In an interview with PC Gamer Magazine, John Gibson, president of Tripwire (makers of Killing Floor and Red Orchestra 2), recently said some things that embody how I have felt about the First Person Shooter genre for the last 5 years or more. The shooter genre has been stagnant, and while the Call of Duty series actually has a lot of positive things going for it, overall it has been a huge detriment to the FPS genre. It's somehow completely overtaken the genre and stamped out all alternatives, while remaining so terrible that almost no one who actually likes shooters would ever play it...
[Regarding feedback from people play-testing a game that John was working on]
Almost every element boiled down to ďit doesnít feel like Call of Duty.Ē And really, watching some of these guys playÖ one of the things that Call of Duty does, and itís smart business, to a degree, is they compress the skill gap. And the way you compress the skill gap as a designer is you add a whole bunch of randomness. A whole bunch of weaponry that doesnít require any skill to get kills. Random spawns, massive cone fire on your weapons. Lots of devices that can get kills with zero skill at all, and you know, itís kind of smart to compress your skill gap to a degree. You donít want the elite players to destroy the new players so bad that new players can never get into the game and enjoy it. Iím looking at you, Dota. [laughs] Sorry.
But the skill gap is so compressed, that itís like a slot machine. You might as well just sit down at a slot machine and have a thing that pops up an says ďI got a kill!Ē Theyíve taken individual skill out of the equation so much. So you see these guysóI see it all the time, they come in to play Red Orchestra, and theyíre like ďThis gameís just too hardcore. Iím awesome at Call of Duty, so thereís something wrong with your game. Because Iím not successful at playing this game, so it must suck. Iím not the problem, itís your game.Ē And sometimes as designers, it is our game. Sometimes we screw up, sometimes we design something thatís not accesible enough, they canít figure it out, we didnít give them enough information to figure out where to goÖ but more often than not, itís because Call of Duty compressed their skill gap so much that these guys never needed to get good at a shooter. They never needed to get good at their twitch skills with a mouse.