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Boomer Shooters


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At the risk of trying to create yet another megathread - watching this Civvie video the other night has made me realise that this really is the most exciting area of games for me at the moment. I think it's probably a genre in its own right now?

 

 

Selaco in particular looks absolutely incredible, it's ludicrous that it's running on a DOOM source port

 

 

I think what I like about these types of games is that they essentially play like shmups - at some point it feels like the FPS genre got a bit entangled with game directors' dreams of making films about war (or espionage, or whatever) and this type of stuff feels like a refreshing return to a more basic first-person space invaders type of affair which is much more fun.

 

Anyone else enjoying this type of thing?

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Two of the best examples I have played in recent times:

 

 

Prodeus

 

 

 

The "Doom Clone" taken to the ultimate end point, in the sense that it adds a full stop, underlines it, and punches the typist to death.

 

 

 

Ultrakill

 

 

 

It's like they looked at Doom Eternal and were like, oh yeah cool, but erm, more. And more 90s. And more Devil May Cry. That'll do.

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Yeah Prodeus is exceptional, the the ebb and flow of the maps is the perfect recreation & evolution of how Doom felt to play.

 

Haven't played Ultrakill, shall give it a go!

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One of the things I have noticed though about a lot of the modern takes on the "Boomer Shooter" is that, like that Selaco game looks like above, is many of them just play like either modern FPSs or FPSs from the early 2000s rather than a genuine throwback, but with the 2D pixelated visuals and low framerate gun animations. Like that Selaco game looks the part but has dedicated hiding behind cover, weapon upgrading, Half Life style immersive story etc. That's why I'd say that's looking back but more to a later era than the DOS era.

 

Prodeus and Ultrakill though, they are definitely from the classic Doom and Quake school respectively.

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It also extends to how these games' design philosophies worked.

 

Notice in that Selaco game it's making references to The Terminator and stuff like that, but when the character first gets a new gun there are then a few more beats, then another area, then allows some more combat. So then they can use the weapon in this new arena. That feels like any recent game design really.

 

In Prodeus when you get

 

Spoiler

The Chaingun

 

Spoiler

It immediately drops you into an arena where you can start mowing down zombie soldiers. It gives you the toy, and then says PLAY. That's the classic Boomer Shooter mindset.

 

 

So any of these games might have the references and vibe etc all there, but the actual "spirit" of how those old shooters worked is a very specific thing, and is often the part they miss.

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Something at the back of my mind is worried about the gulf between the marketing agency and the developers for Boltgun if I'm honest. But I'm hoping it'll be good!

 

54 minutes ago, Benny said:

That's why I'd say that's looking back but more to a later era than the DOS era.

 

 

Yeah this is an interesting point,  it doesn't seem consistent in this genre whether developers are trying to recapture the aesthetics or the gameplay mechanics of the era (or both?)

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I do wonder if sometimes it's a product of younger developers looking back where their design frame of reference is FEAR or Black or things like that, but where there's a confusion with that kind of game versus how weird and different and rapidly changing both game design and graphics engines were from the mid 90s to the early 2000s.

 

I mean look at Future Shock/ Skynet for example.

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So I played a bit of that Selaco demo this evening.

 

If anything it's much closer to an early 2000s shooter. After the original Half Life, every FPS started trying to ape it in the ensuing years, and Selaco is doing similar things: starting out having to run away from enemies until you get a gun in a short sequence, bits of environment blowing up around you in scripted set pieces, marine type enemies that do a lot of damage and try to flank you.

 

I played on the middle difficulty and you definitely can't play it like a run and gun. You have to take cover and pick your moments like you would in a more modern shooter and let your health recharge or you get ripped to shreds. I think even in Half Life you could run and gun a bit more sometimes.

 

It's got the aesthetic and nods to the past but functionally it's a lot more sedate than you expect it will be.

 

The whole having to run or creep around bit before you find a gun thing is also a really tired idea these days I find, as when you're playing an FPS it just feels like you're being forced to kill time before you can have fun.

 

Even Duke Nukem 3D understood how to start this kind of thing: "those aliens are gonna pay for shooting up my ride". Pulls out gun. Boom. Done.

