Maze War


In the year 1973, there was a game called “Maze War” which some attribute to as the beginning of the FPS genre. W/e the case, the game is simply just that. Some big ass maze you walk through shooting eyeballs and other players.

It’s a PC game, no less. As such, the FPS genre is tied to the ideals of Computer Centrism. For one, the ideas of Maze War were used for RPGs (Ultima, Dungeon Master, Phantasy Star) and all those other PC games. FPS’s didn’t “become” a genre until Castle Wolfenstein/Doom and the like. Primarily because the Arcades and NES kept us busy and happy.

FPS’s were in a disadvantageous position. The complexity of the genre meant that it would be unsuitable for the accessible controls of early video game consoles, and for the most part, PC games weren’t even that popular until Wolfenstein 3D. For the most part, all attention was focused on games like Mario, Sonic, and that goddamn Mortal Kombat. Doom would later join (or started) the controversy of blah blah…

Lost my train of thought of there. This subject I wanted to touch upon due to the increasing backlash against FPS’s by the hardcore (mostly the nintards who bring up COD like some sort of cultural habit). In all honesty, it is because of the death of the very thing the hardcore shun for being “primitive” that allowed the FPS genre to thrive.

I’ve spoken a few times on Arcade Centrism and Computer Centrism in the past. This is an important concept to understand why FPS’s took over.

Arcade Centrism is the mentality of fast-paced action games whether they be shmups, shooters, platformers, or general action games, the goals are usually simple and straight forward. Enemies over there, kill they ass, or (Pac Man wise) avoid enemies and eat that shit up! Arcade games were filled with high risks of loss. You’re always put into positions where it’s easy to lose if you didn’t have the skillz and reflexes necessary to succeed. And people loved this! It’s odd these days to see so many adults and their kids crowd around an arcade machine with their obnoxious yells and screams and cheers. It was much more common back then.

Computer Centrism is the mentality of slower-paced “adventure/Sim” games whether they be FPS, RPG, mystery, or even Strategy games of a sort. The goals were much more complex. You had different objectives to complete. You had people to find, talk to, you had to build troops, solve murder cases, equip gear and spells to stand a fighting chance. You weren’t really put in a position of loss so much as you would be with Arcade games. Computer games were filled with time consuming tasks and puzzles where your mind was more important than your reflexes.

It’s a case of “Muscle vs Mind” when speaking of Arcades vs Computers. Given that context, it’s easy to see where Hardcore gamers get their elitist mentality from. The pseudo-intellectual nerds they are feel the brainless masses concerned only with their muscles are unfit to be catered to by game developers.

Around the late 90s into the 2000s and beyond, we see the rise of the FPS. Most of this could be attributed to the rapid popularity of Halo (being the only decent Xbox game at launch helped), but there is a bigger layer of factors that gave way to the FPS popularity and the burning jealousy and hatred of Nintards.

See, Arcade games were all 2 Dimensional (perspective-wise, not graphical). Even Star Fox was 2D (it is a rail shooter afterall). 2D is a damn good advantage for Arcade games. Arcade games are all about reflexes and how fast you can react to situations such as being swamped by enemies. As such, you kinda needed the game to be 2D. You have a better view of your surroundings giving you a visual advantage. It was a necessity given how difficult these games could get. Combined with simple controls so that there was no hurdle getting a handle on the game, players could be in touch with the game and react accordingly without so much as looking down at their controller to see how to run the hell away! On the other hand, putting an Arcade game in 3D causes huge problems. The camera issue that has plagued 3D games forever was largely responsible. In a 3D perspective, your vision is significantly reduced as the camera is focused on your game character. You have very little visual information as to what is going on around you. This causes more of a headache as now you have more complex controls simply so you can refocus the camera. Readjusting your view and having to react to incoming enemies or make difficult jumps is a pretty big hassle given that everyone was used to the simplicity of 2D Arcade games.

