The question is simple: Where are first and third person shooters going? The answer, however, is much more complicated.
If you were going to ask anyone about shooters, you'd be hard-pressed to find a group much better than the speakers at this panel, a group comprised of designers from Red Storm, Atomic Games, Insomniac and Epic. Jeff McGann is a creative director at Red Storm on a currently unannounced title and has written on a number of Ghost Recon projects, most recently Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfare; Juan Benito co-founded Red Storm, but has since moved on to Atomic Games, creators of the ill-fated Six Days in Fallujah.
Shaun McCabe is a production director at Insomniac's North Carolina office, and has worked on the Ratchet & Clank games as well as Resistance 2; and Patrick Sebring is the lead technical designer for Atomic Games. The panel was moderated by John Farnsworth, who is the Director of Shared Development at Epic Games.
The panel were first asked what their favorite shooters were, and modern titles like Uncharted 2 rubbed shoulders with older games like Quake and Half-Life.
The panel was then asked what feature they thought would be most important in future titles, and interestingly, universally agreed that co-op would be vital, and that allowing players to build their own stories, within the context of the game, would be of the utmost importance.
"It's not that the game has told you have to have this very specific experience," said Sebring. "It's you guys out there creating your own stuff in the framework that we build, and that to me as a gamer, I see there being huge possibilities in that."
The panel was then asked what kinds of settings they thought would be important in the future. Benito was in favour of making use of real-world conflicts in games, saying that they could be incredibly meaningful, and meaningful shooters would be very important going forward, but at the same time, he acknowledged that you have to be careful about how you handle real world conflicts in games and that perceptions of the medium would have to change before people will be really comfortable with that kind of product.
McCabe took a different view however, saying that shooters in the future would take its cues from current events, but would stay away from depicting those events directly, saying: "There's a difference between something that is relevant and something that's real."
Finally, the panel was asked about how technology would affect shooters, especially motion controls. The panel all agreed that the next generation of hardware would present unique challenges for the shooter, as the additional power would increase the already high cost of development. Benito and McCabe both agreed that procedural content would likely play a big part in future shooters.
Similarly, the panel was united on the influence of motion controls in shooters, saying that the technology was not mature enough or precise enough to be used in competitive or hardcore shooters at the moment. McGann said that that was not always going to be true however and that over time, motion controls would get better and better, although it would take time: "The first wave will blaze a path, but a lot are going to get burned."