Can I Skip the Boring Driving Parts?

29th January 2005

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Inspired by this interesting thread at IGDA: Can I Skip the Boring Fighting Parts? I present an idea for combining different game genres from one IP into a cohesive whole.

Half Life 2

I’ve just finished playing Half Life 2 and to be honest I was less than impressed. I’ll try to organise my thoughts into something worth reading for another post but if I had to give it a simple score it would be 6/10. Obviously there were lots of things I loved but also lots of things I hated. One of those things was the driving, both the boat and the buggy. If I had had the choice I would have skipped the driving parts, they bored the hell out of me! Mainly, it has to be said, because I kept crashing!

Four Games and one IP

So here’s my idea, under the direction of Valve, four games are developed simultaneously: an FPS, a Stealth, a Driving and a Puzzle version. Put aside the logistics for a moment! They all use the same IP I.E. the Half Life 2 universe/story but present things in completely different ways. You always play Gordon Freeman but the difference, which should already be obvious, is what he does. Star Wars already does something similar in that you can get different genres within the same universe but that games are, to my knowledge, not linked via the story or characters.

Overview

The player has a choice: Buy the complete set or any combination of individual games. Let’s take me as an example. I would buy the FPS and puzzle versions. Firstly I would load a framework application, maybe built around Steam, then I load my two chosen versions. My personalised game now knows when to let me play or when to show a cut scene. If I purchase one of the other two games I can integrate them in at any time or simply start from the beginning again and play the new portions instead of watching the cut scenes.

Any point in the story/game where driving or stealth is required the game automatically jumps to a cut scene. However, each game is a complete game in its own right and would not need any of the others to either complete the story or bolster the play time. Of course each game would include small elements of the other three versions, but essentially they are what they advertise to be. By purchasing all four games and installing them you get the whole experience.

Clearly the logistics would need to be VERY carefully controlled as all the games would need to be balanced and released at the same time. Perhaps if you buy via retail your DVD comes with all four games and you can pay to unlock the different genres. Obviously Steam is already capable of something similar.

Examples

Using HL2 as a specific example the driving along the beachfront was really boring for me. I kept saying, “If I wanted a driving game I would have bought one!” These scenes could have been replaced either by being chauffeured to the relevant places where I could continue shooting things or a cut scene.

In the driving version I am the driver and the route is very much longer and the action would need to be adjusted somehow. Perhaps there are Combine vehicles that you need to outrun or push off the road. There would need to be more types of vehicles in plenty of different situations. I know that there is a drivable Strider mod available and those helicopter things may be cool to control, so there are certainly options available.

In the Puzzle version places that normally required me to fight my way out would be replaced with different rooms that need boxes moved, cranes used, batteries found and pipes turned on and off in certain order. Ravenholm would have been perfect for more puzzles to avoid the zombies and the Citadel certainly could have been a stealth paradise.

Conclusion

Make no mistake I know how hard this idea would be to actually make, but that doesn’t mean somebody shouldn’t try. I got the feeling, when playing HL2, that it was trying to be all things to all men. I expected to be Gordon Freeman, on my own and saving the world, not driving around and struggling to get past my mindless squad who always blocked my exit! It’s almost as if Valve were thinking that a game without vehicles and squads etc is just to plain for today’s market. Maybe they’re right but if you are a jack-of-all-trades then you are a master of none!

Remember I’m not suggesting that the FPS game has no puzzles or vehicles or the Stealth version has no fighting. I’m commenting on the fact that HL2 has the wrong balance for me and one way to combat this problem in the future is to separate the game styles. For me the perfect FPS would contain 70% shooting, 10% driving, 10% puzzles and 10% stealth. But I realise that I’m not everyone. By giving players more control over their experience you create better games and happy customers.

This approach may also encourage more sales because players will try the vehicles in HL2 and think, “Wow a whole game based around driving/riding these? Great! Where do I get it from?” Another point is that you may open up the game to many more modders who want to try something new. Will there be a racing mod for HL2? Perhaps. In which case why not a whole game?

As ever, I’d be interested to read your comments.

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8 Comments

  1. Hammy

    Hmm, that’s a rather bizarre idea. But I see how it could be cool. I would buy all the packages though, because I like all genres of games for the most part 🙂

    I really liked the huge variety of styles that all the levels had in HL2. And the driving only added to that. I was never ever bored because there was so much variety and the levels were so beautiful. I can see how it would bore some people to tears, who just wanted an FPS. For me it was nearly perfect though!

