Yeah, Bioshock deconstructs game narrative in some cool ways, but that wasn’t one of them. The game is still full of video gamey morality, it just has that one seemingly arbitrary exception. It’s still totally cool to kill hundreds of mentally ill people who are trapped in an underwater nightmare city, which kind of undermines the point.
Condemned: Criminal Origins underwater edition… I need to replay that game at some point.
It’s Jungle/Techstep (eng2, ops2, Hydro1), Techno (Shuttle Bays, Med/Sci 1), and a variety of creepy ambient atmospheric music the rest of the time. It is all fitting to the gameplay and setting, and rather varied. It’s an ideal game soundtrack, for me. The only track I’m not a huge fan of but is still fitting and well done is hyrdo1, in my opinion.
Lots of good ideas here. I recall playing resident evil nemesis and every now and then you would have to fight the big mini boss as you progressed. You didnt know when and usually it would drain your ammo and heal ups. Added lots of tension. If shodan clones were running around like mini boss guardians per level....perhaps it provides a feeling of dread when advancing to new area or level.
Instead of “shodan clones”, go for one of her monstrous creations. Shodan is more frightening as an untouchable virtual entity, never physically seen, with seemingly limitless power. When you actually meet her in the end boss fight it feels underwhelming her appearing as a little singular humanoid.
System Shock 1 did it better in that regard.
And yeah, Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis was very well done and something similar could be just as effective in Shock. You never felt safe, at least not until repeat playthroughs where you could master dodging his attacks.
Alternatively to a Nemesis concept rip, just have more Shodan tricks & traps. In SS1 she only sets up ambushes and such occasionally. In SS2 she is allied for most of the game, but doesn’t really try anything once that changes. She has the power to manipulate a wide variety of things so it would be thrilling to see her use it.
I kinda dug what Dark Souls did, where they would have a boss monster, then later in the game it would become a common enemy. May I also suggest a climb function? I would be cool to scale some of SHODAN’s digital creations to look for weak spots.
One thing I would like to see more of is the environment removing the player’s sense of control over his situation. This can be accomplished in many ways:
Dulling the senses (removing light, reducing visibility, reducing audio fidelity)
Physical confinement (small spaces, limited mobility)
Hazards (underwater objectives, heat/cold, vacuum)
Lack of information (Unable to determine location or form of enemies/hazards, conflicting queues)
Weapon/Tool Nerfs (giving weaponry very specific or limited use/reliability)
Story development (clear objectives but uncertain or contraindicating repercussions)
Oddly enough, some of the more frightening and hopeless moments in gaming for me have been with indie games that weren’t particularly “finished”. Somehow the dark, sterile, simply drawn corridors and lack of ambient sounds were all incredibly effective at making me perk up and get my heart racing because any moment something might ambush me out of the black.
The more that can be done to remove the player’s sense of confidence in his own control over the outcome of his actions, the greater the fear response, as fear is a psychological response to the threat of danger and danger is threatening only if you feel like you may not be able to overcome it.
Another thing we need more of is emotional stress in the game. Bioshock had a pretty awful moral choice mechanic, dumbed down to (murder children or don’t murder children) and in both cases you got goodies. Culpability and guilt are more involved than that.
I’d like to see a game give us a good reason to connect with personalities in the game on a deeper level. Don’t use cheap and easy methods like “This person has done heroic things. Therefore he’s a good person and you should like him”. Instead try for something more grounded and imperfect. Establish relationships and exchanges between personalities in the game (whether through logs or videos or w/e) that are just like you might have with a family member or co-worker in real life. Give players good solid relatable material to form an opinion from. Then you don’t have to tempt the player with killing or torturing them. You could have somebody/something else do it even. The mere act of observing an injustice is often enough to elicit a strong moral response through the use of a person’s mirror neurons, part of their empathic system. Have suggestions of implied doom rather than showing it to the player. Let the player’s imagination fill in the gaps so that his interpretation of what he’s about to do may actually be worse than the reality of it.
…and you can reward players too without it being a direct result of their own efforts. Having a flawed but generally decent character do something redeeming or self-sacrificing can be rewarding to the player as well because inwardly we all wish that troubled people could get better and when they do there’s a sense of satisfaction in that because we can experience it vicariously and relate it to our own successes.
I’ve heard people tell me that novels are better than any movie or video game and I never used to believe it because on the surface there is so much missing from ink on paper that we get from the more complete sensory experience of video. However I’ve come to realize that books can achieve what a movie or game may never be able to match. With a book you can hear the innermost thoughts of a character where it would be less than practical to implement in a movie or game. And because your senses of sight and hearing are not being used, your thinking, emotional and creative pathways become more active as you try to create a movie in your head based on what you’re reading. By necessity a player achieves a high level of involvement in the story rather than passively observing something without having to be a part of the input.
