EMSS: Excessive Munitions Stockpiling Scenario
Posted on Monday, August 12 2013 @ 21:45:22 Eastern
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We've all experienced it at some point. That feeling you get when playing a game where you've got one of the most destructive weapons the game can give you, and you're not using it. All because you don't want to waste it on a low-level peon, and are saving it for a big boss creature. Then, you get to one of those, and you still won't use it as you're afraid that there's going to be an even bigger one down the line that this would be better used on, and if you use it now, then you won't be able to get another one, or won't be able to find the resources you need to use the weapon in time for that bigger boss.
Usually, the best case scenario for this is you find additional ones or more resources, and do use the weapon successfully, and the worst case scenario is usually when the weapon proves useless by the time you actually use it. However, the most common scenario is that you just plain forget you have it, and beat the game without ever using it.
It's a dilemma most developers face at some point. How do they give the players that 'shove' to get them over their fear of pre-emptive weapon usage and use the tool that they've spent that time to program and code at the time they want the player to use it?
Well, from my recent time in the new Rise of the Triad, I believe that a solid answer can be found.
You see, during my playthrough of the game I never really felt overly compelled to stick to my lesser weapons in order to preserve the ammo I had in my more exotic ones. After some consideration, I feel that the following factors may have contributed to this.
For one, the game provides you with a default weapon that is not entirely useless, but is not very effective compared to the more exotic ones. The fact that the pistols and MP40 had infinite ammo (and did not need reloading, either) meant that even if I did run out of rockets, I still had a weapon I could use to some degree of success. However, relying entirely on these instead of the rockets was not a wise idea, due to how relatively ineffective they were. This meant that, in my mind, the MP40 and pistols were a fallback weapon only, and the other weapons were to be my main source of damage dealing. I could use them in a pinch, but finding and using the bigger stuff was still a concern.
Not that I'd be searching for long, due to how many of the weapons were around. The abundance of said munitions meant that I'd never have long to search for one, and as such I never felt like I'd be in for an extended period without some form of rocket launcher, which meant I could use them regularly.
Though, I think the major factor of it was the fact that you can't have more than one rocket launcher at a time. This limitation meant that I'd have to either choose to abandon a rocket launcher for something else or use the rocket launcher up and then grab the new one, which was usually the option chosen as it meant I'd blown up more things. There were still a few times when I swapped out one weapon for another (usually when the weapon being swapped was low on ammo, a Bazooka, and/or the new one was a Firebomb), but even in these instances it meant that I wasn't waiting to use the weapon for long, it just meant that I either needed a new one or wanted something else that would be more effective.
Plus, and the more important part, using the higher classes of weapons proved more satisfying than the lower ones. It was clear where the development team had spent most of their time when it came to weapon usage, and using the explosive weapons was more entertaining than the pistols and MP40, as the explosives had much more effect on the enemies than the bullet weapons. Mind you, turning people into torso-shaped blood sprinkler systems while their severed hands flipped you off as they flew past you doesn't really compare to shooting people with bullets until they fall over.
Now, I can't say that every game can do things the same way as Rise of the Triad did; however, taking some cues from these elements and using similar tactics to counter-act the EMSS problem, getting people to use the more devastating weapons instead of sitting on them for the entire length of the game would go some way to improving the game experience for the players.
Still, individual instances of these can be seen in other games, and in those it can be seen how little each individual method above works when isolated. Mercenaries 2 provides plenty of air strike munitions, but these tend to go unused a lot during 'serious' gameplay due to their resource cost, and the fact that the fallback tactics (vehicles and infantry weapons) prove to be too effective, eclipsing the potential gain from using the more exotic airstrikes. Resident Evil 5 has some truly satisfying Magnum weapons, though these are usually ignored due to the rarity of Magnum ammo.
Limited weapon slots tends to be the main way this problem is combated, and although somewhat effective, it can still lead to cases where the player has two weapons, one of which is used all the time and the other is 'just in case', which simply downgrades the scale of the problem instead of removing it. Still, it can be considered a somewhat effective solution.
And, to be honest, I'm not even sure why I'm putting this up here.
The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick