Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Interaction Design

Different ways for the player to interact with the game other than the traditional d pad and buttons have been around since the early days of gaming. But only in recent times, since the wii came out really, that the mainstream audience has started to buy into it. But just because the mainstream is buying into it doesn't mean it’s more immersive than something 10 years ago.

I’ve used quite a few peripherals in my gaming life. Only a few have really helped with immersion, the rest have been a feeble attempt at it. Steering wheels, for example, are an absolute blast to use, especially when its link to a gear box and pedals with force feedback.  Drifting round the corner and fighting the force of the wheel kicking back couldn't really get any better for me, and that’s probably because its replicating driving a car pretty well. I don’t really have to think about what im doing, it just comes naturally (even when I didn't know how to drive), that’s down to it being intuitive.

I've never felt more immersed in a game while playing on this
On the flip side, peripherals to enhance any sort of shooting game has never worked well. Yeah, pointing a ‘wand’ at a screen is  slightly better than moving an analogue stick on a controller, but it still doesn’t feel like I’m actually there shooting a gun. Even when the wand is placed in a gun casing (oooo plastic, how realistic). When it is, it does feel kinda cool holding it and pulling the trigger, but it doesn’t feel realistic, I don’t feel like im there, holding an actual gun. This completely takes me out of the immersion, im just constantly thinking to myself that im hold this big red gun made of plastic, makes me feel like a kid and kinda stupid. One thing ive never seen in a shooting peripheral is some sort of reloading process. Pressing a button on the side of the gun to reload it really kills the realism for me. Ive never seen a gun where you can release the mag then put a new one in, id love that. Someone invent that.

The peak of gaming accessory realism...... 

As the years and consoles generations go by we’ll see loads of attempts to merge reality and fantasy together(many of them pathetic im sure).  But unless something spectacular comes outs I really don’t see any of them taking off. Video games to me, and im sure to most people are a way to chill out and break away from reality. The last thing I want to do after having had a long day of doing work is jump around and waving my hands about like an idiot. I just want to slouch on my sofa bashing some buttons. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of this motion controller idea. People are finally getting over the craze of motion controllers, bout time too. This article explain why in a bit more depth: http://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/177457-has-motion-control-failed

But one thing which I do favour with some of these peripherals is the new wave of fitness games were getting, im not a fan of it, but I think it’s a good move. I know some people hate the thought of going to the gym to work out, and find that boring. But with games like wiifit it does get people to interact with a game in a healthy and entertaining way. Marinating a healthy life is a good thing, people know that but some can’t be bothered to move out of there house to get some exercise. Developers/publishers know this too, so they are capitalising on it, and I don’t blame them. They get their money and people get healthier. Win win situation. 

One thing I love seeing on every console generation is how  each company is taking a new/different approach to the form factors and style of the console and the controller. The last few decades all consoles suffered from brickingitis. Every single one was some form of a box and a box isn’t the prettiest thing to look at. The controllers were slightly better though. The first few of them were boxes, but then they started to understand that holding a box for a few hours did nothing but hurt the players hands. So they started to look into ergonomics and put it into practice and because of that we start seeing some comfortable controllers. Now it seems like it’s pretty important factor for some people - I’ve heard of people buying a 360 over a ps3 just because the controller fits in their hands better. Also rumours are that Microsoft never did (and still don’t) well in the east Asian market as the Xbox controller was too large for their smaller hands, even still when they released a smaller controller to suit their needs . So it seems like people are starting to express themselves with their wallet. Making it big business for companies to get it right.

Really wish people didn't kick off about this. Its supposed to be very natural to hold

Another thing developers/publishers are trying to push alongside these new motion controllers is 3D. To me 3D enable games are just developers jumping on the whole 3D bandwagon to milk a bit more extra money from the ill-informed customer. I don’t believe it adds anything to immersion or gameplay. Also with the current state of 3d technology and popularity, it alienates a big percentage of the market because very few households have a 3d ready tv and some people do not react well to playing 3d games for long periods of time, if at all ( Im one of these people).

I will hand it to some companies trying to do something new, but some of them are really going in the wrong direction. Take this article for example:
The first one is a helmet you put on to “feel the impact of getting shot in the head”. Yeah that’s something I really don’t want to experience when playing a FPS.

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