Something Other Than Soldier

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Something Other Than Soldier

There are more ways to view war than down the barrel of a gun.

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Nice article!

I'd love to see a game a la Battlefield in which your team's respawn rate is tied to the practices of your team's medic(s) -- if they're efficiently managing things, you can respawn faster or get a health bonus, and if not you might get less health, longer waits, or something.

Gameplay for the medic could involve what you described: managing supplies and patients, making split-second decisions, surgical mini-games...

We need more armored cavalry, aka tank battles.

Steve Watts:
Something Other Than Soldier

There are more ways to view war than down the barrel of a gun.

Read Full Article

You know, thinking about it, Yahtzee's RTS/FPS hybrid game idea he had awhile back, and Dust 514 (?) sounds like its taking a step into the direction of having a Meta-game thats sounds lot like what was said in this article.

LadyRhian:
We need more armored cavalry, aka tank battles.

World of Tanks is literally nothing but tank battles.

On topic - the only one I disagree with there is the battlefield photographer. It's one thing to be causing huge body counts with a machine-gun toting protagonist, but for the point of the game to be travelling about, taking advantage of virtual misery purely to score the perfect snap? I mean, at least in Modern Warfare 3, we were killing lots of invading Russians. The key word being invading. Or we went to go kill Somalian militants. There was some 'greater good' to be achieved, no matter how ridiculous the context.

Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

The camera-instead-of-a-gun idea is actually in development...

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/09/warco-an-fps-where-you-hold-a-camera-instead-of-a-gun/

Great article, I agree we need more than just a soldier role or everybody needing to kill in battle.

I think the light machine gun in the new Ghost Recon is mostly for suppressive fire rather than hitting targets...from what I've seen it makes the target's screen shake.

I'd love to see proper medic classes.

ACE Mod for ArmA 2 does an excellent job of showing what it takes to be a combat medic, responding to downed team mates in the field, giving them morphine or adrenaline, bandages, compress' and even laying out and putting them on stretcher for helicopter medivac.

It can somtimes be a matter of minutes between finding the casulty and getting him back to base alive and having to write that letter home to his loved ones....if you are so inclined of course.

I have to wonder how many "average gamers" would pick up and play a game that involved directing military traffic as opposed to shooting things.

Would it be "fun"?

Thyunda:
Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

Gonna have to disagree with you here. I think you'd be hard pressed to find even one wartime photographer who braves death and destruction just so he can add some cool pics to an album. Those guys and gals are usually affiliated with a news organization, and if you think war pics aren't important, then you're probably not aware of the significance of this one.

I for one think that the wartime photographer game would be a blast to play.

Snapzone, anyone? Or how about Call of Kodak?

Ok I'll stop.

Really made me think about the different roles in the military and some of the hypothetical games described sound really interesting. The War Photographer in particular sounds like a great alternative to the usual FPS's!

elwood612:

Thyunda:
Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

Gonna have to disagree with you here. I think you'd be hard pressed to find even one wartime photographer who braves death and destruction just so he can add some cool pics to an album. Those guys and gals are usually affiliated with a news organization, and if you think war pics aren't important, then you're probably not aware of the significance of this one.

I for one think that the wartime photographer game would be a blast to play.

Snapzone, anyone? Or how about Call of Kodak?

Ok I'll stop.

I was assuming that we'd be dealing with spectacles on par with the overblown battles associated with shooters. Real life wartime photographers, much like real life soldiers, would perform stunning feats in reality that we would yawn at in a videogame.

Thyunda:

Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

Informing the populace is not a noble enough pursuit for you? If we didn't have reporters over there, we'd only hear from the government how things are going and they don't have much of an issue lying to us. Granted, with how modern mainstream media trends towards sensationalism and ratings rather than the truth, I wouldn't mind such a game.

Thyunda:
I was assuming that we'd be dealing with spectacles on par with the overblown battles associated with shooters. Real life wartime photographers, much like real life soldiers, would perform stunning feats in reality that we would yawn at in a videogame.

Haha, and I guess I was assuming that if an FPS had the guts to not let you fire any bullets then its story would probably be above the usual "they're ugly, shoot them" narrative.

That Warco game Lukeje posted about looks really cool actually: an actual war correspondent and a filmmaker collaborating with an indie studio to make a game where you run around with a camera, what's not to like??

In Mount & Blade Napoleonic you can play as a musician.

Thyunda:

LadyRhian:
We need more armored cavalry, aka tank battles.

