Serious Sam Anylysis
Here are my thoughts on Serious Sam, a First Person Shooter game that I haven't actually played, though I've watched plenty of "Let's Plays". My gaming has kind of transitioned into that.
Serious Sam HD (TFE & TSE) looks pretty good in action I think. The colorful but not too cartoony style feels well balanced with the tone of the game, somehow. SS3 looks more realistic, almost to the point of being DNF/military shooter dull. (Edit: But with the vivid color scheme it looks pretty snazzy! I don't like what they did with the brain mech though.) SS2 was perhaps excessively cartoony.
- Offers a playful contrast to the more "realistic" military shooters out there with:
- Some good/fun enemy designs. Favorites being the Bombs-for-hands and Blue brain mech. I think those designs in particular have a "memorable thing" about them (a striking combination of features) and great silhouettes/recognizeability.
- Open areas with lots of shooting. It reminds me of EDF and Robotron 2048.
- The bull enemies feel very authentic as they charge and tumble, dying.
- The cannons look so excessive and fun.
- Coop. Is it twice the fun? I think so.
- Plain story/level format. Start level, mow down spawning stuff, get some weapon, next level.
- Some generic enemy designs
- Some generic weapon designs. I'm not much for revolvers, shotguns and such (although they are useful for providing a reference point). I think the UT series did a good job coming up with unique and fun weapons.
- Not enough shootingvariety. I'd like to be able to lay down combos and improvise, perhaps dual-wielding (any) 2 guns, each with 2 fire modes (hey, gaming-mice have a lot of buttons these days). I think it would break up the monotony a bit.
- There might be some weapon-enemy vulnerability tables, but I'd rather see some kind of consistent, almost like a language which can be read. Anything that looks armoured can be damaged by piercing weapons. Anything soft and mushy is more vulnerable to cutting, shotgun pellets, fire, etc. In same cases you might want to crush and knock your enemy around (the skeletal Kleers).
- As long as you keep plowing bullets into the enemy, its HP will go down and then it will do the death animation. In SS2 there were a few enemies with shields that you could knock off, but it almost seemed like you had too, and it looked repetitive. I think the enemies would feel more interactively tangible if they could be wounded, perhaps having parts which could be blown off or damaged. I'm not sure what seeing badly wounded enemies would do to the player's empathy though. Afaik, SS does have a low-HP texture, but an animation/behaviour change would be welcome I think.... and maybe a few separate parts for the larger monsters (shield plates or limbs that can pop off).
- Imagine if there were charging bulls which had an armoured face plate. When they come at you, shotguns won't be of much use, but if you let them pass you, you can do damage to the unshielded body. Or you can crack the face plate with an armour piercing rocket and then use the shotgun (which would be fun and accessible if dual-wielding). This type of combat might be more fun than just plowing bullets into whatever comes at you.
- With so many enemies, it's difficult to pull off stuff like persistent corpses. Corpses might clutter up the view, obscure living enemies, slow the computer down, and introduces player-corpse collision questions and troubles. Personally, I'd really like to see what happens if persistent corpses are used in a game with Serious Sam's body count. Thoughts on persistent corpses:
- Immersion is not broken by magic puffery.
- Landmark creation (oh, I'm where I killed those guys).
- Stand on piles of bodies, like on epic cover illustrations.
- Use bodies as cover.
- Use bodies as stairs.
- Blow piles of bodies up.
- I don't think it will look too distracting if body chunks are kept consistent in color and texture.
- Corpse models can degrade to something lowpoly (or even decal-ish?).
- Only the larger chunks could have object-object physics collision.
- It doesn't feel like there are ever huge hordes of enemies on screen simultaneously, instead enemies keep streaming in. It would be fun to fire into a wall of enemies, and I think that could be done.
Serious Sam is not Quake 1. The maps are simpler, more open and flat, like in say StarCraft 2 where we often see hundreds of units doing their logic.
Heroine roughs. Grave Gail, possibly Grim Gail.
I like the white suit design the best, perhaps because white suits are rare (PN03 had a sort of primarily white suit I guess). It could be an android incarnation of a Netricsa, a bit like Andromeda's incarnation "Rommie".
"Nuttie" was purchased cheap. It's a "male" helper AI which sounds a bit like a combination of Sam, Heavy and Strong Bad. It was cheap for a reason.
Grunt babe roughs
Duke Nukem had babes but Serious Sam didn't (harpies and demon women aside), so this is my response. I also like the idea of homogeneity by repetition (speciation, shared design elements, etc). Mental probably grows these, just like the biomechs.
Trying to play a little with opposites. Land shark, land bird, land squid, etc. Gasmask skeleton. Unmagical soldier demon. Fast balloon bomber. Fast elderly zombie carrying heavy burden. Giant steel ballerina retro fembot.
And here's my take on some of the original Serious Sam enemies.
I thought it would be fun give the Gnaar a Splinter Cell gasmask Batman suit ninja treatment.
- Albino Cyclops - I think it's Shambler based. There's a pretty nice looking one in SS3.
- The Kleer appear to be skeletal Quake Fiends. They were all undeadified by Mental, but perhaps one survived?
- Perhaps the bombs-for-hands should have speed lines on the pants. I think it's probably one of the best enemy grunt designs ever.
- The blue brain mech really appeals to me because of the thinning legs I think. Most mechs have lumpy feet-boots and I don't like that. The head shape plays so well with the viscous jaws too.
- The bull/rhino guys - Love their sense of mass and movement in the game.
- Scorpion thing - Not really a favourite but I wanted to play with the design. Ended up with a hybrid of the SS1 and SS2 ones, plus a long tail.
- Generally, game difficulty adjusts things like enemy count and hitpoints. Personally, I dislike when the enemy stats are altered because it makes the game world feel less solid. I'd rather see differences in population, and limits to my own hitpoints and arsenal. In System Shock and 4X games the player can set several difficulty dimensions. Here are some ideas for multidimensional difficulty adjustments.
- Amount of enemies.
- Enemy variation. Spawn enemies according to the map's design, pull randomly from a list of suitable enemies, or just repeat the same enemy over and over.
- Low level or high level enemies, e.g. swap out light Grunt for heavy Grunt.
- Number of player lives, e.g. Infinite, five, just one.
- Player hitpoint cap.
- Weapon variation. Spawn according to map design, randomly, or repeat the first two weapons found (no variation)?
- Weapon scarcity. When playing on "scarce", none of the weapon or ammo item spawning points tagged with "common" will produce anything.
- Overall weapon quality. When playing on "low", the player is more likely to get lower level weapons, such as a pistol instead of a machinegun. On "high", stuff like cannons will spawn instead.
- Something akin to Quake Runes would be fun I think. I like the permanently held variant the best. Timed powerups (e.g. Quake 3) makes me feel stressed.
- I like laying down supportive weapons. Examples, Trip/Proxy mines, Flame wall (Diablo), Capsule Laser Babes (see concept), Turrets.
- by Arne Niklas Jansson, 2011