Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Design Challenge #5 Novint Falcon

Behold the Novint Falcon! You can find out all about this nifty peripheral in the video. And you can read about it at the Level Up blog here.



The device is quite expensive, and in order for a gameplay prioritizing gamer such as myself to deem the product worthy of purchase, games that implement the unique features of the Novint Falcon must be created. I don't think a more visceral force feedback experience slapped on to an FPS is enough. And let's face it, the PC market is saturated with FPSs, RTSs, and RPGs of various types. Without reworking these genres from the ground up to use the Novint Falcon, these genres are likely to poorly implement the technology much like the motion controls in the Sixaxis controller for the PS3. I can't help but think that all the software that utilizes this controller will use it as as nothing more than a glorified rumble pack. Perhaps it's time for the PC market to revisit some of their less popular genres, like puzzle games. Where's my Wii Sports of the Novint Falcon?

Skepticism aside, I've played with a similar device while it was still being developed in a college lab many years ago. It is an amazing device in and of itself that provides a little glimpse into a future seen in many scifi films. So, along with all the other design challenges and projects that I've been wrestling with, I've decided to add this one into the mix.

Design Challenge: What kind of game or mechanic, would you develop to take full advantage of the Novint Falcon keeping in mind all of our favorite philosophies of Classical game design? Or how would you retool the popular PC genres (FPS, RTS, RPG) to take advantage of the new technology?

I'm already thinking of a Trauma Center style game where players get to reach inside human bodies and use the delicate 3d controller to perform surgeries. It's a messy job, but someone has to do it.

5 comments:

Pi said...

I was thinking something like and RTS, that takes place on a circular map. The falcon moves your camera. No cursor. The game auto-selects units in your view, and you can narrow down your selection via buttons.

As I understand it, the falcon has force feedback? Then what could happen is that you (or your enemy) could launch 'jamming' signals, that would make your camera easier (or harder)to move over certain areas.

KirbyKid said...

Pi:

Good start.

This is a hard challenge especially for RTSs. Basically, RTSs don't have mechanics in the normal sense. You have commands and actions, but these help the player use and organize their units.

Can you think of a scenario or a game type that could incorporate a simple mechanic on top of a basic RTS framework?

I'm thinking of something like Black and White, where the players take control of the "god hand" and read into the world to manipulate not only the view, but the units, and the environment.

If you bend the map around a sphere, then you could have a circular world that the 3D capabilities of the Falcon could really take advantage of.

Good work and keep thinking.

Bryan said...

I'd like to see a Worms style gravity game, but have the players shoot targets instead of other players. Players would adjust adjust their firing position, angle, and power.

The levels would encourage bouncing shots off of other objects and allow you to hit multiple targets in one shot.

To add even more fun, I would add in other physics entities which you could collapse and hit targets with.

KirbyKid said...

Bryan:

Interesting idea. I like how you put the primary function of the game in the Falcon controller. If the game is all about firing stuff and things, then there are plenty of ways to vary of the projectiles, firing mechanisms, and targets to really put the versatility of the falcon to the test.

In fact, your idea gave me another idea. It would be interesting if a game made a big deal about the "weapon in ones hands". The Falcon could really add interesting physical and tactile interactions with a virtual weapon including... loading ammo, cocking the weapon, holding the aim steady, and doing anything else.

The possibilities are exciting, but I do wonder if anyone would actually do ideas like this.

Bryan said...

While reading some review about it, they were describing the different feel of the weapons in Half Life 2 and the pull of the bow in one of the default minigames.

I was thinking of a water balloon launcher or a spring feel for the game I was describing.

Projectiles with different properties would be incredible. You could have extra bouncy ones, extremely heavy ones, projectiles that break into pieces.

I'd like to see how different launchers would change the game though. Maybe just like a different set of golf clubs?

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For the RTS, I'd like to see a game which focused on unit position and type, avoiding the attack orders, special abilities, and complicated build queues of modern RTS'. For the noise, maybe you could influence the other teams units indirectly, encouraging them out of formation.