Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An anatomy of the FPS genre

When everyone thought that SRK alone had the capability of tormenting us with stereotyped soapy movies, would you believe that even FPS (first person shooter) action games suffered from clichés and predictable game-play? For those who came in late; FPS is the class of action games where the camera hides the central character and projects the world directly before you. Readers who are ardent fans of anything other than action games need not navigate away from the page as ‘the other Devdeep’ shows you, why you need to hate them even more:

  1. 1.       The central character: The central character in most FPS games is male. It has the simple logic that if you design a game with a female lead then it better be in third person.  The game would then attract lot more buyers if it were sold with the catch-line: “We know our game kind of sucks but look: she wears less as the game wears more!
  2. 2.       The environment: Even if the scenario of the game is set up in the distant future, it is sure to have many ladder climbing exercises.  I remember playing a game called ‘Project IGI   which came with the added realism of the inability to shoot while climbing a ladder. Also, the environment of FPS games must have the following:

·         Long empty corridors

·         Rooms full of crates

·         Long corridors full of crate

3.   Guns, lots of guns: FPS games usually come with an inventory of guns and weapons. From assault rifles to snipers to rocket-launchers they have it all. Also no FPS is complete if they don’t supply you with a crowbar and a knife as well (who cares!) Certain games such as ‘Mortyr’ and ‘Return to castle Wolfenstien’ also allow you to kick enemies; probably to satisfy the urge to humiliate a bad guy rather than riddling him into a leaky piece of meat. It doesn’t stop here. An FPS must allow you to sprint, climb, strafe and jump around and at the same time allow you carry the aforementioned inventory along with a perennial stock of grenades and ammunition.

4.    Resources and goodies: You will find lots of resources and goodies while exploring the FPS world. One can pick these up by simply walking over them. Picking up stuff must cause a loud bonky noise. Also resources will be kept in high inaccessible places and usually would come in two flavours- health and armour; health and manna or anything similar. I once collected a big keg of health (worth 200 health points) from the centre of a reactor and another time from a rock amidst a lava pool in ‘Unreal Tournament’.

5.    Bad guys: All throughout the course of your journey in the FPS world, you will come across a variety of bad guys. Few of them will be the ‘bosses’ who as the name goes; must be killed before advancing further in the game. The size of the boss is proportional to the level you are playing. Therefore the final boss must really be huge. In that case, I really appreciate the creativity of the developers of ‘Half-Life’ who designed their final boss as a huge baby that fired green bolts from its head.

6.    Women: Now this is a cliché that is worth carrying ahead. Women in FPS games are usually veterans in martial art and animated eye-candies with tight outfits and curves. You would usually see them in the role of elite guards and shrewd conspirators or confederates.  I have never met a motherly character in an FPS.

Now that I have cut open the FPS genre of action games, next time you see or play one you know what to expect.  Dear John Carmack (founding CEO, ID Software, and the god of FPS) forgive me, I have no grudge against you.


The Final Word

Note: This post was written by me almost a year ago with the motive of signing off from the editorial team of the official newsletter of I.S.M. University: Mailer Daemon (MD). Now that I have reduced my involvement to a bare minimum, I must say that MD has given me the unforgettable memories that I would always cherish. Also I must add that the following post has already been featured on the following two blogs:

• SAME DIFFERENCE by Siddhant Pattanaik at www.whatsinsidshead.blogspot.com
• TO BE OR NOT TO BE by Vijit Prabhu at www.vijit-theomnipresent.blogspot.com
I thank the authors for giving my article a space at a time when I had no identity on the web.

A year has passed since I pushed myself into Team MD. And I have managed to stick to it till today. My colleagues in the team are aware of two kinds of Team MD members: one, those who are dedicated to it and work hard till the end. They ‘eat, dream and think MD’ while working on an issue. The second category belongs to those who were not able to cope up with the pressure and left MD for its and their good. Guess I am a third kind- a category still needed to be researched. (Right now, my colleagues are working on our last issue, while I am typing this article.)
But this article is not about ‘how I fared for MD’. So let us forget this part and let me tell you what is going on in MD right now. Right now, we are interviewing candidates for selecting a new team for MD. How I had waited for this moment since the day I was selected. Back then, I imagined this day as one in which I would scrutinize, analyze and cross-question each candidate so as to bring out the true successors of our team. Now, I amuse myself by watching my colleagues do the same. Just on the second day of the interviews, I found myself hardly uttering a word. (Don’t dream of an HR like me!) ‘My colleagues, try to recall, I was there sitting right beside you.’ I watched, as some anxious, some nervous and some energetic faces took the chair before me while Ishant from one end and Shreya from the other, hovered like vultures, ready to peck at every slip of their tounge. Among the remaining enthusiasts were Sid, Divir, Sukhi, Avinash and Sukanya, ready to chip in their part whenever they got a chance. ‘The dedicated and sincere team MD.’ Meanwhile, ‘the Bad Boy of team MD’ (that’s me) was busy planning this article and was randomly generating numbers to fill up his analysis sheet. I decided to go back in time and put myself in the interviewee’s position to analyze how I would have fared in the same test.  

