Could “Asymmetric Gaming” Revolutionize Role Playing

I watched a little bit of Nintendo’s E3 keynote yesterday, until I got bored of Reggie Fils-Aime monotonous speech which didn’t actually provide any information about anything that we didn’t already know(Note he may have covered off some new material after I stopped watching but seriously that man is one of the worst public speakers in the world his speech is practically stunted).

Anyway, Nintendo seem to think that they have cottoned a new paradigm “Asymmetric Gaming” and that this is THE FUTURE! (TM), never mind that they have used the exact same concept for years in the Mario Party Games…

The word seemed like a meaningless buzzword to me at the time but this morning it hit me: I’ve been practicing Asymmetric Gaming since I was 12, I’m an unashamed geek, but one of my more geeky guilty secrets is that I’m a role-player, I’m not talking Final Fantasy or Oblivion, I mean real pen and and paper rolling dice slaying monsters in you mind, D&D, Warhammer Fantasy, Call of Cthullu, Champions etc… It then occurred to me that the Wii U had some awesome potential for role playing games, the Game/(Dungeon if you are that way inclined) Master could prepare a scenario beforehand using a scenario building tool kit, and then he could play through it with his friends using the Wii U Gamepad as a GM screen.

It’s got a lot of potential, I know a lot of people who spent hours of their time building entire scenario’s using the Neverwinter Nights Toolkit, but once you were done with that you just published the game for people to play, your job was done. With the Wii U the console becomes a gaming aid, one of the issues with roleplaying games is that people find it hard to get their heads around the rules, they can get in the way of people actually enjoying the story, but if the console is handling the rules the players and the GM can get on with playing through the plot.

Wizards of the Coast or Fantasy Flight games could use this as a gateway drug to full on pen and paper Roleplaying, or the medium could evolve to make pen and paper roleplaying obsolete, who knows?

Anyway I think there is a lot of potential here, what do you think?

Hide your First Born Kinect is Coming!

I got an email today from Microsoft warning me about the imminent release of Kinect… Apparently in order to play Kinect you have to dress in shades of green and not Cos-Play a Big Daddy from BioShock.

Colour me cynical but the artistic styling of the above image screams Wii Fit. It’s clear what Microsoft’s target audience for this is, the Wii is 4 years old and given that it’s essentially “Two Game Cubes duct taped together” the graphics technology behind the Wii is about 9 years out of date, and it wasn’t exactly cutting edge to start with given that Nintendo decided to go for affordability and “fun” over power when they released the Game Cube.

The X-Box 360 on the other hand is only 5 years old and was built for raw graphical power and ease of development so it can make prettier pictures then the Wii and do so much faster.

It’s no secret that Microsoft and Sony are after a bit of casual gaming pie, they have chosen two distinctly different ways of doing this though, Microsoft going the controller-less route which at first seems more intuitive, but it lacks feedback. It’s all good and well dancing in front of the TV like a Muppet, but you when you try to interact with the game you have to do so by way of mime, there are no buttons which I think is the biggest flaw in Kinect. Sony on the other hand has gone for essentially copying the Wii remote but in such a way that they don’t step on any Nintendo patents. The ridiculous coloured balls on the Sony Motion controllers have been a turn off to a lot of people I’ve spoke to, they don’t gel with the whole PS3 aesthetic, which is Big, Black and Powerful. It’s like having pink furry seat covers on a Humvee. They do have buttons though, which means that you can interact with the game/navigate menus without having to memorise  scripted dances.

Personally I’m sceptical of the whole motion sensing fad anyway, I have a Wii and a Wii balance board. And the only thing it ever gets used for is Wii Fit and recently playing super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Brothers; Neither of which really need motion control. I essentially use the Wii like a really sophisticated scale and as a Game Cube. I may be an old school gamer but when I play video games the only things I want to be moving are my thumbs and my index and middle fingers, the rest of me could be in a vegetative state for all I care, because that’s why I play games, to Veg out.

I know that lots of people use their wee as a party accessory, but to be honest in my experience it is only novel the first couple of times it comes out then it gets boring. Also I tend to have more than 4 people round for a “Party” and given the amount of space a bunch of Wii players takes up they become hard to ignore for the other 10-20 people there, thus the party ends and becomes a spectator sport, which isn’t very fun.

The point of this rant was that I’m sceptical about Kinect… I think I got a little lost down the road, but in short I think that Kinect is going to be one of those things that tons of people buy use for a month or so then it’s going to sit there gathering dust, just like most Wiis do, I have about the same amount of hope for the Play Station Move, but at least it has a lower cost of entry, you can buy the basic pack for £49.99 or so which is less than half the Kinect’s £129.99 price tag, sure you will have to buy more controllers and more nunchucks (I don’t actually know what Sony are calling them but that’s what they are a wireless rip off of the Wii Nunchuck) but to start with to test it out you have to pay less which I think will make a lot of difference, except for the fact that you have to actually have a PS3 or an X-Box to get either of them, which adds at least £200 to your purchase price…

This is going nowhere an turning into a rant. I will close with the most petty reason for my dislike of the Kinect, it’s name, it’s just rubbish, and pretty much every time I’ve typed it here I’ve had to correct it from Kinnect to Kinect…