Doom creator John Romero on what's wrong with modern shooter games

erek

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“Give us more guns!” is a common battle-cry among players of first-person shooters, the videogame industry’s bloodiest genre. Doom co-creator John Romero has a rather different opinion.

“I would rather have fewer things with more meaning, than a million things you don’t identify with,” he says, sitting in a Berlin bar mocked up to resemble a 1920s Chicago speakeasy. “I would rather spend more time with a gun and make sure the gun’s design is really deep – that there’s a lot of cool stuff you learn about it.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/nov/12/doom-creator-john-romero-shooter-games-id-software
 

ThatITGuy

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I would somewhat agree. In a number of the recent games I have played, many of the guns felt much the same. I.e. The game has like 5 different versions of a sniper rifle, but all feel about the same, each has its own unique stats. Rinse and repeat for every other weapon type. This tends to get annoying. I miss the day of just rail gun/nail gun, shotgun, rocket launcher. Each had its scenario it was best for (except rocket launcher, which was best for everything, especially FUN!). There was no unlocking different variants.
It feels like a lot of games today focus on playing to unlock things so you can have the weapons/things you need to go have fun, instead of focusing on the fun itself. Often times you grind to get that maxxed weapon or whatever, and all you really end up with is disappointment.
 

DoubleTap

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He's right about modern shooters being too much like RPGs but that's been around for well over a decade.

I think the Tribes and Unreal series were some of the last pure shooters where you didn't have to level or unlock anything, you just had to decide what you wanted to use.

I strongly prefer giving everyone access to all the tools and weapons and letting people find their own balance vs level gating most of the content.

To be fair, MW lets you access some of the best guns at the lowest levels so there isn't a huge power imbalance, but this whole construct is just to keep people on the Skinner box treadmill.
 

Armenius

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I blame Borderlands for starting the "ehrmagod loot" trend in FPS. Loot works well in ARPG games because it's easier to suspend your disbelief with fantastical muscle men and their swingy weapons and frail mages with their steamy staves. In shooters it's supposed to be bullet meets skull and there are only so many ways to create a scenario in which that doesn't kill something before the mind goes "this is bullshit."
 

Merc1138

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I would somewhat agree. In a number of the recent games I have played, many of the guns felt much the same. I.e. The game has like 5 different versions of a sniper rifle, but all feel about the same, each has its own unique stats. Rinse and repeat for every other weapon type. This tends to get annoying. I miss the day of just rail gun/nail gun, shotgun, rocket launcher. Each had its scenario it was best for (except rocket launcher, which was best for everything, especially FUN!). There was no unlocking different variants.
It feels like a lot of games today focus on playing to unlock things so you can have the weapons/things you need to go have fun, instead of focusing on the fun itself. Often times you grind to get that maxxed weapon or whatever, and all you really end up with is disappointment.
So funny thing about that. I recall watching a youtube video a couple years back from I think levelcap, who mentioned that if a game didn't have a progression system he just wouldn't be interested in it. Personally, I think most of these progression systems shoehorned into games are terrible but apparently some people just need that constant carrot on a stick to maintain their interest even if the end result is just drawn out shitty unbalanced gameplay.

Borderlands? Eh, not really. It isn't so much about loot as it is people needing to see a giant bar constantly filling up between matches and occasionally making ding noises and giving them the 10th variant of a submachine gun. Borderlands just took randomized loot like diablo and turned it into guns, but even Hellgate London did that before borderlands(and there are probably others as well).
 

DoubleTap

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So funny thing about that. I recall watching a youtube video a couple years back from I think levelcap, who mentioned that if a game didn't have a progression system he just wouldn't be interested in it. Personally, I think most of these progression systems shoehorned into games are terrible but apparently some people just need that constant carrot on a stick to maintain their interest even if the end result is just drawn out shitty unbalanced gameplay.

Borderlands? Eh, not really. It isn't so much about loot as it is people needing to see a giant bar constantly filling up between matches and occasionally making ding noises and giving them the 10th variant of a submachine gun. Borderlands just took randomized loot like diablo and turned it into guns, but even Hellgate London did that before borderlands(and there are probably others as well).

I played Tribes like a maniac because we had a top tier team, we played in a league and it was fun as hell. Imagine someone needing to level up and unlock moves in baseball, football, basketball, golf or tennis. We can already see a collegehumor video in our mind to show how stupid that would be.
 