World of Tanks is literally nothing but tank battles.

On topic - the only one I disagree with there is the battlefield photographer. It's one thing to be causing huge body counts with a machine-gun toting protagonist, but for the point of the game to be travelling about, taking advantage of virtual misery purely to score the perfect snap? I mean, at least in Modern Warfare 3, we were killing lots of invading Russians. The key word being invading. Or we went to go kill Somalian militants. There was some 'greater good' to be achieved, no matter how ridiculous the context.

Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

War Photographers aren't actually dicks.

Some of them use their pictures to help piece together atrocities like Bosnia in the '90s, others help spread the word of victims of battle that really do need help.

They dont use the war to further their own ends, they are doing their job much like the soldiers they are photographing, they are there to take the pictures, to write the articles, to go into dangerous areas with the only protection a bullet proof vest can provide and their camera at their side.

Given the choice between the two, I would rather be a soldier in a combat zone instead of a war photographer. At least I would have a means to actively defend myself.

OT: I would love to see a expanded medic class in most games.

The closest I had ever played was in ArmA: ACE Mod where the medic was required for nearly anything.

My favorite and most memorable moment was when I was playing in a realism unit and my fire team was tasked with securing a small facility like area. We had our normal loadouts, an AT guy, Medic, Grenadier, Auto-rifleman, ect.

Well, everything was going fine until a T-72 showed up and took down the Auto-Rifleman.

He wasn't dead, and usually all they have to do is 'use' the guy playing medic to heal themselves, but in ACE mod you need to apply the bandaged, splints, and any medicine needed to stabilize the person. They only got back to 100% once they got to a Field Hospital.

So, in a moment of awesomeness, the AT guy nearly blind fires his AT4, hitting the tank while I, playing as the grenadier, sprinted across the field to the Rifleman, using his epinephrine to revive him, bandaged him up, and dragged his body back to relative safety, all the while the PKT from the T-72 was raining on us.

We destroyed the tank, got the injured into the evac helicopter, and made it back to the base for ice cream.

When we get a game that has the medics doing things like that, without the use of a mod, then we will have a great military game.

Until then, let us enjoy our arcade shooters like CoD and Battlefield.

I think this is a bit of a wag the dog issue. You're playing an FPS to shoot things. The set pieces and spectacle are there to frame your shooting things in the shooting gallery. All the rest of it is just putting the lipstick on the pig.

Force medic play and you will have lots of people wondering why they are not shooting things, even for a little while. It's okay to switch it up as long as you're still shooting something with a deck mounted gun, say. (I do find it amusing that even as a medic in TF2 you're still shooting people with a health gun.)

I'm not saying I wouldn't like to play something different - rescue missions sound fascinating in an (old style) Rainbow Six or tactical sneaker kind of way. But you have to be realistic about what you'll be allowed to put in a Call of Duty. They're not interested in selling you the reality of war - weeks of tedium and squalor, moments of terror.

Seems like your best hope is semi-realistic online squad games where you really can just be a support role. Medic, engineer, driver, no need for shooting anything except as a last ditch resort if that's the way you want to play.

Nice idea in theory but in practice doomed to failure. Most current gen FPS are mainly aimed at the multiplayer market. As anyone who played TF2 can tell you half the time you end on team with 4 snipers and 1 medic and you end up losing because of it. The more logistical elements you add, the more you end up creating more team work needed to win. The reality of online play is that on most pub servers you are lucky if more 30% of team is interested in team play. Most players are purely interested in their own scores. In the MMO end of market, you end up with 50 guys with swords to every healer. Even in the highly organised world of high end GW1 GvG half I remember spending 1/3 of my time waiting for (good) monks.

It could work as a single player experience but I doubt anyone in hurry is going to spending 50 million on the idea. It could be a workable niche game but its never going to compete with giants of the FPS world.

I'm not so sure that any of those roles would translate very well in to a video game. Medics in games function like they do because it contributes to the game around it, not because it's supposed to be realistic.

Being a medic is about getting a casualty stabilized and evacuated in addition to everyday duties like handing out motrin and foot powder. You don't do work on someone and get him back in the fight immediately.

I'm not sure that most people who play military shooting games are overly concerned with exploring the military anyway. I've always seen them as competitive games that happen to use realistic weapons and settings. Nobody is concerned with the soldier himself and what it took to get to the battle or the aftermath. The game ends when the score is tallied or the mission is over. Any vision of the aftermath or the buildup is pure fluff.

