bulldog300

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L4D3 ideas

 

Concepts for left 4 dead 3:

Valve's not the 'churn out a new game each year' corporation. Anyone who's ever played a valve game knows they're the ' made a good game with much replayability or astonishingly memorable moments' game. Having said that I know for a fact that the L4D franchise is far from over. They have plenty of ideas still being cooked up and for that matter so do the players. Long story short, here's some things I think would be interesting to see in L4D3 when it comes out.

  1. Morphine:

It's already censored in Australia so lets go all the way and make it completely banned with drug use. My idea is that morphine could be a usable drug in the pills/adrenaline slot. When used it will make whoever applied it unable to be knocked down for a few moments. That could be a saving grace in tight situations. Likewise, anyone who's near death (ie 'gray') could not be killed for a few moments. Maybe there can also be antibiotics, which would work like med packs but not as potent. They could heal 10% of the damage you've received as opposed to 80% (but does not reset the knockdown counter). Finally for a bit of humor how about assorted bottles of liquor that temporarily increased accuracy (but greatly decreased if its overused)

  1. (optional) character skills:

Back when L4D1 was in it's hands on stage a various writers mentioned how each survivor would sport a different kind of weapon, so why not step it up a notch and make each survivor proficient in a certain skill. I wouldn't want it to be class based, or mandatory, but something along the lines of 'one character's more accurate with a hunting rifle, and one can carry an extra item because s/he's so strong. Maybe a recovering junkie character can gain better effects from medicines (pills, adrenaline, morphine, ect) that are used while a former nurse character gives slightly more health when s/he heals someone. The reason it works so well in other games is because it's true to real life; different people are more adept at different things. While I love every inch of L4D I found that a former green beret and a college student having the same weapon skills a bit odd.

  1. Ai set patterns:

Everyone argues that L4D/2's main flaw is that the allied ai is dumb as dirt. They heal way too soon, never use explosives, are uncannily accurate, and will often not follow you into a closet or hall when there's a horde prompt. In addition to making the ai smarter, how about players gain the ability to dictate how an ai controlled ally reacts. Will they favor rifles or shotguns. Will they use explosives or just guns? This is all assuming that the ai doesn't accidentally (and repeatedly) blow you up or burn you in the process. I believe that single player (that is assuming if anyone still entertains the idea of playing single player) would benefit from the player being able to control more of the bots' behaviors.

  1. Other countries:

I'll admit that seeing the Rockies, Seattle or even the arid Mojave Desert would bring a smile to my face, but it would be interesting to see how other nations held up amidst the zombie apocalypse. I imagine that outside of our borders, the battle for survival would be a bit more… pessimistic, as is generally the case of American horror films versus other horror films (Shaun of the dead excluded). The only problem with the joy of fighting zombies in the lush Latin American rainforests and through the British parliament is that L4D might lose its identity (American or otherwise). The solution is simple, tourists. It's not hard to imagine that after patient zero went awol all air traffic was grounded asap. Four American touristas in a German hostel, a Cuban beach or visiting the holy sites in Israel have to survive.

  1. Flamethrowers (and other homemade weapons):

Save for the boomer bile, weapons have remained mostly conventional in L4D. The only zombie killing weapon Valve hasn't included is the flamethrower, which I have to admit would be awesome to see in game. Tier 1 firefun would come in the form of a lighter and a spray-can. It would have limited range, ammo and be good only in short bursts. Tier 2 could be something homemade or reasonably legal before the zombie apocalypse, while tier 3 would simply be a military grade flamethrower. Like the grenade launcher, it would be a great anti-zombie weapon, but an ff nightmare.

Throw-able wise I predict zombie repellant sticks (maybe make them applicants like pills), sugar bags for witches (hit a tank and watch the show; similar to bioshock and big daddies) and making gas cans slot-able (they can go on the back anyways).

