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FPS genre and the PC


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Partially inspired after reading this from Morrius in the Steam thread “I have no fucking idea why Stalker 2 is going to be on consoles, literally no-one will like it. Never at any point does it throw set pieces at you” and from having a long time PC gaming friend who believes that PC gaming is dying in general and is concerned that its not leading the way with FPS’s anymore, what are peoples thoughts?

The FPS genre has always been strong on the PC, spawning many great titles in the past, HL series, Stalker series, Unreal, Quake Doom for example. However with more and more titles becoming multi-format, has the FPS genre had it’s day on the PC? Will the PC community have to make do with just multi format ports in the future?

My own thoughts are that PC gaming in general is very far from dying and that FPS will again be at the best, visually at least, on the PC. Stuff like the up and coming Crysis 2 should be at the peak of the genre and looks good on all formats but the PC should be at the forefront of that.

Sure development might be more leaning towards console but not to the detriment of PC.

Have consoles dumbed down FPS’s?

Can all that sustains FPS on console just be set piece after set piece without something a bit more atmospheric?

Is there a market for the type of game that Stalker 2 could be on console?

Discuss.

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First, please don't confuse its and it's - the proper use is "Had its day", "it's not leading the way" etc. Though at least you were uniform in your error, which is better than most.*

Anyway, to the actual point - first, consoles haven't 'dumbed down' FPS's in any way - the vast majority of FPS's have always been pretty dumb, with the few 'intelligent' games out there coming from a handful of developers; Looking Glass and offshoots (Ion Storm, Irrational) and a range of Eastern European devs (Bohemia, GSC). And maybe Valve, but then all they're about is precisely what you suggest to be "all that sustains FPS on console... set piece after set piece", albeit with a bit more emphasis on atmosphere.

The vast majority of FPS's have always been of the corridor shooter variety, which is hardly surprising considering, well, the very point of a First Person Shooter, though the set-piece design was a later development, and really began to gain in sophistication when Valve stuck their oar in. In a game designed for PC, it's worth emphasising, so if it's anyone's 'fault' that set-piece-oriented FPS's have come into prominence, it's Valve.

What has happened is that as the consoles' control methods have improved, and games have adapted to them, developers have realised that they are a more natural home for the more arcadey (read: traditional) FPS's, and so the series which follow such approaches have gradually shifted to the medium. And this isn't limited to just corridor shooters: thanks to the growing familiarity of the average console gamer with the FPS (thanks to blockbusters like CoD, Halo etc.), the sorts of FPS put out on console have also broadened: so we have open shooters like Farcry 2; and thoughtful, story-led shooters like Bioshock on the systems. And now, it seems, even games like STALKER are making the jump - whether the market is ready for that, I don't know. I suppose GSC will find out whether the cost of developing for console as well proves worth it.

None of this points to a 'dumbing down' of FPS's, but it does mark the increasing sophistication of the mainstream audience towards the genre, and the gradual repositioning of the PC with regards the genre - the PC will almost certainly continue to be the main platform for the more niche (and twitch-based competitive, thanks to mouse and keyboard) shooters, but it no longer needs to be the first port of call for FPS developers. I see no problems with this; for the genre, or for the PC. Perhaps for gamers without access to consoles, but on the other hand it's a major boon for those without access to high-end PC's. Swings and roundabouts.

* [edit] I see Sprite Machine already pointed this out, but yeah, it's the case in your main body too. The rule is: It's = it is. Its = the object belonging to it.

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I think that the problem with developing something specifically for PC users is that you'll be targeting quite a niche audience; Crytek admitted this when they decided to go multiplatform, and id's Rage engine is being built to look good on all three platforms, so people are definitely focusing on a more balanced multi-format approach. The cost of developing all your fancy shaders and cutting edge rendering isn't really rewarded by masses of PC sales anymore, so it makes more sense to give console and PC owners a more even experience. I think that we'll still see new FPS franchises starting out on the PC and making their way over to other platforms, but I don't think they'll be as hugely ambitious as Crysis 1 in terms of pushing PC tech...

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I never played the original STALKER because it was on PC. I would probably have played it if it was on a console. So I don't agree with Morrius' sentiment either.

Regarding the original post, PC gaming will always have its place and I can't imagine FPS games not being part of them. However, due to the high cost of development, the risk of lower returns (games have to be hits to recoup costs, piracy, etc.) and the increasing similarity in development architecture between consoles and PCs and the higher acceptance of cross-platform releases, I think the days of PC-exclusive FPS games (apart from the odd showcase title) will be over. After all, if it takes relatively little effort to increase your potential market you'd be foolish not to.

/edit/ or what the guy(s) above said

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For me it's not about the comfy sofa or big TV, although it helps. The thing that puts me off PC gaming (or Mac gaming for that matter) is that I just can't be arsed with the installation, patching and tweaking. I always feel that the game is not running As Good As it Could Be because I don't have the latest driver/card/service pack or because I should tone down AA with this card but bump up texture rez with that card and all that. When I put more detail on I'm afraid my framerate will drop, when I up the framerate I'm afraid I'm losing detail and I get very nervous about it. And when you finally got it running all kinds of disasters happen when you receive an email or aunty ethel starts an MSN conversation or one of the 100 Update agents in the background decides it's the right time to download, install and draw popups all over your computer. I'd just rather keep work & pleasure apart.

I just want to pop in the disc (or rather run from HDD), press start and go.

