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What we hope to see in 2007

posted on January 13th, 2007 by the gang

With a new year comes new hope and a new opportunity to have our dreams crushed.

Stefan —
Saturn Games on the Virtual Console: I know, there are significant disk space problems – seeing as a single game could use up the entire internal memory of the Wii. But if a way can be found, I’m holding out hope for Shining Force III and a NiGHTS re-release with a _real_ 3D Controller.

Panzer Dragoon Saga with motion sensing controls > Second coming of Christ

Sony opening the PS3 Graphics hardware to Linux users: This is another one that’s not likely to happen. And by not likely, I mean no way in hell. Allowing direct access to the graphics chipset would essentially let anyone circumvent the price of their dev kit – and would deprive them of licensing fees for game sales. But it might give me enough of a development platform that I’d buy the PS3.

AI used for Storytelling: AI has been advancing, but primarily in terms of combat tactics. I want to see computational linguistics and predicate calculus applied to plot, dialog, and character development. Even if it happens in very simple ways, I hope to have a character surprise me by doing something totally different from what I expect based off the last time I played, and see a game where I’m not continually reminded that I’m playing through a fixed story in a rigidly defined system of interaction. We have the potential to at least start exploring this type of thing, someone just needs to take the risk.

Aaron —
My favorite genre is most likely the Japanese RPG, but if I’m not mistaken, the only console RPGs along those lines I’ve really heard about are Final Fantasy XIII, Blue Dragon, and a handful of others that aren’t for the Wii. If I can see more games of this ilk announced for Wii, I’ll be happy, simply because I’ll be able to hold off on buying another system for quite a while, if not forever. And remember how much stock industry analysts (or maybe just opinionated gaming nerds) put in the availability of such games for a given system — it could make or break a console. Keeping with my wish for a money-saturated Nintendo, these RPGs seem pretty desirable.

I can’t speak much to innovations I’d like to see — the Wii controller should tide things over for a while. One of the things that had been hyped about it was its ability to connect to hypothetically cheap peripherals which could be made for specific games. I don’t know what I’d really have in mind for that beyond the gun attachment and Nunchuk, though — instrument add-ons are obvious for rhythm games, but that’s probably not unique enough. At least I’ll be happy when they start having games where one person holds a remote in two hands, and I’ll be especially happy if that game is Samba di Amigo. That game, fun as it was, didn’t always have reliable maracas, and the Wii’s controllers seem like the perfect answer.

Nintendo’s newest remote attachment is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Perhaps more interesting is the gossip that Apple will release a handheld at some point in the future, which doesn’t seem far-fetched given their penchant for interesting and innovative gadgetry. I don’t know if they’ll want to enter the video game market this year, but something like their new iPhone has obvious potential, given its inherent versatility. I’m very interested in the possibilities — but I don’t know if I can realistically expect anything until the price-point of whatever Apple could come up with would be pretty low. And, in any case, the iPhone itself wouldn’t be a good gaming device for certain logistical reasons (too thin, the lack of shoulder buttons — or any buttons at all — could make some games awkward), but Apple’s now got a great range of technology it can use — if they think they can put it to profitable use in the gaming arena, they will. I’m pretty eager to see if they come up with anything.

Matt —
A 2D Metroid Game: Even though I love the Prime series, I still want a Metroid title that plays like the old ones. Nintendo does such a good job with them that it’s a Greek tragedy they don’t make them often enough. The atmosphere for each Metroid game is phenomenal, and they have exceptional level design. Super Metroid will be released on the Virtual Console at some point, but I’m dying for a new iteration. I guess we have to wait for Alien 5 to come out and give Nintendo some new material to work with, seeing as how both series are basically the same.

Innovative Wii-mote Ideas: this is almost a given, but it still needs to be said. For all the PR we’ve been trudging through the last few years with Wii, we better see some crazy new ways to game. I want to see electrician simulators, fish-gutting adventures, nose-picking FPS’s, and kite-flying RTS’s. Do whatever you have to do to get those never-before-seen ideas into my home and on my Wii. I don’t want to see developers get stuck in their “Let’s make this for the millionth time” holes any longer. The DS is already going down that route, and I don’t want the Wii to follow.

SEGA Dreamcast II: What? I can dream, can’t I?

Golden Jew —
First up, gaming tradeshows. Obviously the end of E3, at least in its current incarnation, was big news for 2006. It comes on the heels of the continued popularity of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), not to mention a variety of other gaming events. Having been to the past three E3’s, I can definitely agree that the gameshow was not serving it’s purpose: rather than being a place to get work done, it was a giant wankfest for gamers who probably shouldn’t be there in the first place (see: consumers, not industry). Once limited to true industry people, everyone with a website, or a part time job at EB could get in (assuming they were willing to pay the $400 registration fee). Over the past three years, I actually overheard “real” industry people (they were wearing suits, while the rest of us were in jeans) bemoaning the fall of E3 and the drop in quality of attendees. I dismissed it as the talk of corporate thugs– but they were right.

Hmm…this logo looks vaguely familiar…

So for 2007, I’d like to see the industry find a setup that works for them. Set up a closed door tradeshow (like the “new” E3) that lets them get the work they want to get done. Keep all of the marketing budgets and displays out of it, and focus on getting consumers better games. But at the same time, find a way to create an expo, and perhaps it is PAX, that lets developers blow their marketing budgets and geeks get the joy of playing advanced demo games and sitting in silly revolving theaters to watch trailers for Final Fantasies XII-MCMXII. Of course, a big part of E3 was the “exclusivity”– even if in the end the only exclusivity was a website and $1000 to cover travel and registration. So it remains to be seen if an “open” event can capture the same aura that E3 had, making those who attend kings of gamer geek kind.