  1. new scenarios:

The first one splits the four into teams. Two people (maybe a newly weds on a honeymoon if this is a prequel) are trapped in their hotel room and need help. The other two have to fight their way through zombie hordes to reach them (with the trapped two providing cover up above). Once they regroup it's off to the beach for some sun, sand and zombie killing while you try to get to a makeshift escape in the form of a yacht.

They other stresses a bit more necessity for speed. One (or more) of you team members has been infected with the virus. Your team hears that there's a vaccine in a military base not far from where they are and you have to go obtain a sample to save him or her. The problem is that the team member is slowly succumbing to the infection and needs medications to keep going. You can tell if you're infected because your screen will slowly be encroached by a reddish-orange tint that gets worse as time progresses. If it completely covers the screen then it's bad luck for you.

I imagine this could be a co op versus mode as well as a single player mission. In co op it would be eight survivors (two or more infected at first) and when someone dies they join the special infected. To make things fair they'd have to up the difficulty a bit. It could shake up things.

Another idea I have called trainwreck. The group of survivors has to fight their way to a trainyard where they are shuttling people to one of the last few safehouses left. For added adrenaline the last stand of the episode is four survivors holding out against hordes of zombies raining on their zooming train while its slowly going off rails and needs the e-break applied.

The swelter is similar to the infection scenario, but instead of infection your group faces dehydration. Your team is in the Mojave desert, under the impression that zombies couldn't tolerate the heat. As it turns out zombies are more resilient than humanity thought. In a rural town four survivors fight through the blistering sun. This mode demands survivors duck into buildings and under tents to get out of the sun.

Finally we come to one that's probably a bad idea for many reasons, a scenario where the zombies have caused a nuclear meltdown at a power plant. You and three survivors won't be facing super zombies or anything like that (other than special infected of course), but dangers lurking around a radioactive spill warrant keeping an eye on a Geiger counter. Zombies don't mind radiation, but this gives a distinct new element to factor. I can just picture the intro poster saying something like 'and you thought the zombies were bad'.

  1. Special infected:

So we have a general group of special infected, most of which resemble socially intolerable people like crazy ex girlfriends and thugs that like to 'jump' people. In an effort to make more special infected one has to think about the habits (or appearances) of others that generally makes them uncomfortable and personify them into monsters.

The lurker behaves in a manner similar to hunters, but it's much harder to see in night levels. The lurker is first noticed by its snake-like hiss, it's almost naked, appearing to be bitten in it's sleep, and can barely be seen until it pounces. It's very bony and dark, but like the witch it shouldn't be underestimated.

The shrieker does, what else, shriek. Its cry is good for knocking back humans similar to what a boomer's explosion will do, but without the bile. These precious seconds give an infected team the time it needs to make a move at the humans. Shriekers are small, female in appearance and have glowing yellow eyes like the witch. I know special infected already 'push the realm of believability' as one of the designers put it, but I don't think the shrieker should cause damage with her cry. Human lungs don't have that capacity.

The imp isn't dangerous in the least. It's a small, childlike zombie that can't pounce and has a weak attack. Its primary focus isn't to attack though. The imp is a greedy little creature that can steal anything a player isn't holding. A former child, it's curious nature carried with it into undeath. Now that might not seem like a big deal, but when you're injured and distracted losing your first aid kit can turn the tide of a battle on the players. This one is for all the times people in versus have said 'crap, he's gotta …'.

Finally there's the leech. The leech is a translucent abomination that spits tiny parasites at players to slowly drain their health. It looks like a pregnant woman at first glance, with a giant stomach holding life. Unfortunately this life is a disgusting parasite that can drain minor to considerable health if left unchecked. The parasites don't stun the player, but they require someone else to rifle-butt them off. Good for softening up players before an attack or being a distraction.

As for uncommon infected, the possibilities are endless. I have to admit that the thought of baby zombies has crossed my mind. You have to keep a look out for your ankles or be dropped. Pregnant infected (yes I have been watching dawn of the dead) that spawn the aforementioned baby infected upon death is also an idea.

