now? With early video game era graphics most of the effects have to be supplied by my imagination. With fantasy that works out well enough, because Lord of the Rings settings look a lot like most other fantasy settings for the last 60 years. Sci-fi sensibilities change far more rapidly, and an Atari-era representation of 1950's science fiction would look very similar to an Atari-era representation of 1990's sci-fi even though their aesthetics are radically different.

 

It's not universally the case that futurism is a central piece of science fiction: [i]The Andromeda Strain[/i] involves an alien organism but very little unrealistic science compared to its era. But if the setting doesn't involve technology that doesn't exist yet or an impact to society that hasn't occurred yet it's a hard sell to be a sci-fi game instead of just fiction. Your point reads to me like saying that a game billed as fantasy can just involve an every-day person who daydreams about equally every-day situations. It fits the literal definition of "fantasy", but it's an awfully big stretch to suggest that that's what the common description of the genre is meant to convey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So now my creativity glands are pumping about this...

 

Have a spaceship control panel that shows a map of the galaxy.

Select a star to travel there.

Call up the local star system map to see which planets/space stations/derelicts are explorable.

Selecting one of the above brings up an area map showing entry points to the "dungeon".

Pick an away team, some equipment, and explore it!

 

Real-time or turn-based.  (Or toggle like Might and Magic!)

Have a self-scribing mini map with a motion tracker in one corner.

That way you won't have the mobs sneaking up on you!

 

Play it?  Shoot... I'll help you make it if you need it!

 

That sounds like a Space Hulk roguelike to me. Which, in my book, translates to "totally awesome".

 

Why not throw in a corporation or two who might offer you exclusive missions with a higher difficulty rating but better loot? Or occasional competitive missions against another (cpu or player controlled) team to show them who's boss?

 

The inclusion of the motion tracker in AvP was one of the most brilliant gamedesign ideas ever, so I'd definitely add that, including false alerts to keep players on their toes.

 

I would keep the realtime premise while limiting the away team to four members maximum to keep things manageable without growing some extra arms. If we are already talking Space Hulk, maybe bringing back the rechargeable freeze time map overview to give out orders for more than one crew member at a time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic is 1609 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this