175: Open-World Gaming

Open-World Gaming

Handhelds and cell phones may let players game on the go, but developers have yet to realize the possibilities of truly mobile gaming. Spanner speaks with LocoMatrix founder Richard Vahrman about how his cell phone gaming platform is blurring the lines between real-world and game-world.

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Wait the best games require exercise? I mean Wiisports was fun for a day but everyone even Nintendo fan boys agree the system has released jack since then.

I mean most people I know who own a Wii got it for Zelda and/or Smash brothers and with zelda you sit on the couch flipping your wrists and smash brothers you use a GAME CUBE controller. In fact I lost more weight getting angry at megaman 9, standing up and yelling at the TV then playing smash brothers.

The Wii is a fad and a slap in the face to nintendo fans. A neat idea that lasts a day and then has people going "Okay where is the real controller". Graphics never meant anything to me but with the Wii it's no better then game cube graphics and when I game comes out like Star Wars Force Unleashed I have to stand back and go.

"Hmm.. do I want to play this with a real controller on the not crappy system or do I want to try doing this with a Wii remote and get bored in 12 seconds".

The problem with exercise plus gaming is that they are two different things. Gaming tests the mind and exercise tests the body. If I want to run around and catch a ball, I'm going to go outside with some friends. I don't really want to do it in front of a buggy TV that simulates me throwing a ball. Most gamers play games to have fun and exercise while it can be fun is not associated with the games that are.

Nobody would want to play World of Wacraft if you had to freaking run on a Wii Fit bored to get everywhere. Nobody wants to play Halo 3 throwing a virtual punch at the TV. Nobody wants to even frail there arms to attempt to do a slap shot in NHL 2k9.

Nintendo has a problem. Right now they are fine and dandy but Microsoft and even Sony now have the edge on both Graphics and Online features. It took Microsoft an ENTIRE SYSTEM to get Xbox Live to where it is and Sony is still trying to get the PS3 to that level. The Wii has nothing and Nintendo has silly policies about gamers not being allowed to communicate with each other online still. In the next ten years, we might totally see the slow death of Nintendo in the main stream consoles simply because they release fads not good gaming. Our generation has the 8-bit era in our heart but the next line of kids does not.

TLDR: The Wii is a fad, Nintendo shouldn't mix exercise and gaming and release a real system next time.

SirSchmoopy:
The Wii is a fad and a slap in the face to nintendo fans. A neat idea that lasts a day and then has people going "Okay where is the real controller". Graphics never meant anything to me but with the Wii it's no better then game cube graphics and when I game comes out like Star Wars Force Unleashed I have to stand back and go.

I've got to disagree with that. I think the Wii fills a niche. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but it's innovative ideas, IMO, have helped the game industry gain acceptance. By releasing a relatively cheap gaming console with some low-barrier games it has introduced a whole new market segment to gaming. Now while many of these people will never progress from Wii Sports to more serious games, many will. And the more people who play games, even these 'casual' games, the more seriously gaming will be taken as a hobby for more than just children. This can only be a good thing, even if you personally don't like the games available there.

I think games are used as a form of entertainment or escapism. I think that gamers know this, youll also be hard pressed to find teenagers that will want this kind of gaming. It sounds like work, work isnt escapism and defenatly isnt fun.

Companys are waiting for that big release, well its out. Its called sport, see if you list the reasons why people say dont play football. You can bet there the same reasons why this wont sell well.

Gaming is a market, if there isnt a demand for the product it wont sell. The wii sold so wel because of its price, a teenager may shrug at it and ask for a differnt console but a naive parant at Xmas thinks that there kids will be just if not more happy with any console. Then there brains twig that it is in pop culture(fad), it is the cheapist option and it looks the most kid friendly thing out there, mostly to the health conscience of parents.

The wii is a bit of aone hit wonder, it took a step foward with its motion tech but might as well not botherd when brawl desighners said "lets forget that, it makes the games less fun to play if its DIFFICULT to play"

The truth is that Open world gaming only sems fun to kids that already enjoy feach quest stile games in real life. In that case why not give your kid a ball and send him outside, then see the magic of imagination take place.

I think this is a great idea. Imagine this, cell phones act as tagging mechanisms and you sign up with your cell phones online. Still with me? Good. Next after you've signed up, you head outside and use your GPS on your phone to find others who have also signed up and now there are teams. You can make it cops and robbers or survivors vs. infected. If you come within a certain area of another cell phone that has this application activated, you either turn into an infected or get "arrested" by a cop.