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For me it's not about the comfy sofa or big TV, although it helps. The thing that puts me off PC gaming (or Mac gaming for that matter) is that I just can't be arsed with the installation, patching and tweaking. I always feel that the game is not running As Good As it Could Be because I don't have the latest driver/card/service pack or because I should tone down AA with this card but bump up texture rez with that card and all that. When I put more detail on I'm afraid my framerate will drop, when I up the framerate I'm afraid I'm losing detail and I get very nervous about it. And when you finally got it running all kinds of disasters happen when you receive an email or aunty ethel starts an MSN conversation or one of the 100 Update agents in the background decides it's the right time to download, install and draw popups all over your computer. I'd just rather keep work & pleasure apart.

I just want to pop in the disc (or rather run from HDD), press start and go.

When is the last time you used a PC, 1998? :huh:

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Well I would suggest using Steam, since it takes out the first two of your troubles instantly - no installing, no patching. Everything is downloaded automatically and you just click on "play game" and you're away. It's exactly the same as downloading a game from XBLA / PSN or whatever.

Secondly, who uses MSN messenger these days? Even so, it's not hard to turn it off.

Lastly, tweaking is often done automatically by the game, although admittedly not always and not always perfectly. If you're not actually bothered by minute performance differences, you shouldn't tinker too much anyway.

You're right that consoles are generally more accessible and 'ready to go' but you seem to be overstating your case with old cliches! Did you know you can plug PCs into televisions these days? A lot of games also natively support the Xbox controller too.

(I don't know what Dragon Age is like, so fair enough.)

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Personally I can't see me stopping playing PC FPSs for a while yet as despite my best efforts I remain stubbornly uncoordinated with anything that isn't a mouse and keyboard. I'm sure I'm in the minority with this though as whenever I want to play a co-op FPS with a friend it's almost always done on the 360 these days :(

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I think with the extended life cycle of the current gen consoles we are going to see a bit of a resurgence in PC gaming.

With a lot of multi format releases now happening - it's fair to say that the PC version is going to be the best version. I've been playing Singularity on PC - originally I had been thinking about getting the Xbox version. But I don't think I could play it now that I've been spoilt by proper full 1080p graphics and constant 60 fps. And I'm still using my xbox controller.

So my point - As PC set ups way more powerful than consoles get even cheaper - I think the more - for want of a better word, hardcore - will increasingly move to PC to get their kicks. Same games but better/smoother graphics. This isn't of course for everyone, but I can see it happening. It's happening to some of us on here now.

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FPS on PC is fine. Games like Red Orchestra 2 give a tantalising glimpse of a world of online FPS in which Modern Warfare isn't the gold standard, and I fucking love it.

Yeah, RO2 looks very good so far.

I haven't played many new FPSes on PC. But from what I can tell all the main multi-platform franchises are still there (with better versions), as are the exclusives and many people still playing all the old games, so things seem pretty much the same. Aside from MW2's servers and BC2's player sizes (fits the design, BF3 coming anyway) there doesn't seem to be much dumbing-down.

Agreed memories - the console side has really improved but not to the detriment of PC, which has gained by incorporating a little console accessibility.

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It's a bit of a shame though that PC developers will have to bow to the lowest common denominator in multiplatform development. With longer console lifecycles (and hence lower power compared to new PCs), you might see the same effect as in consoleland where the game is based on the most popular hardware and little is added to more powerful systems. Like the PS2 games versus Xbox games in the last gen for example. Or between 360 and PS3 ports.

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I think with the extended life cycle of the current gen consoles we are going to see a bit of a resurgence in PC gaming.

With a lot of multi format releases now happening - it's fair to say that the PC version is going to be the best version. I've been playing Singularity on PC - originally I had been thinking about getting the Xbox version. But I don't think I could play it now that I've been spoilt by proper full 1080p graphics and constant 60 fps. And I'm still using my xbox controller.

So my point - As PC set ups way more powerful than consoles get even cheaper - I think the more - for want of a better word, hardcore - will increasingly move to PC to get their kicks. Same games but better/smoother graphics. This isn't of course for everyone, but I can see it happening. It's happening to some of us on here now.

I don't think this setup of yours is pretty common to be honest. Also, I believe it doesn't matter what the best version is anymore, graphics wise.

No matter how powerfull a PC is, nowdays, an FPS of Modern Warfare quality on the consoles is enough for most gamers. I seriously doubt players will forego their consoles because they heard that the PC version has better graphics. Unless they are PC players first and foremost.

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I don't think this setup of yours is pretty common to be honest. Also, I believe it doesn't matter what the best version is anymore, graphics wise.

No matter how powerfull a PC is, nowdays, an FPS of Modern Warfare quality on the consoles is enough for most gamers. I seriously doubt players will forego their consoles because they heard that the PC version has better graphics. Unless they are PC players first and foremost.

Which is pretty much what I said. This thread at the start implied that PC gaming is dying. My point is that far from dying - it's going to grow as those serious about gaming start seeing that console gaming is available on PC but better.

I know you don't care about the best version graphics wise, and there's nothing wrong with that point of view - but others do. See the Mafia 2 thread for people who upon seeing the PC version next to the PS3 version are considering upgrading their PC's.

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I don't think this setup of yours is pretty common to be honest. Also, I believe it doesn't matter what the best version is anymore, graphics wise.

No matter how powerfull a PC is, nowdays, an FPS of Modern Warfare quality on the consoles is enough for most gamers. I seriously doubt players will forego their consoles because they heard that the PC version has better graphics. Unless they are PC players first and foremost.

Yeah, yeah, and hands up everyone who's seen the Mafia 2 demo running on PC and is still going to be playing the shit-stained fishbowl console version?

Over a long enough period nearly everyone gets bored of seeing the same old graphics. There are some console series on their third or fourth iteration this gen, that are struggling to come up with anything fresh when they're already pushing the hardware as far as it can go. Same thing happened with the PS1, when it was ridiculously outstaying its welcome (circa 1998). And PCs were a ridiculously expensive pain in the arse back then.

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