Most CoD and Battlefield games don't come close to what real combat is like for soldiers anyway. Flight combat is the worst offender here. Having been inside an actual F-16 simulator, you never get close enough to see the other plane as anything other than a blip on the horizon. You don't see fireballs; you look at your radar and see a blip disappear.

I think most games try for a more cinematic approach, where charging an enemy while firing from the hip is actually a viable strategy rather than an easy way to catch a bullet between the eyes. This means to make medics work as a realistic option, you couldn't just stick them into a regular FPS but rather design a whole new system from the ground up.

Also, many of these games try to make the player into the hero. Hence why support classes in games are much more rare, even when they are built with magic healing buttons.

Idea for a game: You play as a cleric and the only time you can attack things is when your allies are in danger. Otherwise, it's a violation of cleric rules and you are smote by your god.

I'm not sure one of the non-combat roles would work as the sole focus for a whole game, but some of them would make for interesting plot or framing device. A game involving a war-corespondent uncovering a conspiracy, with the introductory level featuring them taking pics of an active warzone while trying to avoid getting shot, and with them using proper photography and journalism skills to gather evidence during the main game as well as whatever stealth and combat becomes relevant.

I can see including all of the jobs you mentioned working well in an MMO. Soldier is the standard class that makes up the bulk of the combat and that everyone has access to, but in order to play you have to be part of a guild, and in order to advance in the guild other non-combat tasks should be implemented. Say members of a guild are caught in a fire-fight with another enemy, and things start to go problematic. Other members of the guild are then given the option to go in saving the combat team, and if they do so they're given extra experience or more opportunities at the guild are opened up to the rescue players. In order to acquire missions, recon units are to be sent in to ascertain whether or not a mission is even possible. Want better health and defense bonuses? Act as medics to help injured soldiers/guild members/civilians, while also balancing guild resources so as to also further other possible jobs you can do. Photo journalists can go out and capture scenes of battle, to raise awareness and support for a war and provide the guild more resources to give out. Members can even participate in war meetings between generals and strategists to supply vehicles/weapons for applied missions, and to determine where resources go to. If players play as one class too much and don't seem to be doing better than other guild members, then other missions not related to that class open up to that player so that they have to do other work for the guild before they gain open access.

Risky certainly in the current MMO market, but who knows maybe this is something that Blizzard can try next when they end up finishing with WoW.

Thyunda:

LadyRhian:
We need more armored cavalry, aka tank battles.

World of Tanks is literally nothing but tank battles.

On topic - the only one I disagree with there is the battlefield photographer. It's one thing to be causing huge body counts with a machine-gun toting protagonist, but for the point of the game to be travelling about, taking advantage of virtual misery purely to score the perfect snap? I mean, at least in Modern Warfare 3, we were killing lots of invading Russians. The key word being invading. Or we went to go kill Somalian militants. There was some 'greater good' to be achieved, no matter how ridiculous the context.

Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

I'm kind of ambivalent on this issue. First, the invading Russian issue would probably bother Russians since they're being portrayed as a dime-a-dozen enemy. Second, it's not necessarily the case that war photography would be purely selfish; letting the general populace know what kind of atrocities people face in war can open their eyes to the situation, possibly increasing their support of the troops, or donating, etc.

I'm not saying it's definitely the case, but I am saying that it's not likely to be as black and white as you may think.

I think the idea is interesting and I'm a little surprised it hasn't been explored more than I've seen. The FPS genre is already ridiculously popular, and there's an obvious way to utilize it in a non-violent manner, so what's holding us back?

The commando style gameplay, focusing on a single person mowing down hordes of enemies is a little overpresent in games, I've found. Teamwork and support positions are really underrepresented, I'm all for greater focus on realistic medical/technical work in games.

The photojournalist thing sounds a bit like my dream game. Or any sort of non-combatant's plight in modern war. Take a city the size of Assassin's Creed and fill it with hyper-realistic ordinance going off everywhere. Your family hiding in the basement needs water. Now get to the other side.

But I was playing realistically as a medic just a few hours ago, desperately triaging casualties in ArmA 2 as they bled out before my eyes, dragging them to the cover of boulders through clouds of smoke while the Taliban crept up on us through the reeds. That did not end well.

On topic - the only one I disagree with there is the battlefield photographer. It's one thing to be causing huge body counts with a machine-gun toting protagonist, but for the point of the game to be travelling about, taking advantage of virtual misery purely to score the perfect snap?