Sounds like a lot of fun to me! I remember a college campus did this, certain people who were zombies wore red shirts and people who weren't wore blue shirts and the infection spread =P

Dang..the internet rejected my big rant. So I guess here's the short version:
Open fields and fresh air are luxuries of the past, ones that are inaccessible to most of us nowadays unless we are asking for untimely death or chronic lung diseases.

With that said, I think it is human nature to love being in motion of all sort. Given accessible playground, people of all age will roam out and about, just for the heck of it.

ps. Be prepared to be called out for singling out the disabled when such "open world" game really does arise. Uh, FOX News won't take kindly to leaving out the poor who cannot afford GPS phones and the helpless.

One thing that's ignored is demographics. The majority of gamers are 18-34 (or thereabouts) according to research. The majority of this demographic actually has responsibilities (like work) that make finding time to just go to random places almost impossible. dtocs had it right: games are escapism, not a doorway to physical activity. For adults, it's their own choice to either sit down and game, or go outside. For children, it's their parents responsibility to ensure that their children aren't spending unhealthy amounts of time in front of the screen.

SirSchmoopy:

Nobody would want to play World of Wacraft if you had to freaking run on a Wii Fit bored to get everywhere. Nobody wants to play Halo 3 throwing a virtual punch at the TV. Nobody wants to even frail there arms to attempt to do a slap shot in NHL 2k9.

You can't say 'nobody' Because I for one have been dreaming about interactive VR RPGs and FPS for many many years now.

"Wait, you mean the new Call of Duty lets me wear this neat vest? And when I get shot it delivers a small thump to the area? NEAT! I get to use this (time crisis style) rifle to have realistic aiming, instead of a mouse and keyboard? AWESOME!!!"

Or for an RPG;

"You mean I actually get to swing a sword instead of just inputting the little buttons!!! FREAKING AWESOME!"

Especially for versus...imagine the star wars games for THAT system... So long as it isn't executed like the Wii was.

I see massive orc/human fights, using laser tag style Bluetooth suits and sensory arrays that are individualized. Experience gained through the number of hits sustained and attacks completed. Customized maps to fit your location. Caches of EXP in your work. STR point exercise machines, DEF-customized clothing. We are looking at a seamless-if-initally-clunky transition into a world where games and real-life go hand-in-digital-hand, and people start doing things to gain experience and such. We are close to coming full circle with gaming.

SirSchmoopy:

Nintendo has a problem. Right now they are fine and dandy but Microsoft and even Sony now have the edge on both Graphics and Online features. [...]
TLDR: The Wii is a fad, Nintendo shouldn't mix exercise and gaming and release a real system next time.

I think that's abit harsh seen as how the PS3 executives say that they don't think that they will have made a profit by the time the PS3's replacement is developed. As for graphics, granted yes its nice to have games that look good but that isn't the only thing that makes up a good game. But I agree that Nintendo should try and change its focus from the icons of yesteryear and move on to something better whilst they still have a choice.

The Sonic, Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Pokemon sagas have all run their course (or over it in some cases) and should be allowed to retire whilst there is still some dignity in the brand.

And for the sake of our children, no more cross overs just because you put two franchises together does not mean it will be an instant success, the last (andpossibly only) time I can remember that working was Marvel vs Capcom

What's the deal? If I want to exercise I go outside play with friends. Why the hell I need an electronic device in my hands to play tagging for example? Why needing a phone in my hand to play football? It's ridiculous. A nice academic experiment but totally useless in the real world.

Furthermore gaming is for doing something "you can not do". Take for example the RPG example given a couple of posts ago. The trick is that there you can cast spells... you can swing swords as big as yourself... you can punch apart rocks and finally "you can upgrade". This is all not possible in the real life and this is why gaming is different and will never fit into this "open world" crap.

Many also don't understand what Wii is about... especially Nintendo doesn't. The big point here is the motion controller. People misuse it for "swing a sword" or "throw a ball" motion but this is all bullshit. The big point on this controller is that you gain 3D control ability. You can write games with control schemas in 3D instead of 2D as a mouse or keypad can do. But hell no game developers including Nintendo did not understand what they created and make dumb shit which makes this tech look silly. If Indie Game-Devs like me could develop for the Wii we would see some interesting usage of the motion control for really new and different game mechanics. But as always as long as those called "AAA Developers" keep trashing platforms we won't see interesting usage of new technology.

