Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday evening we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. Following this week's unveiling of the Playstation Move, Jon and Matt combine forces to pen an open letter to the key figures in the development of upcoming motion control.
We've given Project Natal a pretty rough time over the last few weeks, questioning its purpose, its capabilities and the commitment to quality development of those involved in producing games for the platform but, whether you're slavering in anticipation or groaning with cynicism, one thing is for certain: the next generation of motion control is on its way. The unveiling of the Playstation Move (frankly a much simpler and more appropriate name) has finally given the PS3 contingent something to buzz about, with the promo videos looking impressive.
However, there are still some key things that we'd like to see and, rather than keep them to ourselves, we've decided to pen an open letter to the primary movers-and-shakers on both sides of the fence to explain ten of the top things we'd like to see. Here's our missive in full:
To Whom It May Concern,
We're psyched for Natal and the Playstation Move. Really. Motion capture technology in our own living room could completely revolutionise the way we experience videogames. Unfortunately, we hardcore gamers are a little worried about the titles that are being developed for this revolutionary new medium as well as the target audience they're aimed towards.
With the Wii's few revolutionary successes far outnumbered by an avalanche of mediocre shovelware, we are concerned that such innovative hardware might not be used to its full potential and whilst we can appreciate the commercial sense of peddling cheap mini-game collections to the masses, we feel that following this route would not only be letting fans and gamers down, but your good selves as well.
With that in mind, we've put together a small list of ten of the top things we'd like to see made possible:
10: A Decent Cricket Game
Forget baseball, cricket is where it's at. Motion control could mean that we'd be able to do everything from slogging sixes to firing in brutal leg cutters. Hell, there'd hopefully even be room for fielding mini-games in between deliveries for taking catches, maybe playing as the wicketkeeper, and definitely incorporating the fundamentally important long barrier. You know it makes sense on a lazy Sunday.
9: Controller Support
Mainly one for Natal. Let's face it, not everyone is going to want to flail their arms around like a loon after a hard day. Whilst we have no real fears that the trusty controller will be abandoned along with a significant percentage of the hardcore audience, we feel it's necessary to just state it anyway: people like buttons. Buttons are good. You see a button, you want to press it, it's human nature.
8: Realistic Avatar Support
The Playstation Eye and Natal's cameras are incredibly capable devices, therefore we want to be able to put ourselves into the games we play. We're not talking about cartoony avatars or rubber-faced likenesses, we mean extrapolating our hairstyles, clothes and beer bellies and placing us gamers as characters into the games we play.
7: No Frivolous Useless Control Kit Instruments Nullifying Gameplay Peripherals
A simple one, this. Hardware enhancing peripherals: Yes. Cheap pieces of plastic crap: No.
6: Kung Fu Fighting
The FPS experience might be a tricky one to translate over when it comes to motion control, especially for Natal, but there's no excuse when it comes to kicking ten tons of poo out of someone with your bare hands. Not only that, but there's a real possibility for interactive martial arts lessons and, thanks to the constant mapping of your bodily movement, surely it would be feasible that your screen instructor would be able to tell you whereabouts you're going wrong. Online aerobics classes could become a very real possibility for those without a local gym too.
5: RTS Puppet Mastery
The list of inadequacies when it comes to the console RTS is lengthy and does not make for good reading. Tight motion control could change all of the that, especially if physical movements can be combined with vocal commands. Tom Clancy's EndWar took an innovative approach to the RTS genre with its voice-command system and, whilst not perfect, it certainly pointed towards the possibility of an incredibly immersive tactical experience.
4: Quality Control
As Valve have pointed out already, allowing cheap knock-offs and tacky bandwagon-jumping is not only going to irritate developers concerned with actually putting some time and effort into making games for your systems, but it'll end up alienating a large proportion of your respective fanbases. Bring back the Seal of Approval and quell mediocrity with impunity. Take some responsibility and aim high - the hardware deserves it.
3: Black and White 3
Okay, we concede that Milo will be an interesting tech demo, and we're sure that allowing certain members of society to groom a virtual child might well keep dangerous individuals off of our streets - but, crude joking aside, Lionhead already has an IP that's perfect for Natal: Black and White.
Being able to literally throw villagers around with a wave of our hand, cast spells with a simple gesture and physically play as our creature would be an incredible experience that we can see working well with the Natal hardware. Essentially, a Godzilla simulator for the more evilly-minded, this could be a knockout success and would mean that Lionhead could go back to make genuinely innovative games rather than simply producing relatively average action-RPGs with abysmal voice acting.
2: Hands-free Menu Control
Yeah, this may seem pretty tame compared to kung-fu fighting and being a god, but we'd draw any detractors' attentions to the movie adaptation of Minority Report. Remember the super-cool holographic screen that everyone's favourite tiny Scientologist flips through with motion-sensitive gloves early on in the film? Well we do, and we remember our jaws hitting the floor, imaginations racing at the thought of what the future could bring.
Now such things are a very real possibility. Apple's recent renaissance has proven that if you give anything a slick enough sheen that the masses will absolutely lap it up. We want awesome interactive menus, and we know you can do it.
1: The Force Unleashed
We're not talking about the pretty average hack'n'slash from a couple of years back, we're talking about really being in control of the Force. We've seen the capabilities of the Playstation Move when it comes to sword-fighting, but there's no sword cooler than the lightsaber. If LucasArts are going to continue to keep milking the Star Wars universe for all it's worth, it's time that they gave us something to be proud of. This is what Star Wars Kid was waiting for, and let's face it he's not the only one.
And then there's the Force powers themselves. Push, Grip, Lightning, all of them coupled with distinctive physical motion that is begging to be put into a new Jedi Knight game.
We don't want motion capture for the sake of motion capture, but as a means to an end: the natural evolution of videogaming, pursuing greater interactivity and immersion. And we desperately hope that we're on the same page.
Jonathan Lester, Matt Gardner and the Dealspwn.com team
Have any things you'd like to see when Microsoft and Sony's mo-con gadgets finally make their appearance? Pop down your thoughts in the comments box!