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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #1
A Black Falcon
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A good read. I don't agree with every point, but it's pretty good...

http://www.pointlesswasteoftime.com.../manifesto.html
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #2
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"Microsoft also plans to greatly expand its online network in its next generation, letting players and developers form their own marketplace, selling in-game content for real-world cash via small micro-transactions. Racing game enthusiasts, for example, will be able to buy a faster car to give them an edge in the game for a slight bit more..."

Finally, we can have a game world where, like the real world, the rich kids have all of the cool stuff! While you're fighting for 50 hours on an XBox roleplaying game to get the +50 Magical Shield of Shielding, some snotty kid just went out and bought one with real-world money thanks to his $150.00 weekly allowance from Daddy!

I really hope MS never does something like this EVER.

That was a great read. Just about everything there was right on target.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #3
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MS desperately needs ways to make money off the X-Box, since they sure aren't making any from the hardware, so I wouldn't exactly be surprised... this already exists for PC MMORPG's, of course, but at least it's restricted to just those games... most companies try to fight it, but Sony gave in and now has a site for selling ingame stuff for real money... just to reduce on the scamming and stuff, of course... the fee they pay Sony to get listed has nothing to do with it!

But yes, pretty much all of those 20 points are right on target.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #4
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It's what we've been saying for years.

With Nintendo taking the number 1 spot, it all comes down to "If they want to". They want to take it without being aggressive, which I dont understand... maybe they just want to spend as little money possible?
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #5
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I don't mind that too much if it stays in MMORPGs, particularly since that's not a genre that I play too much or at all really. But, if they start selling games in small parts, I'll sell my Xbox360 [if I get one] and never touch it or its games ever again.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #6
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With Nintendo taking the number 1 spot, it all comes down to "If they want to". They want to take it without being aggressive, which I dont understand... maybe they just want to spend as little money possible?

I think that's definitely part of it, but the biggest part is simply that they are doing what they think is right... whether or not it'll actually help them or not. And, of course, what they think is right is being driven by what they think the Japanese market needs, not the American one... oh well.
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I don't mind that too much if it stays in MMORPGs, particularly since that's not a genre that I play too much or at all really. But, if they start selling games in small parts, I'll sell my Xbox360 [if I get one] and never touch it or its games ever again.

It's annoying enough as it is, with just that one genre affected... this would be a horrible, horrible idea for MS to try. I definitely also hope it doesn't happen.

As for the article... it's a good list. The only problems come from challenge -- doing some of those things, like much better AI, no invisible walls, being able to jump over foot-high rocks, and not spend three hours going around to find the pickaxe and destroy the thing (to make up an example), reduce load times, better camera... those things are done as they are because it's so much harder to do them well. Not every team can. Still, there should be more of an effort made on those issues than there is now, for the majority of games, and the article is absolutely right to criticize them.

The other major category there is marketing... advertising the CG and not the ingame graphics, saying games are longer than they are, or have more features than they do (or making up irrelevant 'features' for the bullet-list) etc. This is done as it is of course because the companies know people are gullible and will listen... those kinds of things I just don't expect to see change. Not with the human race involved, anyway... the advantages of using deceptive marketing are just far too great for this kind of stuff to change, sadly.

Anyway... the best part is undoubtedly #14.

Oh, there is one I disagree on... #19, jumping puzzles in FPSes. When done well they can work just fine, as Jedi Knight for example shows.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #7
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I mind it being done in ANY game. Just because we don't touch a genre doesn't mean it won't touch us. That is to say, my conjecture is there's not much of a real market border that seperates what they do with one type of game from how they deal with another...

So basically, a company like Sony saying "hey, let's open up a "sanctioned" online market on our site where people can buy and sell armor, only with REAL money, thus promoting a career of people taking all that stuff in game, depriving the normal players of it, and skyrocketing the in-game economy so the people who don't pay real money for... fake money, are faced with literally paying thousands for second level gear or something.

