Thinkin' about the Skill Shot system.

Posted by ImBigInJapan (293 posts) -

The Skill Shot system seems like a branch of what I see a growing popularity of score-attack and leaderboard based gaming, and it informs the game design in many ways. These innovative design choices will be a polarizing force when it comes to opinion.  The popularity of the Call of Duty-type shooter has informed our expectations as to what a modern FPS looks like, and regardless of the outcome I do commend Epic and People Can Fly for taking a chance with a game that defies those expectations. 
What we have here is a mutation of the First Person Shooter, and like any mutation, time will tell whether it has the evolutionary chops needed to bear fruit down the line.  
 
Even the competitive Echo mode is simply a score attack challenge.  This is a refreshing change, but only for those who are looking for something new. For those comfortable with the style of  multiplayer in the mainline shooters and who are simply looking for more of that will find themselves disappointed. I myself am not really that excited about the score attack nature of the game, but that is because I am not, in general, a competitive gamer. For many years I've been a  "one and done" player, never going back for "New Game +" or achievement points. Left 4 Dead and its sequel kept me coming back, but that was more on the strength of the social bonds I developed through that game rather than any drive to improve my score. There is an exception, though, and it is recent enough for me to think that I may find some value in that mode of play. Pac-Man CE DX has been one of the few score attack games that hooked me enough for me to care about my score, and has revitalized my interest in iterating the same levels over and over again to improve. The co-operative anarchy mode has potential to hook me though, assuming I can find the same kind of enjoyment in that as I have found in Left 4 Dead for the past two years.  
 
With these points in mind I am very cautiously optimistic about the game. In order for a game based so heavily on leaderboards to have the legs I expect out of a 60 dollar title, it must have both variety and consistency. The variety allows the player to keep finding new ways to score such that the basic mechanics don't feel repetitive. While Pac-Man kept me interested for a little while, eventually the small number of levels and my own limitations in skill caused my interest to wane. For the cost of the game that was acceptable, but I expect a game costing 4 times as much to have far more potential to keep me involved. In terms of consistency, there must be some ability for the player to predict the outcome of an event so that trying the same thing multiple times yields a similar result. Otherwise there is a risk that the player ends up feeling the game is "random" which really can kill enthusiasm in terms of striving to improve. The big design challenge here is that consistency and variety are at odds and a balance needs to be struck. 
 
The demo of the game did not sell me on either variety or consistency. The lack of variety could be attributed to the fact that you get such a tiny slice of play - a 6-8 minute slice of level and 3 weapons is not going to help in giving a player a good sense of scope. From the consistency standpoint I found that some of the physics and AI got in the way of understanding how and why certain skillshots triggered or did not trigger. There were times when I'd rack up big points without really understanding why and vice versa, which made repeating those events a bit tricky. Seeing a flurry of points pop up is only satisfying if I know how the heck I did that.
 
While I'm still cautiously optimistic, the demo did nothing to really help me decide if there was enough meat here to keep me going. What were your thoughts on the demo? Do you feel like there is enough game there to keep you coming back for more?

#1 Posted by ImBigInJapan (293 posts) -

The Skill Shot system seems like a branch of what I see a growing popularity of score-attack and leaderboard based gaming, and it informs the game design in many ways. These innovative design choices will be a polarizing force when it comes to opinion.  The popularity of the Call of Duty-type shooter has informed our expectations as to what a modern FPS looks like, and regardless of the outcome I do commend Epic and People Can Fly for taking a chance with a game that defies those expectations. 
What we have here is a mutation of the First Person Shooter, and like any mutation, time will tell whether it has the evolutionary chops needed to bear fruit down the line.  
 
Even the competitive Echo mode is simply a score attack challenge.  This is a refreshing change, but only for those who are looking for something new. For those comfortable with the style of  multiplayer in the mainline shooters and who are simply looking for more of that will find themselves disappointed. I myself am not really that excited about the score attack nature of the game, but that is because I am not, in general, a competitive gamer. For many years I've been a  "one and done" player, never going back for "New Game +" or achievement points. Left 4 Dead and its sequel kept me coming back, but that was more on the strength of the social bonds I developed through that game rather than any drive to improve my score. There is an exception, though, and it is recent enough for me to think that I may find some value in that mode of play. Pac-Man CE DX has been one of the few score attack games that hooked me enough for me to care about my score, and has revitalized my interest in iterating the same levels over and over again to improve. The co-operative anarchy mode has potential to hook me though, assuming I can find the same kind of enjoyment in that as I have found in Left 4 Dead for the past two years.  
 
