My Rant about the Current State of Shooters
For the record I wrote this after trying to play a few games of Halo: Reach
So here it is 2011 when more people play games than ever before and the shooter community is growing. So why are the games being watered down to a state of over-rewarding, gimped feature sets? This is something that I truly don’t understand because, well people play games to have fun and some because they like to sort of break down mental puzzles of gameplay or patterns within the games system. Now I started out in online shooters back in the days of Socom II with no pointless reward system but a valuable ranking system. I wasn’t the greatest player ever but when I finally traded in my cookie for a pair of wings and then lost them only to get them back, I valued that more than anything. As I am sure that most people from the Socom II era enjoyed and valued as well. The same with Halo 2, you could actually lose rank, which made people appreciate their rank and try to maintain a certain level of skill not to lose it.
The problem with games today, they reward you for actually being terrible at the game. I almost puked in my own mouth while playing in the Socom 4 beta when I was the first one to die and it said weakest link with a +15 xp on the screen…. What? I get points for getting killed, when is that something that you should reward in a shooter!?!? Now I know, this is the COD formula, but if you look back to the year Modern Warfare was introduced, the masses didn’t flock to it because of the reward system. It was because the gameplay mechanics where right and the game looked photorealistic. It has nothing at all to do with the reward system that seems to infect every shooter now. I don’t mind the unreal tournament presentation style of rewards; I just mind the rewards themselves. There are too many, which makes each one less valuable than the last ten you just got. So guess what this does to the people that play the game, they start to care less about it and they take the game less seriously because it is always constantly giving them something for next to nothing. I’m not against all of it as this does fit the COD series because of the checks and balances that the game structure has to compensate for it.
I’ll talk about it briefly since I also have other points to make. Ask yourself these questions while taking into consideration what happens when these events occur. Now think about Halo and COD and think about how one of these games takes itself a bit more seriously over the other in the way they are set up for online play. Now they both have an overly generous reward system right? Xp, credits, armor unlocks, daily challenges, etc. Okay no problem there right? Okay what about the ranking system; do you lose rank in COD? How about Halo? I have yet to lose rank in either game. Even when I do terribly I get so many points and I never see a minus xp ever. Now think about this, what happens when someone quits in Halo? Does their rank go down? I have yet to see this as well. What about COD? Oh, when people leave a game in COD they are replaced so that the ones who stay, don’t suffer, that’s cool. But what about Halo when you are constantly playing with half a team or less? Oh and don’t forget if you quit too many times you have to wait 15 minutes before you can get in your next game. Well no one loses rank, you are just there to get murdered because well, you have just quit a few matches already because people on your previous teams quit on you so you obviously would quit too rather than spend 5 minutes listening to the countdown tone that occurs when you get killed because the game keeps spawning you right near the enemy to get destroyed.
This is my gripe with Halo: Reach, although it is a good game gameplay wise, the matchmaking structure does not support that COD model of over- rewarding. Now if Rank were important like in Halo 2 people would be less likely to quit unless they really didn’t care about the game at all. Now Modding aside in Halo 2, how many level 30’s do you remember quitting a game two minutes into a match? Not a whole lot because anybody with a 30+ in Halo 2 was a good player and wasn’t going to just lose it because of quitting a game that just started. Now modding was another story, but the point I’m making is people play Halo because they like halo and Halo’s reward and ranking system. The COD ranking system does NOT fit the structure of what Halo: Reach is trying to do because there is no incentive to try to make a miraculous comeback if you are getting owned in the beginning of the game. Give me a rank that matters and I will care more to play the game out. If I leave penalize me by taking my rank in the same manner that Halo 2 did, same goes for Socom but like how Socom 2 operated. It will breed better play and fewer shenanigans.
This is the second thing that I want to address because it seems that as the industry grows, it wants to kill the community aspect of its games. I, for the life of me don’t understand why games don’t have fully functional clan or group features that Socom II and Halo 2 (until Bungie axed it) had. This really baffles the mind. I mean are we going backwards or did we lose sight of the important things solely for the sake of Graphical fidelity. I’m not saying that I want crappy looking games, but we are better served with good games that expand on features better than they did in the last iteration of the franchise. Halo 2 had ranked matches and Ranked Clan matches, were did that go? I mean do devs want people to play their games less? I used to play both regular ranked and Clan ranked matches. We used to have meetings trying to come up with different strategies on each map trying to be the best clan we could be. This was a lot of fun because it encouraged teamwork and emergent gameplay from a group of people with different ideas on how to win as a team. Why isn’t this something that devs want anymore?
Socom is a totally different beast, since Socom 4 will only have quick matches and no lobbies for ranked and clan matches. I don’t understand this. Without Lobbies, what happens to giving players control to set and agree on rule sets before playing. All of this makes no sense when all other Socoms had quick match options along with lobbies. Honestly me or anybody else should not have to ask these questions when we support these games for reasons that these devs seem to want to take away. I understand the need for growth, but devs are taking away elements that made them great and then turn around and tell the consumer, “Well you have to learn to like new things.” Well guess what, we do like new things, on top of what makes a game franchise popular. The consumer doesn’t really see the goods till they buy the game so people that bought Halo 3 were expecting a better Halo 2. The people who will buy Socom 4 are looking for a better Socom 2 or 3. When you take out the appreciative elements of the game you essentially make it something else. This is why people are voting for a Socom II HD version because they have actually lost faith that the Zipper can actually make a new Socom because they have this need to innovate with new ideas without implementing and iterating on the old ones first.
With everything said, I feel that the companies that make shooters lost what was important in shooters and left game players out to dry for the ones who will only play their games for 2 to 3 weeks out of the year. Yes I know, untrue statement to a degree, but I believe there is some relevance in that statement.
Fixing The Problem
The reason that people get upset, especially with the shooter genre is because well, games are expensive and the development team seems to either listen too much to the community or not at all. On some level, the statement that gamers don’t know what they want is true, however, this does not apply to a hardcore gamer. So I think the first thing to do is weed out the hardcore from the person that wants to complain for the sake of complaining. This will go a long way in satisfying both the casual crowd and the hardcore. Most games are not anomalies like COD, which in my eyes is an arcade shooter. So there needs to be some sort element that your hardcore fans can find that resonates with them to keep them playing even when the next shooter comes out. With that said, separate and analyze the feedback, create different modes for each party if need be, this would help level the playing field and keep the game fun for those who want to pick up and play and fun for those hardcore master strategist who will still play your game even when COD 25 comes out.
Get the communities back together, not everybody wants to turn on the game and rush into a battle, give the options to players that will help the growth of community in your game. I don’t understand how multiplayer has become an important aspect in almost every shooter, yet it fails to create a real community setting that games set the bar for years ago. I mean it should be more players, more community features. We should not be going backwards. I’d rather stay in the game and tweak certain things versus getting on my PC or Mac and editing profiles on an extremely large forum where my post don’t really mean anything.
The reward systems are okay for arcade style shooters, but games like Socom do not support this style of play, at least not in the classic mode. So bring back the ranking systems that actually mean something. Anything that you can lose is much more valuable than what you can’t. There are ways of curving the reward system, how about not tying the reward system to rank at all. Just have it as a stand alone feature or list of accomplishments of the player and let them decide if falling 20 feet off a building is more important than keeping their current rank. Allow rank to be lost if players fall below the standard that they set for themselves. It will definitely make the games more fun and more strategic. Good players will end up teaching bad players through experience and gameplay between players will become diversified, making the game stand the test of time.
Tell me what you think. Send me a message.
My next Blog will be about Lag Compensation and Netcode.
Thanks for reading!!!!!