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Tont Voles
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Does he have any opinions on the rigour of Bohemia's mil-sim titles or America's Army?

Ellis Kim
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"I think games can wield people's attention, and maybe even teach them how to wield their own attention," Hammersmith reflects. "What I would think about changing is, let's have a way to shut off auto-aim and extra lives, and having infinite ammo, and let's find a way to turn off the radar so you don't know where your opponent is. Let's have a game that allows you to use more of a field, to do things that make tactical sense."

Reading this article reminded me immensely of what the SOCOM (ps2) games were like, or specifically SOCOM II. The emphasis has always been "you are a navy seal, you must be silent, sneaky, and you do not have regenerative health; there are no health packs to speak of." You had 3-5 clips of ammo that you could manually switch between, but they were exactly that: clips, not how it is now with games where people habitually hit the reload button after every shot.

The online multiplayer enforced this sense of mortality even more, as most game types only gave you one life per round, and the rest of the round was spent ghost viewing your other team mates. You learned tactics and styles of play from watching other players, learned the ropes, and respected your fellow team member. There was no radar to speak of, and voice chat was limited, placing importance on only saying what was important.

The Call of Duty franchise is the worst place to try and enforce any real tactics. Perks, running, and whatever other artificial assists that these games give to the player only further separates itself from any sort of realism. Its hardly desensitizing, either. Not to mention all of the positive reinforcement that these games employ.

The fearlessness that he speaks of comes not from constant respawning, but the death of teamwork in the FPS space amongst strangers. The whole "Rambo-ing" out, man-vs-world type of play style that has come into vogue with twitchy shooters. The onus falls on the developers to take responsibility in how they design these games on a philosophical level, instead of handing everything to the player on a silver platter. To teach the player its methodology, while leaving space for instant respawning unranked FFA lobbies for blowing off steam.

Michiel Hendriks
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Another good example would be the original Rainbow Six games, and the first Ghost Recon.

Single player would revolve a lot around planning your mission. Or you could "wing it". But anything that remote resembles a Rambo action would result in a failure with a few heartbeats (or you got lucky and lasted a few minutes).

Multiplayer for R6 is much as you describe for SOCOM. Fuck up, and you can wait till the next round starts. I loved playing R6 in terrorist hunt on highest difficulty with my friends.

It's a shame they ruined both franchises (R6 and Ghost Recon) by making it more arcade like, introducing hitpoints, etc.

Owen McNamara
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"What I would think about changing is, let's have a way to shut off auto-aim and extra lives, and having infinite ammo, and let's find a way to turn off the radar so you don't know where your opponent is. Let's have a game that allows you to use more of a field, to do things that make tactical sense."

Older games had that, in abundance. A lot of "old school" gamers (myself included) complain about checkpoints and respawning health leading to video games that are too easy. The kind of games that Hammersmith is hoping for do seem to be a niche market now.

I agree with Ellis Kim in the comments here that the lack of team-based strategy in shooters is disappointing. Would be nice to see more FPS games with the WoW raiding level of cooperation.

I hadn't noticed that bit about the Black Ops poster. That makes me cringe. Stuff like that, and seeing fingers always on triggers, really bothers me. As it should bother anyone who has had firearm safety training.

Hammersmith's book sounds extremely interesting, and I'll definitely give it a read. I certainly hit his target demographic of gamer, military buff and weapon enthusiast.

Ellis Kim
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"I agree with Ellis Kim in the comments here that the lack of team-based strategy in shooters is disappointing. Would be nice to see more FPS games with the WoW raiding level of cooperation."

The only times I ever experienced cooperation in a multiplayer shooter outside of playing with strangers in the lobbies of SOCOM II were within clan environments for the betas of MAG and MGO. MAG more so, and not entirely unexpected, considering how the game is fundamentally designed.

I'd mention R2's co-op, but that's a bit more RPG than tactical shooter.

Owen McNamara
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What is R2?

It's a third-person shooter, but the upcoming Frozen Synapse looks to be like a much more tactics-oriented multiplayer game.

And as someone else mentioned, the older Rainbow Six games were much better about "be prepared, be alert, or die" situations.

Christopher Wragg
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"I agree with Ellis Kim in the comments here that the lack of team-based strategy in shooters is disappointing. Would be nice to see more FPS games with the WoW raiding level of cooperation"

Unfortunately Wow Raiding level of cooperation is exactly the same level of cooperation you find in a game like BlOPs. If you're playing with randoms, unless you are extremely fortunate, there will be no coordination and everyone just dies. If you do as I do, and go online with 2-3 friends, even in a casual shooter, you will notice a drastic shift in the level of coordination. Also we camp, it always happens when I have friends online, we lock down locations without even thinking about it.

As an aside, games like BFBC2 go a long way to getting players to work together randomly, by granting bonus xp for basically working with your squad, and marking targets and objectives, and helping kill/capture marked targets and objectives.

Chris Remo
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There definitely are a number of games on the PC that come much closer to simulating what Hammersmith describes, while maintaining robust multiplayer communities--recently there's been ArmA II, for example. They don't have the same kind of marketing support or blockbuster success as Call of Duty and its ilk, but there are developers pursing a more accurate (and, arguably, more responsible) depiction of combat.

James Barnette
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most still have that at least MoH does in hardcore mode. there used to be more waiting to get back in if you died but players didn't like that. And if it isn't fun then people don't buy it. and if people don't buy it then it is unprofitable to make it.

