New consoles used to be easy: more polygons, more bits, stereo-er sound, what have you. Most of us had no idea what the fuck those terms even meant (I still don’t), but they made the technological progress somewhat quantifiable. We knew that the audio and the video were to get better, and we also knew that 16 bits was exactly twice as awesome as 8 bits.
These days, console makers can’t simply come out on stage and say: “this fucker will be this many bits better than that last one, which means that we will be able to make games of this quality.” Instead, they have to demonstrate how their consoles will affect our entire damn lifestyles. These days, consoles must change the way we express ourselves, exercise, interact with our friends, and avoid direct communication with our families.
Now, I can’t speak for all gamers around the world, but I can’t be the only one who has this to say about all that jackassery: I just want to play some awesome games, man. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of those extra features but I’m not buying a console because I’d like to make calls through my TV; I want all that stuff to remain ‘extras’, while the real innovation happens on screen, not in my living rooms or on the Internet. In other words, I want new consoles to be more about things like…
3. A Fresh Perspective
Let’s start with an easy example that might clarify what the hell I’m talking about: the camera perspective. Something as random as that can shake up gaming quite drastically, because a fresh and successful idea there (you know, one that goes on to get endlessly ripped off) changes what we will be looking at for hundreds upon hundreds of hours of gaming. I mean, if you think about it, we mostly just get to stare at either a floating gun or a dude ass, for days on end!
Now, I do realize that camera perspective is purely artistic, in that it doesn’t need the endless multiples of 8 bits that PS4 and the ‘Nextbox’ are surely to bring, but a new gaming generation isn’t just about horsepower; it’s about an artistic reboot as well. With ‘the next generation’, we’ve come to expect new things, not just better looking things.
We need to know why we shouldn’t just go out and upgrade our PC’s, especially now that so many developers started to kick ass on Kickstarter. Consoles have no choice but to be the matchmakers of fresh gaming ideas and big budgets, and a new perspective is where there is room to grow. Hell, fucking Capcom did it as recently as 2005, when they introduced the so called over-the-shoulder perspective in Resident Evil 4. Sure, that was still a third person shooter but they mixed things up there and brought us a new, fresh type of third person perspective.
Speaking of that floating gun. That’s where things are getting to be not-so-fresh. The first person perspective has several problems, one of which is the tunnel vision, as demonstrated in this forum thread by a user named VampireWicked. Another problem is the lack of any real character personality or self-awareness, as you can only emote so much with your hands.
Mirror’s Edge came extremely close to combining first and third person perspectives quite nicely, and the Halo series has been playing around with the idea, by contextually switching from first to third perspective, by allowing us to see our own body parts in first person, and by turning the screen into a MJOLNIR armor helmet.
I say we keep going. Let’s dress up the floating gun and breath a little more personality into the FPS genre. Show us more body and ‘human noise’ by incorporating the fancy new visual effects. Perhaps, move the camera further behind the shoulder and experiment with the ‘panorama view’ as perspective options, to capture more surroundings. It’s about time for the old and tired first person to grow. At least, make it so we don’t shoot sideways anymore?
2. New Genres
Something like a new genre is difficult to imagine. I mean, unless it’s a game about sports or gardening or some shit, you must have a conflict of some sort, and one which involves a muscular dude with the willingness to commit mass murders, while remaining likable.
We’ve already got sports games, sims, RPG’s, RTS’es, FPS’es, MMO’s, PPO’s, etc. We feel like we need another term there and this is not as ridiculous as it sounds. New genres still happen to this day. There is something very unqualifiable about Sound Shapes or even Minecraft, for example. These smaller, indie games plain don’t give a fuck, by introducing new ways to game, and by that I don’t mean that they are making old game types more of a fucking pain in the ass.
They are entire new genres of video games and they enrich the gaming landscape on a relatively constant basis. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s mostly the smaller, independent developers and projects that take these risks. We’d really like to see something new to come directly as part of the new generation, meaning a big budget and a massive production.
Now, don’t think that we hate Kinect and Move (although we do), those things could be used for good. They could enable developers to create legitimate new genres (although they don’t have to…). An example would be a musical, where you could play any role you would like (or all roles if you are weird that way). I do realize that this sounds incredibly not badass but that just means that you have not seen one you really liked, recently.
Whenever I take whoever to see Phantom of the Opera, they cannot stop annoyingly humming that shit for days, just like the rest of the 130 million people who have seen the show. They would say an absolute “fuck yes” to an opportunity to sing that shit to the actual music, within the actual context of the musical. And you know what else? There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t happen in my house. Generally speaking, that would be a new experience, which could provide a new type of enjoyment to people. It’s not a tool to bastardize old games, it’s a new type of game.
The technological tools are there. Games like Trine have proven that we have reached a point where graphics can dazzle us to bitch-ass tears and all the Rock Band-type games have got the tone recognition down quite expertly. And, I’m not saying “let’s start singing musicals”; I’m saying “let’s use those tools to advance gaming!” As a gamer, I don’t want to start playing the same old shooter with my elbows, while my crotch is smeared in mustard, or whatever Kinect 2.0 is about to bring, I want a new type of intellectual enjoyment from a new type of video game.
By the way, you heard this Phantom game idea here first!
1. Physical Interactions
It goes without saying that an average video game is about to get prettier, with the start of the new generation. That is a given, and possibly, for the very first time, we will be able to say that video games look just like 3D movies, and not be full of shit. Don’t get me wrong, fanboys, some current gen games already look like CGI but only on screenshots.
Crysis still looks unbelievable but come up to one of those realistic-looking dead bodies and blast it in the face a million times with the biggest gun in the game and you will have a difficult time accepting it as anything more than a very well painted puppet. Fire up that latest racer and drool over the sexiness but slam that Bugatti Veyron into a wall, at 250 miles per hour and… well, drive away.
For the sake of immersive visuals, if there is such a thing, improving the ways in which characters react to any physical stimuli will go a long way.
I consider Assassin’s Creed an underrated game. Sure, the series is so successful that it’s like claiming that Iron Man is an underrated movie trilogy, but that first game made a monstrous leap (…) forward in the whole physical NPC interaction whatchamacallit. Suddenly, bumping into other characters made for believable consequences that changed the gameplay, the immersion and the gaming in general because the above image looks especially ridiculous these days. Ubisoft’s head was in the right place and we need to keep going. Here are some ideas:
I know what you are thinking and “holy shit” is right! See the way that scary-ass creature reacts to each gunshot? See how a shotgun blast not only punches its’ limbs and sends it on its’ knees but also tears off its’ muscle and skin tissue, revealing the nasty? Now, that’s more than a walking animated texture; that’s a live creature and you are putting the hurt on the fucker!
…By the way, that’s a cancelled horror game, titled Redwood Falls, which we really wish we could play. Hey, there is an idea for our next list…