Armenius

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I played Tribes like a maniac because we had a top tier team, we played in a league and it was fun as hell. Imagine someone needing to level up and unlock moves in baseball, football, basketball, golf or tennis. We can already see a collegehumor video in our mind to show how stupid that would be.
Sports games have their own systems of progression in career modes that make sense in that setting. The issue is developers are taking traditional D&D-type RPG progression systems and trying to apply them without modification to shooters, which does not work most of the time. Developers need to get creative and come up with something that makes sense for a shooter like they did for sports games. I think the way DOOM 2016 did it was pretty damned close to something perfect.
 

SmokeRngs

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The most fun I ever had in multiplayer FPS games was RTCW and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. There was no unlocking guns in those games. You picked your class and chose a weapon allowed to the class and then went out and had fun. In Wolf:ET, depending on the mod being used and server settings, there was "leveling up" regarding your class but in many cases it didn't take more than a few minutes and the changes weren't massive. You'd get slightly better cooldowns for some things and gun accuracy would go up a bit but it was nothing necessary for halfway decent people. Hell, in many cases you could stop or even reset the leveling for yourself if you wanted to.

Simply put, the game wasn't overly complex. It didn't rely on unlocking guns to get people playing or keep them playing. You didn't need some xp bar to find satisfaction in the game. It was about starting a match and having fun.

That's not even getting into the shitty company run servers and the lack of ability to mod the games. Too many people craving idiot leaderboards and persistent stats helped kill private servers and modding. The loss of private servers and modding is what started the downhill trend in these games. The lack of individuality between servers, the lack of custom maps, the lack of people to enforce rules on servers and many other things are what drove me out of this gamestyle.
 

dgz

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I kind of agree. I managed to finish Shadow Warrior (2013) using nothing but the Katana. Of course, by the second game, the dev had "caught up" with the industry and turned the game into some kind of random stats generator where everything is modular and you "craft" things a;ways searching for something better. This is bullshit.
 

Jagger100

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I played Tribes like a maniac because we had a top tier team, we played in a league and it was fun as hell. Imagine someone needing to level up and unlock moves in baseball, football, basketball, golf or tennis. We can already see a collegehumor video in our mind to show how stupid that would be.
Tribes allowed you to improve as a user of the weapon, that was your leveling. The weapons were quite different from each other and most were different from other games, so you started from scratch. Games no longer lend themselves to that. The learning curves are shallow and the weapons seem to more alike from game to game.
 
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Merc1138

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Sports games have their own systems of progression in career modes that make sense in that setting. The issue is developers are taking traditional D&D-type RPG progression systems and trying to apply them without modification to shooters, which does not work most of the time. Developers need to get creative and come up with something that makes sense for a shooter like they did for sports games. I think the way DOOM 2016 did it was pretty damned close to something perfect.
Doom 2016 had the same crap every other FPS did if not worse, because while the weapons were far more distinct from eachother than most "modern war shooters", you STILL had to unlock crap with a progression system. Doom 2016's multiplayer was basically overhyped trash from the get-go.
 

Dan_D

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I agree and disagree with him at the same time. When it comes to multiplayer games, I couldn't agree more. However, in single player games I am fine with games giving me things to work towards and deeper customization etc.
 

Armenius

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Doom 2016 had the same crap every other FPS did if not worse, because while the weapons were far more distinct from eachother than most "modern war shooters", you STILL had to unlock crap with a progression system. Doom 2016's multiplayer was basically overhyped trash from the get-go.
I was talking about the single player game, not the multiplayer. I don't give two shits about the multiplayer.
 

lcpiper

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He's right about modern shooters being too much like RPGs but that's been around for well over a decade.

I think the Tribes and Unreal series were some of the last pure shooters where you didn't have to level or unlock anything, you just had to decide what you wanted to use.

I strongly prefer giving everyone access to all the tools and weapons and letting people find their own balance vs level gating most of the content.

To be fair, MW lets you access some of the best guns at the lowest levels so there isn't a huge power imbalance, but this whole construct is just to keep people on the Skinner box treadmill.


I had no problem with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. The weapons seemed faithfully recreated with two glaring exceptions, the pistols which were ridiculously accurate and deadly at ranges that were completely unrealistic, and the M203 grenade launcher which was poorly implemented so that you could aim it at the floor or the wall right in front of yourself to kill an enemy who was way too close and it would kill the enemy but not you. The first issue with that is that the 40mm grenade round fired from the M203 has an arming distance it must travel (actually it's that the grenade must spin so many revolutions), before it's armed and can detonate, and the second, that in most cases, had it detonated that close, it would have killed both the target and the shooter. I felt it was the most unbalanced trash in the game.
 
