(Vintage) Five factors for a successful video game

[A few ideas I had back in the day, and still have about how video games could be better—a lot better. Take a look if you’re into that kind of stuff, and forgive the spelling errors.]

Video Games: Five Factors for Success

5/13/2006

Kenneth Burchfiel

I thought of these objectives about a year ago and feel they are necessary to further advance video games- you may find the described advancements a bit general, but nevertheless are important if games truly want to expand beyond today’s average game. These sound pretty boring at first, and I’m not going to lie- they are, and were written down mostly so I could remember my ideas, but reading through them will likely change your perception of what, exactly a video game is considerably. Just a thought.

1- 3D planets

No matter how “expansive” a terrain in a game is, be it a Tony Hawk level or a GTA city, sooner or later players are stopped somewhere- a wall, fence, or perhaps ocean that disallows any movement beyond that point. However, if gaming environments are to be advanced, a necessary adoption is that of a planet-like environment- all maps in the game are laid out over a sphere or similar three-dimensional object to eliminate any sort of impetement. GTA4, for example, should not be just a flat city, but instead a curved environment- high speed chases aren’t blocked by the end of the map, skaters in Tony hawk can manual back to their starting locations. These planets need not be extremely large; Super Mario Galaxy, for example, features environments fully accessible anywhere and yet can take just seconds to run around.

2- Full customization

Customizable characters are a start, but players should be able to, if willed, build up an entire game from almost scratch. Timesplitters’ create-a-map was an excellent start for customizing the game, giving creative players near-unlimeted options in map design. What, then, is next? Create-A-Gun. Create-an-ad. Create-a-city. People should be customized completely, as if drawn from scratch- perhaps the DS can see something of the sort, along with other characters. Imagine, when playing a WWII game, putting your own drawn-out characters (ducks vs. zebras, for example,) onto your created city (coastal islands linked by conveyer belts,) and giving each atomic bombs to play with? It may sound far-fetched, but a bit of leniency on the part of the creator, scenarios like this won’t be hard to duplicate.

3-Randomness

You die, your character falls down in a bloody cutscene, and seconds later you re-start in a predetirmened location with a predetermed gun with a predetermined objective. Die again, and again, and the game begins to get repetive. The excitement of attempting to win whatever is placed before you becomes a bore-fest of dying the same death after and after. This should not happen, but instead, have everything random.

Let’s imagine the possibilities- Goldeney’s Facility level, the beloved second level of the Goldeneye Single Player. No matter what, you start in the ducts, die, and re-start in the ducts. You have the same gun, each and every time. Your objective is always to lay the bombs and escape at the end- even if you may start at a new checkmark after making it through an area, or perhaps having extra objectives to fulfill, all of this is linear. Now let’s make things random. You die. Bang! You’re overlooking the gas tanks and this time must make it back to the bathroom and defeat a guard. But wait- you don’t just have a PP7, but instead a rocket launcher. Not that that’s going to help much- the guards, in completely different locations instead of their pre-determined spots, have snipers that can gun you down in one second. Die again, and you’re outside the facility completely, armed with grenades and a machine gun. Perhaps sometimes, you forget about the tanks completely. Perhaps sometimes there aren’t any guards but instead a bomb that must be disabled. Funny thing is, we already see nearly all of this in Multiplayer. Why not adapt it to single player?

Or perhaps just forget about the level schematic altogether. So you’re in the facility and you die. What? Bond is dead, and now you play as Natalya, staring down spies from inside the Citadel (Let’s pretend they actually included this level.) Heck- you don’t even have to be a good guy! Once she’s down you join up with Ouromov trying to take Bond out on the train. As gamers, we’ve been used to the cycle of death and respawn with nothing changing between. Having absolutely everything change- placement of character, character, guns, bosses, enemy placement, objectives, is a huge step, but would create unlimited gaming possibilies.

4- Full Destruction and Full interaction

Fun shooting through windows, using rocket launchers to blast away trees, and annhilating other cars in GTA, no? Thing is, we’re only on the iceberg of what game companies so-call “Total destruction.”

Let’s imagine a scenario- GTA, for example. First off, we have to have full interaction, another important category. Full interaction comes from the pain of trying to open a door in a city-based video game but finding it nothing but a 2-D image. We can’t go in this mysterious building, nor destroy it- nothing but something designed to enhance the image of the game. Full interaction requires that any door, any wall, any road, can be tunneled through, opened, viewed. If you’re wondering how a character can go through wall after wall after wall without eventually coming to the end of a level, see the first category- with a planet-style map, players could tunnel through the road all the way to the other side, or perhaps destroy the buildings and bomb the landscape until the entire planet is wiped out, akin to slowly licking off the sides to a lollipop. Full interaction means you can find any building that you like, walk inside, and see an office environment, a basketball game, or any other kind of structure. It would have elevators for you to ride if there are floors, walls you can shoot through to find other walls, and, using the basketball game as an example, a court in which you can steal the ball and dunk a basket on the other side. But we’re just getting started- back to full destruction. Shooting down signposts and stoplights is chicken feed. Imagine walking up to the top of a building, setting a bomb, jumping off and then detonating it- the building would collapse to the ground. No pesky door or random wooden structure blocking you from accessing a level would stand in your way upon total destruction; players could shoot through walls, through ceilings, and through windows to access any point of a building. Most of all, too much shooting and weakening of the structure would cause it to collapse on you. If there are guards in a tower located close, try tunneling underground, past the tower, and to the other side- or sending it to the ground with a rocket launcher and seeing crumblings of floors, computers, and wall decorations on the ground once you walk past it. Would this require processing power well beyond our reach at the moment? You bet. But once such power is acheived, full interaction and destruction with the landscape will be necessary.

5. Online Play

Unlike the other facets we’ve seen so far, Online play is already up and running. The benefits of online include unlimited gameplay possibilities and interaction with other gamers, helping enhance realism of a game. When combined with the other four, online play would enhance games further, as with the other ideas we’ve seen so far.

There you have it. We’re already starting to see the planets aproach with Super Mario Galaxy and Online with Xbox live- hopefully the other three won’t be soon to follow. [face_cool] Thanks if you read, I don’t blame you if you didn’t. [face_tongue]

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