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Question of the Week Responses: Controller Revolution? 2

Intrigued at the game development possiblities of the Revolution controller, we asked our audience, "What genres and types of games do you think will be most suited to the recently revealed Revolution controller? Are there any specific ideas or concepts that you're itching to see brought to fruition on Nintendo's next-gen console?"

Quang Hong

February 15, 2006

19 Min Read

Our latest Question of the Week asked our audience of game professionals: "What genres and types of games do you think will be most suited to the recently revealed Revolution controller? Are there any specific ideas or concepts that you're itching to see brought to fruition on Nintendo's next-gen console?"

With a buzz of general excitement over the many possibilities, responses ranged from the frequently and enthusiastically mentioned Star Wars light saber duel, to spellcasting 101 Harry Potter style to simulated cooking replete with chopping. Particularly interesting responses or parts of responses have been highlighted in bold.

It will be best suited, from the looks of things, to 'physical' games, meaning that it's the natural inheritor of the dancemat, EyeToy and DS touchpad type of game. Movement-measurement and reaction games are the sort of thing for which this device will naturally provide a home. Beyond that, it's hard to say. Not being a particularly big fan of those types of games, as they tend to be very shallow. My big fear is that the Revolution is going to over-popularize shallow physical gaming such that everyone starts doing it and suddenly cooking simulators and orchestra-conducting games are going to be popping up on all formats. I'm all for people having the games that they want to play, but this business has a high degree of a herd-mentality. If the Revolution succeeds then everyone's going to be making "Fried-Egg-Flipping-Simulator 3."
-Tadhg Kelly, Lionhead

I think party games and off-the-wall simulations like tennis or sword fighting would suit the Revolution. I would love to see artistic games on the Revolution, like Electroplankton for the DS.
-Chris Nash

I thought up ideas like kayaking and being a matador as a joke, but I then realized that I would love those games! But what I'd love to experiment with? A two-controller game with the player being able to walk around in a world and point at and pick up any item I want with either hand. An Elder Scrolls or an FPS with a more intuitive control scheme than a mouse and keyboard. Or, maybe, even something completely new.
-Jeff Bridges, WALB-TV

The obvious answer is first-person shooters, but I think that the question almost misses the point. Trying to shoehorn existing genres into the controller concept is not the exciting part of the new system, although I don't doubt we'll see some excellent interpretations of things like RTS games. To me, the promise of the new controller is that it allows new types of games. The question that should be asked is not "How can we do what we've been doing on this controller?" but rather "What does this controller allow that was not possible or not elegant previously?" Much like the DS games that would not have been enjoyable on any other system, I'm looking forward to the games that can only exist on Revolution.
-Johnnemann Nordhagen, SCEA

The Revolution is likely to become the premier platform for most kinds of avatar-oriented games (first-person, third-person action vs. more abstract genres) because of the detail and immediacy that the wireless controller brings to these kinds of games. Actions like firing guns and swinging swords are fundamentally more complex than what we can represent with our traditional controllers. I would say the interesting part is not what new genres will come about, but how most existing genres will be transformed by this. For example, fighting games will no longer have to be about special moves and combos when you can simply put one controller in each hand and start punching and blocking like in real life (maybe strap one on a leg to kick).
Action-adventures can present a much more convenient interaction mechanism where you can simply point at objects to do things with them. And sports games can bring in some very sophisticated simulations of their real-life counterparts. Because the Revolution controller can act like a mouse, it also invites the various strategy genres that are typically PC mainstays. This is bad for the PC, but also means that these subgenres will enjoy a larger market.
-James Hofmann

The beauty of the controller is not that there are certain genres that fit right away in it, but the possibility of re-thinking the old ones and, most importantly, the possibility of creating new ones. Initially, it would seem that FPS and RTS games could really work on a console, while sports games would be enhanced control-wise and only the fighting genre would get hurt by its design (of course the allegedly shell-controller could save the day). But I'm really hoping that the secret feature of the controller is a sort of microphone, much like the one on the Nintendo DS or like a headset and not like the one on Mario Party 6/7 or Hey you, Pikachu! It is definitely the most underused feature of the DS and one that would really make possible a true revolution in user interfaces; what could be more user-friendly than voice commands? Switching weapons in Metroid by saying the name of the gun or selecting Pikmins by saying their color would be really groundbreaking! Nintendo has, at some point in the past, hinted about this possibility, so I'm crossing my fingers that at E3, they will prove me right.
-Carlos Obregón, Ennoia Creations

It'd be neat if the controller had some way of measuring velocity so that you could use the controller like a bat, ball, golf club, or glove...!

