Saturday, July 4, 2015

The more you know...

Is it normal that gamer parents have to have "the talk" with their kids as early as 8? No, I don't mean the birds and the bees. I mean spawncamping, client side cheats, how lag affects multiplayer games, and how to pronounce a word that only has the letters "p", "w", and "n" in it? (And if you're wondering, it sounds like "pone", rhymes with "cone".)

I played first person shooters on PC a long time ago. (Hey - I'm not kidding - 1993 was more than 20 years ago!) My father showed me the demo of id software's "Doom" on his Gateway, and I had played through parts of it at his house. It was so long ago that it was before people customarily used the mouse to aim with. I played through most Doom and Doom II and still hadn't played any multiplayer. I even had the scary blood red Doom cartridge for SNES. When Quake came out, we played the heck out of that demo as well before getting the actual game, and then someone in my office where I worked at the time bought the full version. Not only was the original Trent Reznor soundtrack amazingly spooky, but we realized that you could look around at will (what we now call "freelook") but it was still hard to do. At some point the realization was made that the mouse was essential, because nobody could turn around fast enough with just the keyboard. If you take enough rockets to the back, you'll switch to using a mouse. This was also the same time that we learned how to set up multiplayer. At first, we connected using IPX/SPX because our office wasn't using TCP/IP yet, and once we did start using TCP/IP I would often use Quake's robust command line to help with network troubleshooting after hours. I got a better computer at home, and a better 3D video card. (I want to say that it was a Voodoo card, but that might not have been until Quake 2.) I was still playing over dialup. It was a big deal to go somewhere on the weekend that had ISDN to play against people online. My biggest annoyance in the game was people using a character skin that was painted completely black, as many of the maps in the original quake were rather shadowy. Once I figured out that those files lived on my computer, I could fix them so that they were at least regular, but some players made me mad enough that I changed the player skin to something like this:

I had to convert this from .pcx to even be able to post it.
Spawncamping - the practice of waiting at a spot near where players spawn so you can shoot them before they can get any armor or weapons - was prevalent on certain maps, just because of the geometry of the board. The other odd tactic that arose was luring a group of other players into the water, only to discharge the lightning gun and kill everyone. Sure, you died, but if you did it right you would get more kills than it cost you.

Quake 2 came out in 1997. I was not a fan of the railgun which allowed for instant long-distance sniping, and I was disappointed that they had really nerfed the grenade launcher. I liked the single player game better since the enemies were smarter and there was a tiny bit more story to it, but I didn't really like the multiplayer maps or the weapon selection for the most part. I ended up spending more time playing 4-player local Goldeneye 64 multiplayer instead. I found it more fun to play against people who were actually in the room.

I waited for Quake 3 to come out, and I liked that a lot better even though the railgun was still there, but by then it was rather apparent that my skills had waned - or everyone else had just gotten better. While I still come back to Quake 3 once in a while since I can play it against my kids and still have fun, for the most part I have that "been there, done that" attitude about FPS games.

It took a long time for a game to even get my attention at all - I briefly toyed with Bulletstorm once the price plummeted to nothing only because I hear that it had an interesting whip mechanic. As it turns out it was a weapon that allows you to grab things from a distance, and while it did make for interesting "grab the bad guy from behind cover and shoot him" mechanics, I found myself getting headaches while playing the game.

Considering all of this history, I was really surprised that my older son wanted to pick up the new team shooter "Splatoon" - until I realized that this was a lot different from the standard issue shooter games. One, it's a third person shooter - the camera is behind you like in the Ratchet and Clank games or Resident Evil 4/5/6. Even though it's really only a multiplayer game where two teams of four battle it out, the game is about capturing territory instead of just racking up kills. Since you only spawn at your own team's base, there isn't a lot of spawncamping - and even if there was it wouldn't be very productive.

The game came out Friday May 29. There was an update that weekend that added a map (Port Mackerel), a Ranked mode, and a Zapper weapon. After that they added the Ink Brush, and then more weapons and maps have followed after that.  These were free updates, and it seemed like a good use of the internet on a game like this - it gave them a chance to get game data back from players on the weapons already being used, and they could slowly add in weapons as players got better at the game. This game also makes use of the amiibo characters, but at this point it's just the three specifically for this game - a girl player, a boy player, and a squid. They unlock specific single player challenges, which seems like a little bit mean for amiibos that aren't ever going to make it to the store and are already fetching quite a premium just on rareness.  Nintendo, can't we just play the game without buying more plastic toys?

That reminds me of two more things - today is the first Splatfest day, and I'm going to have to have the other "talk" with my kids.  No, not that - I need to explain to them about scalping on eBay.

1 comment:

Mario said...

I like street fighters games. Great trailers andvery nice blog.