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FPS: More Violence

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From the outside watcher point of view, FPSs appear extremely violent. Indeed, imagine a parent watching this kid shooting a girls head off in Unreal Tournament. OTOH, from the player’s point of view, all this violence is pretty much impersonal. It''s just another frag. K, team, here''s the briefing for the mission: Primary objective: increase the violence level from the players POV Secondary objective: decrease the perceived violence level from the outsider’s point of view Some ideas: 1) One of the reasons the so called violent games are not perceived like that by the player is that in the game world killing is the _right_ thing to do, even the _required_ thing to do. It''s not the player''s responsibility, it''s the games. There isn''t any moral questioning at all. Make violence _wrong_ in the game world too. Punish the player for taking violent action and reward them for avoiding the most violent situations. Of course, you''ll be able and tell the parent that you do this because you are responsible and want to teach the kid a lesson. Of course, more subtle game mechanics will still require a certain degree of violence. The advantage is that the player suddenly has the choice to break the rules, to do something _bad_ for a change. A good example of this is the hostages in CounterStrike. The game punishes the players that kill hostages. Every counter-terrorist hates them, as they cost them their lives more than once. Every CT learns that if there''s a terrorist hiding behind a hostage, he must SHOOT through the hostage. Getting killed costs more money the next round than the penalty for killing a hostage or two anyway. 2) Make the NPCs have a number of ''emotional modes'', and make those modes apparent through different moves and/or voice acting. Then add more interactive options to a NPC that allow the player to change this emotional mode of a NPC through different actions. Make these emotional modes useful (scaring a bank director into opening a safe, etc.) Emotional modes may be: - combat (the NPC is confident and ready for fight) - surrender (the NPC obeys orders from the player) - terrified (the NPC has completely lost it) Actions may be: - drawing a gun / pointing it at a NPC - missfiring a weapon - screaming / threatening - non-lethal hits - punches, or just bashing with a weapon - wounding the NPC or one of his friends.

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Sounds good from the point of realism, but it will make the actual violence worse (if that´s what you wanted), as shooting an enemy who as already surrendered and is lying on the floor crying is far, far more personal and emotionally involving than shooting a faceless badguy.
I´m not sure that is the way to go, if you do it purely from the point of making games more "presentable" on the outside, and more crunchy on the inside. If it has a positive effect on the gameplay, if it becomes a better game it´s ok.

Plus, I don´t want to make games for kids who have to tell their parents that the games they are playing aren´t bad. I want to make games. Period. The assumption usually is that the customer is an adult. If not, then specific changes have to be made to acommodate that. Inhowfar that´s useful I don´t know, as kids play everything anyways, but I do believe that not all games are for everybody.

I guess what I´m saying is that more emotionally involving gameplay is always good, but that I have a problem with your motivations.

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Are you sure you really want the player to experience a more violent game? An adrenaline rush is one thing, bloodlust is completely different.

I was playing the demo for Serious Sam a few days ago. My dad walked in (as I was in the work room where my computer resides.) Taking a look at the game he scoffs, "one of those games?!" Oddly, I felt kind of embaressed at that point for playing something where blood and giblets fly astrew nearly every second. I immediately explained to him that I was goint to make everything "bleed" flowers instead (seriously, I would have,) but that feature must be in the full version. His expression remained the same.

I sat there thinking for a moment (isn''t Pause such a nice feature ?) ; "isn''t this the type of game that people played on Ataris, Intellivions, Collecos, and the sort way back when?" Berserk and Robotron came right to mind. Really, the only things different, aside from a few in-level switches and doors, are the graphical and auditory (gr?) representations. Are they any more or less fun if the enemy explodes in to pixels, chunk of flesh, or flowers?

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quote:

Original post by SonicSilcion

Are you sure you really want the player to experience a more violent game? An adrenaline rush is one thing, bloodlust is completely different.



FPSs are trying to be more violent since the beggining. I''d say wanting to make a more violent FPS qualifies as a justified target, wouldn''t you?

quote:

Original post by Hase

Sounds good from the point of realism, but it will make the actual violence worse (if that´s what you wanted), as shooting an enemy who as already surrendered and is lying on the floor crying is far, far more personal and emotionally involving than shooting a faceless badguy.



Hmm, now I''m starting to feel guilty. But, the player would also feel guilty after doing something like this, even if he had his motives of revenge, based on either story or the game. And, as long as the game reacts to actions like this one in a logic way (other soldiers can hear the wounded one crying then the shot then the silence, and become enraged and fight to the last man).

quote:

Plus, I don´t want to make games for kids who have to tell their parents that the games they are playing aren´t bad. I want to make games. Period. The assumption usually is that the customer is an adult. If not, then specific changes have to be made to acommodate that. Inhowfar that´s useful I don´t know, as kids play everything anyways, but I do believe that not all games are for everybody.



