By: The Jewphin
The Game Developer’s conference this year was fascinating with a huge focus towards virtual reality games being brought into the mainstream. I saw games using the Vive which allowed you to move around a small space swinging guns and swords while fighting off enemies. One experience had me walking a tight rope between two towers (an experience which was oddly terrifying given that I was aware I was wearing a virtual reality headset). The most interesting experience I encountered was what appeared to be a circular treadmill with a VR headset which allowed players to run in any direction to make their characters move – which is probably the best way to integrate exercise into a shooter that I have seen.
But the part of GDC that I found the most interesting was the alternative controllers section. This was a place where the mad scientists of the game development community showed off their doomsday devices in the form of fascinating gaming devices, some of which I will describe below.
Our first game is brought to you by the people of Threadsteading. The game involves two players inputting instructions for moving through a gridded environment. The catch? The game is played entirely through an automated sewing machine which maps out the journey of the players and then writes out the scores of the two players.
The next game is called Ziff. Ziff is played with a simple yellow block with a single button and two magnetic attachments. When the magnetic attachments are placed underneath the controller, the character on screen is able to walk and jump. When the magnetic attachments are placed on the top of the controller, the character on screen can fly. When placed on the back of the controller, the character can swim.
Fabulous Beasts is like an animal version of Jenga. Each animal pieces is scanned by the base then placed on top. If the piece stays, the creature is added to the world displayed on the tablet. The creatures in the world interact with each other, thereby granting you points necessary for the winnings. If your world collapses, you are given five seconds to get all of your animals back on the platform before… Game Over.
Rotator is a game that is played using three rotatable disks. Rotating each disk causes one of the circles surrounding the playable character to rotate. The orientation of the circles on your character changes how your character moves and collects points.
Planet Licker is one of the most interesting ideas for a controller I saw at GDC. A planet moves through the universe licking up other planets. But what are those weird nubs on the controller, I hear you hypothetically ask. Those are popsicles. You move your planet in a particular direction by licking the corresponding popsicle. That’s right, lick your way to victory!
Our next game controller excites me with the possibilities. Here you will see an incredibly sexy man wearing a cardboard headset and staring at a white screen. Why is the screen white? The color filter has been removed from the screen. What is in the headset? Three different colored filters. The knob on the side allows you to switch between red, blue, and green. Now here’s the fun part. The rooms and objects are either green, blue, or red. You can only see these things using the right colored filters. While the game I played was interesting, imagine the same system for multiplayer games where you overlay the red player’s game with the blue player’s. Each person sees a completely different thing on the same screen!
This guy is an old school television controller. Inputs include the four knobs, the adjustable antennae, and actually banging the side of the television. Welcome back to the 80s! Now go solve some puzzles!
For our final installment we have The Little Book. This game is played using a mouse to use as a flashlight, a VR headset (there had to be one), a book, and a blanket. You cover the book with the blanket to block a light sensor which, in the virtual reality world, causes the child you’re playing to hide under the covers. The pages of the book fill with words, as long as you turned the page when prompted. Turn the pages too early, and the book will be blank. The game includes some awesome horror aspects that make you really want to hide under the covers instead of peeking out.
Hope you have enjoyed my guide to one of the odder parts of GDC. Keep innovating you lovely madmen and madwomen!