The latest Homefront developer diary talks about avoiding "massacre fatigue" by focusing on the consequences of violence and trying to bring real emotion to the act of killing.
Huge body counts are a central component of just about every shooter on the market. Sometimes that's what you're after, but when a developer is aiming for a deeper emotional impact the visceral thrill of endless mass murder can actually get in the way. That creeping numbness to killing is something Homefront developer Kaos Studios is trying to avoid.
"In an average FPS you'll blow through 30 to 100 guys every 15 or 20 minutes or so, and you sort of get this, what we call 'massacre fatigue' when you stop even caring, you don't even realize that you're killing humans," explained Homefront Lead Level Designer Rex Dickson. "What we're trying to do is really attach emotion to that, that... there are consequences to violence."
"Consequences of violence is something we're focusing on in the game. War is not a pretty thing and there's not always lots of positive events that come out of it," added David Votypka, creative director at Kaos Studios. "It's actually very dark and tragic and we want to show that element in Homefront that you don't really get in a lot of shooters."
It's an admirable goal and I'd love to see it happen, but pulling it off will be quite a trick. The shooter genre isn't exactly known for the emotional heft it brings to the medium and I think it's also valid to consider whether or not gamers want it inflicted upon them in the first place. If escapism is the goal, hammering on the horrors of war may not be the ideal way to drive sales.
Homefront is scheduled to come out on March 8 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.