Here to share its gaming views and feelings from a different perspective…wrixel is proud to present the virtunaut.

Republished from the original site:

The pulsing woofers flooded the room with the sounds of gunshots, explosions, and empty shell casings clinking along floors of alien alloy, while the rhythmic, almost choreographic, flickering of the red, green, and blue pixels bathed the walls in vibrant light. A voice screeched through her headset: “Where the hell is the flag?”

The abrasive sounds of combat dwindled to where only the ambient hum of electrical currents and holographic displays were audible.

“I don’t know, but I’m in their base right now. They won’t capture it.” A muted explosion echoed through the computerized halls.

“Shit, they got me. Of course, they couldn’t kill me with anything besides the rocket launcher. I swear, that’s the only thing I’ve died to all game.”

“Whatever,” she said, “will you just tell me where they’re coming from?”

A third voice crackled in. “They’re comin’ in low, and I think – ” the supersonic burst of a high caliber rifle transmitted through the radio and drowned out the rest of his sentence. The bullet was well placed, shattering the enemy’s protective shielding and slicing across their shoulder, but they weren’t down.¬† A second shot was taken, although too late; the enemy had already taken cover behind a piece of the environment’s exotic architecture, and the bullet clattered to the ground after being rejected by the wall’s self-healing surface. “Damn. I hit one. He’s weak!”

There were twenty seconds remaining, and her team had the lead. Allowing the enemy team to score would have moved the game into overtime, and, given they were already down a man, it was something they couldn’t afford. Their fourth teammate had been having networking issues and was disconnected, leaving the team with only a ‘consciousless’ avatar ceaselessly walking into a wall. It was up to her.

Her presence caused the environment to shape and shift, writhe and deform, as if alive. Bounding her way through the machining mechanisms, she stopped after coming to the perimeter of a room whose both ceiling and floor swelled into what resembled the domed cavernous volume of an atrium. Hovering at the cavity’s airless center was a platform bearing the motionless enemy standard. It was here where the enemy flag carrier would need to reach in order to score, and it was here where she’d need to stop him.

Fifteen seconds. Preemptively, she tossed a plasma grenade searing across the chasm with near perfect precision; it landed in front of a door in the process of dematerializing to allow passage. She followed up with a burst from her rifle. The grenade exploded, and the swaths of superheated particles it released caused the shields to be stripped clean off of the surprised enemy soldier they surrounded. He fell back into the hall before the spray of bullets could connect. “Come on,” she thought, “those shots were so on.” But she didn’t have time to think, only react.

A second door dematerialized, and, this time, it was the flag runner who’d entered. With him came a rush of adrenaline; she immediately opened fire. Defenseless with the flag in his hands, he dropped it and returned fire, sending a hail of bullets to come crashing against her shields. The bullet impacts sent ripples of energy coursing along her shield’s surface, and any that hit in front of her face drastically reduced visibility. She kept on the move, jumping and rolling, side stepping and sliding. A moving target is always harder to hit.

She created distance between her and her new assailant by moving to the far end of the room, closer to where her initial grenade had landed, each step mounting her anxiety; the enemy she had hit with her grenade would undoubtably be returning soon and fully shielded, but she’d be ready; a plan of attack had already been formulated in her mind.

A hissing sound emanated from her left; the door was opening again, and she turned her attention to her most immediate threat. Leaping towards the wall and placing her toes into a small detail of its anatomy, she used it to push herself high above the door. The enemy stepped through the portal, and just as his vision began to trace the bullet paths of his teammate, the butt end of a rifle came smashing through his visor.

She landed with the sound of fragmenting glass, not only from the destroyed faceplate, but from her shields. They had finally broken, and a few searing bullets pierced through the outer crust of her armor and penetrated the flesh of her hip. The suit’s internal network of nanomachines immediately began knitting the damaged tissue, and as she stepped into the hall for cover, she noticed the downed enemy’s positron rifle spinning out of reach into the flag room.

Ten seconds. A few last bullets came whizzing through the open entryway. The break in the assault could have meant  one of three things: if the enemy were reloading or had picked up the flag in an attempt to capture it, she would have the opportunity to step back out, even unshielded, to make a counter attack; but, if their weapon were still trained on the doorway, she would be killed and the game would move into overtime. She had to step out; there was no other option. She did, and, as the odds had predicted, the enemy had grabbed the flag and was running to make the jump to the capture point. She dropped her weapon and sprinted into the room, seizing the positron rifle.

Five seconds. On contact, her suit immediately linked up with weapon and projected a realtime video feed of the scope’s view onto her heads-up-display. Securing the weapon against her shoulder, she swung its barrel towards the airborne enemy, orienting its reticule in the middle of his helmet. She could see his head turn ever so slightly towards her as she compressed the trigger. The weapon released a screaming blast of high energy particles that ripped through the enemy’s helmet. His visor darkened from its new blood-coated interior, and his lifeless body spun to the ground with the flag following shortly after. Time.

One of her teammates came running in. “Glad you could make it,” she said.

“Seriously? Of course, I finally get this,” he said, pointing to the rockets equipped on his shoulder, “and the game’s over.”

“How about, nice job?”

It wasn’t always the case where one could complain about getting blown up or shot fifty-two times, or whine about the lack of healing spells being cast on them. We couldn’t always play a part in the death of a dragon or the unearthing and discovery of alien artifacts, and, even though books and movies have allowed us to peer voyeuristically into worlds where things like this may have happened, we’ve never had the authority to affect the people or places that have comprised those worlds. But, now, with our continued progress and advancement in the generation of virtual spaces and universes, we’re finally empowered to become the characters we’ve been stuck watching for so long.

I am The Virtunaut, and I’m here to share with you my thoughts on video games and anything electronic, although, if this blog is around long enough, there’s a good chance I’ll also be writing about things spintronic. In terms of games, I don’t plan to be a reviewer; I don’t wish to simply tell you my impression of a game after playing it for a few hours. If you want a review, there are plenty of sites out there eager to tell you what they’ve thought about a game’s graphics, its controls, and whether it’s even worth your time or money. What you’re more likely to find here are my feelings on the various mechanics and elements of gameplay we find in today’s most popular medium. I’ll try my best to figure out why these mechanics are the way they are, and what I think could be done to make them better, whether it be better balanced, more intuitive, more fun, or just more interesting.

I won’t only be commenting on what’s already out there, and you can think of this blog almost as an open-source version of my head, as I will often share new gameplay ingredients I’ve been inspired to think of. It could be a mechanic, a weapon, something environmental – whatever; it’s too often the case that I’m urged to think about how even the most mundane experience, like watching someone circle around a hedge of bushes in search of a cat, could be converted into a new and innovative gameplay experience; I’m tired of keeping them sealed away in tiny little notebooks. (Just to be clear, when I refer to, ‘mechanics,’ I’m speaking of anything the player/user actually does or interacts with – it could also be something that directly affects the way they play or interact.)

So, with that said, I will end this introductory post and begin preparing the next: The Future of the First Person Shooter. I will do my best to keep my main entries on a biweekly (every other week; not twice a week) schedule. There will also be intermittent smatterings of other ideas about essentially anything cybernetic. I hope you enjoy what I write here. And, I’m serious about the cat and the hedge. Really.