Then we have infected with explosives strapped to them, so shooting them is ill advised. Infected that have been covered by oil (either through an accident or by the players) is also a combustible possibility and a good reason to not go crazy with the flamethrower. These two have the same function as the canisters that players come across, but they are much more dangerous.

The introduction of the powerplant breeds two different uncommon infected. In addition to the hazmat suits making a return, there are also radioactive zombies. They don't glow in the dark or have superpowers, but they're contaminated flesh causes damage like spitter goo or fire would. Zombies with tumors would also show up, but I can't imagine that being anymore than cosmetic.

  1. New modes:

In addition to a versus mode where teams of two (or four if valve decides to increase the player cap) have to regroup at the middle of a map and make their way to the end, I believe a new mode is in order. Extermination is straight forward; kill every last zombie on the map before the timer runs out. Instead of surviving one has to secure a location for survivors. The end has the group defending a location until others can make it through.

In addition I think they should make a competitive survival mode. Like versus, two teams swap between survivors and infected, but in this case it's for survival. The team that lasts the longest wins. I suppose this is just a variation of scavenger mode, but everything needs a twist.

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Gaming Lifestyle, what it means to be a Gamer

 

What is a gamer? We rarely ask that question because we are usually certain what a gamer is. If you're reading this then chances are you see one in the mirror every morning. Being a gamer, however, is not the same thing anymore. When I say 'what is a gamer?' I mean 'what is a person who's lifestyle involves, or is based around, playing video games?'. How is that differentiated when there's one gaming console or another in the majority of the houses in the U.S. today?

Being a gamer has changed in recent years to mean more than just a person who plays video games. It means more to just exist and play games. A gamer is someone who doesn't just play games for fun, or a sense of superiority when pit against his peers. A gamer is someone who plays because it means something more to him than just that.

Let me explain, because I know right now that I'm going to confuse a lot of people, myself included, without an elaboration. I consider myself a gamer, and I have a friend who plays video games but he wouldn't be classified as a gamer. How I came about this conclusion occurred this weekend. I had purchased a copy of left 4 dead 1 for the 360 with the specific intention of playing it with him, and we did. I myself am an avid L4D fan, and he had wanted to play it for a while now, so it seemed like a good game to play. How we played, however, was entirely different.

His gaming 'methods' was incoherent to say the least, and consisted of running around like a chicken without a head blasting zombies, the Ai survivors and pretty much anything without knowledge of what he was doing. We barely survived the last stand of the no mercy campaign on normal, which is saying much considering that I could probably run it on expert with bots on a good day. I'm not mad at him, but I did learn where the plethora of incompetent gamers comes from; they fall from the tree of casual gamers.

A casual gamer is to regular gamers what C&C4 is to the rest of the C&C universe, an ugly, ugly entity that exists only because something better came before it. Casuals were essentially created as a result of games attempting to reach out to a wider audience. Games like Call of Duty and GTA, games with no inherent tie to fantasy or sci-fi, appealed to people who might enjoy games if they were less 'nerdy'. While good games by most standards (in quality, this isn't a morality topic), they essentially teared a hole in the boundary between gamers and the rest of society. People who never even played games before enjoyed a universe they could identify with, but one that didn't have the same boundaries.

And since then that has been the focus of the gaming industry. It must be remembered that any video game business is still a business, with profit being the number one priority. Instead of cultivating the gamer lifestyle, companies tend to capitalize on it. Games that appeal to the casual breed are often released annually with minute updates to appeal to these gamers. Games that fit outside this basis (shooters, sports games and some adventure games) are often downsized to make room for this demographic since they are the majority.

There are casual gamers, and then there are gamers who live the gaming lifestyle. This group treats games less like a time killer and more like a hobby or lifestyle. This demographic doesn't always differentiate simply by what types of games are meant to be played, but by consistency and ultimate goal of playing games. A casual gamer might play games with friends to pass the time until a party or after class/work to unwind. A gamer would make the game the party, or play for the sake of mastering games. Gamers often favor games that are more challenging, both in terms of mental ability and gaming ability, over games that are more streamlined for popularity.