There are so many things that the controller (if it truly does what the example video has shown) can do. From FPSes, via 3rd party attachments or simple point and click, to RTS games with practically mouse-like controls, the controller can do almost anything. Granted, for Street Fighter-type fighting games a 3rd party attachment with more buttons is ideal, but for sword play and other games that simulate life with a firm grip this controller is ideal (i.e golf, football, skiing via two controllers, and tennis).
For older adults who feel today's controllers and games are too complex, simpler games could be made (3D or even 2D renditions of checkers, chess, battleship, Connect 4, and any other board game can all be done and easily picked up by those who have never played a game in their life). Some of the old classic Atari games that used the joystick and that single button would easily translate to a Revolution game.
Educational games for toddlers up until whenever would work great with this setup. Teaching kids their alphabet, mathematics, and other languages, it virtually works like a touch screen, point at what you want and wam! You got it. Newer games can be made testing reflexes and true hand-eye coordination. And for the Star Wars fans, a true light saber is now possible. It has already been stated that a possible 3rd party attachment may come out for the Revolution, and I am looking forward to some really innovative attachments, but I can see many things already possible with the current setup.
-Eduardo Torrelli

I'll be eagerly awaiting a Star Wars-licensed lightsaber swordfighting game. Simple interface, only requires one hand, makes use of tilt and distance sensors.
-Ian Schreiber, Cyberlore Studios, Inc.

The first thing I thought of was using the controller in a sword fighting/lightsaber game. It seems so natural, and would be something that really shows how different and immersive the Revolution controller is. There are tons of weapon-fighting mechanics you could do with the controller - swinging, slashing, poking, blocking. It's so easy to envision tons of natural mechanics. The controller can breathe new life to old licenses. Who doesn't want to swing a lightsaber around and hack up imperial troops (or rebel scum)? Who wouldn't want to wield Isildur's sword and cut the ring from Sauron's hand? Not just by mashing X, but by swinging the blade itself! Good stuff.

The truth of the matter is that Nintendo's games are going to be most suited to the Revolution. I know that's a terribly broad statement, and the question is really looking for a genre as an answer, but all the same I think when the Revolution is finally in the hands of the players, they are going to see that the games coming directly from Nintendo are the best ones on the system. Why? The answer to that is relatively simple. While other companies may be developing games for multiple platforms, Nintendo will be focused on the Revolution (and the DS). Even if a third-party developer makes a game specifically for the Revolution, I don't think it will come out as well. Nintendo will have way more experience with the hardware. They already have more experience with these new forms of gameplay thanks to the DS and games like Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Other companies are making fantastic games, that's for sure, but Nintendo is the king of their own hardware.
-Mike Sklens

I think we'll see all the genres that have heretofore been best appreciated on the PC suddenly working even better on the Revolution than the PC. I'm talking FPS, RTS, casual games and MMOs, specifically. I mean, yeah, I love console FPSes too, but always in the back of my mind is the knowledge that I'd be better if only I had a mouse. If it's as good as it theoretically could be, the Revolution controller is actually better than a mouse for shooters. So I'm extremely excited for the future of the FPS. Honestly, I'd just love to play through last generation's console shooters all over again with that controller (RE4, Metroid Prime, Halo 2, FarCry Instincts, Splinter Cell … so many standout examples, and there's still so many more in the pipeline). 3rd person or first, shooter or platformer, with swordplay or without, all benefit and will be both easier to control and more fun to play. The RTS genre will get a much needed boost in the realm of consoles. Also we'll see the rebirth of the rail shooter. That Police 911 arcade game with the cameras that track your body movements? Replace that movement with an analog stick attachment and you'd have a fun easy shooter on your hands. Clearly it's too short for $50, but as a $20 game it's great fun. Actually, I think Killer7 would have gotten my pick for game of the year if it was on the Revolution controller, what with its abundance of style and originality. Hitting weak points is actually fun when you can aim intuitively.
But where I think the Revolution is really going to shine is in less expensive, less complex, vastly more innovative and original games in the $20 and under range, including games that aren't exactly games. Imagine Mario Paint 2006 . Picture a sculpture simulator where you could carve out your own Michelangelo in digital bits with an adjustable-length light saber with instant 'time warp' undo.
How about a virtual chef game where you had all these little minigames each representing the different stages of preparing a meal? Chopping all the vegetables as fast as possible, while making them evenly cut. Flipping the ingredients in your iron skillet without spilling any on the stove. And multitasking too, getting all the different things going at the appropriate times. Trying for more stars in your restaurant review. The possibilities for interesting games are endless.
More than anything, I want to see an MMOG that has control and gameplay so fine you don't care that it's barely even a game anymore, because you're having so much fun just experiencing this deep and rich alien world, finding yourself in unique and interesting adventures all the time, mostly just based on the raw gameplay, interacting in a changing and dangerous world.
Your BlueTooth headset from your cell phone does double duty, acting as voice chat, doing away with the keyboard entirely. Picture entering a virtual pub, and having real conversations with those in earshot. You want to talk to someone? Find them in game and talk to them 'in character' or try to make contact telepathically, like you were calling them on the phone. Swordplay with actual physical skills needed? Count me in.
-Uriah Maynard, CriticalGames.com