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Doom 2016 had the same crap every other FPS did if not worse, because while the weapons were far more distinct from eachother than most "modern war shooters", you STILL had to unlock crap with a progression system. Doom 2016's multiplayer was basically overhyped trash from the get-go.

doom 2016 single player was one of the best games i really enjoyed all the way through, which is a supreme irony. everything is because of doom, hardocp would be a quilting and seamstress forum if not for doom.
 

DoubleTap

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Sports games have their own systems of progression in career modes that make sense in that setting. The issue is developers are taking traditional D&D-type RPG progression systems and trying to apply them without modification to shooters, which does not work most of the time. Developers need to get creative and come up with something that makes sense for a shooter like they did for sports games. I think the way DOOM 2016 did it was pretty damned close to something perfect.

I don't have a major issue with prestige systems based on accomplishment. In real sports, if you're good, you can play in better leagues and win belts or trophys, etc. That's fine - but you don't have to play 36 holes of golf to unlock a new putter or get 20 runs to unlock a lighter bat.

The best systems right now are:

Overwatch: leveling is prestige only, rewards are cosmetic only. A level 900 player has no advantage over a level 9 player except their own skill and experience.

Apex Legends: loot is random and must be found, skill in overcoming other players gets you faster access to loot. There are times when you land next to someone and they get an LMG while you get only accessories but leveling and ranking are prestige only.

The bottom line is that time invested in a game has always made you better because you know the maps, and the quirks of the guns and how best to kill people - but companies push a variant of "Pay to Win" which is "Invest Time to Win" which really isn't much better, it just feels less "greedy" since, in theory, everyone can invest the time and people feel like they "earn" their enhanced capabilities and it blurs the line between skill and equipment.

People who invest more time in a game are more likely to pay for cosmetics and other DLC and as much as I hate the system, the CoD and Battlefield games are usually among the most fun - at least for me.
 

Merc1138

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doom 2016 single player was one of the best games i really enjoyed all the way through, which is a supreme irony. everything is because of doom, hardocp would be a quilting and seamstress forum if not for doom.
Oh the single player was great, it's just that the multiplayer was terrible for the same reasons most fps games are terrible these days.
 

KD5ZXG

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A system with advancement by way of prestige. Better missions, dfferent dialogues, harder enemies, slightly more cash.
Nothing that significantly helps, rather progressively recognize and lean on the player's demonstrated skill ever harder.
An experienced player should be able to advance to the tipping point of overwhelming challenge rather quickly.
Starting equipmet loadout should be potent and useful to the end, yet wildly inappropriate for certain situations.

Doom my ass, [H]ard Quilting Bee VR 2020 Trinocular Edition
 
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GotNoRice

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I miss shooters where you can just jump in and play. Unreal Tournament (original & 2004), Quake (1, 2, 3), Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, BF1942 (and Desert Combat mod), etc. The games aren't over-complicated to where you have to learn a bunch of stuff before you can have fun, you don't have to level-up your character in order to be competitive, everyone played on an even playing field, there were no micro-transactions, you could host your own servers easily. Also most of those games had a decently-long life-span. Not like modern games that cost $80 and a new version comes out once per year making the old version obsolete.
 

DoubleTap

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I miss shooters where you can just jump in and play. Unreal Tournament (original & 2004), Quake (1, 2, 3), Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, BF1942 (and Desert Combat mod), etc. The games aren't over-complicated to where you have to learn a bunch of stuff before you can have fun, you don't have to level-up your character in order to be competitive, everyone played on an even playing field, there were no micro-transactions, you could host your own servers easily. Also most of those games had a decently-long life-span. Not like modern games that cost $80 and a new version comes out once per year making the old version obsolete.

You can chalk it up to the cost of games or greed, but those games cede too much control to the consumer and had too long of a lifespan and didn't trigger the Skinnerbox grind behavior that modern games all rely on for revenue.

The industry learned it's lesson from those golden years and has taken steps to ensure that stuff just doesn't happen anymore.

You can't have private servers because people need to level up (which one of those is the chicken, which one is the egg?)

Same thing with mods.

Our interests and the publishers interests have very little alignment.
 

HAL_404

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Seems to me as I said recently, Metro Exodus got it righter than most recent releases:

- limited amount of guns with a good amount of available free upgrades as the game progresses
- nice story line
- limited open world
- nice graphics
- good audio
- constancy regarding the characters

EA dropped Shepherd when they came up with Andromeda and look what happened :(

But someone needs be very creative these days to come up with something rather new to earn the millions of $$$ many so desire or ... they can just become another of the many game devs who keep churning out the same old boring stuff year after year.

"Personally, I think most of these progression systems shoehorned into games are terrible but apparently some people just need that constant carrot on a stick to maintain their interest even if the end result is just drawn out shitty unbalanced gameplay." ~

Or maybe the cause of poor games are due to the customers.
 
