In this article, I am going to describe MY 7 stages to perfect gaming.
Please bear with me while I explain how I got there!
I carry my new netbook with me everywhere. I bought it for my work but because I always have stuff to do on the site, it’s useful for me to be able to whip it out and do a bit of admin or even writing if there’s no Net connection.
I recently installed Steam, thinking I may connect and chat with friends.
That got me wondering whether I would want a netbook powerful enough to run Source and if I did would that be good news or bad news.
That process got me thinking about my desire to do different things at different times. The trend is for devices to be able to do everything. And to be honest, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
I think it’s important to separate certain activities to certain times and places. If I could play games any time, any place, would we be able to control ourselves? Would I?
I am bad enough at controlling how often I check my email. Recently, I purposefully got a new mobile phone that isn’t able to browse the web otherwise I would be stopping every 10 minutes to check it.
Anyway, this thought process led onto what would be my perfect gaming situation and so, I run through what I think would be the seven stages to perfect gaming.
The one thing I haven’t really talked about is how you control the game. I like the mouse and keyboard. At some point the mouse might be replaced with a handheld weapon or maybe something even cooler.
To be honest, I’m not that worried about graphics. Sure Half-Life 1 looks pretty dated now but can you honestly say that playing EP2 is so much better purely because it looks nicer? Maybe but gaming is not just about graphics. Ask any Tetris freak.
I would love to see Portal in GoldSource. I bet you would have still enjoyed it.
So, for me, the photorealism is just a stepping stone to other things. I recognize that it can be important but I also see that it will only really matter when nearly all computers can run it, including mobile devices.
Once we find a way to separate the device from the viewing system i.e. the screen, then this will be important.
Having photorealistic graphics on a 10 inch screen is a waste of time. We need them on big screens.
Well, when I say big screens I don’t mean big flat screens, I mean “something”, just bigger.
Having a projector would be pretty cool, but maybe not as useful as we think. Outdoor gaming becomes impossible. On trains, planes or buses it is also impossible.
How about some sort of bubble that covers where you are sitting? Somehow the game would be projected onto the bubble. Maybe not the full 360 degrees but at least 300. Having large flat screens is okay, but you still know you are playing a game.
I envisage that the bubble would block all light and sound from outside, so that only what is in the game is visible or audible.
At first, they would probably be expensive, but eventually they could be little more than plastic bubbles, maybe even foldable, so you can carry it around with you and when you have time, you just connect it to your phone and start playing.
You could set it to interrupt you for calls or texts etc.
With these wrap around screens you could easily distance yourself from the outside world and really become immersed.
I believe little touches like wind and smell would really add to the experience of playing games.
Of course, this might be overly expensive to have for home use.
Perhaps, arcades will make a come back, where users can just login to their Steam account and play.
Then again, would you feel safe logining at an arcade with your Steam details?
Okay, this is probably a long way off, but I love the idea of sitting at my PC and talking to it, specifically to make levels, maps and mods.
Imagine how many people would be modders if you could just start “VoiceHammer” and say stuff like..“Okay, create a city square similar to the scene in Half-Life 2 after you exit the train station. Now, take that cream building and reduce the height by one floor. Good. Replace the screen display with…” You get the idea.
I know a few mappers that actually like the complexity of modding. They feel that the harder it is to do, the more the rewards.
I hope the new Portal editor will show us the way forward, with regard to making life easier for modders not harder!
Okay, this is another stretch, but at some point game engines will be able to create content on-the-fly, with a stock of lines and phrases from the NPC characters etc.
At first they would just be extensions of multiple endings but as time goes on, more and more complexity will be added until all you have are starting scenarios.
The rest is created by the engine.
I only want this as a stepping stone. I think the long-term consequences of being able to plug in to this sort of thing would be bad for society.
And who wants some huge whole in the back of their head?
Without doubt this would be my perfect gaming set up. It would allow absolute realistic settings coupled with the fact that I would be running around and experiencing everything first hand.
I know I can go out and play Paintball but I don’t want to play in a team, I don’t want to have to be limited storywise and setting etc.
I want Sci-Fi and aliens etc. I want to save the world, damn it!
It would also get millions of players really fit.
Great article Phillip! I find this very interesting, some of the stuff mentioned is actually underway! Nvidia have invented WiFi graphics cards and if you remember from my setup the wrap around screen setup is emerging but like you said still flat screen based.
‘I would love to see Portal in Goldsource” – Yes!
