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December 09, 2005

Revolutionary Ideas

MTV.com - Video Games has up a great article about a hands-on event during which they got to sample the new 3D Nintendo Revolution controller. They report that many developers are jazzed about the new method of playing games and will offer enough support to produce a satisfying array of titles by the time the system hits stores in 2006.

"In certain genres this is going to feel so good that it's hard to imagine Sony and Microsoft not also offering this as an option," said Jack Sorensen, executive vice president of worldwide studios at THQ where an undisclosed number of Revolution games are under development.

Guha Bala, president of Activision's New York development studio Vicarious Visions also shared some excellent ideas for roleplaying games. "A player in a role-playing game who needs to cast a spell at one moment could suddenly use the controller as a magic wand, for example. Better yet, players could design their own gestures to trigger different spells."

If half of what the developers are thinking of comes to fruition, we are indeed headed for a revolution in video games.


At January 28, 2006 6:19 PM, Blogger 13TonGimp said...

Yeah, because we have never seen a gimmick controller before. The Power Glove didn't cut it, neither did the Sega Activator, or i-Toy, or any other motion based sensor. The only successful motion based game series has been DDR, and it is just a niche sector of the gaming industry at best. I'm willing to bet that 3rd party developers in the US and Europe aren't going to utilize the Revolution on 90% of the games they make, if that even. Motion based input for video games has never worked, and will always be a gimmick maybe until the advent of actual virtual reality similations. Most people, ESPECIALLY casual gamers do not want to move around while playing a game.

If people wanted to buy a system to wave crap around in front of the TV, they could go get a Xavix. You think because Nintendo is going to offer a Xavix with Mario games, people will buy it? Look at the history of video games and interactive controllers for consoles, and you will see the future of Nintendo. They never succeed.

At January 28, 2006 8:37 PM, Blogger Kamalot said...

Right on! I believe that Sony called the Nintendo DS' touch screen a gimmick as well, before the DS kicked the PSP's ass in worldwide sales.

If you look at it from a different angle, perhaps multimedia functionality is the gimmick. Do people really need another way to play movies, chat with people online or view their family photos? When have those features ever made or broken a video game system? As long as the Revolution is focused on fun, original gameplay then it will succeed.

BTW, the Power Glove wasn't made by Nintendo and none of the examples you mentioned were the primary input method for the system on which they were home.

At January 30, 2006 9:19 PM, Blogger 13TonGimp said...

The DS used provenly successful technology from the PDA sector, so it was a no-brainer to ad it to portable technology. Motion controled interfaces for systems has, again, never been a big draw and never will.

And yes, I know that Nintendo didn't make the Power Glove, but that still doesn't change the fact that it was a major failure and is still looked back upon as a laughable input device.

As for the primary interface argument, it is null and void because the Xavix is based around motion based input. Doesn't make it sell any better. In fact, I didn't even seen any that last time I went to Best Buy. I did notice how few Gamecube games they had for sale though. I'm betting their Revolution section will be just as small.

At January 30, 2006 11:27 PM, Blogger Kamalot said...

Dear gimp,

The DS used proven successful technology from the PDA sector, but it was far from a no-brainer. In fact, most people who are paid big bucks to predict which system will come out on top, predicted that the DS would be crushed by the PSP. Analysts and reporters the world over underestimated Nintendo's panache at building world-class games that focus on fun.

You claim that motion controlled interfaces for systems have never been a big draw. Neither, my friend, has touch-screen or stylus-based gaming. Yes, PDAs have had touch screens for years, but never have the games been the highlight of any PDA.

In fact, if you visit any arcade these days, most games there are based around some kind of alternate input method. There are boxing games, light-gun games, golf games, fire-fighting games, motorcycle games, skiing games, white-water rafting games, and others. People like to move their body and their hands. It is a fact. One could argue that the reason no console-based motion controlled games have been successful is because a company has yet to come along and do it right.

So you admit that a poorly-conceived and miserably-implemented 3rd-party product was a "major failure?" Good. We agree on something. There are loads of alternate input methods that have come out over the years, each with varying degrees of commercial success. Typically, commercial success has to do with how well the input mimics another input. For example, trackballs never overtook the mouse because, while they do a fine job of moving the pointer, they don't do it just like a mouse. Therefore, people consider them 'not as good'. With the Revolution, there is no basis for comparison since nobody has ever used a control system like it before.

You can also look at the family tree of controllers to see what has been successful and what hasn't. Looking at the family tree, it is also clear that Nintendo has a better than average ratio of successful adaptations. Are they really focusing their entire console around something that is terrible to use?

As you can see, Nintendo has a great track record for taking the unthinkable, and making seriously fun games around it. They have the game development resources to make fun games around unconventional controllers and they have the balls to design unconventional controllers around fun game ideas.

P.S. Thanks for pointing me to the Xavix system. It is an interesting product that I'd like to learn more about.

P.P.S. You may also like to know that Apple has filed a patent for a motion-sensitive tablet-based game system. Talk about unconventional...


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