It's fairly obvious that many genres previously regulated to the mouse; RTS, FPS, and RPG games in the vein of Baldur's Gate and Diablo, will be well suited to the Revolution. What's far more exciting than merely translating games is the possibility for far more immersive games. Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy broke new ground in presenting games in an unorthodox manner and as such was rewarded with critical acclaim and unique gameplay. Imagine something similar with a motion-based controller. Your arm matching the movements of an arm on-screen. Interacting with objects in the game in ways previously un-thought of. A telephone rings, you pick it up. When threatened by an enemy, you reach for your weapon and fire as best you can. Defusing a bomb - an unsteady hand means an untimely end. Instead of manipulating buttons providing the challenge, you manipulate the game and in doing so are drawn in deeper than ever before.
-Matthew Benfall, Rogue Software

I'll definitely be waiting to see some sword fights in games, something like Zelda, or Animal Crossing. Particularly looked forward to will be sword fights, fishing, throwing boomerangs, and treasure hunting.
-Royce Vagg

I really believe the Revolution controller would be cool to play the classic arcade game Xybots with. Imagine playing Xybots but with a motion sensor controller. Nice!
-Alborz Bozorgi, Giantcurcuit™ Productions

With some creativity and solid implementation, the Revolution controller is going to be a reasonable interface for every game/genre. The biggest limiting factor for modern games and even computers has been and still is interface. The culmination of the dual-shock is actually a poor place to end up. Anybody who didn't play games from the beginning of the NES pad has a very difficult picking it up and playing. The amount of buttons and two joysticks, however versatile, are truly daunting for the novice and even for serious gamers; small differences in the uses of the standard Dual Shock can be very frustrating.
For the past 30 years, interfaces have changed and evolved dramatically, usually with each iteration of console. In the last generation of consoles (PS2, Xbox and GameCube), the interface pretty much found an equilibrium. I believe the Dual Shock has reached the point of complexity that is really the most casual players are able to handle. Adding more buttons, although allowing more interface options would become overly complicated, and off-putting. Instead of trying something different Sony and MS have decided to stay safe and keep them the same. Nintendo knows that interface is actually a driving force in interactive entertainment and for the medium to maintain its freshness it needs to continue to evolve. Luckily, Nintendo has come up with an interface that is not just different but is actually a really, really good idea. The intuitiveness of the Revolution controller will be very high, and in addition it will allow for remarkably complex interactions.
I believe that the Revolution controller will not only forever change the way people interact with their gaming consoles, but also the way people interact with every electronic device: say goodbye to mice as we know them… goodbye to infrared television remotes. Much like the analog thumb stick was added to the Playstation controller I expect within two years of the launch of the Revolution, both Sony and Microsoft will be packaging controllers with similar functionality with their consoles--and if Sony manages to really nail the functionality of the EyeToy, the combination of a spatially aware controller and the camera will be one that people will wonder how we ever lived without. As far as specific games are concerned I expect fighting games to be some of the most fun initially, and with solid implementation, I expect first-person-shooters to also be a great outlet. Having said that, one of my favorite genres of all time is the fishing game and it's pretty obvious that the Revolution controller will be great at this.
-Oscar Wojciechowski-Prill, Gerson Lehrman Group

First-person fighting games such as boxing and samurai sword-slashing will definitely be possible and more realistic with the new Revolution controller. It's about time we have other first-person games that aren't limited to shooters.

