07 August 2007

Casual Games

Soarin' Queue

This post was in draft for some time, I basically felt it was some half formed thoughts. It still is... I'm hoping for the other half soon :D.

I was waiting in the Soarin' ride queue at Disney's Epcot a few weeks ago. It was quite a long wait but was entertaining due to the fact they had some cinema screens set up with games on. Basically they just used a machine vision system to try and pick up on the general movement of the crowd to play some games. Some involved trying to keep thing in the air or breaking objects apart. Others involved racing using a consensus system to determine if the crowd is tell the bird to fly in a particular direction. It was enjoyable but more interestingly it was fascinating to see how many people were getting involved in it (though I guess a dull queue is pretty much the best way to get a captive audience).

It must be interesting developing games like this, designed to be played in the space of a few minutes that should be accessible to all. Of course their were points it seemed to be failing to pick up on people's attempt to play the game but then we aren't paying for it. Currently the Wii seems to be suffering from the controller just not having the fidelity for some games, better design will probably address this (not in increasing the accuracy of the controls but just insuring the games take this more into account) but perhaps that doesn't really matter. After playing Wii Sports I may not have found the controls perfect but the nature of the games never lead that to being a problem. I've recently been playing Super Rub-A-Dub which uses the SIXAXIS controller. Again the control system isn't exact but that's part of the fun of it. As long as that doesn't become a point of frustration then it is fine.

There is quite a debate in the games industry about this. With the current success of the Wii lots of people have looked more at drawing in the casual market. Gamasutra recently had some analysts opinions on what the other systems need to do to pick up the casual market. However The 1up Yours podcast, I felt, made a good point that Sony should probably be looking to position the PS2 as the casual games system. With EyeToy, Singstar, Guitar Hero and Buzz they can push a cheap entry system with a bunch of casual games already available. With the exception of Guitar Hero I think all these work fine on the PS3 ensuring that they can continue to push that system as well (as the upmarket version that also includes a Blu-Ray player and such). Perhaps that extends the life of the PS2 beyond what Sony really want but it also provides a system cheaper than the Wii to push at the casual market that could provide Sony two areas to move forward in.

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