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M76

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I agree with that. Instead of a hundred different throwaway items let's have a dozen that have character. And more importantly don't have weapon tiers, and enemy tiers. A sniper rifle should have the same power at the first minute of the game as the 100th hour.

Creating one enemy type and then adding tier 2 and tier 3.... of the exact same enemy is the laziest game design ever. It's not even just lazy, it's bad design.
 

GoodBoy

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I think he is on to something.

Super fun FPS's of days gone by, none of which had "Gun Progression" type bullshit:
Quake 3
Quake Live
Quake Champions
COD1
COD2
Unreal Tournament

Don't GAF about Modern Warfare Black Ops War Machine blah blah blah...

The progression that's tolerable is when its just an attachment, etc. but I really don't see the point other than the time-sink someone mentioned above. Shit game design by lazy dev's.
 

deaedius

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Destiny 2 is a perfect example of too many guns. Once I find a gun that suits me well it becomes under powered and it takes forever to find another one like it.
 

Merc1138

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Destiny 2 is a perfect example of too many guns. Once I find a gun that suits me well it becomes under powered and it takes forever to find another one like it.
Didn't Destiny 2 have a method of increasing the level of items by sacrificing others so you could keep the ones you preferred? At least I remember it having that.
 

singe_101

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I think he is on to something.

Super fun FPS's of days gone by, none of which had "Gun Progression" type bullshit:
Quake 3
Quake Live
Quake Champions
COD1
COD2
Unreal Tournament

Don't GAF about Modern Warfare Black Ops War Machine blah blah blah...

The progression that's tolerable is when its just an attachment, etc. but I really don't see the point other than the time-sink someone mentioned above. Shit game design by lazy dev's.

Toxikk
 

ThatITGuy

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I miss shooters where you can just jump in and play. Unreal Tournament (original & 2004), Quake (1, 2, 3), Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, BF1942 (and Desert Combat mod), etc. The games aren't over-complicated to where you have to learn a bunch of stuff before you can have fun, you don't have to level-up your character in order to be competitive, everyone played on an even playing field, there were no micro-transactions, you could host your own servers easily. Also most of those games had a decently-long life-span. Not like modern games that cost $80 and a new version comes out once per year making the old version obsolete.
I mostly agree, but I will say that in those shooters, the just "jump in and play" included getting your butt handed to you by guys who had practiced and mastered the guns. I was terrible with nail gun/rail gun when i first started. I eventually got pretty deadly and could dominate some games.
Lots of people nowadays cannot handle that initial stages of getting destroyed by better players. You cannot throw money at making yourself a better player like you can with paying to get better weapon and armor. So either they do that, or blame that as the reason why they lost to the other person, because they had bought their way into the win.

Seems to me as I said recently, Metro Exodus got it righter than most recent releases:

- limited amount of guns with a good amount of available free upgrades as the game progresses
- nice story line
- limited open world
- nice graphics
- good audio
- constancy regarding the characters

EA dropped Shepherd when they came up with Andromeda and look what happened :(

But someone needs be very creative these days to come up with something rather new to earn the millions of $$$ many so desire or ... they can just become another of the many game devs who keep churning out the same old boring stuff year after year.

"Personally, I think most of these progression systems shoehorned into games are terrible but apparently some people just need that constant carrot on a stick to maintain their interest even if the end result is just drawn out shitty unbalanced gameplay." ~

Or maybe the cause of poor games are due to the customers.

One thing I did like from Mass Effect was being able to vary the ammo. It has been a while so I don't remember all of the different types, but my favorite was the ammo from the first game. Hammerhead ammo was pretty useless from a damage perspective, but it was hella fun to throw around enemies. Throwing in an ammo that poisoned and did DOT was good too. The problem is that much more than that only really works well on PVE, and even then only on boss fights. Armor Reduction, and other debuffs are useless when they other guy is dead in 2-3 shots.
 

Flogger23m

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Depends how they do it. If I plan to play the game a lot I would like good variety even if they are mostly the same gameplay wise. If you don't like it, just keep using the same 3-5 weapons over and over again.

Just don't make it grindy and have excessive amounts of attachments that perform magic tricks. Having 10 different grips that magically change the function of a weapon is absurd.

If we're talking about an unrealistic game like Half Life or some sci fi game I agree that it is better to make a few very unique weapons. But if you're using real world weapons, give me as much as possible as long as they fit in the setting.

Also I'll have to say, the article was fairly weak. In an awkward attempt to play SJW they tried to link a fake event in the recent CoD game with a real world event. In the CoD game the event centered around a civilian massacre. In the real world event it focused on bombing military vehicles (including tanks and stolen civilian vehicles) of a retreating military force that had just invaded and pillaged its neighboring county.