I'm not exactly sure of genre, but considering that two remotes can be used simultaneously, if there were some kind of headstrap for one, you could have it register player's head movements, such as nodding for yes and shaking for no... so perhaps some form of adventure genre... the good old point & click adventure genre could really do with a come-back.
-Michael Lander, Fraxyl Design

The beauty of Nintendo's concept controller is that it seems to be adaptable to any genre, including those that have yet to be invented. Right out of the gate the wireless & gyroscope combination covers the light gun and music/rhythm genres, and with an aesthetic add-on the controller looks like it'll easily change into a racing wheel. Personally, my mind immediately imagines a hybrid of the Vader duel in Sega's 1998 Star Wars arcade game backed up by a combat engine similar to Treyarch's freestyling fighter Die by the Sword. The proposed accessories that transform the Revolution's remote stick into a conventional controller can only sweeten the deal—imagine popping a plastic sword guard onto the remote for simulated saber action, or a top-heavy accoutrement to emulate a hefty axe. Still, the most appealing concepts are the mysterious ones Nintendo itself will most likely churn out, leaving us common folk to hang our jaws open in complete astonishment.
-Ben Serviss, Creo Ludus Entertainment

As much as I'm excited about the possibilities of new genres, I'm also very excited about playing existing genres in new, and possibly better, ways. Here's an obvious example: A Harry Potter adventure game. Yeah, you can wave the wand around and cast spells, everybody's said that, but that alone is boring. What I want to see is this: You walk and turn with the thumb stick attachment, using the buttons for actions and to lock onto targets and circle them like in Metroid Prime (no aiming with the wand in this game, Harry Potter isn't about head shots). The wand is used to case spells - in conjunction with a microphone attachment!
Imagine having to speak the spell you want to cast, and using different wand movements to create variations on the spell (maybe the closer you are to a 'correct' movement the more powerful it is, or maybe you can flick it in different directions to throw people about). This would add a whole new level of immersion to the game. No more lame button pressing or cycling through a spell list, just speak and cast like a real wizard! And learning spells would be much more fun to, having to recite the incantation (so that you match the preset words while at the same time the game recognizes the uniqueness of your voice).
Finally, let people create their characters and spend a year at Hogwarts – the kids would go nuts over it – and hell, even I'd buy it. Harryous Revolutionis!
-Ben Droste, Krome Studio

Action sports games such as boxing, fishing, perhaps driving. Music games that simulate instruments such as guitars or maracas.
-Glen Stevens, Double Helix

I would like to see games that helps or motivates a person to train their physical fitness with controllers hand-held and/or worn on the feet with an adjustable clip. With a controller on each limb I would imagine all sports that don't involve resistance could be developed for. Consider a game in which a player competes directly against a boxer or martial artist. Consider aerobic exercise a la Dance Dance Revolution.

I really would like to see a sequel to, in my opinion one of the simplest but most classic games, Duck Hunt. Also throw a bit of multiplayer into that or make it as a mini-game of the Mario Party series. Also in this series, there are a lot of mini-games that can be done with this new controller. Just think of how many crazy games you'll get! I would really like to see what Nintendo brings us with this new controller, as I really like the ideas of the Nintendo DS and the games it has brought us.
-Sebastiaan Zwezerijnen, Stigofream Designstudios

Two words: Light Saber.

With the second add-on controller, the FPS control system could easily be the best ever seen on a console.
-Andrew White, student

I think that it would be cool to see a Star Fox-esque shooter with a mouse-like direct control of the vehicle. Want to drift to the right? Slowly point the controller to the intended location. Want to barrel roll? Just give the controller a quarter-twist to the intended direction and voila! With the nunchaku extension you could even have dynamic camera angles in a free flight mode via the added control stick. I'm sure that an on foot mode could even be implemented somehow, considering how many buttons and control techniques would be available.
-Kevin Kofler


[Please note that the opinions of individual employees responding to the Question Of The Week may not represent those of their company.]

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Quang Hong


Quang Hong is the Features Editor of Gamasutra.com.

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