With these points in mind I am very cautiously optimistic about the game. In order for a game based so heavily on leaderboards to have the legs I expect out of a 60 dollar title, it must have both variety and consistency. The variety allows the player to keep finding new ways to score such that the basic mechanics don't feel repetitive. While Pac-Man kept me interested for a little while, eventually the small number of levels and my own limitations in skill caused my interest to wane. For the cost of the game that was acceptable, but I expect a game costing 4 times as much to have far more potential to keep me involved. In terms of consistency, there must be some ability for the player to predict the outcome of an event so that trying the same thing multiple times yields a similar result. Otherwise there is a risk that the player ends up feeling the game is "random" which really can kill enthusiasm in terms of striving to improve. The big design challenge here is that consistency and variety are at odds and a balance needs to be struck. 
 
The demo of the game did not sell me on either variety or consistency. The lack of variety could be attributed to the fact that you get such a tiny slice of play - a 6-8 minute slice of level and 3 weapons is not going to help in giving a player a good sense of scope. From the consistency standpoint I found that some of the physics and AI got in the way of understanding how and why certain skillshots triggered or did not trigger. There were times when I'd rack up big points without really understanding why and vice versa, which made repeating those events a bit tricky. Seeing a flurry of points pop up is only satisfying if I know how the heck I did that.
 
While I'm still cautiously optimistic, the demo did nothing to really help me decide if there was enough meat here to keep me going. What were your thoughts on the demo? Do you feel like there is enough game there to keep you coming back for more?

#2 Posted by laserbolts (5444 posts) -

I thought it looked like a lot of fun but I found the dude that was trying to sound badass during the tutorial thing to be really annoying to the point that I think that the characters in this game will stink.  Definitely renting this one though which is unexpected since it was one of my most anticipated games of this year until I played the demo.  Also I noticed that you can't jump in this game which is really dumb for a first person shooter.  Especially a first person shooter that looks like was designed with a lot of obstacles you have to climb over instead of simply jumping.  I dunno its only a demo so i'll leave it to the full version to give my final verdict but so far i'm disappointed.  On a positive side I like the screams and stuff that the enemies make during combat.

#3 Posted by ImBigInJapan (293 posts) -
@laserbolts:  I didn't even want to get into writing about that because I could go on another thousand words about  it :)  I'm pretty damn sure I didn't like him too much from what I heard.
#4 Posted by JJWeatherman (14795 posts) -

I didn't like the score attack nature of it either. I really don't like games like this. The Club, being a perfect example of what not to do if the developers want to sell me a game. 
 
I think I'll write something about this game as well.

#5 Posted by AhmadMetallic (19303 posts) -

i dont know what you're talking about, here. like, i dunno what it is that you're referring to as the "skill shot system" . i was never good with the names of things in game *shamed face*
 
then again i was never much into online shooters, just Battlefield, so im not up to date with all the score systems and stuff that are found in the latest mainline online shooters nowadays.. even when i get Bulletstorm its gonna be for the single player. I find FPS multiplayer rather shallow and disgusting, with people racing like animals to get KILLS and raise their SCORES and all that crap. 
Battlefield for me is the only exception because though it has ranks and all that, it focuses more on the gameplay itself. How you play as a part of a team and what vehicles and tricks and techniques you use to advance, rather than harvest kills blindly.. 

