on May 2, 2012
It’s going to be really embarrassing if Rutskarn, Chris and I are the only ones who ran out of ammo here. But let’s talk about this: The game is entirely gunfight focused. If you lose the ability to shoot, you lose the means to progress through the game.
In most games I’d suggest some sort of Valve-style adaptive bullet supply where the game will give you more if you have less and vice-versa. (In Half-Life 2, health kits heal more if you have less health.) But I can see why you wouldn’t want that in some quasi-spooky game. But any game where ammo scarcity is an issue (survival or not) needs to have some kind of fallback system. Like I said, these mooks overshadowed the bosses in this part of the game, simply because I didn’t have the resources to proceed.
A running system might be dangerous to add. Given the overabundance of combat, it might feel like the game was encouraging you to run away from all fights, no matter how many bullets you had.
Adding melee weapons would have required adding new game mechanics. You’d need to make allowances in the AI so they didn’t just swarm you. (Their current brainless frontal charge AI makes melee completely impractical.) But having enemies stand around and take turns Assassin’s Creed style would really kill what little spookyness they have. I mean, you’re already just fighting guys in ballcaps. The darkness particle effect is all that separates these fights from a bar brawl. Having these guys line up and wait for their turn to axe you a question would cross the line from “not very scary” to “absurd farce”.
To sum up:
- Most games solve this by having foes drop bullets. I’m sure we can all see why that solution wouldn’t make any sense here.
- Melee would add to the expense of making the game, and would undercut the foes by letting you see the taken up close and forcing them to fight all sportsmen-like.
- Making bullets plentiful would remove the need to manage your resources.
- A running mechanic would encourage you to skip most of the game.
- Having players run out of ammo and get stuck on simple mooks, then blast their way through bosses will invert the intended tension levels and lead to frustration. (Which is what the three of us experienced.) Mixing ammo scarcity with checkpoint-based saves is a volatile combination that can result in the player losing hours of progress, which is often a game-killer. Playing the same sequence again and again destroys the tension, pacing, and flow of the game. Unless the player is in it for pure challenge, “stuck” is a failure state for both the player and the game.
- Adaptive supply might help reduce the chances of encountering an impossible situation, but it wouldn’t completely prevent it. And adaptive supply would nudge the game away from “survival” and more towards “shooter”.
I suppose I might suggest having minimum ammo counts at checkpoints. If you die, it restores you to the most recent checkpoint with whatever the intended ammo count is. That way complete ammo depletion results in replaying a section instead of a chapter.
This is a tough problem. I’m not saying you can’t solve it, but I can see how we ended up with what we have.