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Living On The Edge: DICE's Owen O'Brien Speaks
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Living On The Edge: DICE's Owen O'Brien Speaks

June 6, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Designing a First Person Adventure

One thing that you've left out of this game is a lot of weapon combat, and I'm wondering if that coincides somehow with the concept of scrum, where you say, "This isn't working; let's get rid of it quickly," rather than in a more traditional development setting, you would have a milestone where, say, six weapons are meant to be implemented by six months from now. Does that affect these things?

OO: Yeah, it did, to a certain extent. I mean, it did allow me the freedom, as the senior producer, to say, "Ehhh, you know what? I'm just going to take guns out of the game completely." And that was OK, because we hadn't done a lot of planning around it. When the game started, Faith did have a base weapon.

But then we kind of quickly got rid of that. We're having enough trouble trying to make people understand that it's an action-adventure, and if you give somebody a weapon straight out of the box, then they think it's a shooter. There is weapon combat in the game -- you can snatch weapons and use them -- but it's really not the focus. The focus is on the physical human being.

I'm trying to think of an example of a first-person adventure game -- and of course there are games that have toyed with first person combat, like hand-to-hand combat, or first-person running and jumping. I'm failing to think of an example of something that really dialed into that.

OO: Yeah, I don't think there is. I'd like to hear it, if you do think of one, because I don't think there is. That's why a lot of stuff we're doing is cool and it's new, but it's also risky, and hasn't been done before.

I think a lot of people have tried. I think people kept dipping their toes in the water a bit, but they didn't really go for it. I think once we decided we were taking out the gun, then it was like, "OK, so now we really have to make this work. We can't fall back."

I think a lot of people in the past have made first person shooters, and then they've decided to try to add in movements at the last minute, and that's just not going to work; you need to be committed to it from the get-go.

I would say that, in general, HUD-free games have not worked out. Basically. Most games that ditched the HUD have actually felt just as contrived, or in some cases more contrived, than games with the HUD on.

OO: Interesting thought. I mean, for us it works because we've got a lot of stuff in the world that tells you the information you need to know, like where to go; and you don't need a health indicator because it's very obvious how healthy you are, and your health regenerates.

You don't need a mini-map because the Faith-vision sort of guides you through the world. Bullets are not important... So, I don't know. So far I think it's working out well for us. We haven't suffered from it.

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