Interviewer (MD): Would you like to introduce yourself?
Me: (Actually no. My name is a bit too long and you would forget it, the moment I leave this room. My branch will sound alien to you and my hobby-reading books- is of no practical use to you. Anything I mention thereafter about myself will generate further cross questions- causing myself to land in trouble. It is most unwise to introduce myself. But will have to say :) Yes.

MD: Introduce yourself.
Me: I would blabber out the usual intro and add nothing extra, lest I provoke further questions. All this, I would say in a loud tone, with an accent so that you get irritated and leave me quickly.

MD: What do you want your role to be in MD?
Me: (Let me think. If I choose editor it means sitting at my comp, reading other’s articles, sometimes writing by myself. OK, I will manage that, others will most probably help. Reporting will mean running here and there, speaking to admin etc etc. That is too much work. Easy decision.) I want to take up an editor’s job.
I now realize that back then my decision to choose editor actually got me selected. I escaped the PI round, something -I now feel, I would never have qualified.

MD: Where is the campus administration building and the maintenance department?
Me: (Campus Administration has to be within the campus. That is one thing I am sure of. But Murphy’s Law states that: ‘the greatest myth about administration is that, it exists.’ That makes CA a mythical place. What the hell!) I don’t know where the CA is.
Of course, I know where the maintenance department is. It is right behind the workshop. I went there once in the first year to get my window’s glass fixed. I had broken it, made it drop right from the first floor. The complaint got registered, nothing happened thereafter.

MD: What are your likes and dislikes about ISMU?
Me: (I must be cautious about this question- a tricky one. These guys love to point out shortcomings about ISMU, be it students or the admin. So to impress them, I must do the same. The part about ‘likes’ is just a pitfall, I must avoid. I am a clever guy.)
I dislike the students of ISMU. They make too much fuss about everything. There is a breed in ISM which wastes a year discussing ‘why shouldn’t we give certificates of merit to our rivals?’And prior to this, they would plan out a strategy for a month to ‘reach to a particular high status so that they can discuss the previously mentioned question.’ There is another species which goes on claiming for ‘more space.’ Then there is another which spends most of their time in challenging this claim. There is a group that has decided that its life’s ambition is to see all the infrastructural developments that ISM is ever capable of within their four or five years of stay in ISMU. Also ISM must have an increased area and the net speed must build up every year-all this they must witness while they are here. Finally there is MD which compiles all of this into six pages and hands it back to them.

What do I like about ISMU? I like the students of ISMU. There is a breed which is hell-bent on making a mark at ISMU. They would go up to any extent to fulfil their ambition, while they are here at ISMU. Be it promoting their departmental identity, helping the poor, or inspiring entrepreneurial skills, they are always out at the forefront. They are warriors. Remember the shout when the trophy of Muqabla was brought home. Remember Mechathlon, remember Sparx. Those were the times when ISM shone like never before. Ask yourself, don’t they deserve a little more than what they are getting? Maybe they asked for coaches, maybe they asked for a little more departmental and admin cooperation. Shouldn’t an effort be made to grant these? Remember: ‘A college is known by its students.’ And finally there is MD, which is composed of heroes selected from this breed. (When shall the groups mentioned previously get merged with this breed? But I guess, they are one and the same. ‘A mere flip changes the face of the coin.’)

MD: Improvements for MD?
Me: MD. When was the last time I read the complete paper? I remember noticing bar graphs in one of the issues. Then once, there was an article about status of girls in ISM - written by girls of course. You generally expect such stuff from them. ‘Good (status) generally leads to the expectation of Better (status).’ Once again, there was a full page of ‘Ruby Survey’. But that article was not for me. I have stopped staring at them since the time they started staring at me as if they were looking at an ‘ascetic kid.’ No wonders there. I hardly speak, while in group. Other than these, I hardly recall any other article. Therefore you must increase the frequency of MD so that people like me at least remember a bunch of articles to speak about.

The final question was usually based on a situation, where one had to interview an admin member usually. I having chosen editorship would have escaped this question. So let me tell you, that my colleagues pretended to be part of the admin and conducted a mock interview. From their act, the following things about the admin were clear:

The admin is ready to come up with excuses at every mistake that is pointed out.
• The admin/G.Sec is ready to take up any action if ‘approached through a proper channel.’
• Everything is student’s fault. ‘No proper events are conducted because students don’t turn up.’(So no point conducting a better event.) ‘The sports complex need not be improved since the students won’t maintain it.’
• The Yahoo HR will never accept the existence of ISMU at least in this life.
• G.Sec will simply act as an interface between students and admin. He lacks the brains or guts to gather support and fight for a cause.

There were further inferences, but I don’t remember them right now.
There you go. I have spoken my heart out. I seldom do that. Judge for yourself whether I deserve to be in MD team after giving such an interview. By the way do not mistake this for a BC article. Trivial BC is not my job. I am totally serious regarding all views expressed. Also I am responsible for any hurt feelings upon reading this article. ‘Hate mails invited.’