Gameplay: Similarities & Differences to SOCOM
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So how will H-HOUR be like SOCOM but different from SOCOM? Let’s assume that I’m talking about SOCOM II rather than the later sequels or SOCOM I just to stay focused, and I’ll talk about H-HOUR as if it is a finished game or rather as I’m envisioning it. There was much, much more to talk about (and I could do that for days) but I’ll let those aspects emerge through dialogue with you over the next month.
SOCOM was intended to be a mass market game. It acquired a “hard core” reputation later after millions of people were playing it.
H-HOUR is intended for fans of SOCOM of all stripes and features difficulty modes (single player) and customization options online to welcome fans of other shooters to join the H-HOUR community.
SOCOM was made on instinct, some focus testing, and input from the publisher.
H-HOUR was made with instinct, game design experience, the known desires and expectations of the community derived from direct engagement with the community.
SOCOM had 22 multiplayer maps each generally designed with one game mode in mind. Creating DLC was impossible. The AI was unintentionally unpredictable and limited to a few maps.
H-HOUR will have 6 multiplayer maps at launch and steadily increase that number via DLC for the two years following launch to exceed 22 maps. Each map is designed for one game mode. AI are smart enough to be afraid, belligerent or suspicious. They appear in maps as hostages, VIPs, enemy leaders, and innocent civilians.
In SOCOM, maps had significant variety in terms of size, interactivity, and setting. Draw distances were greatly limited as were visual effects.
In H-HOUR, maps have significant variety in terms of size, much greater interactivity, and settings that are not edited for political reasons. Draw distances are greatly increased where appropriate and visual effects are on par with any AAA shooter.
SOCOM maps ranged from urban to rural with an emphasis on good flow.
H-HOUR maps include dense urban environments, wide open rural or desert locations, jungle and forest among others. These maps are inspired by the approach that made SOCOM maps work well. They look prettier but play just as great.
SOCOM had victory dances and customizable taunts.
H-HOUR has customizable victory dances, customizable taunts, and a “worst enemy” feature.
SOCOM featured a lobby system that let you find exactly the kind of game you wanted, when you wanted, and allowed you to get to know your teammates in chat.
H-HOUR features a lobby system that lets you find the kind of game you want, lobby chat (speech and text), the classic “server list view” plus an optional infographics view that lets you find a game or friends (or enemies) through a stylish visual interface.
SOCOM featured game modes such as ESCORT, SUPPRESSION and BREACH.
H-HOUR features similar (but differently named) game modes with expansions on the design plus two additional all new game modes at launch with more to come via DLC releases.
SOCOM allowed players to customize their game with many parameters and create invitation-only games.
H-HOUR allows you to customize your game with the same parameters and many more so that you can create game experiences as hard core or “friendly” as you want. You can of course save these as presets.
H-HOUR allows you to create private games, instantly create and send invitations to friends and opponent lists, and more.
SOCOM allowed you to create a tag for your character.
H-HOUR allows you create a tag, a personal bio, and a graphical patch.
In SOCOM, you could create clans outside of the game and were left to your own devices for communication within the clan.
H-HOUR has all the clan creation and management support built right into the game. You can create a clan with one click using the presets or be as detail oriented as you want, even writing a constitution to guide ethics and behavior, create a clan logo for display on characters and your own personalized clan page, invite/message/kick members, assign member various ranks and powers, view analytics after action reports of individual clan members or the whole clan on a timeline and much more.
In SOCOM communication between players and the game was handled almost entirely outside the game.
In H-HOUR you will be able to monitor clan activities through your game-generated clan page, emails, a mobile app, and more.
In SOCOM if you played as a team and considered real world tactics you were more successful.
In H-HOUR, if you know you are playing as a team it's because the game tells you through after action reports. It lets you know when real world tactics should have been used and who on your team supported you or let you down, among other things.
In SOCOM, you knew you weren’t doing well because you died a lot.
In H-HOUR analytics tell you why you die a lot, then tells you when and where you died and how to avoid that in the future. The ANALYTICS SERGEANT provides and improvement plan for you and monitors your progress.
SOCOM featured a large number of generically named side arms, machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles and grenades.
H-HOUR features a smaller but well-balanced number of weapons at launch and increases that number over time. Partnerships with weapons manufacturers increase authenticity.
In SOCOM the ballistics model was built using tabular research and Q & A with a military consultant. Each weapon had a personality but not all weapons were well balanced.
In H-HOUR the ballistics model is built using data provided by a professional real world weapons engineer, ongoing Q & A with our special forces team, and practical experience on the firing range. Weapons still have personality but superior balance.
In SOCOM you could play as SEALs or terrorists.
In H-HOUR you can play as any US Special Forces or as terrorists.
In SOCOM, you chose from pre-set skins for your character.
In H-HOUR you can customize your character’s appearance. Through DLC the possibilities are tremendous.
In SOCOM single player, AI could be unresponsive and slow. Path finding was awkward. AI often appeared to “hide” in plain sight.
H-HOUR AI focuses on behaviors appropriate to context: fear, panic, anger, stealth. They also try to be human and create empathy or antipathy in the player through customized animations and vocal performances that are presented naturally during play rather than in cut scenes.
SOCOM had clear cut objectives, sub-objectives and occasionally emergent objectives.
H-HOUR has clear cut objectives and sub-objectives as well as emergent objectives that can affect the flavor and objectives of subsequent missions.
Voice of HQ
SOCOM cast a woman as the voice of HQ.
H-HOUR has a female voice of HQ.
SOCOM made extensive use of dialogue to create context, mood, and to give clues about who the characters were. Sometimes the dialogue included useful intel.
H-HOUR makes extensive use of dialogue in the same way, with much greater emphasis on intel gathering during times of stealth.
SOCOM occasionally used stealth to build tension, challenge, and realism.
H-HOUR occasionally uses stealth in the same ways.
SOCOM featured storylines and settings from areas that were potential hot spots of terrorist activities. Deep research on those locations did not always affect the content due to limitations of hardware and schedule.
H-HOUR features true, never before told stories from retired special forces operators all set in locations where terrorist were or are active. Contemporary hardware platforms allow much greater use of deep research.
In SOCOM vehicles appeared in the form of tanks, helicopters and “dead” cars.
In H-HOUR vehicles appear for dramatic purposes or to kill you but not for you to drive around large maps banging into things. H-HOUR is all about the “men on the ground.”