So gaming outside is silly... as simple as it gets. Physical games like team sports will always stay clean of mobiles or "open world" crap since there is just no reason whatsoever to do so. It's perfect as it is so why not go and really get innovative about gaming instead of trying to bastardize existing physical games?

From the article:

"We now find ourselves in a time when games - the best games - are physically interactive"

Bioshock, Little Big Planet, Gears of War 2, Dead Space and pretty much every awesome game over the past 12 months would like a word with you. The only possible exception is Rock Band/Guitar Hero; there has yet to be a Wii game that has really catapulted itself into greatness, unless you want to count the videos of women in their underwear exercising to Wii Fit.

So we start off with a basic falsehood.

And there is already a game where people use GPS trackers and hints to get people outside, it's called Geocaching (which the author references) so I'm not sure that anything really unusual is being done here, except you get to use mobile gaming devices (like, say...a GPS device?) in order to play your game.

As for a game where "where the outside world is the programming engine, our arms and legs are the controllers and reality is the graphics processor."

Uh, don't we have that? They're called sports, and someone might want to check into that. I hear they can be a lot of fun, in addition to making some people a fuckton of money.

The article wasn't badly written, but it fails to ask one critical question: If we already have this option, how does putting a videogame setup for an outside, mobile videogame where reality is the processor and our bodies are the controllers in someone's hands suddenly encourage them to go outside?

Alright I read this article and though

'How exciting, this sounds amazing'

And then I flashed back to my younger years, wandering the woods outside my house, looking for that one wild pikachu, just to shove it in my friends' faces. But sadly, never was there a pikachu, or ANY pokemon for that matter.

With this, the first thing I thought about was pokemon. A little device you can carry around, alerts you to a pokemon in your area, you have the possibility to catch it, battle it and so forth.

And trainer battles, oh wow, battling people on the streets if both little devices go off and both accept, I dare say, amazing

But hay, whatever, this is just some childhood fantasy of mine.

Saddly the author of this article fails to see the purpose of gaming. Do you really think we could use a gps device to play something similar to l4d? would we be able to defend our selves from hundreds of frantically rushing people and special powered creatures using a gps realisticly in our society? No.

I've actually seen a game or two that used GPS. They were based off of people independently using a website and GPS locations, but I understand it was extremely fun and competetive.

I can't wait to go out one morning for footy practice and see the field is taken over by a small crowd of nerds SLAYING THE DRAGON!

Actually I'd probably be out there slaying it with them... I think the idea of open world RPGs would be frigging awesome, the trouble would be getting enough people to play. To the people saying that these games already exist and are called sports, I think you're wrong. Maybe you could consider sports your 'casual' games and open world RPGs your 'hardcore' games.

They may never become mainstream, but i definately think there'd be a niche market out there.

SirSchmoopy:
The Wii is a slap in the face to nintendo fans.

I have been led to believe that this is a good thing. For the simple reason that Nintendo is showing their influence in the gaming community and they are also not targeting their past audience, but rather trying to get people who haven't picked up on video games a chance to bond with their children who might have or not ignored them for the most part.

Bakery:
I can't wait to go out one morning for footy practice and see the field is taken over by a small crowd of nerds SLAYING THE DRAGON!

Actually I'd probably be out there slaying it with them... I think the idea of open world RPGs would be frigging awesome, the trouble would be getting enough people to play. To the people saying that these games already exist and are called sports, I think you're wrong. Maybe you could consider sports your 'casual' games and open world RPGs your 'hardcore' games.

They may never become mainstream, but i definately think there'd be a niche market out there.

Theres already a live action RPG comunity, There called LARPers. Most proberly dont know about it, why because slaying the dragon may be fun yes but its horribly impractile. Oh yeah also kids for years have been LARPing for decades its called pretending.

Imagine if a pokemon game had no gameworld. It instead either generated one based on your geographic area or was pre-loaded with satellite map info and such. To catch pokemon you'd have to wander around various parks and places which would generate the random encounters for the game. You would also duel fellow players wirelessly, but would have to be within a certain distance of one another. Retailers or your house would be the 'pokemon centers' to restore your pokemon's health.

Not Good:

SirSchmoopy:
The Wii is a slap in the face to nintendo fans.

