The word is on the street is that the fast paced arena shooter genre is dead. It’s difficult to argue with the pundits when you look at the empty Quake 4 and Unreal Tournament III servers, the sagging numbers for Quake Live and the myriad of free/open sourced shooters in the deathmatch realm, and the continued success of slower paced, military style games, and team based shooters. These are dark and gloomy times for the twitcher ego shooter fans. Much has been written about it, and many teeth have been gnashed as to why this has occurred, but one thing that cannot be denied is – instead of whining and arguing about which game is the best, or going to save the genre – the only real way to save it is to shut up and play.
The arena shooters will eventually come to life again. The cycle is starting to move back in that direction as people have gotten increasingly bored with the slow paced military shooters and are looking to take the next step in their evolution as gamers. The problem is, most people don’t know where to look, or which game to begin playing. There are the obvious AAA choices out there, but finding a good match on them is often futile in a land of empty servers. Many find their way to hybrid games such as Urban Terror, while others filter out into the various open sourced, free games such as Warsow, Xonotic, Sauerbratan and Alien Arena, to name a few of the more well known games. However, far too many are sitting around(and gnashing those teeth), waiting for the “next big thing” to come along and rescucitate the rather lifeless(pardon the pun) deathmatch scene. To compound it, most are looking to the AAA companies to deliver the goods. They will be waiting quite awhile…
Where they should be looking, is the aforementioned free and open sourced deathmatch games. These games are the result of years and years of refinement, and continue to be developed to this day. Their polish and quality has certainly exceeded the games from the deathmatch heyday, and the innovations and improvisations of classic ideas makes them something larger, and more grand. With Quake Live slowly dying off, there are a number of players turning to these games, and with the eventual exodus from the military shooters, it’s quite possible that they will flourish once again. The problem is, this influx of players is still quite small, and with the plethora of choices out there, these games are left competing with each other for the same piece of the pie. Many of these games are of great quality(and there is no law saying you have to only play one of them), but the truth is, they do compete against each other in the end. In recent years there has been more collaberation between these communities and developers, which has led to a more rapid improvement in each of the respective games. Each of them is trying their best to make their case as to why you should play their game, replete with videos, screenshots, and testimonials, all geared to lure prospective gamers into their folds.
As I said, I believe that it’s ridiculous to pigeon-hole yourself into just one game, but the reality is, that is exactly what most fans of the genre do, and unfortunately the communities of these games will continue to struggle against one another, behind the scenes and in the foreground. It’s a shame, but it is for the most part normal human behavior, and quite inevitable. As for those of us working on Alien Arena, we have been putting our noses to the grindstone, working on putting out another huge release. Alien Arena: Reloaded Edition will be released towards the end of June, 2012. The amount of new content is the largest since we changed themes back in 2008, and every aspect of the game has been advanced, from rendering, to gameplay, to weaponry, to player characters, you name it. Did I mention the dozen new maps?
We are nothing, if not relentless in our approach.