I... keep up on the politics of these games... I have been ever since Penny Arcade made that comic about beaming an unruly rabble in SWGalaxies into space...

At any rate, Sony seems to be intent on creating a world and then giving everyone all the tools they need to destroy it. Virtual inflation has never been so easy. It's yet another reason I don't plan on touching those games. Rich kids always prosper there.

But at any rate, can you really see that not bleeding over into other genres? It's already started. You can pay for additional bits of content for games like Splinter Cell already, or just not GET it. Now the different right now is fair, that's content they made AFTER the game was released. On the other hand, you have something like Jade Empire's special edition. Remember that added content? Well, turns out that extra content is in EVERY SINGLE VERSION of the game, but the special addition buyers get an extra disk that saves an "unlock" file to the hard drive which all the games check for to see if they'll let you get that. And that, is ripping people off. Nintendo isn't immune to this either. Remember all that extra content they locked away unless you used a transfer pack or special cable? It wasn't new content, it was content that was already ON the disk but programmed to only be accessible if you bought more crap and linked it up.

The next step is to make the first few levels of a game, sell it for 10 bucks, then make a few more and sell that for the same price, and then cancel the game when people, rightfully so, don't BUY incomplete games.

Wait until movies are done like this, or books!

...oh wait...
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #8
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The next step is to make the first few levels of a game, sell it for 10 bucks, then make a few more and sell that for the same price, and then cancel the game when people, rightfully so, don't BUY incomplete games.

Yes, this has been mentioned... wouldn't it be fun?

Oh right, it kind of happened, with Majestic... we need more of that!
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But at any rate, can you really see that not bleeding over into other genres? It's already started. You can pay for additional bits of content for games like Splinter Cell already, or just not GET it. Now the different right now is fair, that's content they made AFTER the game was released. On the other hand, you have something like Jade Empire's special edition. Remember that added content? Well, turns out that extra content is in EVERY SINGLE VERSION of the game, but the special addition buyers get an extra disk that saves an "unlock" file to the hard drive which all the games check for to see if they'll let you get that. And that, is ripping people off. Nintendo isn't immune to this either. Remember all that extra content they locked away unless you used a transfer pack or special cable? It wasn't new content, it was content that was already ON the disk but programmed to only be accessible if you bought more crap and linked it up.

It's something that is so simple to implement, so cheap to do, and such a potentially large moneymaker that I don't think many companies will be able to resist... I'm hopeful, though. Most PC games don't pull such stunts, only MMORPGs... and pay mini-addons never went anywhere. Sure, pay expansions have, but those give you a lot of content... some of the stuff they want to charge you for on X-Box Live sound like things you would be getting free with patches, if it was a PC game. Charging just because you can is wrong... but lucrative. So companies are bound to try it. And they do.

As for Nintendo's connectivity-unlocked stuff, that's a pure marketing tactic to get people to buy GBAs and GBA-GC link cables. Simple as that. It didn't work as well as Nintendo hoped, though... But yes, restricting access to parts of the disk unless you buy another product, or releasing "new" versions of the game that change nothing, is wrong. Absolutely.
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So basically, a company like Sony saying "hey, let's open up a "sanctioned" online market on our site where people can buy and sell armor, only with REAL money, thus promoting a career of people taking all that stuff in game, depriving the normal players of it, and skyrocketing the in-game economy so the people who don't pay real money for... fake money, are faced with literally paying thousands for second level gear or something.

And don't forget /pizza...
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #9
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Jumping in FPS's is almost always annoying. It works beautifully in the Prime series but then that series is 50/50 on action and exploration, not really a FPS.

Goldeneye and PD are the hight of FPS's to me, and I thank God they dont have jump buttons. PD's "Cant jump, but you can fall" is the perfect way to incorporate 3-D movement in a FPS, the next logical step would be less or zero gravity-like controls. I imagine the rocketpack in PDZ to be something like that. But we'll see.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #10
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I prefer /panda

Jumping puzzles are stupid in an FPS. Jumping in and of itself? Not so much.

