53: This One's For You, Coach

"Nobody will play with me, nobody wants me on their team - so I spend hours every night, alone at home, sucking. But with Coach, I got used to having someone watch me play and lend me a hand." In Chris Dahlen's vision of the future, games will help you do more than pass the time.

This One's For You, Coach

So, for the first page or so, I actually thought this product existed - and I got really excited... Then I remembered what the topic was. Durr.

Jon Hayter:
So, for the first page or so, I actually thought this product existed - and I got really excited... Then I remembered what the topic was. Durr.

Like you I hoped that there was something out there to improve my mediocre skills ;)

I guess my wait continues .....

Yeah, the article wasn't framed that clearly - I wish I had done something simple like add a dateline ("Boston, 2020 - ") so people would have the context from the beginning.

I think that's kind of the point though. The context isn't about a date, it's about a feeling. If you delve into it, reading it as though it was a real review you'll take it more to heart at the beginning, instead of just shrugging it off as a work of fiction.

A product like this would be excellent, though it'd be really hard to make it so it's compatible with anything but specific games. Making an AI that can understand general strategy is the holy grail of... most computing fields.

Making an AI that can understand general strategy is the holy grail of... most computing fields.

I imagined that it would be configured on a game-by-game basis (the story mentions downloading updates for new titles). Every game would have to support strategy cues, or at least detailed metadata about the kind of actions and challenges they include - same way XBox 360 games now support achievements. Most games keep track of what's with a higher score and what earns a lower one, where a player's making mistakes - dying too often in a particular section, failing on a specific move, not taking advantage of combos, etc. The game would just need to come with a simple text file that breaks out those challenges and details what a novice, average and expert player is expected to do, and then the Coach thing would just compare the player to those metrics.

The voice of Coach would seem like AI, but really, it would just have a large set of fairly canned or mix-and-matchable responses that would sound "warm and responsive" because they follow your progress, and they use a live voice. (I suggest Jack Angel.)

When you think about it, it would actually be really easy to do this, especially if a next gen platform thought it was valuable enough - that they could win enough "ah, I'm lousy at games" customers - to mandate some minimal support by all titles. Again, the point isn't to offer a full-bore strategy guide - it's just to say, "Hey, you've been slogging through these games on 'easy,' with really lousy aim and almost no combos - but wouldn't you rather get better?"

 

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