clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Hybrid is a shooter born of years of research and virtual gunplay

"I literally played every shooter over the last two years ... and wrote down notes." Jeremiah Slaczka


Hybrid hits Xbox Live Arcade this summer.

Innovation isn't exactly a common word used to describe the shooter genre, Jeremiah Slaczka, creative director at 5th Cell, says. But the developers behind Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life want to change that with their upcoming Xbox 360 shooter Hybrid.

"We wanted to do something that was actually completely different from the norm of what you're used to, but still kinda feels similar," he said during a recent video released for the game.

The key innovation in the upcoming Xbox Live shooter is something the team calls combat movement. The idea is that your character sort of goes into autopilot when you move between cover spots. One button press moves you to the cover spot your character is looking at, another button press causes your character to automatically retreat. During this auto movement, you can use the thumbstick to strafe and dodge along their third-person flight. You can also choose a new cover spot mid-flight. There is no other way to move along the ground beyond this system.

The decision to strip away the intricacies of movement on a battlefield simplifies one of the more mundane elements of a third-person shooter, while making it much more tactical, Slaczka says.

"It is very, very fluid. Very, very intuitive. Very, very simple," Slaczka said in the video. "But it makes the strategy very, very deep because the fact that you can't just go anywhere you have to be very purposeful in your movement."

Because they have this focused movement, you can also select wall cover and upside down ceiling cover, he added.

Killstreaks give you drones. The drones are robots that fly around with you taking out nearby enemies. The drones increase in size and lethality with the number of kills you have. The top drone is a heat seeking missile that will take out an enemy unless it is shot down first.

The game doesn't have a set class system, instead the game allows you to sort of create your own classes based ont the weapons and abilities you like.

The multiplayer only Xbox Live Arcade game includes a persistent world war that makes every battle matter. The game has two factions. You select one for the life of the game and the game then tracks how the faction and you are doing over the course of time and many, many battles.

If some of these design decisions sound familiar, that's because Slaczka says he spent the last two years methodically playing every shooter he could get his hands on.

"I literally played every shooter over the last two years," he told Polygon in an interview earlier this year. "I played them and wrote down notes about them."

Even before studying up on the genre, Slaczka said he was a big fan of shooter titles. He played Counter-Strike "super hard core," he said and Call of Duty 4 was one of his favorite shooters of all time.

In creating Hybrid, the team tried to take a minimalist approach, stripping away everything that they didn't think was necessary for the experience. That's how the combat movement was born, a system that essentially takes away the need to guide your character from point a to point b in a gun battle.

"To make Hybrid a cool title we had to nail down aiming and shooting," he said. "In this day and age you can't have a bad shooter, even if you're $15."

"My opinion is that for multiplayer shooters on console you need 60 frames a second," he said. "I notice a difference. I can switch (Hybrid) to 30 frames, but I can tell the difference."

The end result is a game that Slaczka believes is true to his company's philosophy.

"We wake up every day and we want to do cool new stuff," he said. "The common thread (for 5th Cell) is innovation. We want to make interesting stuff."

In creating this $15 shooter, Slaczka says he hopes to create something that is competitive with all shooters, no matter the price.

"I don't believe in Hybrid being Call of Duty $15," he said. "We want to get as close as we can to the best shooters."