Yes, you''re right. OK, then let''s find ways to make a FPS more violent just for the sake of it.

Another idea: I''ve noticed that if for some reason the player _must_ kill an enemy in a certain time frame or with a single shot, the violence level tends to rise:
-very hard X Wing mission where I had to protect some corvettes from tie bomber waves coming from different directions, and I had to shoot down the bombers really fast and run towards the next wave.
- the shotgun factor: If you shoot and miss, you''re most likely dead (CounterStrike at least, Quake more or less). (this applies to other slowly reloading weapons, sniper rifles and so forth)


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quote:
Original post by Diodor
Yes, you''re right. OK, then let''s find ways to make a FPS more violent just for the sake of it.

Another idea: I''ve noticed that if for some reason the player _must_ kill an enemy in a certain time frame or with a single shot, the violence level tends to rise




alright, but I don´t think that the usual way of more gibs is going to do it... violence and all its effects have to be incorporated into the gameplay and story. SOF was pretty violent, it had a rather strong novelty effect and was a real fun action game to play, but the violence didn´t really involve you. Besides, since SOF2 will be coming out soon there is not much to do in that area.

I dont think that the violence rises under time pressure, I´d say it´s lowered. If the player has more time to prepare and plan then usually the ensuing action is much more cruel and violent. If he´s in a hurry he´ll shoot whatever moves, but if he has time with his sniper rifle he´ll go for that elusive throat-shot, or play around for five minutes just getting into position to use his new piano-string....

Violence for its own sake will do nothing, at least not the way it´s done now. The players get accustomed to more bodies pretty fast, the novelty effect of new death animations wears off.


so what we need is emotional involvement



how?

1) less enemies, less killing/destroying - more focus and time spent on an individual enemy. more time to make the enemy "human".

2) more time preparing for an act of violence. the longer you wait for something the better it gets.

3) consequences. every act of violence must have lasting consequences on the game. if the player tries to murder someone and is in real danger of getting killed or caught the rewarding experience will be much greater.

4) more reaction from the environment. This ties in with consequences, but is more focused on the immediate subject of the players violent act. Some of that will include better explosions, elaborate death scenes, but also the feedback already mentioned. People screaming for help, pleading, ...
here the idea of "ghosts" which was discussed here before would work really well. just imagine you´re stalking a guard after killing his two buddies... it would be an emotionally interesting experience just watching him walk around all paranoid.


In the end bloodlust is not the goal, it wears off too soon and is not rewarding enough to captivate the player for longer. What we need is a captivating and exciting experience which does not wear out too soon.

Also, the market for ultra-violent games is not too big right now, as publisher usually try to get to that elusive target group of "everyone".

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You can''t begin too imagine.
MUHAHAHA....ermm
lol

"There''s so much too do, and a lot of you are wasting time.
This is ART dagnammit! get creative or get buried."

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Doesn''t sound like a good idea to me.

Why would we want more violence? We don''t play it so much for the violence, but the challenge of the entire thing. Sure, some blood and guts is cool, and gets a good adrenaline rush, but let''s not push it.

WHen I played Soldier of Fortune, I discovered that you can mutilate bodies extremely easily and realistically. I turned all cold, the adrenaline rush disappeared, and I couldn''t sit in the game for more than half an hour.

Realism is cool, but once people are dead, let''s jsut leave them there. Take Half-Life. You can mutilate bodies, but it isn''t exactly realistic. Hit them with a crowbar a few times and they explode. Interesting to do but not really any real violence. Also, having to dela with the military and monsters means there''s no real emotion involved. Like you said, it''s just another frag. If people are injured, they limp around, but are quite ready to fight, even though they are a lot worse and usually more concerned with their leg(AI in that game is amazing).

You seem just sick and generally mentally not quite right. Not wrong, just not quite right.

Mass war is probably the best way to go, not some sort of game where you have this person cringing under you. Then you turn into like an Evil Terminator type of guy. You just blast them apart and feel sort of smug. With mass killing, no real thing stays in your mind and the entire situation becomes surreal, which is again the point of the thing. Shooting lot''s of people who look essentially the same is the same sort of thing. THey make no impression on your mind. ANd besides, games like that will just train the truly mentally disturbed to kill without any emotion. Completely desensitized.

Games are for fun and a temporary adrenaline rush, not all out bloodlust.


-----------------------------
The sad thing about artificial intelligence is that it lacks artifice and therefore intelligence.

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quote:
Original post by Promit
Why would we want more violence?

I couldn''t sit in the game for more than half an hour.



Then obviously violent games are not for you. Don´t play them.
The reason why we "want" more violence is because we came to this conclusion [Diodor]:

"OK, then let''s find ways to make a FPS more violent just for the sake of it."

