Somebody once told me that the earliest piece of writing archaeologists have yet discovered is a rant complaining that all the great tales have already been told. This story's almost certainly apocryphal, but it certainly feels like us, the human race. It sounds like the sort of thing we might say.
In games, we get it all the time, in fact. Hardly a month goes by without someone complaining that a genre's been played out, that we're locked in a cycle of mindless repetition, and that, you know, all the great tales have already been told. This is bobbins, and now the Seven Day FPS game jam is here to help prove it.
7DFPS takes the perceived wisdom that the first-person shooter is a tired genre and turns it on its head. There's little more for me to say, because the games themselves make the argument beautifully. Over on the jam's website you'll find loads of inventive games to try out - look, even Notch has made one! - and I've picked out a handful of my favourites to get you started.
Cor - this is brilliant. It's also a little like trying to move a wardrobe down a spiral staircase that is tiled with bits of mirror. Svetovid is a first-person maze game in which you can't rotate, but you don't really need to. Instead, you work your way through its labyrinth and fight its horrible monsters by viewing all of your potential directions of movement at once.
Weirdly enough, the upshot of having so many new eyes means I've never been more aware of my own body in a first-person game before. You can practically feel the space you're taking up. Lovely soundtrack, too.
In My Sights
If Vantage Point wasn't brain-dead rubbish and a pathetic squandering of Dennis Quaid's near-boundless talents, it might have been a little like In My Sights, a rather dour sniping game by Liz England.
There's a bomb due to go off at a political rally, and the action plays out as "an M-rated Where's Waldo," according to the designer. She also adds that the game's "mildly depressing". Having reached the ending, I can confirm - spoilers - that she is correct.
As an inveterate Brendon Chung watcher, the news that there's a new game in the works is always something of a delight. The Thirty Flights creator's already pushed the boundaries of FPS design by building an entire adventure around editing, of course, and now he's turned out two games for 7DFPS. Photog is my favourite, just because it's so unusual. It's a multiplayer affair in which you might end up playing as a third-person action hero - or you might get cast as his cameraman. The idea apparently has its roots in Chung's work on the second Full Spectrum Warrior game. FSW is an unjustly forgotten series, and this is a wonderfully odd tribute.
His other 7DFPS game isn't bad either.
Discoverie's not a huge experimental departure for first-person shooters, but it's the basis for an infinite voxel roguelike, which means it's so many of my favourite things in one place I sort of had to include it. It's got a glorious sense of atmosphere and colour already and a dandy handling of the mini-map. It works with Oculus Rift, too. Oh, and I shot a penguin so I'm going to hell.