What I mean is, it's nice to actually be able to jump across a pit when you are in the upper part of a level. I do think that, maybe, jumping in the next PD should be done like it is in Zelda. That is, when you run to an edge, you automatically do a long jump, though not much height. What do you think of that as a solution lazy?
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #11
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It works beautifully in the Prime series but then that series is 50/50 on action and exploration, not really a FPS.

One of the few FPSs to attempt jumping and to get it right.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #12
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Jumping in FPS's is almost always annoying. It works beautifully in the Prime series but then that series is 50/50 on action and exploration, not really a FPS.

Goldeneye and PD are the hight of FPS's to me, and I thank God they dont have jump buttons. PD's "Cant jump, but you can fall" is the perfect way to incorporate 3-D movement in a FPS, the next logical step would be less or zero gravity-like controls. I imagine the rocketpack in PDZ to be something like that. But we'll see.

My favorite FPS is Jedi Knight, and it has not just a jump button but jumping puzzles... but it's also got a nice third-person camera, quicksave, and ... um, really awesome gameplay and level design?

Now, JK2 and JK3 may be another story, but in the first game, it works great.

Why is it better to not be able to jump? It just restricts you... speeds up the action perhaps, and makes it easier to hit people, but it's restrictive. I like to be able to jump... or, even better, use a jetpack... (Tribes Vengeance is good, darnit...)
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #13
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Well if it switches to 3rd person for the jumping sections, then I guess it could be good.

But anyway, jumping's fine in a purely FPS so long as they don't actually really... use it in any complicated sense. I don't mind jumping over pits here and there, but I don't want to be jumping from various moving platforms to others. Not sure I explained myself very well...
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #14
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Well if it switches to 3rd person for the jumping sections, then I guess it could be good.

No, you choose the camera... there is one camera option though -- to have it autoswitch to third-person when you use the lightsaber. Good idea, because it's a whole lot easier (and cooler!) to use the saber in third-person... As for the jumping, it is there. You'll have to jump over pits. Some are instant-death. But... read my review of JK: MotS. (as in, the level design, IMO, is one of the best parts of JK) Maybe in some cases it's bad, but I have no problem with it in JK...

As for other FPSes with jumping... hmm, I'm sure I have played some... um, I remember playing Turok 1 several years back, but not enough to really say...
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But anyway, jumping's fine in a purely FPS so long as they don't actually really... use it in any complicated sense. I don't mind jumping over pits here and there, but I don't want to be jumping from various moving platforms to others. Not sure I explained myself very well...

Jumping on piles of crates! ... or, even better, crates that you stack yourself, like Trespasser!

... yeah, he has a very good point about how stupid crates are. And really, why must we SMASH them? Why can't we just open the things? And make them boxes or something... because he's right, how often do you see crates in real life?

FPSes are far from the only genre to abuse the crate, too...
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #15
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Well once in a warehouse there were like a LOT of crates, but for what reason can they come up with for you to be in a warehouse?

As far as "do I HAVE to blow the thing up?" that is a great question!

I think one game has really brought that point forward more than most, at least for me.