 

However the intention of the game makes sense when you consider it's probably drawing more inspiration from post Half Life shooters and some of the immersive sim genre.

 

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Very happy this thread exists. I want boomer shooters to become the new 2D pixel platformers. The FPS AAA space is tedious, and looking back is totally freeing. 
 

Again I’ll recommend Dusk. My GOTY for 2021. The switch port in particular. 

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It's not entirely accurate, but it is very funny, so as a millennial I'm all for it.

 

(also, it's presumably a pun combining the idea of boomers as old/old-fashioned, and the fact that older shooters are particularly typified by things going, well, "boom")

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Prodeus is amazing. The mixture of modern effects and pixelated art works for me, like the FPS equivalent of Octopath / Live a Live. 

The System Shock remake looks to be using this style too and I can’t wait for that to be released. 
 

I own Quake on just about every system and play that a lot, and love trying modern releases that use similar engines.

 

Project Warlock is another modern favourite. More of a Wolfenstein / Catacombs 3D tribute, unlike the sequel which is more Quake-esque.

 

However I’m not so keen on the Duke 3D engine games, like Ion Maiden or whatever they changed the name to. I never liked Duke 3D or the other games that used that engine back in the day for some reason?!

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17 hours ago, Benny said:

Ultrakill

 

It's like they looked at Doom Eternal and were like, oh yeah cool, but erm, more. And more 90s. And more Devil May Cry. That'll do.

 

Oh wow, yeah this is quite special isn't it? Bought it immediately after finishing the demo, thanks very much for the recommendation. Feels absolutely superb to play.

 

And I think the name is just a lighthearted label but yes, recognise that 'boomer' is a divisive term in various areas of discourse, so I can change the thread title if needed. Although I do think clinging to "actually, boomer refers to the baby boomer generation and not mine" is something we may just have to accept that the kids are going to laugh at us about and ignore.

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56 minutes ago, PikaStu said:

Prodeus is amazing. The mixture of modern effects and pixelated art works for me, like the FPS equivalent of Octopath / Live a Live. 

The System Shock remake looks to be using this style too and I can’t wait for that to be released. 
 

I own Quake on just about every system and play that a lot, and love trying modern releases that use similar engines.

 

Project Warlock is another modern favourite. More of a Wolfenstein / Catacombs 3D tribute, unlike the sequel which is more Quake-esque.

 

However I’m not so keen on the Duke 3D engine games, like Ion Maiden or whatever they changed the name to. I never liked Duke 3D or the other games that used that engine back in the day for some reason?!

 

I was never that keen on games made in that (Build) engine either; it felt like fake 3D, if that makes sense, whereas Quake felt like you were controlling an entity in a true 3D space. I think I'm going to give Ion Fury a go when it drops in price though because the art style and setting looks wonderful.

 

Project Warlock is great! It's also £2 on Steam at the moment

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I mostly watch Civvie's stuff to keep abreast of what's going on with boomer shooters. I find it hard to get over most of them looking properly ugly, as in they would have been laughed about by the aesthetic standards of the time.

 

The Quake re-release (with the second new MachineGames episode) and the level packs people are still making for it (and Doom - Thatcher's Techbase! Going Down!) are amazing. Stuff that pushes the envelope of GZDoom or similar are great. Things that try to properly do something that's not been seen before (like Prodeus) in craft terms also great.

 

That Hypnospace Outlaw spinoff thing = eh. They're just ripping off the JeffK character from Something Awful and it looks janky in a non-ironic way.

 

Cruelty Squad = I know people love it for it's mechanics but I'm not putting that into my eyes for hours.

 

Fashion Police Squad = I suspect they pitched the publisher on a bog standard shooter then came up with the 'gimmick' in 30 seconds, it doesn't seem to commit to it or flesh it out very enthusiastically.

 

I don't mind the term boomer shooter. The people who made the old ones (Sandy Petersen, John Romero, Tim Sweeney etc.) are definitely boomers. It's like... what was that 80s term for Golf GTi type cars? Obviously piss-takey.

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