There would normally be a tenuous to kinship-like peace between these two groups who share a common hobby albeit for different reasons, but recent conditions in the gaming industry are creating a Cain and Abel esc effect.

First and foremost, there is a freezing tension between the two over the favoritism of the gaming industry. As previously mentioned, game developers are businesses with the intention of making money. Their focus is primarily that, which means they will make games that appeal to the majority, which at the time is casual gamers. With that respect there isn't enough in terms of time and energy to go around, which means that if the gaming industry is appealing to the majority, they will make games geared for casual gamers first, and then regular gamers if there is any money left to use. Strategy games, survival horrors and certain rpgs play second fiddle to games such as multiplayer oriented shooters and rhythm games. You can imagine how unhappy a pc gamer who loves rts games will be when rts' stop being made, and the ones that are made are more dungeon crawlers than rts in terms of gameplay.

The second conflict, besides a lack of attention to both parties, is the conflict of identity. The majority of people in the U.S. play games. I remember reading an article in the Washington post that claimed as much as 85% of youth ages 8-18 played games on a regular basis. How many of them, even if the majority are casual gamers, identify themselves as gamers? In all likelihood more often than not a person who plays games calls himself a gamer even if he is not 'into it'. How many general gamers appreciate losing their culture to what is trendy? A person doesn't spend years being called a nerd for gaming in the extreme only to be 'a face in the crowd' when things change and everyone games. It can only be compared to other cultural trends that have gone from a form of expression to what is popular (rap comes to mind).

Finally, while not often as big of a problem, there is the problem of the two classes of gamer overlapping in certain games and causing issues. Take left for dead for an example. It is an extremely popular game for both demographics because it appeals to both challenge and popularity. I was a bit annoyed that my friend enjoyed the game only as a novelty when I practically viewed it as an art, so I can only imagine how often strangers meet under similar circumstances and create tension. It's hard to get into and enjoy a game, even one as great as L4D, when the people you rely on don't take things as seriously as you do.

In the end video games mean many different things to different people. They can be art, culture, hobby, time waster and even drug, but when people view games in one light and not the others it creates problems with those who don't share the same beliefs. Games have come a long way, but I believe gamers have changed more over the years than the games they play. While I don't think a civil war will ever break out over games, I do believe that problems will arise over the lifestyle that is video games.

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Females and Gaming, an Look at Girl Gamers in the Culture

 

Girl Gamers. Saying the term brings up a plethora of discussion in a social domain with regards to gamers. A blow for equality, an act of indifference and a series of mildly offensive jokes are several way females in the culture of gaming have been viewed. That is to imply by the responses often given that they are a rare site, particularly with regards to dedicated gaming. Yet no matter how many or few gamers are female, they still play an important role in shaping the face of gaming.

Gaming, from its humble beginnings to today, has primarily been geared towards men. It's easy to site the commonly used reasons why, ranging from the idea that games were originally for 'nerds' and most nerds were male in the 70s-90s, to the concept that men are generally more stimulated with visuals while women are more stimulated mentally (often also the argument of porn vs romance novels). There's also the more feminist arguments, such as the idea that industry is a male dominated field, and thus designers will make games more geared towards those they identify with. Of course, what list would be complete without the nature and nurture argument, that men are generally bred and raised to 'bring home the bacon' so they would favor games, particularly violent ones. Whatever the reason, the end results remain the same, that men are the major demographic of video game players right now.

