In games development, bedrooms are the new offices, publishers are optional and a developers’ budget is the price of a computer and the several pints that will suffice as payment for your creative friends who will become your “colleagues”.
Surfing this revolutionary wave are The Game Creators, an aptly titled team from the UK who have created FPS Creator Reloaded, an updated version of their FPS Creator software (you can see a tech demo for it here), a tool that lets anyone, anywhere with the idea for a first person shooter make a game, with FPS Creator Reloaded giving them the high quality graphics, audio, effects and functionality they need to make it.
To coincide with the launch of their Kickstarter (in order to fund FPS Creator Reloaded) we interviewed The Games Creators’ CEO, Lee Bamber on the UK games industry, the future of first person shooting games and why FPS games are that popular.
Click ‘Continue Reading’ to read the interview.
The FPS genre is one of the most popular and there are a lot of games that include FPS gameplay, what do you think first person shooter games need to do to continue to feel original?
Primarily, the Reloaded project intends to implement the common features you would expect of a modern shooter such as highlights and health readings of enemies, battlefield tactics to find and destroy your targets, allied assistance by default, different weapons for different objectives and a way to customise the in-game character to progress through the levels of difficulty. This is a given and should be the primary goal. Secondary to this, there are some ideas that we have not outlined in the Reloaded promises, but are something we have been tinkering with such as assembling your weapons from component parts, so a weapon may start with a simple single fire shotgun, and then you find smoke ammo to confuse your target when it hits, and then on to heat-vision scope you can attach to see in the dark, or vamp-module which transfers a percentage of life force from any target you shoot. By allowing the player to discover and customise their primary method of attack within the game, no two experiences would be quite the same, especially if those modules are mutually exclusive and the player must make a choice which attribute to equip. Overriding these ‘features’ is the essential answer to the question, which is that it’s up to the game author to create a unique sense of place and form a universe around the player so they feel absorbed into the game action. Adding a compelling original story can make all the difference when attempting an original game play. Thanks to FPI scripting, Reloaded allows all manner of logic to be injected into the game allowing for a near infinite level of complexity and originality.
FPS games have taken gamers to the past in the world wars, to a few decades in the future and have kept us firing guns in the present, which times haven’t been portrayed that you’d like to see in games?
I would like to see players put their guns aside for a few games and resort to primitive weapons of the distant prehistoric era. Hand axes, spears, arrows, nets and the good old rock to bring down creatures from centuries past. Lava rivers, dense forests and man-eating fauna could be your closest companions in a trek through the world as it used to be. Survive by hunting, by learning how to make new tools and going further north as the ice retreats. Perhaps even a historic recreation of Homosapien vs Neanderthal in an epic battle for the future of the planet Earth. With support for melee, projectile and magical weaponry, Reloaded is the perfect engine to create such a game.
“Enhanced visuals, audio, greatly enriched functionality, effects” are just some of the things that your software, FPS Creator Reloaded, will allow game developers to include in their FPS titles, of these features, which do you think is the most important to a game’s quality?
From using the classic version, and playing the games of our users, I would put the most important feature to be functionality. That is, the ability to create a game play that will challenge the player to their very limits. It is no longer satisfying to enter a room and shoot a few bad guys, then go to the next room. Players want to out-think their opponents, use special skills and special equipment to out-fox them. Players want to ‘deserve’ to win, not just have it handed to them on a plate. FPSC users have already created some amazing looking titles, and the new visuals in Reloaded will make that part easier for more users, but if I had to pick just one feature to dedicate energies to it would be the game play dynamics so end users games play great and really challenge the people who play them.
You’re funding FPS Creator Reloaded via Kickstarter. In the past few days Kickstarter has made the news in the UK because until now it was unavailable for people in the UK looking to crowdfund projects, what do you think this means for the UK games industry?
It is still early days for Kickstarter UK, and it is still to be proved whether such a venture will work over here in the same way as it has done in the US. If the initiative succeeds for UK developers, it could spell quite a shift in how indie developers move forward in the industry. When you can remove the publisher from the equation, you are free to create the software you have in your head rather than what I call ‘software by consensus’ where everyone gets to add something, irrespective of the original design. Sometimes this works out great, and sometimes it doesn’t. You also lose the backing of a publisher, who have the distribution channels to sell your game once finished. Kickstarter indie developers very quickly learn a lot of roles and wear a lot of hats, and for those who rise to the challenge, I think this is a great thing, and for the UK games industry, a golden opportunity.
I would argue that the UK government are moving as fast as they possibly can. The world has changed so quickly in the last 20 years, and many governments are still trying to figure out what is going on. From a developers point of view the situation is pretty clear. Provide the same tax relief as other creative industries like Film and the Arts, not to do so just seems bias and unfair. From the governments point of view, they have a few hundred billion a year in interest payments and can’t just give out cash. They also cannot withdraw all tax relief from Film and the Arts as that would essentially destroy a large part of our cultural output. We have the possibility of culturally tested tax relief on the horizon, and that is a huge move for the government and a big risk to them. I believe once they take the plunge and make this tax relief a reality, they will immediately see a return on investment and the UK games industry will become stronger as a result, meaning more tax revenue for the UK and more evidence that tax breaks are good for emerging technologies. In less than five years, software will be bigger than movies, music and the arts combined, not least because the software industry encompasses them all!
What do you think makes the FPS genre as popular as it is?
Comparing an FPS to a TPS (third person shooter) is like comparing a book to its movie. When you read a book, your mind talks in your own voice and the world you imagine is created in your own mind. A movie dilutes the book down to a single image and a narrow view. In third person you see the character you represent, and you ‘control’ this figure as he gets repeatedly shot and mangled throughout the game. A first person game has no such constraints, and you see through the eyes of your character, You become that character, and you are not cast as a controller of some visual eye candy, but as the character itself, experiencing every shot, dodging every dangerous situation and exploring the world as it unfolds. What makes FPS games a most popular genre is the immersive value obtained from them, and for gamers, it’s the ultimate form of escapism.