Chris Remo
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It just depends on what audience size you need. It's possible to be profitable while not being as big as MOH or COD. A developer with a smaller budget than the developers of those games doesn't need to shoot for 10 million copies sold. There are other smaller audiences that are worth targeting for developers who are passionate about a different kind of experience.

Mihai Cozma
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To find out that the fearlessness is not good on the battle field (without putting yourself in actual danger), you can go no further than playing a game of airsoft (or even paintball). It is way closer to the actual combat than video games (and also far away from it in terms of actual danger), and you can quickly learn that "Rambo" style won't help you in a real world scenarios.

I used to be a hardcore player of FPS games and I dropped playing them when I noticed how unrealistic they are compared even with a serious match of airsoft. Aiming for example is so unrealistic in video games vs real worlds' one that it is way closer to photo camera aiming than gun aiming. The enhanced attention you get in video games can help, but it won't help orienting yourself in a dense forest environment against a bunch of invisible enemies. Camouflage is so badly realized in games that enemies are basically popping out and yell "here i am, please shoot me". In a real world scenario, it is very very hard to spot well camouflaged enemies. I could go on with differences, the point is no matter how realistic the video games will get, they won't be close enough, not even to a mil-sim match.

Christopher Wragg
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I don't know about aiming, apart from being divorced from reality via the control schema and losing all peripheral vision I didn't find there to be too much of a gap in feel between paintball and a game....well except bullets flew straight in the game :P

But camouflage is a big one. In paintball, in a simple bush game a man in average clothes, crouched next to a tree not moving, is actually hard to see, let alone a man who's laying down, in a bush, with full camo.

Not to mention the difference that sound makes, when everyone is trying to make no sound, if someone runs anywhere, all of a sudden 20 guns a trained on the direction of the sound. This is seriously underplayed in a video game, you don't hear people from nearly far enough away.

Isaiah Taylor
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Great article/interview

-I'm confused as to how relative the term 'realism' is being used. Do we want games to stay away from the graphical realism found in a Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2?

-And at the end of the article Hammersmith suggests taking away key mechanics that makes these realistic FPS's un-real.

I'm easily confused.

Alex Covic
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Humans in the form of "homo 'something'" are around 2 million years old. The "homo sapiens" exists for around 250.000 - 400.000 years, as far, as we know today.

Why am I mentioning this here? Our million year old brain learned a 'new trick' only hundert years ago: moving pictures. And only a few decades ago yet another one: virtual 3-dimensional simulation: We sit on our couch or at our desktop, press buttons and are tricked into the illusion, that we are exploring 3-dimensional space.

This fact is not trivial at all.

It would also be important to remind ourselves, that we distinguish between 'virtual' and 'real'. Find your own sources about the neurological and bio-chemical effects on the brain. You do not 'shoot' or 'kill' stuff or 'people' - you click buttons. FPS are silly at best. So what is this 'realism' some talk about?

The real dangerous development is that real world warfare has become more 'virtual' (read Paul Virillo etc).

Controlling a MQ-1 Predator drone is not very different from playing a video game - you do the same things: sit around & push buttons. This is what the military likes to exploit. Tricking your mind into thinking you just 'pressed' a button - mixing the reality of warfare with the illusion of a 'game' is cynical.

I don't work in the game industry. I served in the Army. Running on the ground, with your rifle in your hand and sitting at 'home' infront of a TV screen - who in his right mind could mix those things up? This rather reminds me of the French 'nouveau roman' discussions, where literature buffs discussed the 'new movement' of 'realistic' novels. It's a debate about fiction.

Nick Halme
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"mixing the reality of warfare with the illusion of a 'game' is cynical."

With a videogame, yes. What about Ludology?

Alex Covic
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@Nick (have some sort of deja vu - as if we have talked about the very same issue? ;)

my comment was limited to the military and tricking soldiers into 'video game' like actions/environments. Of course, you have to 'simulate' and test run actions. AFAIK essential part of any game related theory is having a 'safe environment'. The 'game world' is finite. It has it's borders. It can be distinguished from reality. Even if you play games inside the real world, the contract is clear between the players involved. You cry fire from a (virtual) stage - not from a real battlefield. Safe to fail. Safe to learn from failure.

If this contract is broken, the real world has no clear lines anymore between the deadly reality and the virtual world - there is no room for playing. All actions become equal signals - the receiver cannot distinguish if it's real or game.

The point was: video games getting more realistic is not the real concern - they are far away from becoming realistc - but rather aspects of modern warfare (sic!) have become more "video gamey".

Andrew Cullen
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Posted this at Rockpapershotgun, figured I might as well post it here as well.

Something seems off about Mr Hammersmith. Gamasutra are trying to verify his credentials; his business (Vadium Tech – have made claims that some people in the cryptography community have labelled as ridiculous; his company bio, and, it seems, all the information about him available online from before the release of his book doesn’t reference any special forces experience (this is based upon trawling through 15 pages of google, so it's not perfect, I may well have missed something); a quick search online doesn't yield any references to a ‘Bull pup’ training program for children (though the age at which this program would have occurred would, of course, minimize the amount of information available online); no information is available to confirm the 'World Record' he claims to have held on his youtube page….well, something just doesn’t ring true. Claiming false military credentials is surprisingly common nowadays, and there are several organisations that vet people, especially those who make claims about special forces experience, so I hope that this can be resolved swiftly.

Of course, this is entirely my opinion as a random person behind a keyboard, so take it all with a grain of salt and all of that.