For a game to achieve this immersion factor is difficult but by removing key stimuli you can gain back some of what’s lost in gaming. The use of text for example, the deadening of the other senses that I mentioned earlier… these are all accessories that help draw the player in deeper and engage his brain in a more personal way.
I would like to see moral choices which affect the ending, through action–not words
The words part is just precursory to the action. I was just pointing out how important sensory deprivation can be when it comes to engaging the player, with reference to how books achieve this.
I’d like to see more explicit religion and politics in the game world, or references drawing from the real world being addressed in the game. For example, SHODAN sees herself as a god; develop her theology a bit more, maybe she could even have a cult in the game. Kind of like Bioshock. I realise some people hate Bioshock / Ken Levine, for some reason. I personally enjoyed hearing Ryan’s libertarian ranting in the game; most game characters are pretty shallow and it was different having one with a philosophy fleshed out like that.
Real world references like politics and social issues help the player connect with the game world and are generally a good idea but I dunno about the religion stuff. Religion doesn’t really have a place among a highly technical, futuristic, scientific, corporate, unethical demographic with an antagonist comprised of computer logic who thinks she’s in charge. And in both SS games, the NPCs’ reactions to Shodan has always been to try to destroy her, not to have an epiphany and worship her. Now, a particularly weak person might worship her as a tactic to evade death but that’s not a genuine belief that she’s a spirit or something. It’s just “Plan B so she doesn’t kill me”. If it were framed in such a way that she’s managed to take slaves rather than exterminate them, I guess that’s a workable scenario under the right set of conditions but that’s not so much a religion as it is mere subservience.
Hey there was still a chapel in SS2 wasn’t there? Granted that was on the Rickenbacker not the Von Braun, maybe that was to contrast the military types with the scientists. Still think it would be interesting. Actually I’m still wondering if “The Many” is a reference to the demoniac of Gerasa, given that the crew are virtually possessed.
The many certainly has a camouflaged “religion” theme to it and yes the Rick had a chapel, which I was going to mention in my post before I edited it out. Thing is, military organizations, like the Borg, re-enforce homogenization and anything that enhances that is usually in their best interest… things like national pride and religion, because it brings people together and enables them to work towards a common goal. That’s why I don’t think it was included specifically because of its thematic significance. In that sense, the Many would have been a more obvious nod. Nothing wrong with that. I just wouldn’t want to see something overtly “religious” or culty in a science fiction game so if it’s camouflaged like the Many, no problem.
I suggest not dumbing down the game, in fact I think You should make it as hard and as complicated as possible.
And You could do it in a way that won’t reject new players.
- You already have the concept of three different player types (soldier,marine,OSA) except in SS2 those three weren’t that different. In SS3 You can make them different and that way have three completley different gameplays.
Your classical Rambo. Mostly.
You have all kinds of weapons at Your disposal. There’s no much explaning here. This is a choice for casual FPS players or for those who don’t want the complicated gameplay and just want to see the game for a bit and decide wheather to play it as an FPS with RPG elements or try the luck with RPG with FPS elements, so to say.
Kind of human with so many implants it borderlines with cyborg.
Has all kind of implants and sensors in his head for detecting motion, electronics, system nods throughout the ship, system vulnerabilities etc…
Also has all kinds of connectors for interfacing anything electronic on his left hand and therefore can use only right hand to handle objects. No grenade launcher for this guy, machine gun neither. In fact, not being able to reload gives him the option of just using wrench, crowbar or similar and electric handgun (or taser maybe) that he can charge with his internal battery thus sacrificing his own power, and regular pistol until clip depletes.
That’s not a problem thou, because hacker can hack anything on the ship and everything on the ship is connected electronicly. that means:
- Cameras to see where the enemy’s at and which way to go
- Maps to find a clear path, using all the sensors in corridors
- Doors, of corse and crawlspaces, and maintance shafts to avoid enemies. Just remotly opening doors across hallway draws attention of enemies and makes room for run.
- Alarms can be trigered to draw enemies to certan areas to clear the path.
- Hack a security bot to kill enemies for U (that You’ve drawn to that point)
- Enemiy has electronic weapon? Good thing we live in IoT era. Hack his weapon to disable it and run past him while he’s confused about his weapon jaming. Or set it to overload when he fiers so it blasts in his face.
- There are countless ways to play a game without shooting much and it can still be fun.
- And last but the most important.
As opposed to solving a stupid puzzle of some sort like every other game that incorporates hacking does, why not have the actual hacking system. Like U would do on a PC, to certan extent.
If You choose a hacker to play with one has gotta hack. I’m talking about command line therminal, linux like. Set of instructions that one would have to know how to use if You want to hack. Now before You all go crazy with “noone’s going to memorize all the commands and all that s#&t…” let me just stop You right there.
- There’s a game called street hacker, and the whole game is You being rent-a hacker hacking computers through therminal using commands and some tools and scripts, and it’s not complicated one single bit.