#6 Edited by ImBigInJapan (293 posts) -

 

@Ahmad_Metallic

said:

" i dont know what you're talking about, here. like, i dunno what it is that you're referring to as the "skill shot system" . i was never good with the names of things in game *shamed face* then again i was never much into online shooters, just Battlefield, so im not up to date with all the score systems and stuff that are found in the latest mainline online shooters nowadays.. even when i get Bulletstorm its gonna be for the single player. I find FPS multiplayer rather shallow and disgusting, with people racing like animals to get KILLS and raise their SCORES and all that crap. Battlefield for me is the only exception because though it has ranks and all that, it focuses more on the gameplay itself. How you play as a part of a team and what vehicles and tricks and techniques you use to advance, rather than harvest kills blindly..  "

 
From the game's page here: 

                "  The game revolves around the idea of Skill Shots, where the player is rewarded for dispatching foes in creative ways rather than the standard "shoot until the enemy is dead" tactic. Cliff Bleszinski has talked publicly about his desire to create a system where the player isn't forced to rely purely on headshots. It looks like Bulletstorm is a first step in that direction. Skill Shots usually involve the energy leash or kicking someone. The environments are set up with many deadly objects like spikes, open electrical generators, exploring barrels, burning cars etc.
 
Points accumulated from Skill Shots can then be used to purchases upgrades for all the weapons and the leash. The upgrade system seems to be similar to the one found in the Ratchet and Clank series, where upgrades not only improve base stats but also allow for special abilities unique to each gun. Skill Shots are also subject to diminishing returns and encourage players to mix-up their combos frequently to maximize their points. "
 
 
----

So, Skill Shots is a scoring system based on creatively killing your enemy. The term is unique to Bulletstorm. While it might sound similar to getting XP in a more mainline shooter it differs in that getting a large number of kills is less important than getting a wide variety of different kinds of kills.
#7 Posted by AhmadMetallic (19303 posts) -
@ImBigInJapan said:
"
 getting a large number of kills is less important than getting a wide variety of different kinds of kills. "
and that sounds... pretty sweet !
#8 Posted by Dangazzm (38 posts) -

Yea I LIKE the IDEA of the skill shot system but I don't know (just like what you said) what will keep me coming back. To beat my high scores? Yea I can see that for a little while. To beat my friends scores? Oh yea assuming all my friends got it I could see this being a big bragging rights and fun trash talking type of game. But the leaderboards...? I don't know thats just kinda the issue with them for me is that I have nothing to obtain as in I will NEVER EVER see the first place on those leaderboards Having played the demo all day trying to find out HOW THE HELL you get 20k points! I am only in the top 1,000 people which isn't BAD but still. 
 
Like im saying though its cool that you get a new leash color and some other cosmetic unlocks if you are top on the leaderboard (I believe I read this somewhere right?) but I dunno if its enough staying power and might be a $30 buy for me. But it is tempting because I would like Gears of War 3 Beta access lol.

#9 Posted by TheHBK (5658 posts) -

I think the stuff you can do in the game is cool, and I kinda like the scoring stuff, makes me be more creative.  But then I think, whats the point?  do i just want points or to see new badass kills?  I dont know, i feel like I am lacking the proper motivation to feel fulfilled.  And the guy is just so annoying.  This game is trying to hard to be badass.

#10 Posted by Dangazzm (38 posts) -
@TheHBK said:
" I think the stuff you can do in the game is cool, and I kinda like the scoring stuff, makes me be more creative.  But then I think, whats the point?  do i just want points or to see new badass kills?  I dont know, i feel like I am lacking the proper motivation to feel fulfilled.  And the guy is just so annoying.  This game is trying to hard to be badass. "
I dunno I kinda like him but I feel that about the game like whats the point but... then again I think whats the point of Halo or CoD? Lol its all about numbers at the end of the day, you want XP new weapons, or a new high score on the scoreboard but I guess its all about how long it will hold your interest then huh?
#11 Posted by Tru3_Blu3 (3459 posts) -

I wanted to shoot someone in the nuts, then kick them in the face. Couldn't do that in the demo, so I'm still skeptical about the game.

#12 Edited by ImBigInJapan (293 posts) -
@Tru3_Blu3 said:

" I wanted to shoot someone in the nuts, then kick them in the face. Couldn't do that in the demo, so I'm still skeptical about the game. "

Oh so it wasn't just me? It definitely seemed like nut shots were disabled. (Man you don't see people writing that too often)
#13 Edited by ProfessorEss (7674 posts) -

I'm very curious to see how this game does. I'm even more curious to see if the skill-shot gameplay concept becomes the new "thing" in gaming, much like Gears did to cover-based shooting.

#14 Posted by Cypher (103 posts) -
@ImBigInJapan said:
". The variety allows the player to keep finding new ways to score such that the basic mechanics don't feel repetitive. While Pac-Man kept me interested for a little while, eventually the small number of levels and my own limitations in skill caused my interest to wane. For the cost of the game that was acceptable, but I expect a game costing 4 times as much to have far more potential to keep me involved. In terms of consistency, there must be some ability for the player to predict the outcome of an event so that trying the same thing multiple times yields a similar result. Otherwise there is a risk that the player ends up feeling the game is "random" which really can kill enthusiasm in terms of striving to improve. The big design challenge here is that consistency and variety are at odds and a balance needs to be struck.   The demo of the game did not sell me on either variety or consistency.
1) On the variety side, it shouldn't be too bad. For one, there's still more weapons, and secondly, there's something like 130 skillshots in the game (including team-based ones in the co-op multiplayer). There's also a pretty good variety of Echoes, plus the story campaign, plus the multiplayer.
2) It seems the consistency that you're complaining about is because you're not sure what the requirements for a given skillshot are. In the full game, the menu that comes up when you hit "back" shows you all of the skillshots (and which ones you've done or not), so you should be able to see what causes it. The only randomness might come from some finicky skillshots like the one where you shoot the same limb over and over again because it's just plain hard to, well, hit the same limb over and over again, but every skillshot is entirely deterministic: There's no dice roll involved. Besides, those shots that ARE somewhat random give very few points compared to the stuff that you can, relatively speaking, rehearse and practice.  You'll almost always get far more points from crafting a different strategy than you will from trying to get the more infrequent skillshots.
 
#15 Posted by Napalm (9230 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic said:

" I find FPS multiplayer rather shallow and disgusting, with people racing like animals to get KILLS and raise their SCORES and all that crap."

 It's all twitch-based gaming. Whoever shoots first gets the takedown, but hold on a minute...

" Battlefield for me is the only exception because though it has ranks and all that, it focuses more on the gameplay itself. How you play as a part of a team and what vehicles and tricks and techniques you use to advance, rather than harvest kills blindly. " 

Uh, how the hell do ranks focus on the gameplay itself? This is the focus of Call Of Duty contemporary multiplayer and it falls EXACTLY in the reasons regarding your first statement. It's all twitch-based, forcing people to KILLKILLKILL as quickly as they can to get the most points. 
 
Bulletstorm is almost the polar opposite of this. The idea isn't to kill as quickly as possible, it is to find the most creative kills and use different skillshots for high damage combos, chaining attacks and using the different weapons to get the most damage. The speed-based part of the gameplay is only for the Echo mode since you can get a bonus for moving quickly. 
 
Stating that you don't like the focus being kills and scoring, but immediately cite Battle multiplayer as the "type of multiplayer" you like because it focuses on the "gameplay," (which you seem to think for some weird reason is entirely opposite of what Call Of Duuty multiplayer is about), is excuse me, absolutely fucking retarded.
#16 Posted by AhmadMetallic (19303 posts) -
@Napalm said:
" Uh, how the hell do ranks focus on the gameplay itself? "
thats not what i said. i said though the game has ranking up and unlocking weapon, it (the game) focuses and wants you to focus on how you play the game and execute strategies, rather than focusing on your kill counter. 
 
 
 
@Napalm said:
" Stating that you don't like the focus being kills and scoring, but immediately cite Battle multiplayer as the "type of multiplayer" you like because it focuses on the "gameplay," (which you seem to think for some weird reason is entirely opposite of what Call Of Duuty multiplayer is about), is excuse me, absolutely fucking retarded. "
 
no its not ! most online shooters do focus on kills and score. battlefield is a different online shooter because it focuses on teamwork and skill and gameplay and strategy. and that, my friend, IS the opposite of what CoD multiplayer is about.  
whats the problem ?
#17 Posted by imsh_pl (3474 posts) -

I think the score system isn't rewarding enough. Yeah, sure, you'll propably get achievements for getting  X number of points, but the in-game reward (as far as my knowledge goes) is really slim, if any.
 