It was a nice way to kill any credibility the article had.

I miss shooters where you can just jump in and play. Unreal Tournament (original & 2004), Quake (1, 2, 3), Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, BF1942 (and Desert Combat mod), etc. The games aren't over-complicated to where you have to learn a bunch of stuff before you can have fun, you don't have to level-up your character in order to be competitive, everyone played on an even playing field, there were no micro-transactions, you could host your own servers easily. Also most of those games had a decently-long life-span. Not like modern games that cost $80 and a new version comes out once per year making the old version obsolete.

Agreed. I don't mind some unlocks, but having to unlock the same sights for every single gun is just outright annoying. A lot of times by the time you finally get the attachment you want to play a different game mode, weapon or class because you're tired of using the same thing over and over again. I know some people like it, but I wish they'd give you an option.

Load game. Choose between:

Unlock everything by default.
Unlock progression (which can be switched on or off).

Done, you now appease both groups and can get the gamers who don't have lots of time to buy your game. There has been a few games I was semi interested in but just didn't have the time to go through and unlock everything so I skipped them entirely.
 
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Accursed

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Didn't Destiny 2 have a method of increasing the level of items by sacrificing others so you could keep the ones you preferred? At least I remember it having that.
Yup it does, but most people stick to just a few guns and level those. 90% of guns in that game quickly get disassembled and are basically trash. Recently in the new dungeon 92% of players used the Recluse SMG, and their isn't much reason to use anything else in that slot.
 

The Lurker

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Thats why I liked Dead Space. Same basic weapon that you personalized throughout the game as your style developed.
 

5150Joker

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Maybe he can swoop in and save us from all these terrible games by producing a sequel to his AAA hit Daikatana.
 

Flogger23m

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I had no problem with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. The weapons seemed faithfully recreated with two glaring exceptions, the pistols which were ridiculously accurate and deadly at ranges that were completely unrealistic, and the M203 grenade launcher which was poorly implemented so that you could aim it at the floor or the wall right in front of yourself to kill an enemy who was way too close and it would kill the enemy but not you. The first issue with that is that the 40mm grenade round fired from the M203 has an arming distance it must travel (actually it's that the grenade must spin so many revolutions), before it's armed and can detonate, and the second, that in most cases, had it detonated that close, it would have killed both the target and the shooter. I felt it was the most unbalanced trash in the game.

Did you play the console versions? The PC versions absolutely had an arming distance. They would still arm if they rolled around on the ground and if they bounced off a service they would detonate upon second or third impact. The game is only the only game I know of that had all three possible reload animations. You could shoot while reloading with no magazine in the weapon. The games had so many nice small details. Here is a video I made showing off some of the stuff including the arming distance for the grenade launcher.



Compare that to what we got in Future Soldier or Wildlands, which are soulless weapons without even basic reload animations implemented.
 

Criticalhitkoala

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Me personally, I think we hit peak FPS weaponry with ut1999. All the guns had it's on unique flair that made them all viable in a way. I haven't found comparible weapons like UT's Sniper Rifle, Shock Rifle, Flak Cannon in any other games. Maybe a hint of them here and there, but not the whole feel. And being that they all have alt fire, it made it even funner.

While people hate it...I do enjoy Apex's weapon selection.
 

lcpiper

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Did you play the console versions? The PC versions absolutely had an arming distance. They would still arm if they rolled around on the ground and if they bounced off a service they would detonate upon second or third impact. The game is only the only game I know of that had all three possible reload animations. You could shoot while reloading with no magazine in the weapon. The games had so many nice small details. Here is a video I made showing off some of the stuff including the arming distance for the grenade launcher.



Compare that to what we got in Future Soldier or Wildlands, which are soulless weapons without even basic reload animations implemented.



PC, and at least at the time I played there was no arming distance. I have been fragged by guys with GLs at corners, like 6 feet or less away.

I wonder if there were server options that controlled it.
 
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Youn

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Maybe he can swoop in and save us from all these terrible games by producing a sequel to his AAA hit Daikatana.
he tried, innovating gets harder as you get older and more cynical, which I think is the bigger reason why modern shooters tend to suck: they are "designed" by old curmudgeons and not as much by "younger" enthusiastic crowd who are free to take risks and play with new ideas. This is why some of those indie games are so fun, but the fun won't happen nearly as often with AAA FPS as they take such huge teams to build
 

GoodBoy

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(First Person) games don't need guns to be fun. Examples:

Portal
Amnesia The Dark Descent
 
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