Xenosaga (I still don't have episode 2) has a "feature" introduced at the start. There is an item called a... well it doesn't really matter what it's called. It's an arm mounted sonic cannon that blows stuff up. Basically, the idea is environmental interaction. Remember, this is an RPG with towns and NPCs. However, an ENTIRE button and a major interaction feature amounts to blowing up random garbage. From cars to boxes to, yes, crates, you just blow stuff up when the cursor highlights them saying "you can blow THIS up too!". It's really pretty... stupid. Give me item interaction, but yeesh, an ENTIRE game feature dedicated to my character just blowing stuff up? Perhaps you should play it to really see just how out of place it seems. It's not an action game for the most part, but when you are walking around a populated space station just talking to people and you BLOW UP a CAR right NEXT to a guy and he doesn't even flinch, and you BLEW IT UP just to get the item inside, well, there's a problem. Couldn't she just OPEN THE DOOR or something? I'm all for random looting in my RPGs, but yeesh at least give me SOME credit. I'd rather my interaction with stuff be a little... item specific at the very least. If there is a door in my path, I COULD just open it instead of EXPLODING it. If it can't be opened, maybe a bash command? I don't see why I need to cause everything to literally explode Monolith! Boxes? I could just OPEN those, as ABF pointed out. All in all, it's a very stupid feature that more or less kills a chunk of immersion.

Oh, that brings up the point about power scales being a little, contrived.

In Zelda, for example, about midway through the game Link is strong enough to hurl around 50 ton bolders and literally smash them against a nearby wall. He's strong enough to cut a giant beast to ribbons, and powerful enough to run INTO a wall and break it down. Why then does he have to find a key to open a wooden door just because it's locked? I could go on and talk about how his sword of the ancients that is sharpened to a quark's edge is deflected by TREES but I won't because I understand the myriad of glitches that would have to be dealt with if total environmental destruction was designed into it (and from experience I can tell you that IS very doable on current hardware, VERY, it's just that it is VERY easy to get a character stuck beyond all reason and glitch up pretty much everything, and also there's the RAM that has to keep track of all that). Instead I'll just focus on stuff like that. If I'm wearing mitts that give me the strength of a titan and just RIPPED the STONE entrance to the thief's den off a statue, don't tell me I can't just break down that wooden door on my own. I'll take deus ex-planations aplenty mind you, like "the door is magical" or "the door is actually a force field", but not that stuff.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #16
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The doors in the dungeons are actually magical though, some of them only open if you kill everything in the room. *does that shrugging thing*

An auto jump in PD?

*imagines playing it*

Hmm... I dunno. If I could auto jump from one scaffolding to the next then yes, or a perfect example would be the room in the Complex with the vent shaft and the hall way in to the large room with the ladder to the roof. In that room with the vent shaft there are ledges along the walls, if you could auto jump from one ledge or the other or fall straight down if you prefer, I think it would be really awesome.

But I would much prefer a hover mode like the tank uses in Blaster Master. You run for a ledge, fall off, use your 1 second of hover and reach the other side. It could also keep you from dying from the black pits of doom... that you can stand on.

Now, on top of all that, I would like to have that zero gravity function... like run at a wall, turn on zerograv and you can run up or across the wall Matrix style and do flips. *drools* That would be awesome in a FPS.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #17
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You know, something like that, only (since in zero g you'd actually end up kicking yourself OFF the wall into empty space where you would be at the mercy of a stray breeze) magnetic instead.

Yeah, I can see that. Get the magnetic boots hidden in a level and then just run to any wall and your whole perspective shifts. Now run up the wall and aim from a corner with a sniper rifle. OOOOH that would be so frickin awesome! The designers would need to keep some corners shadowy, or out of the way enough that they aren't in plain view, but it could be done! If you want, give those boots a battery limit so you can only hang around for a while before gravity (the weakest of all the fundamental forces) takes hold again.

Jumping over pits. It would be optional the same way Zelda does it. If you run full tilt at the edge, you jump. If you walk to the edge, you fall. Only, you don't ledge grab. Oh sure, at first you'd think ledge grabbing would be great in an FPS, until you get totall killed by EVERYONE the first time you try it .

Oh wait, I noticed you said "do flips", okay that suggest you actually would like to be able to jump around in a game in certain situations...

Anyway, one thing's for sure, "air jets" (those things that shoot you straight in some specific direction really far and really fast) are a very great addition to FPS games. Those add some interesting aspects when WELL PLACED in good level design.
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Tue, May 31st, 2005   #18
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Well once in a warehouse there were like a LOT of crates, but for what reason can they come up with for you to be in a warehouse?

