首先，我研究了《Burning Rangers》，这款怪异的救火游戏由Sonic Team开发，发布于1998年，平台是当时濒临退市的世嘉土星。游戏以未来的世界为背景，那时火灾威胁到人类的生存，所以政府成立了精锐的超级消防队伍。游戏并没有模拟现实世界的情况，你穿着火箭推射太空服，用激光枪来发射水柱。尽管这款游戏获得土星狂热者很高的评价，但并不符合我的消防游戏定义。
接下来，我探索了《Firefighter F.D. 18》，这款游戏由科乐美开发，发布于2004年，平台为PlayStation 2。在这款第三人称动作游戏中，开发商尝试重现现实救火情景。这是款经典科乐美游戏，关卡末尾还有BOSS火战。但这款游戏忽略了个有趣的问题：玩家的移动完全不受限制，所以他所持有的灭火水龙头似乎可以无限地伸长。这是我所见过的最长的灭火水龙头。那么，游戏要如何在不过多限制玩家的情况下精确地展现出灭火水龙头的长度呢？
我所研究的最后一款游戏事实上是款打折商品休闲游戏，由Conspiracy Entertainment发布，该公司因《面包忍者》和《美女卡丁车》等代表作而闻名于世。这款游戏的名称是《Real Heroes: Firefighter》，于2009年发布于Wii平台。游戏所采用的第一人称视角正是我在构思游戏时的想法。消防题材游戏的内在主要问题之一是，你在整款游戏中的主要敌人都是火。你要怎么让火的呈现方式保持趣味性呢？这款游戏设计了线性关卡，玩家可以在抗击火灾时营救市民。
最成功地执行水柱射击设备的视频游戏当属任天堂的《Super Mario Sunshine》，这款游戏于2002年发布于GameCube平台。这是马里奥系列中显得最混乱的一部作品，但主角的Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device（游戏邦注：马里奥所使用的水枪装置，简称FLUDD）在游戏中的表现很突出，足以掩盖其不足之处。显然，这个游戏机制值得借鉴，可以将其用在消防游戏中。
当然，这种游戏可能会像《Six Days in Fallujah》一样招致很多反对意见。然而，这款游戏确实在主题的处理和把握上做得很恰当，因为开发商Atomic Games同参加Second Battle of Fallujah的海军陆战队交流过。那么，消防游戏也应当采用类似的做法，先同纽约城市消防部门交流。
Why aren’t there more firefighter video games?
In my quest to validate games as an art form, I’m constantly hit with the fact that most video games are combat-based. Shooter games, strategy games…even Super Mario Bros. involves violence. There are plenty of debates as to why this is. Regardless, it makes non-combat games always stand out to me.
But we’ve perfected this first-person shooter format to a science! There must be something we can do with it that doesn’t involve shooting people. So it hit me: we need to see a classic firefighter video game. It’s a simple concept. Use the first-person perspective of an FPS, but instead of killing people, you’re putting out fires and saving people! Sounds exciting!
So I took a quick Google gander at the handful of firefighting games ever released on any platform. Firefighting, along with deer hunting and bass fishing, seems to be represented in video games solely by bargain-bin casual titles. But I found a couple of “real” ones.
The first is Burning Rangers, a strange firefighting game for the dying Sega Saturn in 1998, developed by Sonic Team (who made, you know… Sonic). The game is set in a futuristic world where fires are the only real hazard left to humanity, so the government has set up an elite team of super firefighters. It’s not exactly a realistic simulation–you wear a rocket-powered space suit and shoot water out of a laser gun. Although this game is actually highly regarded by Saturn enthusiasts, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for in a firefighting game.
The next is Firefighter F.D. 18, developed by Konami and released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2. It’s a third-person action game that tries to recreate realistic firefighting situations a bit more closely than Burning Rangers. It’s a classic Konami formula of the era, even including “boss” fires at the end of levels. An interesting issue this game ignores: the player is not restricted in movement at all, so the fire hose he’s holding seems to go on and on forever. The longest fire hose of all time. How could a game more accurately portray fire hose lengths, without constricting the player too much?
The last game I looked at is, in fact, a bargain bin casual game published by Conspiracy Entertainment, famous for such masterpieces as Ninjabread Man and Action Girlz Racing. This one is entitled Real Heroes: Firefighter and was released for the Wii in 2009. It takes the first person perspective I had been thinking about for my own theoretical game, with mediocre results. One of the main issues inherent with the firefighting genre is that your main enemy through the whole game is just one thing: fire. How do you keep fire interesting? This game consists of linear levels and a few civilians to rescue.
An honorable mention goes to the most successful implementation of a water-shooting device in video games: Nintendo’s own Super Mario Sunshine, released for the GameCube in 2002. It’s the most-maligned title in the Mario franchise, but the eponymous hero’s Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device (FLUDD) works brilliantly in the game to clean up graffiti and muddy messes. Clearly, this game mechanic can be achieved. It simply needs to be used on fire.
So how can we learn from these mistakes?
First and foremost, fire is boring. Both gameplay-wise and art-wise, it gets repetitive. It’s hard to program “creative” AI for something without a brain, but a game about firefighting has to keep the fires themselves interesting and fun to put out, other than just “walk up to fire, put it out, move on.” As for the art, it seems every single firefighting game I looked at had the same color palette: orange, orange, orange, and black. It makes sense since it’s fire, but good games have a diverse color range, so you don’t feel like you’re playing the same level over and over. Plus, modern game technology seems better suited to tackle the complex graphics of fire and water than the spate of PlayStation 2 firefighting games.
There’s a lot of gameplay we can derive from firefighting other than just fighting fires. Saving people in different situations and trying to use your tools to get to trapped civilians adds a whole new element to the gameplay. Something none of these games touched on is the fire engine itself. Fire engines are so much a part of little kids’ dreams, and they’re ripe for gamification. You could customize and upgrade the fire engine, and drive through traffic and red lights to get to the fire itself. And the fire station could be a nifty “home base” for it all.
But the question remains–how do you keep it interesting for an extended period of time? There needs to be some sort of emotional hook without making it cheesy or melodramatic.
Then it came to me: the final level of the game. It should be September 11.
Imagine the impact. You’re playing through this game, having gritty firefighting adventures, and suddenly you’re hit with something a bit more heavy. If handled well, it could be incredibly poignant. I would want to avoid any sort of over-patriotism or jingoism in the game. If it’s simply about firefighters doing their jobs and then dealing with the events of 9/11, I believe that’s something real-life firefighters could identify with.
There would be the same controversy that surrounds Six Days in Fallujah, with many people saying it hits too close to home. Publisher cowardice aside, Six Days in Fallujah is able to handle its subject matter gracefully (from what I’ve seen of the game) because the developer, Atomic Games, actually spoke extensively with the Marines involved in the Second Battle of Fallujah. They got the Marines’ approval to make the title. This firefighting game would have to do the same, with the New York City Fire Department.
Too soon? Perhaps I’m crossing the line a bit with this last idea, but you get the point. There’s a lot we can do with the concept of firefighting video games. And then we can cross the line from “fun games” to “games as art.” (Source: Gamasutra)