There are various projects at work to change this trend or alter it, such as the inclusion of more females in the gaming industry and an increase in games with strong women roles, but movements such as these take time, and even with vast resources there's no guarantee for such efforts to work. They (the industry) have been at it for years. Mrs. Pacman in arcades is essentially the equivalent of 'ladies night' for the social medium. Attempts so far have had mixed results. While you can show that the industry is more than willing to accommodate diversity, it is often questioned if it will do more than accommodate it. Are women to be another demographic, a sub clause such as strategy gamers and jrpg fans, or are they meant to be equals in the gaming community? The industry already suffers a great deal of backlash by alienating parts of the community in exchange for others by accident; explicit segregation would be economic suicide.

It has been happening, the alteration of the roles of women in games. Making games that have strong female roles, such as Mirror's edge and Resident Evil, have become natural to gaming. They make women with talent, strength, intelligence, and occasionally charisma. And while there is room for Bloodrayne, Lara Croft and Bayonetta, the recent versions of these characters are often parodies of what female characters once were. The question remains though, does this mean there are more female gamers?

Well I don't want to make this a quote contest, but it seems so. Nearly 40% of gamers are female. The problem, the majority of them fall into the category of casual. While it's never a good idea to mock progress, it is unfortunate that women are getting a part time position for a full time job. If there is a silver lining to this, it is that the majority of female gamers use a PC as their gaming platform, which is regarded as the most utilized platform of dedicated gamers (and Farmville, sadly).

What does that mean for gaming, besides more female friendly games? It certainly doesn't mean an end to the games guy gamers have come to know and love. Even games such as gears of war and CoD (dedicated and casual, respectively) have attracted a female following. Gears of War 3 is even including Anya, the female battlefield control some will remember from the first two, as a part of delta squadron. It does mean more representation of the female demographic in games, with an inclusion of games more sought after by female gamers, such as the Sims, which is one of the few games that have a higher female user base than a male one.

With regards to sexuality, it could mean a variety of things. Of course more women will be included in the frame of games, but will there be a decrease in women used as sex symbols in games? Perhaps and perhaps not. Games will still need to appeal to guys, even if in lesser quantities, and while many believe we have entered an age of 'sexual liberation' there is no doubt that there is a high demand for aesthetics, particularly in beauty. In short, many men like to look at women, and even pixilated women can cause aesthetic appeal. If we adhere to the idea that sex sell, then we can only conclude companies will sell sex in video games. I might even be so bold to say that there will be an increase in aesthetically appealing men in games for the appeal for women, yet that has already appeared to be the case. I seldom hear ripples of complaints about the ugliness of men in games from female gamers in online communities.

Women were once barely seen in the gaming community. Now they play an important role in both the community and the games that are produced by the industry. In the few decades games have been around, they have gone from Italian plumbers saving damsels in distress to heroines blasting aliens, zombies and alien zombies alongside male equals. Given enough time, female gamers might even equal men in the category of gaming addiction and dedicated gamers.

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The five vilest annoyances in games

This list doesn’t deal with clichés in video games, but general annoyances that are common practice of nearly every game. I write these not to criticize the hard work developers go through to churn out good games, but to remind them that there’s a time for stairs and a time for escalators.

 

  1. The infrequent checkpoint:

 

So after spending about an hour in FF12 grinding for LP and gil, loving the progress of my characters and almost finishing mapping out the entire area, an elemental appears out of nowhere, silences my party and then proceeds to butcher them. The only reserve characters were asleep, and they were all subsequently butchered after two seconds. Words cannot describe my rage; it is like getting your paycheck stolen by your own boss. As discouraged as I am I do not intend to pick up the controller for a bit, I need some time for all the effort I just lost to sink in.

 

This is number one, the infrequent checkpoint system. It doesn’t matter what type of game it is, on what console or any other factor I can’t imagine at the moment, an annoying checkpoint system that eats away hours of your effort is by far the worst thing a game can have. It is the major drawback of games to lose everything to not only ‘surprises’ from the game, but power outages, forgetting to manually save and lacking a quick save option. An auto save feature or a frequent checkpoint system should be in every modern game, as the only time I want to do the same level over is when I found it that fun the first time around.