Or are you showing the truth to the world, countering the propaganda of a powerful government? Or are you the only form of justice on the battlefield, documenting the crimes that are being swept under the rug? That's why the photographer idea is inherently challenging and contested for the player.

There actually was a game where you play as a combat medic and nothing but a combat medic. If I remember correctly, it's just called "Combat Medic." Anyway, it's kind of a low budget affair where you find wounded soldiers in an isometric perspective, and then realistically treat their wounds in a 3D screen, then go back to the isometric perspective to get them to an evac hellicopter. It's not all that great as a standalone game, but I'm not sure if that's because it's a bad idea for a game or if the developer just didn't execute it well.

Also, suppressing fire is hugely important in shooters. Just ask any TF2, Battlefield or Battlefront player. The rest of it is kind of interesting, especially the idea of a city management-style game about managing the logistics for a war effort. The thing is, these are all niche games with very small potential audiences; we're looking less at a "this will be fun" idea and more of a "people with a specific set of interests will be interested in this game" idea.

elwood612:

Thyunda:
Now we're some dick with a camera taking pictures of atrocities and using war to further his own ends. What happens when there's no more war, wartime photographer? Will you organise turf wars between gangs to take pictures of? I think you would steal uranium and force countries to fight just so you could earn your Pulitzer Prize.

You absolute bastard.

Gonna have to disagree with you here. I think you'd be hard pressed to find even one wartime photographer who braves death and destruction just so he can add some cool pics to an album. Those guys and gals are usually affiliated with a news organization, and if you think war pics aren't important, then you're probably not aware of the significance of this one.

I for one think that the wartime photographer game would be a blast to play.

Snapzone, anyone? Or how about Call of Kodak?

Ok I'll stop.

It's also important to point out that this IS a job field within the military. Combat Documentation/Production Specialists, Broadcast Journalists and Public Affairs Specialists are attached to all types of other military occupations (including infantry units) and their jobs are to tell the the story of the military, whether it's good or bad. They don't organize gang conflicts or steal uranium, and neither do the civilian reporters who are embedded with military units in war zones.

._. soooo tempted to go make a game including all of those roles realisticly as possible.

Trying to figure out how i would work the dying mechanic, as i feel it should matter SO much to the player that it worrents a 1 life limit per game. You die, you can watch the rest of the game or go join another. If you stay and a medic gets to your body(just for gameplay sake, even if you died by explosion of some kind, or headshot) you can be put back into the game. Of course the medic/team would have to take your body back to some area for the medic where you begin your "respawn" basicly.

Realism makes me want to limit health to battlefield/ghost recon standards, but i feel that this would make the game too stressful for players. I think setting it to a Halo standard of "you can avoid to make a small mistake and take a few shots" will make the game more enjoyable and create a sense of always trying to catch your enemy when they make a large tactical mistake that would leave them open for too long.

Then snipers would become a slightly too popular class so there must be a way of limiting the number per team >.< so much thinking to go into this.

Someone else work off of what i got so far im lazy :D

Actually Steve, there are actually several job in the military that involve carrying both a camera and a rifle into combat zones (public affairs and combat camera). I say that as someone who has been doing it for a living for the better part of the past decade.

Personally, I've been wishing for a game like this for a few years now, one that puts you into situations where you have to make the decision between pulling the trigger and pushing the shutter.

I'd like a war game in which you play as a rogue war journalist trying to document war crimes in a warzone where neither side welcomes you. It would be about stealth and more than just photography; you would have to steal documents, interview refugees, sneak around hostile soldiers and photograph evidence.

"More significantly, portraying them would give a more holistic representation of the variety of ways people serve their country."

People don't play shooters for a representation of way people serve their country, they play them to have fun and blow stuff up.

Combine a first person shooter with one of those surgery-simulating games? Hell, I'd play it.

If we're looking for alternatives to being your standard front-line soldier, why don't we get a Wii or Kinect version of the classic Bomb Squad?

Lukeje:
The camera-instead-of-a-gun idea is actually in development...

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/09/warco-an-fps-where-you-hold-a-camera-instead-of-a-gun/

There's also the first Dead Rising. The entire setup is that you're a reporter reporting on the events after all.

Well, considering something like one third of video games have no violence whatsoever and those that do make up less than half of the remaining percent, this entire article is a moot point; it's easier to find games that don't have you playing some sort of first person soldier role, than it is to find them.

You know that any war photographer game is going to be subverted to hell once the players get hold of it, by repositioning bodies in humours positions and taking screenshots to post online.

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