As far as "do I HAVE to blow the thing up?" that is a great question!

I think one game has really brought that point forward more than most, at least for me. (etc)

Why can't a game for once just have me open the boxes... okay, KotOR did. But it compensated by having extreme repetition... walk over, hit button, watch the animation for that box (and there are like three kinds so you see each one a lot), etc... but I do prefer it to the alternative of blowing them up like usual.

I mean really, when faced with a room full of boxes... normal people would either ignore them or open them. Blowing them all up is just stupid... in the real world, such actions would probably be too likely to harm the contents of the crate, after all.

... oh, and isn't it great when crates not just break, but explode? Yeah... that makes sense...
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In Zelda, for example, about midway through the game Link is strong enough to hurl around 50 ton bolders and literally smash them against a nearby wall. He's strong enough to cut a giant beast to ribbons, and powerful enough to run INTO a wall and break it down. Why then does he have to find a key to open a wooden door just because it's locked? I could go on and talk about how his sword of the ancients that is sharpened to a quark's edge is deflected by TREES but I won't because I understand the myriad of glitches that would have to be dealt with if total environmental destruction was designed into it (and from experience I can tell you that IS very doable on current hardware, VERY, it's just that it is VERY easy to get a character stuck beyond all reason and glitch up pretty much everything, and also there's the RAM that has to keep track of all that). Instead I'll just focus on stuff like that. If I'm wearing mitts that give me the strength of a titan and just RIPPED the STONE entrance to the thief's den off a statue, don't tell me I can't just break down that wooden door on my own. I'll take deus ex-planations aplenty mind you, like "the door is magical" or "the door is actually a force field", but not that stuff.

Actually, it's nota good idea to try to cut down trees with swords, it dulls the blade quickly and isn't very effective... no, the problem with trees is different: in real life, you can walk between them.

Of course, with all of the issues you mentioned, there are very simple explanations... namely, that you need to have puzzles to solve, and that they can't build everything or account for every possibility. What fun would it be if you could just blast through everything in a Zelda game, ignoring most of the puzzles? Yeah, not as much... I think the 3d Zeldas actually do a good job of this, with bars appearing on the doors when it locks you in, being able to go over fences, etc... they've got improbably placed walls, and tree-walls for forests, but as I said, that's simply a reflection of the fact that you cannot expect anyone to build an entire planet. You can only do so much level design, especially if you want it good, and for a game that has a puzzle as well as an action element you need SOMETHING to keep people from just running around your puzzles... so you end up with unrealistic, and sometimes unsatisfying, elements that are annoying but have great explanations for their existance... and would be very, very hard to change. I mean really, it'd be much harder to come up with realistic reasons for forcing you to follow the path the game wants to follow than it is to just drop in invisible walls or uncrossable fences!