Which I translate into: let´s discuss ways of incorporating violence into FPS. Which I find rather interesting, as the media culture in general seems to be steered in the direction of more extreme positions. It´s a trend, it´s happening, and it´s not only in games.


quote:
Original post by Promit

once people are dead, let''s jsut leave them there.

You seem just sick and generally mentally not quite right. Not wrong, just not quite right.




Let´s not just leave them there. In "Thief" you could carry corpses around, in "Operation Flashpoint" you can use your shovel to cover them. Even if it didn´t have anything to do with gameplay (as it obviously does in those two instances) I would still discuss the option, as any increase in options (even it ends in butchering corpses) means an increase in realsism / the believability of the game world. And even if the optics aren´t too appealing, the effect on the depth of the gameworld is profound. If a rocket explodes next to a body an nothing happens, the player asks "wtf??". If a body explodes into gibs because you hit it with a crowbar the player has a similar experience. Both instances only increase the distance the player has to the game environment.

I find your "not quite right in the head" comment a litte insulting, you are entitled to your opinion of course, but I had hoped that we could discuss the issue of violence (which is a very real one as the recent and less recent developments in games have shown) without resorting to that kind of "arguments" so soon.



quote:
Original post by Promit

Mass war is probably the best way to go.

Then you turn into like an Evil Terminator type of guy. You just blast them apart and feel sort of smug. With mass killing, no real thing stays in your mind and the entire situation becomes surreal, which is again the point of the thing.

ANd besides, games like that will just train the truly mentally disturbed to kill without any emotion. Completely desensitized.

Games are for fun and a temporary adrenaline rush, not all out bloodlust.




I consider "mass war" as you describe it to be even more potentially dangerous than an accurate and emotionally involving depiction of violence. If you anonymise the "enemy", you take away any semblance of humanity, thereby making it less emotionally involving for the player. The player nevertheless performs the action (shooting, hacking, whatever), which is presented in a much more harmless way than it really is. I think this discrepancy is far more dangerous than any illness you might feel from realistic blood on the screen.

I don´t even want to start discussing the "truly mentally disturbed" because it is a very imprecise description. You fear that "they" might learn to kill without any emotion, which is very rarely true of aggressive types of mental illnesses. For instance if a paranoid scizophrenic becomes violent, it´s because he/she can´t control his/her emotions, not because of having learnt to push them away and become a remorseless killer.

One thing you can train with computer simulation is the natural inhibition to kill someone. This is not some kind of mental degradation, it is the instinctive blocking mechanism which holds you back if you have decided to kill and are actively trying to kill somebody. You cannot train around this mechanism by exposing yourself to graphic violence however, the training (which most armies use) focuses heavily on repetition of the sequence in question (pointing a gun at a man-shaped target and firing). Most FPS could be adapted to serve as a tool for this kind of training, but that is not the question here, neither is the killing inhibition in general, as graphics quality has only little effect on the success of this training. In that respect we would be discussing an issue ten years too late. In any case, it has little relevance to this discussion, as this kind of desensitisation it focuses on mentally stable (sane) people who have consciously made the choice to kill.

Desensitising yourself to graphic violence or bloody scenes is another thing, in the long run it will probably be possible to achieve this with computer games (not yet, the level of graphics is not sufficient to provide truly realistic images). However, this will not make any difference in any situation where the harming or killing of another person is the focus, sensitivity to gore does not affect the deceision nor the ability to hurt. In addition to that, a high tolerance to gory scenes will not make you a better murderer, it is something that comes to count only after something has happened. It will however make you a better paramedic. Even in that case I would rather suggest reviewing accident photos, as the gap between games and photorealism is still too great.

I agree on you final point, games are for fun and the adrenaline rush. A gorefest will eventually provide none of the two. The adrenaline wears off and the repetition will become boring. However, if the violence is carefully set in scene and used sparingly, it will be much more effective in creating excitement and a rewarding feeling upon success. Violence in games should have a reason and be used sparingly, but editing out the blood will not change the underlying mechanisms, it will only serve to create a greater rift between the consequences of a violent act seen in a game and in real life. Which I believe is one of the more interesting points of violence in the media.

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well, since the other thread is pretty much dealing with the background issues we could get this one back on track...


so how do we evolve the "violent" genres, how do we make in-game violence.. better? more effective? different?

