The quest for satisfying gunplay

A screenshot from Total Rendition 0.3.3.1

After a self-imposed break (well, not quite), I got around doing work on Total Rendition’s development. The most recent work done on Total Rendition was based on player feedback comparing 0.0.8.6 with more recent versions up to 0.2.1.0. After altering the architecture between 0.0.8.6 and 0.1.0.8, the gunplay mechanics became dormant and had to be reworked, although I had decided not to do so in order to focus on other mechanics characteristic of Total Rendition.

Eventually, once I had tended to the bureaucratic affairs of game development, I returned to work. As part of the push towards version 0.3.3.3, we’re now at 0.3.3.1. Here are some preliminary results of which I’ll hope you’ll appreciate these.

If you noted how the grenade launcher wrecked the door, well, lockpicking will still remain an option. There are enough modern military shooters around and diversity of options is still a paramount design goal for Total Rendition.

Still, I recently played the now (for video games’ standards) antique titles Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Rainbow Six Vegas 2, for inspiration to get good gunplay. Despite their generic, sometimes borderline fascist narratives, I did appreciate the smoothness of using weapons in these games. I also lifted the idea of interesting recoil from the Counterstrike series and GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas, forcing an element of strategy and tactics in fighting enemies, since recoil can only be mitigated by crouching (at a loss of speed) or skill upgrades (and thus less opportunities to upgrade social and stealth skills).

There is a recent trend to make games less violent, with many indiedevs eschewing it altogether on purpose. However, unless the game’s premise does not require you to deal with violence at all, I feel this is more often than not very contrived and a bit self-righteous even. The depiction of violence can help to establish the grittiness of the atmosphere of the game and this is especially true if the violence shown is particularly brutal (think of the Hitman or GTA games, or especially Fallout 1 & 2). Thus, Total Rendition will not shy away from violence, to underscore the brutality of the setting and of courses, the enemy NPCs.

Of course, it will remain an option to play Total Rendition in a completely non-violent fashion (and this will be where my admiration of the first two Fallout games and the Deus Ex series will shine throughout, or so I hope at least). However, I do aim to create some psychological tension for players by making the gunplay of Total Rendition appealing to players in terms of hand-eye coordination challenges, while simultaneously underscoring the wanton destructiveness and undesirability of violence in general.

Before I release 0.3.3.3, I hope to make some tweaks to the AI and UI, as well as the maps. It is not going to feature the setting overhaul I had spoken about earlier.

-Mordechai Gabai

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