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Modern Retro Shooters / Quake Spiritual Successors
Wonder If A Specific Retro-shooter Thread Is Warranted?
#10166 posted by Shambler [92.29.26.135] on 2017/08/27 11:32:00


It is! Separate thread because there's a lot of these sort of games, the ethos of them is particularly relevant to this board, and it's inhabitants seem to have some good varying opinions on the matter.

Quake as the eptiome as 90s action FPS:

Very direct control and physics
Simple streamlined gameplay
Brutal visceral and gory
Weird fantasy / gothic / industrial theme
Grungy, coherent graphics
Cool map designs / architecture (for the time)
Varied but consistent bestiary
Etc
(many of the above adhered to and greatly enhanced by subsequent custom content)

We all like these aspects, we all like these aspects in other games, we all want to see more of those games, possibly combined with modern graphical styles (Quake Chumpions MAPS might be an example of how far this could go) and maybe very limited modern additions (crouching? an inventory? coherent story? - but nothing that gets in the way of solid action). We perhaps want the next Quake / 90s action FPS spiritual successor...

Modern Retro Shooters:

...and lo, there's a neverending stream of modern retro games many of which are unabashedly marketting themselves as 90s action FPS spiritual successors and particularly highlighting speed, direct control, simple action, limitless violence. Do they have what it takes to hit that mark though??

Strafe
http://store.steampowered.com/app/442780/STRAFE_Millennium_Edition/

Amid Evil
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo7X7b6pPng

Dusk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsu9uDMlIMM

Hellbound
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyabhVn1SfQ

Apocryph
http://store.steampowered.com/app/596240/Apocryph_an_oldschool_shooter/

Ion Maiden
https://twitter.com/voidpnt

Neverdead
http://store.steampowered.com/app/681000/NEVRDEAD/

Gorescript
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpZ1Wa0OIoQ

Intrude
https://bagogames.com/intrude-review/

Hermodr
http://store.steampowered.com/app/490360/Hermodr/

Devil Daggers
http://store.steampowered.com/app/422970/Devil_Daggers/

Gibhard
http://www.gibhard.com

Without wanting to opine too much, there seems to be a general trend of possibly not hitting the mark despite some attempts to do so, with a huge variety in how much potential those attempts show, as well as how close these games are to realising the overall harmonious game quality of a typical best 90s action FPS. I.e. Some games seem to do some aspects right, but don't seem to get all the aspects in balance and appealing together.

Discuss....
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*as The Epitome OF* 
fu otp.x 
Shambler's Threads 
Are the real spiritual successor to Quake. 
 
Another contender (haven't played it): Midnight Ultra http://store.steampowered.com/app/731590/Midnight_Ultra/

Got a few thoughts on theme/atmosphere at least... will put those in a separate post. 
 
While I haven't played or heard of everything on that list, there seems to be two main flaws that most of the 'new wave of retro shooters' always hit. The first is name-dropping every old school shooter they can think of, by name specifically, in the game's trailer- Doom, Quake, Heretic, and Hexen, primarily- but playing much more like Serious Sam instead, full of large but enclosed arenas with waves of identical enemies for the player to mow down. The second is a graphical complaint- either making the game too dated looking, worse than the actual FPSs of the time, or trying to make it look like Quake 1-era graphics but ignoring palette limitations, texture scaling, etc. so it looks like a typical ugly Darkplaces mod.

Also, controversial opinion: these types of games rely very heavily on good level design, this site still existing being an obvious testament to that, and using procedural/random generation for your levels (no matter how many rooms you've made) immediately makes them crap. 
 
The style of old school shooters was the way it was not due to artistic styling, but hardware limitations.

This notion is completely ignored in the surge of "retro-style" shooters. 
 
Skipping mechanics chat for a minute:

By coincidence I was thinking about Quake atmosphere this morning, as a result of poking around in some of the Quake Champions maps recently. Those maps are impressive in many ways, but don't have a Quake (1) atmosphere despite I think some intentions in that direction.

Quake had some weird worlds. Partly because it was made by a weird group of dudes, partly because of technical limitations (e.g. low polygon count, and restricted color set because of so many palette indices dedicated to lighting shades). But for whatever reason, it was all a bit "off-model" compared to more well-worn themes and settings.

Not to pick on the OP, but it's not really Gothic. It's also not Giger, or hell-and-demons, or Lord of the Rings fantasy, or Doom 3 style "future base with pipes and wires". It's a little sparse, low-tech, brutalist, swampy. It has spaces that seem to be waiting for something (the player, maybe). It's a little bit Lovecraftian and eventually downright abstract.

For an Actual Quake Sequel I'd want to see good takes on the specific Quake settings (base, runic, etc.) although I'm afraid that a modern game's art team wouldn't be able to get away from making them overly "busy" and overly more-like-this-other-familiar-thing.

For a retro shooter I'd really just like something that has the balls to go off-model like that. (Which is why I want to give Midnight Ultra a look when I have a chance.) And to ease back on the explanations and guides and interruptions that get in the way of letting the gameworld breathe.