With a 15 minute tutorial You would’t have the reason not to try it, and I’ve seen 15 minute tutorials in todays games, they teach You how to run, strafe, jump and look around, it makes me sick. “Use mouse to look around” Really? REALLY?? That’s what mouse is for? So why not spend tutorial time on something new, not something every goddamn player in the world already knows.
- And that left hand I’ve mentioned… You actuly need to find corresponding interface (connector) to connect with the computer through and use tools, scripts and protocols that corespond to that interface. And there’s Your upgrade tree for hacker.
. . .
. . .
. . .
maybe FIRMWARE of some sort …
You get the point.
Lastly hacker can use warious electronics to build specific tools for the job.
Combine wifi card with some microcontroller and LCD, get appropriate firmware and a little modification and You get yourself a sensor for certan type of electronics, say LDC shows locations of interfaces You can connect to, since it’s risky to just rome around a look everyware. Or portable motion sensor…
Psyball fused to left hand permanently, right hand free. Like hacker, limited on weapon usage but with all that psy powers…
Apart from the usual ones, telekinesis, cryo and pyro, push and pull that should work on enemies as well,
Of the top of my head:
- Inducing temporary blindness to the enemy, as long as he doesn’t hear You he doesn’t know where to shoot.
- Paralyze limbs. Enemy falls to the ground unable to get up, walk or do anything for certan period of time.
Say two enemies are behind the corner looking for U, one of them has a shotgun. You have psy power to transfer Your consciousness for a short time (psy bar duration dependent) into any living creature, posesing him, killing the other guy with that shotgun and then commiting suicide effectivly getting rid of both of them. You can use this to activate certan inaccessible switches and open doors from the other side.
I mean with OSA you can really let your imagination take over.
My point is, if You have 3 classes, which You definitly should, You shoud make the gameplay experiance be different. That way You can play the same game three times and all three time it’ll be a completly new kind of game. Also that way You have something for everyone. Hardcore and casual FPS gamers, players that like challenges and those who want something completly new and inovative.
If this is building on Underworld Ascendant, these align very well with the Fighter, Rogue and Mage archetypes. Carrying the baseline functionality of these through to SS3, and then iterating on the skills and featureset would save a lot of time reinventing the wheel.
Keep in mind that those 3 character classes were justified because of the plot involving the UNN. In SS1 you didn’t work for any organization. You were just a freelance hacker. Depending on what the plot ends up being in SS3, having those 3 character classes may be totally inappropriate and I’d be surprised if they magically ended up working the same as they did in SS2.
SS2 dropped the plot with Tommy and Shobecca escaping in a shuttlecraft while the Von Braun was essentially salvaged and presumably the protagonist goes back to a normal life. That’s a pretty open-ended finish to the game and allows for just about anything to continue the story. Having ANOTHER protagonist working for the UNN and having to select a military branch would be pretty stale unless there was some really clever backstory to back it up. They may opt to keep the whole “class” system of character development but may have to disguise it as something other than marine/navy/osa so I would expect that rather than copying an already used archetype.
I hope they drop classes altogether.
But what if your character is left handed and likes to play an instrument in their spare time ?
Fuse the ball somewhere else and leave both hands free. Or let the player choose where to fuse the ball.
What I believe would be important is to have a better balance of weapons/ammunition.
In SS1, I struggled with a shortage of ammo in the first few levels, but finished the game with hundreds of grenades and rounds of ammo I never had to use.
In SS2, the idea of weapon degradation was, in my view, neither realistic nor fun. Modern weapons shouldn’t break down after a couple of hundred shots (or even less). Overheat perhaps, but not go broke.
I also believe there is much potential to make combat more interesting by having different types of weapons deal varying amounts of damage depending on the opponent.
In SS1, for instance you have the Mag Pulse/EMP grenade that is only effective against Robots and gas grenades/stun darts are only effective against mutants. But most other weapons appear to be equally effective irrespective of which enemy you face.
For example: A well-armoured Sec-2-bot should be immune to all bullet weapons (except perhaps assult rifle penetrator rounds), but vulnerable to beam weapons. Some mutants could be “armoured”, too, e.g. like some dinosaurs were, and therefore less vulnerable to bullets, but more vulnerable to gas or explosives etc.
Would be fun for the player to work out which weapon to use on which enemy, and it would also add possible plot elements (e.g., you need to modify/upgrade weapon x on level y to get past enemy z).
Classes aren’t exactly necessary, they were just a way to give you some defining attributes in the beginning of the game, but weren’t limitting of your character’s progression throughout it. The same could be done just by customization of attributes before beginning the game… Or you could just begin raw, evolving your skills from ground zero.
They could even create a “classic mode” where you have no character progression, just like the first game, for the more conservative players. It’s not a difficult mechanic to implement, but your character would be much more overpowered, so the game’s difficulty would need to be adequately altered for this mode in specific.
Be careful. While I favor this in moderation, it could easily turn into some find-the-weakness minigame.
You could do the same thing with locational damage, but as I said, too much of a good thing.