We are all familiar with the point in time in which polygons and 3D modeling and movement helped move console game experiences from two dimensional movement, gameplay, and strategy to three dimensional gameplay. There's no denying it was a transformative time, characterized by watershed releases like Super Mario 64 that redefined gameplay interaction in a 3D space.
I propose a console that tackles and grapples with movement, gameplay, and strategy along the dimension of time.
THE FOURTH DIMENSION?
Yes I know full well the 4th dimension is not time, but rather something I cannot even conceive of. I watched that video where this high school kid put me in my place by being way more brilliant and able to understand actual physics, and you can too:
So, yes, I know "The World's First 4D Console... It's About Time!" is pure marketing drivel. Brilliant, earth-shaking marketing drivel.
And for fans of offset sticks I made this one:
Essentially the console "records" all of your gameplay progress and activities in a game, and this information is kept on your console and available the next time you visit the game. This is not a video recording, but rather a recording of 3D positioning and movement data, game variables and world data, game choices.
We've seen a couple of seconds of this concept executed in various racing games, or other games with a "rewind" feature. Think "Braid, the Console." That time-rewind feature is the concept of this console taken to the Nth degree, using it to solve a number of pernicious gameplay challenges that have plagued both 2D and 3D games, and maybe unlock games that take new forms.
This is why the Play/Record button is a combined entity. When you move forward you are playing and "laying down gameplay." Scrub back through that gameplay if you didn't like how you did, and play it differently, and lay down a new history of your exploits!
- Why a Console? - Nothing is unique about a game console now that they play the same games as PC's, patch and require online like PCs, use the same controllers as PCs, etc. Significant engineering would be required to support this "4th dimensional" feature, something for which a dedicated console engineered for the purpose is best.
- Save Points - Eliminated, hit the stop button to stop the game. Come back, and pick up where you left off, or rewind from that point. Maybe a few seconds "lead-in" replay would get the player going. You could also add "Chapter Points" for people to use to be able to skip back to specific points in their playthough, if such a thing ends up needed.
- Checkpoints - ditto, in fact this development would actually, by necessity, change the whole concept of game difficulty (if in EVERY game you could rewind to just before you made a mistake).
- Branching Narrative - Easing the ability to "see" the whole game ensures branching narrative development is not wasted on players who "don't want to replay." Games could even safely shift to shorter experiences with more possibilities for where it could go, leaving whole sections of content unseen on a typical playthrough, knowing the game would be rewound and re-attempted.
- Streaming and Media - How about a rich video recording and editing suite with full camera control allowing you to build flythroughs or machinima of your playthrough?
- Engineering - I don't even
Online Gaming - Um, well, this is why Nintendo is the first company that comes to mind with this. You could always disable those features online and still have the playthrough recorded for makin' videos of the exploits.
- VR - No reason why this concept wouldn't work with it, but given it's status as Big Buzz right now I should probably assume Nintendo is already work on "WiiR"
- Motion Control - Like above, this concept pretty much ignores all that and pretends that the unnamed Nintendo-like console maker is focused on controller-based console-gaming and what can be done in that area that can innovate and create excitement.
- No, Seriously. Engineering - I'm not sure of the challenges of "record all gameplay" but I imagine it would take a top-down engineered framework for tracking variables, items, whatever is recorded. I know PS3 Skyrim issues came from the amount of stuff recorded in the game saves and limits on memory. So put 128 GB of RAM into the thing or something I dunno I'm the idea guy. If it limits the amount of graphics whiz-bangs, then Nintendo's the shop to do it. Make it a handheld and you limit the graphics a bit, and yes, you could call it The 4DS.
It takes a little bit of thinking about this idea before you look into the ways it could change games. Development has become so expensive that houses are reluctant to put together content that is off the "critical path," yet at the same time all this development cost dumped into a roller-coaster thrill-ride game seems to impress less and less. So much discussion is about game length that you would think we are working a a one-dimension media! Let's spur some discussion of breadth, on depth.
My hypothesis here is that a console can come into this space with a dedicated, engineered function spurring a round of gameplay innovation from a top-down level in a way the PC can't. The N64 analog stick took an existing innovation and made it the centerpiece of a transformation in the way we interacted with our games, spurring innovation in the way we navigate 3D spaces.
I propose someone should do the same with the way we navigate our game TIME.
i.e. some selections from my arguments on GAF
I'm not sure why everyone is hung up on whether this justifies new hardware. Nintendo could have arguably released Wii motion control as a peripheral for Gamecube. But that would have doomed the initiative and ensured its lack of success, instead of its huge success.
Launching the concept AS a console is the way to "mean it," and ensure ubiquitous and consistency in the feature. Finding a seemingly innocuous "gimmick" feature, like the DS' second touch screen, which in fact transforms the way games are developed on the system is something that is right in Nintendo's wheelhouse when it comes to consoles.
It is what they failed to do with the WiiU, whose gimmick in truth felt like nothing new but a repeat of the trick the DS pulled.
The larger argument here is a console that, in its basic feature set, solves all the problems that lead publishers to favor linearity in games, as well repetition in games as a gameplay consequence.
The shame of this is that I can envision, but not properly articulate all the things this could effect. I imagine open world games sans the towers and icons driving one all over the map to ensure every corner is seen. Instead the world would be filled with stories, as many as could be made without fear of fitting them together or structuring the linear narrative. Each one could be a narrative, taking you to different places in the world, without concern that you walk by all the other places.
If you choose to join, oh I don't know, the Assassin's guild, you would see a completely different world, story, game even then if you chose to join the Mage's guild. You wouldn't have to have a "critical Path" with a sprinkled selection of Mage's Guild content, for flavoring of the same experience everyone else is having.
And these diversions could be everywhere throughout the story you do play, these permutations. Because you wouldn't have to balance it for subsequent playthroughs to avoid having a player repeat half of the story before the game-changing choice. You wouldn't have to figure out a save system, or how to notate progress or significant plot-changing choice points to the player so they could understand how not to miss them on subsequent playthroughs.
I think all these factors together might push games to be actually developed a bit differently, giving the console and its games a unique identity. So that's why new hardware.
But if it also meant Nintendo was dropping other gimmicks for a straight-up controller-gaming console of modern graphic spec with some killer Mario games, while focusing their "gimmick" on an area that, at the very least, would standardize and make simpler the checkpoints and save points and stuff I detailed above, that's also a win in my book.
But it might actually do a lot more than that.
Maybe you could put a standalone microphone in each controller, too, to record an audio track to go along with the gameplay, as well as to enable speech recognition.
I picked up Lost Treasures of Infocom on iOS the other day and have been playing it using voice recognition. It's gotten me thinking how close we could be to a revolution in adventure gaming with natural voice recognition interfaces parsing input text in newer, advanced ways and presenting stories and scenes with all the modern beauty possible.
It's really adventure games that currently take advantage of branching narratives more than any other. Have I invented the adventure game console? Or would a Mario game now be free to also be an adventure game?
I think the quick rewind feature would be a big help in any implementation of voice control. Really minimize the frustration of misrecognition while the program is training to your voice.
Screw Nintendo. I should Kickstart the thing and call it Twouya.
Folks I'm not really a regular here but I don't know I'm just not feeling it over at NeoGAF like I used to. I flotaed this over there and it didn't get any interest so I thought, what they hey, I'll try the folks over at GWJ. I'd love to know your thoughts. Thanks!