Shooter Game Design: The Fundamentals
Shooter games are a kind of action games based on the game of shooting targets with long-range weapons. Shooter games focus on the players shooting opponents and progressing across missions. The player also protects himself and prevents being killed.
Shooter games are designed around the player’s ability to control the shooting device and destroy the enemy. Shooter games may be two or three dimensions and are categorized in various sub-genres like First-Person Shooter (FPS), Third-Person Shooter, Shooting Gallery, Light gun shooters, Tactical Shooters etc.
The genres are identified based on criteria like perspective, realism, number of characters, focus, dimensions and player numbers etc.
Shooter games primarily involve interaction between an avatar and one or more distant targets. The player Avatar can be any of the 3 types Run and gun, Ninja or Camper.
Regardless of what the genre of the game, there are certain fundamental aspects that are essential for the Shooter Game design. For developing a shooter game its following characteristics need to be defined and implemented:
• The nature of the interaction. This defines what and why the player is actually trying to achieve. Most shooter games implement some kind of combat in which the avatar is in danger and shoots at stationary or moving targets.
• The nature of the target(s). The target properties need to be defined:
o The target the player is aiming to shoot at.
o The effects and outcome when the target is hit.
o The movement of targets – simple patterns or defined by artificial intelligence (AI)
o The reaction of the target – shoot back or attack in any other way
• The nature of the avatar. If the player himself can be a target then decide if he is protected with lives, armor or some other mechanism. Define the movement of the Avatar and what kind of ammunition he has.
The shooting devices are modeled on real-world or imaginary objects. Weapons are made to simulate the behavior of real firearms. Avatars can use weapons or non-weapons like throwing objects for combat with the enemy. Shooting devices have attributes like accuracy, range , magazine, damage, firing modes, propensity to malfunction and accessories like rifle-scopes, silencers, laser sighting devices etc.
There are different styles of gameplay depending attributes such as competition mode, pacing, number of players, level design, and realism. Gameplay Styles fall into several broad categories:
• Shooting gallery games emulate a fairground shooting gallery in which the player shoots at objects from a fixed distance.
• With the Rail-shooters game, the players fight through an enclosed environment with rail-road branching of paths.
• Tactical shooters offer realistic weapons, scenarios and simulate special-forces teams.
• Survival horror games have high-end graphical effects and emphasize more on exploration by the player.
• Stealth is a type of gameplay implemented by a combination of level design and artificial intelligence design. These games need to create the illusion of a securely guarded area. The player tries to breach the security and sneak through this area.
Character progression in shooters is an important requirement as it makes the game popular if developed well. Progression of the avatar happens with upgrades to equipment and armor as the game progresses. Avatars can also get upgrades in the form of specialized clothing or tools.
Levels are designed around movement and shooting and vary with gameplay style. Thus Lines of sight and cover are priority features in level design. The level design should encourage shooters to move on all sides and provide plenty of space to explore.
The primary tasks for creating a good game design is to determine the goals of the game and how it progresses. A noteworthy game design provides an initial game setting and also tools to interactively modify it. The key to designing a shooter game is proper handling of player movement, interaction with space, shooting effects and impact on enemy. The theme of the game should be engaging and fast-paced and implemented with striking graphical and sound effects.