With regard to the display, I think the idea of a dome is really what I am thinking about. Something like < a href="http://www.ursispaltenstein.ch/blog/weblog.php?/weblog/2005/12/16/">this (scroll down to the VisionDome) would work quite well until we had the complete dome/bubble. Of course, the bubble would just be projected onto, rather than a solid and no doubt expensive display.
You only need to spend a few minutes on Google images to see that it is getting closer and closer to being available.
EDIT: Actually I have just found this. Now all we need is a cheap projection system and a game engine that outputs a completely spherical display.
Yeh, there is definitely technologies like this underway, the dome idea has been around sometime but hasnt been implemented well with the consumer market. Nvidia also developed a curved screen a few years ago but I never heard where it went.
7) Agreed, but I’m unsure of the technicalities of it
Even with experimental rendering techniques (like voxelation), more detail simply equals more power needed to process it.
Even if our computers were able to run it, would it be sustainable to use so much power to run the photo-realistic games? Still, combining an awesome artstyle with good graphics only makes the experience better so I cant complain
If it were to be achieved, I would be damn happy
6) Unsure if agree. Although this may enhance the immersion of the game, I can now imagine endless ranks of bobble headed zombies filling the average household, segregated from outside life by a clear plastic dome. The social morality of such an image is questionable.
Suddenly reminded of headcrab zombies
Although yeah, it would be pretty damn cool for the user. However, the implication quite frankly scares me
A large screen in the shape of a hollow semi-sphere might be extremely effective though, stretching past the points of the players field of view
5) Again an issue with 7. Although I have always thought how much effect wind and temperature would have on the player, the implication methods would be messy and unsustainable on a mass scale with both existing and experimental technology
4) I strongly disagree with this, but I’m not sure entirely why.
It’s like getting a machine to mathematically paint artwork. It doesn’t feel right to make a computer structure levels and designs using artificial intelligence, at least not at the AI level we currently have.
(Heck, if you follow the theory of the technological singularity, then AI might actually be able to design levels in this lifetime)
Unless you effectively simulate human creativity and independence in a program, I personally don’t think it would generate good designs.
Heck, look at alien swarms notorious ’tileGen” maps.
If you however dictated to a computer every little thing to do, then being honest that might actually be more difficult than just doing it yourself.
Again, levels of technology and structure of program utilities would determine this one.
Imagine trying to make a building with dictation.
Imagine looking at a building, and telling a machine how to piece together every single square inch of it. Sometimes it just ain’t worth it
Besides, if this happened, every level designer would be out of a job
3) I am actually alright with this if it could be implemented. Only worry is the filesize and processing costs of the game would skyrocket
2) No, strongly against this one for a multitude of reasons, mostly the implementation.
I feel it has the same moral and ethical issues presented in idea 6.
Imaging people with cables inserted into their cranium, with a glassy eyed look, separated from the goings on of the real world around them. Again, the possibility of this occurrence is frightening at the least
1) Unsure about implementation, but yeah why not?
Interesting article, but I highly disagree on many points as shown, particularly those concerning my personal questions of the morality of the method
Rather than “Huge, wrap around screens.” we should focus on head-mounted displays like Brother’s Airscouter(http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/26/airscouter-brother-ready-to-commercialize-its-see-through-head-mounted-display-video/) or Google’s new “Project Glass”
Of course devices like these would need to be made to compete with modern monitor specs like color, clarity & refresh rate, as well as transparency. It would be much easier & more convenient to design one of these devices to fill ones peripheral vision with the addition of stereoscopy & motion sensing.
Combine that with something like Sensear’s noise-cancelling headphones & the wearer could be just as in or out of touch with reality as desired.
No.3 is my favourite part. AI development!!!
Something game developers should start improving.
hl/hl2 AI is still great but there’s still so much room for improvements.
AI for multiplayer games the so called bots should also be added
to new upcoming games or atleast tools for it for modders to develop better bots.
The holodeck, the bubble…wow may be somewhere in the future this could be done but as of now I’d rather play war games with my airsoft buds…or ride my bike far far away LoL!
no.5 …no need. that’s what real life is for.
Actually all things we want to do on games and even more can be done using our brain…haha yeah almost like the matrix thingy.
Some of these points are closer than we think.
I remember watching this a while back:
I was a little disappointed in the choice of game but the technology that went into it was phenomenal.
All I know is I want one to play Ep3/HL3.