Pen and paper RPGs have this solved, of course, because there's a live DM to try to steer things in an appropriate direction. No programming can match a live person. So instead, the only option we've got is restrictions... it's impossible to make a computer or console RPG with the depth of choices of the pen and paper games (this might not be true forever, but it sure is now...), so you need to accept some level of unrealism. It's annoying at times for sure, but there's just no way for, say, a D&D game to allow Dimension Door (very nice teleport spell...) and still have much in the way of puzzles or preset encounters... and without a human DM to compensate, the game is doomed.
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Wed, June 1st, 2005   #19
Dark Jaguar
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You know, I always saw the whole "EVERYTHING bursts into flames, including BOOKS" as a sort of running gag in Goldeneye. I mean, a TOY helicopter in one level, from what I recall, is the MOST powerful explosive ever devised. It's not realistic at all though, and it's odd that they keep repeating it. Movies do the same thing though... action movies anyway... Look, I understand that a car that explodes is more action packed than a car that is simply disabled and can't be driven any more, but does EVERYTHING have to have maximum action potential? Just once I really REALLY would like to see a physically accurate movie like that. I want to see if it really is impossible to make a good movie with the contraints of having to obey the laws of physics. Let's just... give that a try, can't we? For example, someone blasted with a shotgun NOT being blown back (imagine the equal and opposite reaction from that, if that were the power level of a shotgun blast your arms would be ripped off, or you'd at least be thrown back yourself), and for example, shooting lasers would not be visible. Now, let me just point something out. I REALLY think you can get a good action packed and suspenseful scene with lasers you can't see in midair. I think it could look COOL. Imagine if you will some red light appearing right by a guy's head,that just burnt some of the ship's hull. Suddenly he's running for cover and you see all sorts of these burn marks appearing all around him (because well, he's the hero and horrible accuracy on the villian's part is still fine). Or, they could hit a steam pipe or some other semi-opaque substance could be sprayed about the room so you can see PART of the laser's path. Oh and, please stop saying "it's an infrared beam" and then immediatly proving it's not infrared, it's RED, by spraying some hairspray on it to SEE it. Do they even know what infrared means?

Okay, rant mode off.

Yes, I fully understand the limitations there. But, you know, Link is using the indullible MASTER SWORD. Wood dulling the blade isn't an issue with that.
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Sat, June 4th, 2005   #20
A Black Falcon
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DJ, you know sometimes fantasy is more interesting than reality... like, doesn't it make an action movie look cooler to have all those cars blowing up instead of just being broken? Though yeah, some conventions (like that "dust or something and invisible beams become visible") are kind of lame, but movies on the whole have never pretended to be accurate... I know, 'it's just entertainment' doesn't excuse it all away, but it explains it.

I guess the question is how much it should be excused... and I'm not sure. Somewhat, because some things really do help make things more interesting (like hyperspace flight or sound in space, for instance), but others... yeah, some of those things (like the crate... ) really should go away... usually-slower-than-light visible-light lasers? I'm conflicted. I mean, if you made them follow the real rules for lasers (instant hit, invisible beam, etc) fights would probably be a lot quicker and perhaps less interesting... I don't think it'd be right for all scifi. Maybe some of the more realistic stuff, yeah, though...

Oh and DJ, how about Star Trek-style exploding consoles? Those are so stupid...
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Mon, June 6th, 2005   #21
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DJ/ Magnetic boots wouls be too loud. How about an upgrae that gives you micro-needles on your gloves, arms, feet and legs so you can do the Spiderman shuffle? You could scale most surfaces to find good sniper points.

But the whole idea behind the less or no gravity would allow you to do matrix moves. Of course it would be limited but imagine being chased in a death match and you run up to a wall, run up it and flip over the person behind you or flip over the person behind you and on to a ledge above. A matrix style move without any slow motion so it stays fast and fluid. You could run sideways along the wall ala Prince of Persia as well.

You could then even have a weapon that has a secondary function like an ECM mine that effectively disrupts another player's ability to go zero G.

Remember in the first Turok how there were these spires of water? You could run along the coridors, fall in to a spire of water (with full 3-D movement) and exit it wherever you wanted to re-enter the coridor. In a way, that's how I want the zero G to act in PD, or other FPS's.

On the same note, PDZ needs to have the ability to take mines off of you. If you get a mine stuck on you there should be a way to remove it or shake it off. In PD, if you have a shield the mine bounces off you. But if you have a mine already attached to you and then grab a shield it stays. So just make it so that if you already have one attached and then you grab a shield, it kicks any mines off your body.

I also thought of mines that cause different things to happen. Like a mine that causes you to have low accuracy or reverses controls. Maybe a mine that that causes you to stick to the floor so you cant move or even have mines with alternate purposes. Like take that mine that causes an enemy to have less accuracy, use it on your own teammate with the secondary function and give him better accuracy (better grouping of bullets, better auto aiming). It could be really cool.
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