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The way most FPS are now...you see the bad guy trying to advance on you...you shoot him and watch him die...pretty much it...we see him as a ''live'' being for a bit..then he is just gibs on a wall...there is nothing for the player to become attached to, to relate to...heck most of the time after the guy has died he vanashes...so maybe it would be a good idea to expand on the concept of death in such games...

currently there are two solutions...
1) I''ll call this the "mashed potato" version, which is essentualy what we now have..guy dies...after a few seconds-minutes he dissapears (end of story)

2) This one I''ll call the "sack of potatos"...the guy dies and his body can be dragged around in an effort to hide it...this is better...but still it''s limited...players usually only relate to the body in ''puzzle'' game terms (that is "where can I put it so I don''t get caught) to them the body is just another ''thing''...not real

I dunno...maybe we should give the enemies a real sense of identity with a history? Rather then treat them as puzzle pieces and props...sort of force the player to attend the funeral and look into the eyes of the dead man''s wife and kids...

Heres an idea...give the player multiple "game over conditions"...not just through his own death...but through other more arbitrary ways as well...perhaps the player in a adventure/FPS/RPG type game is in control of a middleaged mafia muscle-man...he has a wife and a young teenage son (who wants to follow in the players footsteps)...let the player ''role play'' weather or not he will allow the son to join in...this could be fun as you can hint throughout the game that the players son could be better at the job then the father is...the game could basicly revolve around two dueling mafia families...basicly make it a simulation...not in how weapons work and such...but more in how the players actions have consiquences in a more limitied situation...given the mafia family nature...all the characters could be inner related to each other in complex ways...thus killing "Vito" could cause a different reaction at one point in the game, then if done at another point...and by limiting the number of charaters (all useing unique 3D models, etc..) and with the added detail of family, history, and such...it could make the violence more ''personnal'' to the player (maybe the players son was in love with vito''s daughter or some such...and killing her father has an effect on her, and the son)...basicly add more conflict...but of a different nature then what can be simply solved by violence...the game could have a multi-layer AI..one layer dedicated to the character relationships (how they feel about so-and-so, how they react to situations involveing so-and-so,etc..) another layer dedicated to non-combat movement and such (personnel routines, if the top layer says the charactor is edgy because so-and-so is pissed, this layer may direct the charactor to pace the floor, etc..) and finaly a combat layer to deal with gun fights, etc..
Mafia not your thing...then maybe do something like Scream...the player controls the killer, who is locked up in a hotel with 20-30 other guests...maybe even set-it up where the player can chose to be one of the other guests and must figure out who the killer is (a much more elaborite game of ''clue''?)...
the trick would be to create a interesting situation with a limited scope in which players can interact with the NPCs and develop bonds with them...pitting the player against a vast army of identical bad guys doesn''t allow for this

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some of the more violent (feeling) games I''ve played:
Medal of Honor, not the levels with the machine guns, but the clandestine missions where you go in undercover with a silenced pistol. You just wait for the enemy to turn around and then cap him in the back of the head execution style. More than once I found this rather disturbing.
Bushido Blade, not the actual kill but the manner of the kill, or "dishonorable" kill. You''re not supposed to kill a guy when his back is turned, when he''s getting up from a fall, or is otherwise disadvantaged.
Tenchu, especially. The entire point of this game is to avoid one-on-one conflict and to kill the enemy from behind.

Basically, the more assassination like the kill, the more violent. In UT or Quake the other people are shooting back, you need to defend yourself. To the player, it''s not very violent. To the none player, the blood and guts are too violent.

I think a very "violent" game to the player and not to the viewer would be an assassin game where you must climb to the roof, snipe some VIP, then disappear into a crowd of innocent people, leaving only the VIP dead.

True action doesn''t come from mowing down a whole row of baddies. Action comes from walking that narrow edge of death, just barely making it through with your skin intact. I''ve felt more action from Need For Speed in Hot Pursuit mode than from Max Payne. You need to bring the player as close to "death" as possible, without actually going there very often, lest you frustrate the gamer.

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yes... an assasination game would be good, but if it was just climb a roof snipe a vip, and go hide, it''d get old fast. Even better might be a bounty hunter type game, where sometimes the target is worth more alive, and you have to scope out his work to find a way to get him without being caught. And if you did have to make a mess of someone, then you''d have to do something to cover your tracks, increasing the chances of getting caught. With the up close and personal nature of some of the missions, this could be more personal, and more violent. Also, the added effort of having to avoid unnecessary combat would make this type of game inherently less violent to watch (since most of the time would not be spent killing things).

An idea somewhat similar to MGS2, where you can go throughout the entire game and only have to kill a couple of people. Quite often you are running around trying to hide, because if you kill/stun the gaurds who are supposed to report in every so often, then when their next report is due, the others start getting suspicious, and send a squad in to check out the situation.

J.W.

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Learn to use the hostages in Counter-strike as Shields and platforms to jump up to really high areas (ie sitting on the roof or floating in the sky four stories up). If you have enough cash, shoot through them. Lets face it, you''ll probably die anyway and its just a game.

Oh yeah, hostages are great fun in areas filled with smoke. Really gives the enemy snipers a bad time in really smokey areas when you run around in circles. Just leave the hostages on around 15 or less hit points.

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