I have been led to believe that this is a good thing. For the simple reason that Nintendo is showing their influence in the gaming community and they are also not targeting their past audience, but rather trying to get people who haven't picked up on video games a chance to bond with their children who might have or not ignored them for the most part.

Lego Star wars is a good way to bond with your kid too. Shitty parents are going to be shitty parents and it really doesn't matter how you design a system around it.

sketchesofpayne:
Imagine if a pokemon game had no gameworld. It instead either generated one based on your geographic area or was pre-loaded with satellite map info and such. To catch pokemon you'd have to wander around various parks and places which would generate the random encounters for the game. You would also duel fellow players wirelessly, but would have to be within a certain distance of one another. Retailers or your house would be the 'pokemon centers' to restore your pokemon's health.

Sounds like too many kids wandering around getting in lost in the woods for me.

Like most people on earth, I'm not a Nintendo fan, and seeing the bile that continually pours from them about the Wii, I'm rather glad.. because I sure do like mine. Sorry if that hurts you in some way.

Also, most people on earth aren't gamers. So while the "gamers" may have honed their thumb-twitching skills to near spastic perfection, I think the audience for gaming is a helluva lot bigger than that, and the elitism as demonstrated by those like SirSchmoopy are actually one of the factors that stand against gaming reaching its full potential.

I can certainly see exercise and gaming combining. It'd be a bit like sports+. Hell, I can see companies devoted to this kind of thing not only using public places, but actually setting up buildings and the like for people to participate in, with your gaming device serving as the key to get in as well. The treasure hunt idea is pretty obvious, but modifying it with an RPG idea could have a lot of merit as well. I can picture a game where as you go about your daily business, your game buzzes you or leaves a message about passing close to some sort of treasure. On getting within actual sight of the location, you get given monster stats (or mini-game requirements) and realize you need someone else in the game more "skilled" in a certain area to get past and get the treasure. It could be mini-games on the device, or more direct games of skill or athleticism. (ie, when you arrive at point A, it starts a countdown of how long you have to get to point B)

They already do that with LARPS, I hear the cry, but how many LARPs run 24/7 with automatic adjudication? This allows you to adjust your gaming to fit your schedule, rather than having to adjust your schedule to fit the gaming.

Pipe dream? Maybe. But one I like to have anyway, and one that I could see being popular. Sure, you may not want to leave your couch and thumb-twitching mania, but me.. I've got bigger horizons for my entertainment.

SirSchmoopy:

Sounds like too many kids wandering around getting in lost in the woods for me.

Yeah, but in these circumstances they'd have a GPS phone and be able to find their way home with it :-D

I need to point out some contradiction here ( yeah... I here somebody shout "Objection!" but that's another story :P ). This goes one way to Kwil but also others. One of the reasons of games to be games is that you do them when you want. But what many propose with that LARP ripoff or pokemon crap is the entire contrary. You are forced to play "when the game wants it" and that's bullocks. If I want to LARP ( which I don't... whoever harms dragons sucks :P ) then I can go when I want. Sure there are schedules but I can go to one if I feel to. Here I have to do it when the stupid device beeps and bleeps my ass off. Furthermore it looks damn silly if you run around in public staring on a stupid little silver screen to locate some virtual monster or whatever. If you do LARP or whatever you go somewhere people are like you and do the same. That's fun... roaming around "ego like" to fight virtual monsters and randomly ( possibly... I hardly doubt this would catch on... play public servers once and you know how it sucks to match up with strangers... especially if they are assholes and full of themselves ) tag with strangers to beat a virtual monster is not fun... it's silly.

Why replace a winning formula like sports, LARPing or whatever with technical crap? Why defy the play-when-you-want advantage that makes games different from the above mentioned activities? It's just nonsense, can't find another word for it.

good, i need the exersise from a GPS game, but the wii being briliant, mabey wii fit but anything els is judt moving your wrists

Mr.Pandah:
I think this is a great idea. Imagine this, cell phones act as tagging mechanisms and you sign up with your cell phones online. Still with me? Good. Next after you've signed up, you head outside and use your GPS on your phone to find others who have also signed up and now there are teams. You can make it cops and robbers or survivors vs. infected. If you come within a certain area of another cell phone that has this application activated, you either turn into an infected or get "arrested" by a cop.

