Today I was working on narrowing down a bug in a First Person Shooter and managed to make a clone of myself which lacked collision. I was able to step inside the cloned version of myself and look out through its body. Then I looked down and saw something I had never before experienced in an FPS game: my feet.

In early, fixed perspective FPS games, like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, the only portion of your character's anatomy that you could view (barring the iconic faces that appeared in the HUD display, becoming more and more beat-up looking as he took consecutive rockets to the chest) were the hands gripping their weapons, if at all. The first FPS I can remember playing which allowed the user to adjust the point-of-view to look up and down was Duke Nukem, but his chronic scoliosis prevented him from craning his head up or down more than 45 degrees or so. As his melee attack, he would alternately throw his left and right jackbooted feet directly out in front of him like some kind of psycho Cossack dancer, so I know he had them.

Once the FPS genre evolved to the level of Quake, players were finally allowed total freedom of persepective, from looking directly upward to directly downward, and what did the player see when pointing his screen-centered rocket phallus directly down? Nothing. No feet at all. All the other players in a deathmatch seemed to have whole entire bodies, at least before they got fragged into piles of mush, but one's own space marine hovered around like a disembodied torso.

Maybe it's just me, but I found it very disconcerting to not be able to see my own feet. Even in games which allowed the player to see their character reflected in a mirror, the feet were cleary there, but could not be seen when the player looked down. Unreal featured some very nice refelective floors in which the player saw their characters legs and feet reflected back at them, but not present on this side of the marbled tile. No One Lives Forever 2, the game with which I'm currently enthused, showed promise by having the protagonist's feet fly out in front of her when she slips on a banana peel, but still no footsies when I look down!

I refuse to believe that it's that hard for a First-Person game to portray feet. I think that the graphics capabilities of computers have progressed to the point that it's not that difficult to just throw a set of legs and shoes below the player camera. Maybe at this point it's just tradition to not show the feet in FPS games. Perhaps, in this day of realistic graphics, they're missing to help the player distinguish between the game and reality. Like, "If you look down and see feet, put the gun away. If there are no feet, shoot anything that moves."

I can't be the only person who feels this way.


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