It’s weird how tangents can create spontaneous ideas. The idea for this piece started when I discovered that I once played a game called ‘Bodycount’ by Codemasters. It’s even more surprising this came as such a fleeted memory, since the game came out last year. By all means, it should still be stored in my memory banks, but it wasn’t. Then again, all I can remember now is its nonsensical plot and disappointing gameplay.
Anyway, it quickly spun into thinking who else would still remember this title today. That idea lead to thinking whether anyone remembers any lesser known shooters after the dust has settled. And that thought lead to wondering if there even are lesser known shooters these days. Lastly, I was pondering if there’s even any interest for an underdog in the shooter genre at all.
When thinking of shooters, everyone will immediately pick a list of 5 interchangeable names that either involve Call of Duty or Battlefield. But pondering about indie shooters makes the brain cogs churn at full capacity and doesn’t yield the same immediate concrete results.
I dug into the memory vaults once more and came up with next to nothing. Nexuiz came to mind because it’s recent, but as it got picked up by THQ it can hardly be called indie anymore. The same goes for other projects like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. that have since outgrown the niche. The closest ‘big small title’ might be Serious Sam, though even that has become a brand by now.
Perhaps the most successful one would be ArmA, bordering the indie and mainstream line. Our ex-editor Jesse is a long-time fan, so he could explain it best, stating: “While the Arma series is most (in)famous for its realism, Bohemia Interactive's military simulator is much more than just a sadistically true-to-life first person shooter. There are literally dozens of different guns available, and each of them has its own, realistic feel. Meanwhile, the combat AI is phenomenal when you consider the open environments and dynamic situations they are presented with. “
Another success is Hard Reset, which came out of nowhere and saw a fair amount of critical acclaim due to its stunning presentation and traditional gameplay. It has since been picked up by Kalypso Media, but while they house big names like the Tropico franchise, it’s not a gaming juggernaut either.
There are however a large stream of first person shooter (FPS) modding communities and freeware titles. Like mentioned; games like Nexuiz or Nuclear Dawn started as one of these user supported mods, before channeling over. But there’s a difference between being indie and just being obscure. A large portion of these games are small niches of communities bonding together over their favorite focus. So, I went out to find a title that could be more than that. After some consideration, efforts lead to one particular title: Ace of Spades.
Ace of Spades is essentially a Minecraft FPS clone. You build on huge voxel maps and shoot with up to 32 players. Someone had to make it and someone did. It’s currently still in Beta, as indie titles usually are, but it has the same elements of the addictive block world. The only difference is that this Minecraft has guns. It’s fast, fun and runs on any PC out there. We highly suggest you check it out, since it’s free.
It’s tough to answer this question, since gamers come in all shapes and sizes. But a good way to measure interest these days is through crowd funding platform Kickstarter, which has since relaunched several lost titles and genres. There should be a ton of plausible games on there, ready to become the next big thing. Shooters however are the furthest from that genre interest. So, are there equal piqued parties for an underground shooter as there are for adventure games and roleplaying titles? A first look at it yields a pretty stern yet expected “no.”
After browsing through a slew of unsuccessful ventures, I did find a few titles with good potential. Yet, even these 3 projects are currently steadily steering towards failure. That means this is a perfect opportunity to back some innovative titles. The 3 games are listed below:
This is the most ambitious and also the most impressive title. It’s almost inexplicable that a design lead on games like Halo Reach and Tom Clancy games can’t get funding together on notoriety alone. The man started his career via mods for the original Rogue Spear: Rainbow Six and, as the title states, would want to go back to that same hardcore experience. Backing this project also allows people to actively be a part of development; that’s how community driven this game could become. It’s currently at 1/3 of its $200K goal. This target is also just a stepladder to interest other ‘investors.’ though Christian Allen assures that these aren’t pushy publishers. It is however a strange tactic and also bears to wonder if those investors won’t want their say in the matter.
This title is in need of a miracle with just $700 funded for its $275K goal. For sake of ease, this is the World of Warcraft of shooting games. Based on the Unreal Engine 3, players can build several classes of characters with guns. They can also create squads that serve as guilds and rank up. Even stranger than the previous title, Aries is in need of its target to interest companies like Qualcomm. More so, its first priority is getting the epic idea out on Android and only to PC as a secondary objective. It’s still a great idea though.
This more sober game shooting for a $35K goal is only a few hours away from failure, but might be the most original one yet. But why add this failed title? Well, for one, some Samaritan could throw a huge amount of cash at it right now and please do. But more importantly, this rhythm FPS hybrid is coming back to Kickstarter later, so remember it. It has the simple yet ingenious idea of mixing the music players blast when playing games together with the game itself. We’ve all been there when we got into our zone. RS Flux now wants to thrive on that idea and expand that into its core.
Still, as we wrap up, it’s clear by now that there is currently little general demand for an indie FPS title. Perhaps Kickstarter is just the wrong place to try and get your game covered, but maybe it’s even just better to stick with the many mods out there. From ambitious titles to original quirks, most FPS games seem to either sink due to disinterest or stay stuck in a very small niche. Only very few exceptions make it to another level altogether. Perhaps it’s time that this changed. Even Counterstrike started as a simple thing; look where that stands now.