Actually the thing that most tickled my retro-shooter-feel in the past couple of years might have been Teleglitch, although it's not an FPS. 
Gibhard 
Looks great. Looking forward to this one. http://www.gibhard.com/ 
The Only One In That List That Hits The Mark Is Ion Maiden 
Because it's actually made on fucking Build. 
Don't Forget 
Minimized
Monument
Revulsion

Keeping my fingers crossed for Ion Maiden. 
+ 1 Gibhard 
That's the only one I care about. Coincidentally I think it's the only one on that last made by someone with extensive mod + game industry experience 
 
last = list 
Gotta Be A Dungeon Crawler First 
Before it's a first person shooter. Anyone who manages that has it nailed. 
You Forget Paranautical Activity And Eldritch 
 
No I Didn;t Forget You Nugget, I Don't Know The Whole Fucking Lot. 
Also less listing games, more discussing whether this trend can work, whether the games you list can hit the mark, etc. 
I'll Look At The List In More Detail 
but I agree Gibhard looks excellent. Super-coherent look, great implementation of that pixel aesthetic. Low-ish res sprite weapons work great. The textures are appropriately low-res, unfiltered, and well executed. Effects all look good. Combat looks enjoyable.

Potential shortfall is obviously the fact that it's proc-gen and time will tell if that can be executed well. 
Oh And Of Course, Devil Daggers. 
Close to the Quake aesthetic. It's dingy and brown and pixellated, but it is actually hugely atmospheric and oppressive. It does that thing where the lack of detail causes your mind to fill in the blanks.

Only thing is it's so intense and oppressive, i find it a bit much after a while. I guess you could consider that a compliment. 
Not Really Interested 
To me majority of Quake mods and maps and also Doom mods and maps are far superior to these attempts.

Recently I have been playing "The Ultimate Torment and Torture Supportive Edition" with Brutaldoom and having a blast. I doubt any of the so-called retro titles can give me similar enjoyment. 
 
Brutaldoom 
 
Brutaldoom is a decent TC whatevs, fuck the drama around SgtMarK who cares?

Better than above mentionned games as Kingold says.

I think there is real bank to be made on a real "oldschool" FPS a la Quake 1 - it will create a following and proper hype, the public is ready for it and all they get is the (mostly crap) listed above to try hard as they can to enjoy for want of that having that "old school fps" experience again.

For this to work though the way of stripping it down (procgen, ridiculously low res simple gfx etc) is not the way to go, it needs to be done in a GRAND way.
Super art direction (but simple efficient limited engine), low system specs - awesome performance 100+ fps easy on weaker systems (how can one justify shit perfoamnce on "retro" ?) real SP campaign, good MP & great netcode with dedic private and public servers etc etc, moddability and mappability.

Not an undertaking for a small low funds indie team I don't think but who knows...

I know we are on func, and its obvious, but the extent of beauty being pulled out of the Q1 engine from the quality of custom maps being made these days is a perfect example of what a large well funded art team should of such a project would be working on (and not endless wow fx multi artist team assets) 
 
On and yeah, another "modern" touch that could go a long way - great fucking sound design with great fucking sound tech - a la positional stuff in Thief.

There is a great deal that can be done with the diverting of the massive art team resources put in AAA games towards more polishing, the subtle touches and generally quality over quantity to make a "retro" fps feel like much much more than just that.

And AAA quake 1 2017 could be made and very profitable if a few execs somewhere had the vision.. 
 
i think it's wishful thinking that a publisher would put a "big" budget into a retro shooter. Way less bankable than a modern shooter with AAA graphics, no matter how predictable those can be. 
My Thoughts 
Here's a brief list of what I perceptive as mistakes and shortcomings found in modern "retro" FPS games (and their remedies):

• absence of proper level design - level design is the very core of a good FPS. you can have a phenomenal aesthetic and clever ai, but that is absolutely no substitute for real, good level design. inversely, a game can have a lackluster aesthetic and dumb ai but still be a very good game by virtue of it's level design. IMO, if one had to choose a single most important aspect of a game it would be this. sadly, level design seems to me the most overlooked in the modern retro FPS scene.

• inappropriate/inconsistent art style - this one is pretty self-explanatory. execution goes a long way, even uninteresting or derivative designs can hold their own if executed properly. IMO, I think that materials (bumps, norms, specs, etc) are not only often inappropriate, but poorly executed as well. even materials subtly and tastefully used are still ultimately out of place. spend time making one good diffuse map rather than throwing in all the bells and whistles because you can. also, I don't remember any FPS from the days of old that used 8-bit music.

• unrestrained and haphazard design - classic FPSes were defined by outside limitations (hardware, tools, etc). this created not only a certain look, but a feel. these games oozed creativity that is often a product of the devs working within and around these limitations. modern retro FPS devs need to think deeply about appropriate limits, impose them, adhere to them and work creatively within them.

• respect the player - there is a strong temptation to "dumb-down" and "hand-hold". I sympathize, but stop it. understand your audience, they're much more experienced and astute than you give them credit for. also, don't swing too far in the other direction. making something stupidly difficult or obtuse is not good design and it's not retro. these games need to be pleasurably challenging and rewarding.

• one-dimensionality - this is more general but is a common trait among these games. The "retro" aspect is approached more as a gimmick than an ethos. devs seem to pick a single and often easily identifiable attribute of oldsclochool FPSes (pixelation, lowpoly, speed, gore) and run with it, seemingly in a vacuum. this results in a caricature, exaggerated and shallow, rather than an authentic classic fps experience. oldschool FPSes are often more nuanced than people think and are a careful balance of many things.

It's not enough to execute one of these correctly. You have to hit all of them. I'm sure there's more to add to this list (there is) but I have stuff to do :D 
Killpixel I Only Read Your Titles. 
And I already think I agree 100%. 
 
I intended to keep it at bullet points with maybe a single sentence explanation but ended up getting a little wordy :/

the bold text makes a good TL;DR 
 
i think it's wishful thinking that a publisher would put a "big" budget into a retro shooter.

DOOM 2016 would like a word... 
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