Saturday, March 04, 2006

What's in a controller?

So, I don't own a DS, but I'd like to. I recently smuggled some time on someone else's DS to play an import called "Ouendan". In case you haven't heard about this game, you play ninja cheerleaders with punk haircuts. You cheer people on to hold their bladders, to run for mayor against a fro-lord, and to whip their slaves into building pyramids.

It plays "like DDR". IE, it's a rhythm-based game.

But, as everyone should know, when you change the input device, the whole game changes. Anyone who claims that Frequency is the same gameplay as Guitar Hero has never played the latter. And anyone who claims that the power of a touchscreen cannot add anything to games has never played "Ouendan".

There are no "arrows" - why would you need them? Instead, numbered icons appear on the screen, and you hit them at the right moment to get the points. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Except this isn't just clicka-clicka-click. This is a rhythm-based game with a an accompanying deep feeling of rhythm. When you hit a long row of quarter-notes, your stylus is hopping delightfully across the screen. You might run in straight lines, or in circles, or bounce all over the screen, or march in squares. There's also drags, where you keep your stylus on a rolling, bouncing ball. And spinners, and who knows what else.

You couldn't do this on the restrictions of a classic controller interface. Not without driving your players insane. But the full-freedom two-dimensional system allows you to do some astonishingly deep, subtle controls.

Now, with the understanding that going from limited, directional 1D to free, undirectional 2D makes a huge difference, how much of a difference do you think the Revolution's upgrade to free, directional 3D will make?

The correct answer is: "All the difference".

I can't wait! This and Spore. They're all I'm waiting for.


Patrick Dugan said...

Yeah dude, I feel your enthusiasm. I think the Rev controller will also make non-kinesthetic interfaces of interactive dramas work well. Both storytron's menu system and Utopia's cartesian dialogue interface would flow well with that controller. If you're not familiar with the latter, you pick a position along emotional/rational axis and positive/negative axis, prompting one of eight text responses, but the precise position affects the emotional/personality variables of the characters, so theres nuance.

For a second generation drama platform, the wand controller could work to express gestures and demeanor.

Craig Perko said...

So many uses. It could remake every genre and create at least a dozen new ones.

Kestrel404 said...

Good news for indy game developers: the Revolution development kit is supposed to only cost a couple grand. As opposed to the other console systems, which cost something like 20-200 grand. This is something you could buy and make a decent game on, and expect to make a proffit on. As an independant.

Just as an FYI.

Craig Perko said...

That's great news! I'll probably be able to afford that in 2010!