Unfortunately, people were enamored by the rise of 3D graphics. As such, games and gamers demanded more and more 3D graphics. It was new, it cool, and beautiful to look at. The fact that games could like this!  And the accessibility was further reduced as the years went on. Thanks to the complexity of 3D games, controllers, and the changing philosophy of designers, Arcade Centric Gaming started to go out of fashion. Because it’s far more difficult to try and emulate that rich arcade experience in 3D thanks to more complexity.

What people fail to realize, however, is that the FPS genre was always in 3D! Since Maze War, the games were always set in 3D environments. It was the same with the RPGs set in an FPS perspective as well as Wolfenstein, Doom, and Goldeneye 64. You see, the FPS genre already benefited from the rise of 3D environments because they were always in 3D. So there wasn’t as much of a hurdle to translate FPS’s to upcoming consoles as FPS was the originator of 3D gaming. 3D gaming is a Computer Centric Construct!

Not only that, but the FPS genre lives up to it’s name. It’s a shooter, so it’s concept of shooting enemies was simple already. Of course, all you had to do was point at something with a crosshair, press the fire button, no muss, no fuss. The 3D environment did not get in the way of shooting things and fun factor. Developers of FPS’s looked to Doom 2 and Wolfenstein 3D  as the standard of FPS gaming, and flourished because of it. One of the significant things about that game was that it would be more “complex”. It was to have stealth gameplay similar to Splinter Cell where you drag bodies around, sneak about, and stuff. It was dropped because it was going to make the game more complicated than need be. Wolfenstein 3D was… “simplified“. While I’m not familiar with the game, I’m familiar with Doom. Doom  was just “survive and get to the end, kill bastards along the way to ensure survival.” I don’t recall there ever being a sidestep option, it’s just “move, change weapons, fire”. And it was as simple as it could be. The FPS genre was popularized by simplicity in it’s concept and execution.

FPS devs didn’t need to worry about having to change it’s core dynamics when 3D was popularized. It already was. Where as with Mario, Mega Man, and the like, so many popular genres from the early 90s, were starting to become slaves to the almight 3D. Instead of trying to make a game that worked well in 3D, the dynamic of existing franchises were changed to create completely different “experiences”. Now you have platformers that are nothing more than puzzles and fetch quests, camera tricks, and silly “surprises”. Developers became more focused with crazy concepts, cutscenes, and “artistic” directions while FPS developers already had a good format to build off of. So while Nintendo, Sega, and the like were “corrupted” by their first taste of 3D gaming, with no prior format to build off of, FPS devs already knew it well and could pull it off without a hitch. FPS’s, never straying from their roots, had the very essence that all other genres started to lose. LIMITLESS ACTION!

The platformer genre became puzzle central. Beat em ups and hacknslashes were bogged down with unnecessary RPG elements, general action games had very stupid elements (shinobi having the “Tate” system) or were turned into “Metroidvania” games (Castlevania), and even Pac Man became retarded (Pac Man World 2 is the single worst game I’ve ever played.) But FPS’s? They could continue to build off what worked well before and survive to the point that no one would lose faith in the genre.

You see, the hardcore Nintendo fans despise FPS’s now because they were more “Arcade” than they were “Computer”. It’s a hard pill to swallow for the Nintards especially as they have a raging hard on for crucifying COD. It’s not Activision’s fault they built the series off successful games unlike NINTENDO who ABANDONED successful games in their misguided quest for “creativity” and ingenuity.

Everyone harps on about RPGs and platformers (and Sonic especially) needing to go back to their roots. Why? Because the FPS genre thrives because of it. Arcade Centrism died due to the arcade devs insane obsession with 3D graphics, but that proved to be their downfall as they completely abandoned their own successes and history. Hell, they DESPISE their history! You see Miyamoto trying his best to destroy 2D Mario, Iizuka trying to pretend 2D Sonic is some “alternate universe” continuity, why Mega Man is a dead franchise, why Castlevania is now some Lord of the Rings rip off, etc. The advent (or popularization) of 3D has caused them all to lose their  minds!

Arcade Centric gaming is impossible to achieve in 3D environments. Computer gaming is a completely different beast. And FPS is their trump card. So don’t be angry at the Call of Duty for being the object of Nintard scorn. Blame NINTENDO for allowing it to be the more fun franchise!