Now this brings the question: how do you make the points more rewarding? In an ordinary shooter, the answer is: multiplayer. In multiplayer, player is rewarded for the points(kills) he earned - he gains exp, new weapons, perks and whatnot.
 
Now I understand this concept looks like it would difficult to deliver in Bulletstorm multiplayer. After all, in an online FPS it is difficult enough to kill and enemy, let alone do that in creative and imaginitive ways without you getting killed.
So, instead of imaginitive ways of killing (which seems to be the developers goal), we would see the standard kill-as-fast-as-possible matches. Either that, or the leash would be present in multiplayer, but that would just mean the player who
uses his leash to stun his opponent the fastest wins.
 
But I think here is where People Can Fly made a mistake: who said anything about a team deathmatch based multiplayer?
 
Imagine this: an arena-like map, with basic opponents spawning in the middle and travelling two different ways to attack each team. The map would have many enviromental objects like the killer flowers, barrels etc., and the players' job would be to get
the most points within a set time limit. People would also have the opportunity to sabotage the opposing team - the could sneak up from behind, stun their opponents, destroy a specific object that would make the opposing team weaker, etc. They could,
for example, attack the opposing team's creeps, gaining more points. There are many imaginitve possibilities here,
 
I think that the developer, despite his emphasis on the "imaginitive" ways to kill, didn't really show how you could adapt the skill shot system into the multiplayer. Which is said, because we could've actually seen an original first person shooter.

#18 Posted by mfpantst (2651 posts) -

Hmmm- so I think maybe I'm in the minority here in that this game is refreshing for me.  Once I had my mind set on "ok this demo level is a score attack challenge,  and to succeed I must optimize", I found myself quickly thinking about each enemy segment in terms of how I could get to most points.  So after I finished a run-through, I scrutinized each 'method' I used to kill a room/segment of people, and how I could do it better/faster.  Then when I had put the game down for a bit, i saw the quick look here and realized I was approaching a whole segment 'wrong.'  I went back, optimized some more and immediately got a higher score.  
 
I guess what I'm reading alot of is that the carrot/stick method of score attack doesn't entice alot of you to play more.  I actually found that when it was possible for me  to conceive a strategy to a room that was better than what I had last done, it was really satisfying.  For me, not having played a game in a while (Pac Man Championship Edition DX being an exception) where I really wanted to play it better and optimize my strategies, it was engaging and refreshing to have to do that.  
 
On another note- the over the top violence and language helps me enjoy this more.  I somewhat like games that are violent and where mayhem or over-the-top is a part of the game.  I like that they do it in a tight controlled environment, in a game where I feel the execution of creative violence (engendering greater over the top voice reactions) is rewarded and not impossible.  I think of this game in terms of what happens when I put in a rockstar open world game.  I get side-tracked being an asshat in the most violent and messed up ways possible.  Now i can do that as a core game mechanic.  That's pretty cool.
 
PS- I read alot of the criticisms along the lines of 'this game is trying too hard to be bad/funny/rad/cool" as seeing this game as somehow taking itself seriously.  If you were to ask my what my favorite all time FPS was, it would have to be the whole of the PC based unreal tournament games.  The violence was completely un-realistic, the game mechanics were gonzo and the pace of action had no business being in a game.  People who watch people playing Unreal get motion sick.  The game made no ploys to being serios, realistic, or not violent.  This game brings that back for me.  Totally crazy violent in a not-very-self-serious way (to me at least), and just fun.  Thinking of doing better in a level is not  "turn left, 3 guys, kill them, turn right, 4 guys, kill them, turn left, boss fight" and timed reactions to that.  Thinking of doing better in this game is "will I get more points if I first light a guy on fire then kick him into the spikes, or light him on fire, ball gag him with a flail, kick him into a crowd of other enemies, then explode the flail and light everyone else on fire".  
 
That I get rewarded for thinking through these routines like above is what makes this game just that much better for me.  Sure, in GTA I can think of some crazy shit like that to do, but there's no point.  It's just for my laughs.  In Bulletstorm, thinking of crazy sadistic things to do is the crux of score optimization.

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