  2. I often wish I liked other genres because then I could just buy the popular games and have fun. I’ve tried a few other games but get bored really quickly. Maybe I need first person views for all games.

    Strangely I do quite enjoy driving games in small doses. I’m playing Flatout ATM but with regard to HL2 I just felt it went on for too long.

  3. akira

    Although fps is the only genre i’m really in to, I thought that half-life 2 had brilliant variety. I love sneaking up on enemies with a magnum, then giving them a well aimed blast to the head, which shows the stealth element. The driving parts didn’t really bore me because the vehicles had such cool guns. I must admit though, the puzzles were cleverly thought out but did grow rather tedious after a while…

  4. vashts1985

    creating good playable vehicle is difficult, mainly because of the inorder to be effective when mapping for it you have to think on a much larger scale than say a player running through a complex fighting off baddys. the point is why would you need a car to go a couple meters to the next point of interest? for that matter why would you need a vehicle at all? the latter being a very important point when putting in such gameplay. other games have come along (ie halo) whith vehicles but there never was a defining point to why you are driving it, it was just there and you can use it if you want. in HL2 however, according to the plot, you needed to traverse a coastline quickly to get to nova prospekt, could you imagin walking that? I think valve did a great job at implemnting their vehicle sequences, although the buggy could have been a bit more interesting yes, it was far from pointless, and that makes a world of difference. my point in example, although leons CtoA maps were apsolutely amazing, I did have a problem with the implimentation of the buggy, mainly because it litarally felt like it was just there as something you had to drag along with you on very short distances, and could have been done on foot. im working on a SP storyline myself and I plan on including a vehicle sequence, although im sorry to hear that driving is not one of your ideal points to the game, others might, and I will be faced with a challenge when mapping the terrain. it cant be just all driving but need to have little sideloops for the player to take a break and solve a puzzle to clear the roadway or something. I think HL2 may have overdone that a bit, as jumping in and out of the vehicle constantly is annoing. top it off the whole sequence has to be made on a large scale and has to revolve around the use of the car, again cause jumping in and out of the car gets tedious and annoing (like having to fight throug a building every couple bends is a bit much).
    to each his own I guess. =)
    thanks for having such a great site btw

  5. you needed to traverse a coastline quickly to get to nova prospekt, could you imagin walking that?

    No, of course not. But I wasn’t suggesting that you simply remove the vehicles and let players walk.

    it was far from pointless

    I never said it was pointless. If you don’t like driving vehicles it is irrelevant whether the driving is part of the story or not.

    although im sorry to hear that driving is not one of your ideal points to the game, others might

    That’s my point some people do like it, so they should be given the choice.

    I think maybe you have misunderstood the point of this post. What I’m saying is that I felt there was too much driving in HL2 and players should be able to purchase an extra package that allows them to extend this portion of the game.

    Very rarely do games follow a true time line. Often it jumps and assumes certain actions or events have been completed. My idea would allow developers and players more control over the actual gameplay purchased.

    I like driving vehicles for short periods, for me HL2 had too much driving.

  6. Mike S

    I personally enjoyed the balance and variety in HL2: driving, stealth, combat, puzzle. I became immersed in the storyline and the atmosphere. I did find conrolling a vehicle with the keyboard difficult, but I kinda got the hang of it.

    I think a problem with your idea Phillip is that people would be very confused over what packege they need to purchase. There would be screams of rip-off as people tried to figure the pricing structure.

    Gaming is becoming a closed-shop to a lot of people (the casual gamer) because of the acronyms and jargon that surrounds it. Online purchasing and downloading is great and I endorse it, but I also feel sorry for people who are not Internet savvy and are afraid of this hi-tech approach.

    I think Valve have the best approach: They created some iconic games and provide the tools for modders and mappers to create lots more. Without driving bits in them! (c:

  7. AI

    I think the game makers should put more driveable vehiciles in the games, I think it realy livened up HL2, why? well it would have been a long walk on the beach, anyway I used to have a “souped up dunebuggy” that was very close(minus the gun and Nitros)looking to the one in the game! The airboat, been on one down in Florida, that was a trip!! I’ve flown an airplane in the US Army in Germany, so a few years back I got StarWars ep1 PodRacer, my computer wasn’t to good then, but now it’s almost like the movie in action!! So where am I going with all this gibberish?? I love the games with all the interaction with the machinary and the footwork and will continue to buy ’em, but also the game people could have someway to disable the items if needed!

  8. vashts1985

    i think a better idea would be different routes the player could take. having different versions of the same game would be a pain, but a game with different routes would be simple and add to replay value.

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