Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Philosophy Majors...

So I'm was studying with few other people in my Philosophy 297 class which is entitled, "The Metaphysics of Truth" and we worked our brains so much on some nuances of a particular theory of truth we all got really hungry. So we ordered pizza instead of wings (the best foods available) because every time we were about to decide wings, we spiraled into this debate about what is the "nature of wings," "what is it?" "what makes a wing, a wing?" "whether boneless wings are subtype of wings or something else closer to chicken fingers" were all things we discussed until a wave of hunger hit one us reminding us of the immediate problem of feeding ourselves. There's a moral here. I think its don't let philosophy majors make a fast decision.

Nothing about games here, just something funny that happened.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun for the audience

The other day I was wondering why more computer games, especially multiplayer games, don't have a spectator mode. It's implemented in a primitive way in some FPS games (HL, Unreal Tournament) but I wish to see it more developed and widespread. A problem I see with computer games is that they lack the community aspect of console games and any other type of game; board, card, sport, etc. To watch a FPS fight or a racing game bout, the would be observer must become a full participant, and there is only so much room. Of course, there is also the needed skill to have fun playing with your opponents. Crowding around the computer screen is a possible solution, but c'mon, computer screens are only so big.

I became aware of this particular problem at a LAN party, where there was a big screen setup so that everyone at the party, even those not participating could be simple onlookers. I was at once both excited and disappointed. I was glad that I got to watch and cheer my friends on, but disappointed with how crudely the tech was. I wanted to watch the fight, not simply cycle through the views the players. To be certain sometimes it was supremely satisfying, but other times I wanted to take control of the mouse, just so I could see. Wouldn't it be great if I was a newbie and I just wanted to watch some advanced players do what they do. Hell, I could chat it up with some of the others watching the game and have some running commentary going. I think this would be totally cool for racing and fighting games. You have that mimicry fun of cheering in the stands for your favorite, or all of them if you prefer. Honestly, I think the key here is to design the system so that spectators use up much less bandwidth then players.

But what about single player games? Consider this. Imagine playing first person rolepaying game on the computer. I know, I know, I've been using the first person perspective a lot in this post, but it so neatly illustrates the different perspectives of the player and the audience. You've got a cord running from the TV you have so nicely set up into the computer and your friends are watching you play this game. And this would not be just a clone of what you're seeing. First person perspectives tend to get disorienting after too long on a TV for some people. What they see is a more cinematic view. Cutting from various angles as the world calls for it. Possibly also a frequency setting so that you can go from something that's like a Kubrick tracking shot and/or John Ford landscape shot (long takes) to something that is more from an MTV style of editing. Uncluttered by all the UI elements that you as player need to properly play the game, your friends on the couch get to follow and cheer you on your various exploits. You've just turned a couch full of friends into a merry band of minstrels singing songs of how brave you are. And who doesn't like a band of ministrels? Maybe more some elements from sports TV and have stats and other various pieces of info displayed in a easy to read and digest manner on the screen on a part time basis. Sports know how to present their game on TV and get people excited to watch it; it might be wise to learn a little from them.