 

  1. Tedium, Tedium Everywhere!

 

Almost as bad as a lack of a checkpoint system has to be when a game is needlessly tedious. This can run the gambit of requiring absolute precision in games to the point where your OCD screams ‘No more!’ to the lack of a macro feature on a pc game, to simply no streamlining a long process that does not demand much of a gamer’s attention. A good example of this is in the Sins of a Solar Empire expansion, entrenchment. Once you have the means and funds to build star bases, you should be able to click a gravity well, and hit some sort of macro of button that says ‘place star base’, and then proceed to queue what you want in the star base as well as what fighters. This would have been preferable to having to manually build every star base ship, ordering them to go to a sector then wait for their hangers to developing before queuing fighter squadrons. Or how about fallout 3 where your cursor has to hover right over the smallest things in order to grab them, and then drop them once you realize you’re over cumbered. I’m not asking for a lot from QA, just the realization that there are some things I’d rather not have to deal with when contending with m own survival in these universes.

 

  1. I have 5 shields, 5 swords, 5 rifles, a tank and a turtle in my pack, so why can’t I hold a cup?

 

There are few things as annoying, particularly in RPGs and MMOs, as an inventory system that punishes you for farming too much and selling too little. I’ve seen it in guilds wars, Titan quest and Mass Effect 1 just to name a few. Some are only a minor inconvenience to the overall experience (RE5), while some are so bad that I never got past the first hour because I knew the inventory system would cause me to have suicidal thoughts later (Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion). I can understand there is a gap between realism and game play, but can we just pretend that the main character made 12 trips to and fro the place I need to be to sell my stuff, just so I don’t have to take those 12 trips? Some games have tried to address this issue, such as one particular pack mule, a role playing ‘slave’ system where hardcore role players act as pack mules, and even a pet that will sell your stuff for you (thank you torchlight), but treating a wound and healing it aren’t the same. To quote a bobble head ‘the wisest doctor knows that a bandage only hides the wound’.

 

  1. The unskipable

 

Cut scenes, minigames, overly complicated puzzles. Those things that serve absolutely no purpose to the overall game, or those things that you’ve already mastered, and yet for some cruel reason the game won’t let you just skip them. I can tolerate the mandatory intro cut scene the first time I boot up a game on my PC, but asking me to endure every bad cut scene, every bland attempt for characters to fill in the obvious and every ‘hey look at this’ and you’re asking for me to swallow quite a pill. There comes a point when I want to do nothing more than just play the game, so please for the sake of the $10-60 I just paid for it, let me play. Example wise I’d say the temple puzzles in FFX, or the conversations in half life 2, but these are the only ones I can’ think of off the top of my head.

 

  1. Our economy is just as slow as the one in RL

 

This should probably have gone into the tedium section, but I think it merits it’s own category. Money makes the world go round, and that is true in most games, so few things are as annoying than making the method of acquiring money so monotonous or tedious that you’d rather just try to beat the game with a bare bones character. This was one of the reasons I didn’t care for Far Cry 2, because diamond hunting was about as much fun as taking a machete to the face for real diamonds. More obscure games such as the Battle for middle earth make gathering resources a pain as well, and even in company of heroes I wished the cash would flow faster so I could get to maneuver my forces around. Sure I can understand that there is a required delay, especially in RTS games so that you aren’t overwhelmed at the start, and that MMOs must make money gathering slow so that dedicated gamers can be differentiated from those that spend 5 minutes on a session, but there’s a reason I preferred wow, guild wars and the updated eve online over the most seemingly pointless pacing of other MMOs. There’s a reason Star craft and Sins of a Solar empire occupy more of my time than say 1602ad or empire earth, because the term is ‘easy come, easy go’, not ‘take 5 hours come, easy go’.

 

 

If anyone else has some annoying issues with features of games feel free to say em loud and proud. I don’t mean problems with individual games or game play mechanics, but I mean features in game that make them more annoying than fun in certain lights. 
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