Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Let's Dream Up Some Fun Things

With all the negativity that we've been putting ourselves through since the XBone announcement, I think it's a good idea for us all to sort of try and remember why we like games in the first place and realize that these all still exist and will continue to exist without worry.  I think for a lot of us, the thing about it is just that games have the potential to just do really neat things.  To be honest, Nintendo has really had the ball in their court this generation and last (because the Wii U is Next Generation which is technically -this- generation now) in terms of having really neat things possible, or at least they started with them.  The motion controls thing never really saw truly innovative work done with them in a repeated fashion (I maintain that Shattered Memories' Flashlight and Phone things were amazing conceptually at least and that Sorcery with the Move Wand was amazing in practice) and the GamePad integration is still up in the air.  Sony is jumping in a little earlier with that than they did with the Move, which is wonderful  It's irrelevant if Sony is "copying" Nintendo, because it's a good idea and good ideas shouldn't be 'owned' by any one single thing since that completely limits the scope of who gets to use it.  (I'm talking ideas and practices here, not games what are 'exclusives', because that's a whole other thing)

Sony confirmed today that Remote Play on your Vita will be mandatory for PS4 games unless your game heavily focuses on the Playstation Eye or Move or what have you, which is kind of a huge deal.  Which, first, let us discuss that for a moment, since I'm not convinced that the understanding of Remote Play/Off-TV Play is quite understood on the grand scale just yet.  Speaking in broad strokes, since I know there is more technical finesse to it than this, the bulk of what Remote Play/Off-TV Play (let's be honest, they're the same thing and if you want to be a technical bitch, Sony did Remote Play with the PSP before the Wii U but we're not being technical bitches) is directing the video output elsewhere than the TV it is hooked up to.  It's still the core machine doing all the work, it's just sending it to a different place.  Instead of your TV, it's sent to your Wii U Tablet over the machine's built-in wireless thing specifically made for that purpose.  Instead of your TV, you'll be getting the feed directly to your Vita from your PS4 over your wireless network.  The Sony method is more flexible in distance, but it could also be hampered by latency, but that's a problem for the then, not the now.  So PS4 games aren't going to be hampered by this Remote Play mandate and to suggest that is silly.

Now, I only bring up the Remote Play thing to point out that Sony has already, with that one move, established a co-existence between the PS4 and the Vita.  One that doesn't -have- to simply be on the level of Remote Play, but can transcend to the Wii U level of interactivity, making use of that for fun things just like the possibility exists for the Wii U.  With any luck, out of both consoles, -someone- will come up with a really neat idea as to how to make use of this second screen and such, and -that- right there is a neat thing.  That is, in fact, -the- neat thing that got me thinking tonight.  In the vein of doing something that I've done before, I kind of wanted to just put a few ideas out there that I think could personally be interesting and/or neat.  At worst, they'll be like my MoveShock ideas and will just go on being unused which will just make me sad.

Perhaps it's because I've been playing Soul Sacrifice still, which lets you turn Librom's pages manually instead of advancing them with X (which you can do, it's just a neat touch that I make use of), or perhaps it's because I've read just about every digital manual for the games on my Vita, but I can't help but think of a book interface for an off-screen.  Specifically one that'll likely house your options, but be a big part of your gameplay as well.  Let's take L.A. Noire for example.  I haven't played it, but if I'm correct, then a large portion of the game focuses on your notebook, in which you keep notes about crime scenes, suspects and the like, all of which you eventually use to attempt to solve the case you're working.  Again, if I'm right, things just sort of get put into your Notebook for your perusal at a later date, but what if that was under your control?  What if it was defined by difficulty? 

Assuming L.A. Noire just requires you encounter an event to have it added to your notes (again, I don't know for sure, but you can see why I would assume this), that could be the easiest difficulty.  The next step up would require you actually input when a note has to be made.  Attach an ink meter to this or something so that you can't just tap the GamePad/Vita input over and over again for everything on the off-chance that you'll actually hit something you need to take note of.  Perhaps for the hardest difficulty, you have those things, but when you bring up something to take a note on, you actually have to decide on what the note is about.  So you notice something strange about the crime scene chalk outline and if you're on the normal difficulty, you just tap the screen and it puts down the note.  But if you're on the hardest difficulty, it becomes a sort of multiple choice thing.  You have to pick not only the chalk outline, but what's wrong with it.  Which means you could, of course, have false notes, making the game that much harder for yourself and requiring that you actually think and pay attention.

Even turn this into another kind of functionality entirely.  Instead of a notebook for a detective, it's a spellbook for a sorcerer.  Take a sort of Soul Sacrifice version of things and assign up to six or so buttons for your spells, but also have the spellbook as a way to quick-swap them during gameplay.  That way you're not inherently tied to using some, however trying to access your book in the middle of a fight would, realistically, be a dangerous prospect, since something could very well start eating you as you are flipping through the pages of your book to assign a fire spell to Square or whatever button that corresponds to on the Wii U Gamepad.  Just sort of a Quality of Life upgrade that introduces something a little faster and more tactile than scrolling through menu after menu with control sticks and buttons.  Granted, it might be a sort of semantics thing at work, but it's different enough I think.

That's just if you use the screen of the device you're using as a book instead of the innumerable other types of input things.  The Wii U already has some rather inventive uses for it - take a look at Lego City Undercover - which takes a whole other angle on it by making it a camera/X-ray device of sorts.  There's a ridiculous amount of usability for these things, and I desperately hope someone dips into the potential given the two system exposure.  Three if you count SmartGlass for Microsoft, but I....don't know if it'll actually work in the same way.  Or at all.  In any fashion.  I really don't know anything about SmartGlass.  What I do know about is the GamePad and Vita's Remote Play.  And I am really, really excited for a generation where this sort of thing is possible and, with any luck, heavily thought out.  Because that would just be fantastic and would hopefully ignite a few more imaginations out there.

did I seriously do a post where I wasn't negative about Nintendo, what is happening

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