Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Person Films - Combat in the First Person: Haruti

Watch this amazing 7:33 real-life helmet cam video of a battle in Afghanistan, edited by the New York Times.

Required viewing for FPS-afficionados everywhere: this is exactly the source material we steal from, and it is clear how much more we must steal. Some observations:
  • It's kind of funny how desaturated and colorless the video is. Just like in the video games!
  • At one point, Watch the second time they come under fire. Watch the squad and the "player"; they go to great lengths to avoid stepping into the irrigation ditch. On a strategic level, maybe the water would get their equipment wet and less-functional -- but wouldn't the trench give them more cover? On a cultural level, slimy irrigation water is gross. How do we represent the consequence of materials / materiality in an FPS? Portal 2 presents a really blatant treatment of materials in the form of brightly-colored gel; but will it ever possible to represent how gross wet toilet-paper feels?
  • They hold their fire / conserve their ammo a lot. I think it's pretty clear we don't want to model this, though, because running out of ammo isn't "fun."
  • Reloading your gun while running seems pretty hard to do in real-life.
  • Covering fire plays a huge role. (Brothers in Arms was the first to formally mechanize this, I think.)
  • They almost never fire when standing. (Since Counter-Strike, FPS games now model this.)
  • They do not know the exact layout of the level, but they know rough architectural schemas: "this 150 x 150 enclosed orchard was unusual for that area." If we wanted to model that thinking, maybe we should only have procedurally-generated levels, in order to encourage pattern-recognition over rote memory.
  • They blew a hole in the wall. Currently, only the Battlefield: Bad Company series models that, and other games less interestingly with pre-placed static "breaching charge" locations for demomen player classes. Dynamic deformation is probably the most crucial real-life combat mechanic to explore in military arcade FPS games. (For more, see "The First Person Ruin")
  • At the end, they hug each other. Hugging is clearly important to the narrative of this battle. Why isn't "hugging" a game mechanic? Why aren't there any first person huggers? (Other than Portal 2?) Dear Activision: I want to kiss my squadmate's forehead at the end of a round.