Sounds like a lot of fun to me! I remember a college campus did this, certain people who were zombies wore red shirts and people who weren't wore blue shirts and the infection spread =P

Oh my god yes. Imagine 1000 people in your city. 10 people are "Survivors" and 990 are "Infected" and the infected have to chase the survivors. The infected get an update at the current location of the survivors every 5-10 minutes.

Um, you ever heard of ARGs?

Sylocat:
Um, you ever heard of ARGs?

Augmented Reality Graphics?

CanadianWolverine:

Sylocat:
Um, you ever heard of ARGs?

Augmented Reality Graphics?

On the off-chance that's not a joke (sorry, it's a Monday and I'm unable to caffinate my way past that today), it's Alternate Reality Game; I too thought of that immediately upon reading the article, though they tend to be a bit different than the game experience described.

-- Steve

Anton P. Nym:

CanadianWolverine:

Sylocat:
Um, you ever heard of ARGs?

Augmented Reality Graphics?

On the off-chance that's not a joke (sorry, it's a Monday and I'm unable to caffinate my way past that today), it's Alternate Reality Game; I too thought of that immediately upon reading the article, though they tend to be a bit different than the game experience described.

-- Steve

Ahh, thanks. Fun with acronyms, huh? =P

I was hazarding a guess because it reminded me of another article The Escapist had in the past that I think was about augmented reality, a MMO game played in meat space. Let me see if I can find it again and I'll return and edit in the link.

Edit: Here it is, this article totally made me think of this one ---> http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_162/5130-When-Worlds-Collide

the BEST games? Thats funny, because I feel that the Wii is the anti-game, catering towards casual gamers that would have been just as happy buying a game that they suck at, leaving people that want deep RPG experiences desperate for any fallout expansions, or like myself, scouring the ps2 for RPG's that they missed out on. I'm sorry, but one more quick time event and im throwing my 360 through the wall. Games need to step up, garbage like Wanted, Fear 2, and even Dead Space (solid, but who actually cared about anything going on there?) is setting the bar so low. I understand that during these trying times developers can take less risks, but is a little STYLE too much to ask for? Resident Evil 5 seems a bit better, but even they took out the mysterious stranger in favor of an easier and more convenient menu upgrade system.

I dont want things to be easy, i want them to be immersive and challenging, and i know there are gamers on my side. This article was pretty redundant, im sorry, but go outside. Play games on a tv. innovation with the WAY we play games leads to the games themselves being half baked vessels for breakthrough combat systems or motion controls. Just because motion controls work, doesn't make them better. I had a controller that was held together by tape, gum, and paper clips, and it worked pretty well, but i'd stil rather play with a real controller.

The article was interesting, but I have to say that this type of gaming has some serious drawbacks.

It is useless for those in rural areas, unless massively popular. In many cases, you would have to travel very large distances to find another player, leading to potential wasted purchases. This buyer beware issue, in combination with an inconsistent playing group (who, if they have any sense at all, will turn off their GPS either to cheat or to keep safe for reasons I will explain) could easily be the death of the genre before it is even standing.

There are serious safety issues with asking kids to go to any particular GPS position. What if someone is playing the game in a legally restricted property? What if this causes kids to think it is okay to go into someone else's home to "catch" someone else playing it? It's also a possible tool for stalkers to find kids to nab. GPS is great for personal positioning - it's also a great way to track down people who don't want to be found, and if you give the public your GPS information, that's a great deal riskier than your Facebook profile. Then there's the distraction factor of playing a game while you're crossing a road to your "target".

The moment a game goes "real" - i.e. it involves actual interaction in the physical world with unknowns, particularly as targets, it can create the wrong mentality in people who already have mental disorders, etc. This brings a problem with (sometimes legitimate) protests against this kind of gaming, within or outside the powers that allow the release and use of such games.

These drawbacks will probably contribute to the downfall of this genre. I certainly do not expect it to ever become the main medium of gaming, nor as successful as the Wii (which, by the way, you cannot say has objectively published "the best" games - the most popular certainly, but not the best).

PS: You have missed a "we" in the first paragraph of the article. It ruined the whole sentence.

Too much Wii humping for me in this article, rather saddening.

Either way, I hope that his work in the current year, 2010 has devoleped and something beautiful will sprout out from it.

Makes me think of the Omni-tools in Mass effect 2, where you can play games and such. Amazing water-mouthing thought.

 

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