Next, I’d like to see a new MMO come out that pushes the genre in a new direction. And to be honest, I don’t even care what direction it is, as long as it’s “not World of Warcraft.” WoW set a new standard with a very sophisticated, well designed game–and then also set a standard for arbitrary design flaws and terrible customer service. I feel as if the genre has completely stagnated under a Microsoft-esque monopoly. Although there are many MMO games, WoW’s subscriber numbers dwarf them all, and with an incredibly popular expansion about to ship, I worry that investors and game developers will be unwilling to jump into the ring with the 800 pound frozen gorilla. Ultimately,the success of current games in the pipeline (such as Warhammer) could well determine the future of MMOs: will it be a Blizzard dominated genre, or will we see other developers recapture market share, and make customer service and fan-centric development more than just buzzwords?

Pat —
Shenmue 3 news: My grail. Yu Suzuki’s magnum opus has been stalled since 2001 (2002 if you count the Xbox remake). My theory on poor Xbox sales is that people who loved Shenmue had already purchased and played the Japanese import (as I had) and then did not feel compelled to buy the remake. Either that or I tend to fall in love with losers (see below). Any kind of reliable announcement surrounding a continuation of this series would be enough to get me to buy whatever system necessary.

Double Fine’s new game: Psychonauts is my favorite game of the PS2 generation. Also, Grim Fandango may be my favorite PC game of all time. Tim Schafer’s studio, Double Fine Productions, has announced that they are working on a new game. Besides the fact that is will probably be produced by Vivendi and may be an action-adventure game of some sort they have released very little information about the game (as far as I know). The good news is thats its unlikely to be a sequel to Psychonauts, but the bad news is that if the unnamed project sells as poorly as its predecessor, the studio’s future may be in jeopardy. So heres hoping the project is an outstanding game on a system I own that actually ends up selling a few copies.

Someone needs to tell Lan Di that chivalry is dead. Ryo’s not risking his life for one chick, no matter how well endowed.

A renaissance for Adventure Games: There is a realistic possibility that this is already underway. There are a handful of games on the DS that have been more or less successful in the Adventure genre (Phoenix Wright, Trace Memory) and a few upcoming (Hotel Dusk, another Phoenix Wright). The input devices of the Wii seem ripe for a few of these as well. Speaking as someone who was basically raised on Sierra and LucasArts games (and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) a few landmark titles in this genre, once thought to be dying, are overdue.

Tony —
Wii online capabilities: I really need some solid online support from Nintendo. They’ve dropped the ball on every console so far when it comes to multiplayer options. Granted the DS has fair online support, but games that utilize it are few and far between. In order for me to keep the Wii in my console starting lineup I need more games and apps that allow me to use that ethereal plane so far unknown to our Japanese gaming brethren – the internet. Yeah, my Miis can visit your Miis. I can get the weather and I have a semi-functional browser. Soon I’ll even be able to use the Wii to learn about world news. These are all things my phone can do … I want multiplayer games and I want them now, Nintendo.

More N64 games on the Wii virtual console: I love classic NES/SNES games. I love them so much that I have all of them on my PC and can use an emulator to play them anytime I want. I don’t need to pay $6 to relive the glory days of Donkey Kong Jr. What I really need is to pay $8 – $10 for some GoldenEye (with online multiplayer – see #1). If I want to buy the Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask special reprint for the GameCube it’s about $30 right now. I’d much rather pay $20 and get both games over the virtual console.

More online co-op games for XBox 360: Gears of War with a friend over Live = awesome. Rainbow Six: Vegas with three friends co-op over Live = f-ing amazing. This feature has become the #1 selling point for me. If a game has online co-op I buy it and so do my friends. It doesn’t even matter if it’s worth the time to play through the single-player game. There’s something about going through a story with a friend at your side (not necessarily “in the same room” by your side) that makes even a mediocre game exponentially more fun to play. After I played my 10th World War II era shooter I was starting to get a bit burnt out with the genre. But for some reason playing that same game with friends, actually caring about what happens to your squad mates because you actually know them … the word “immersion” takes on a whole new meaning. Plus you feel like total bad-asses. As my friend Fil put it; “Once we log some Rainbow Six: Vegas time with our squad of four friends, we’ll be ready for the inevitable zombie invasion.”

11 Comments

  1. pat said on January 13, 2007:

    unrelated to gaming, i hope more evangelicals and politicians are exposed for their hypocrisy in 2007.

  2. Matt said on January 13, 2007:

    I second the Shenmue III and Wii online gaming for 2007. After seeing how well Live is on 360, wii’s online is decades old in that respect. Nintendo does need to get their shit together with it. And I’ve been waiting for the final episode of Shenmue for almost 4 years now. It’s way over due.

  3. Alex said on January 13, 2007:

    To Stephan on AI in storytelling: Do you mean something like StoryTron? They have started on the path, but I don’t think 2007 is the year it will come to fruition somehow. Still, it is a good idea.

  4. Billy said on January 13, 2007:

    I would like to see Islam outlawed globally…but since that wont happen (pansies) I will settle for seeing RE5 (hopefully) and cheaper HD TV prices.

  5. jay said on January 13, 2007:

    I didn’t realize you were so unAmerican, Billy. Though these days it is sort of patriotic to pretend we don’t have a constitution.

  6. Billy said on January 14, 2007:

    Luckily, these days being anti-American will herald me as a hero to most people, especially Democrats and such.

  7. tony said on January 14, 2007:

    Neo-conservatism: a kinder, gentler communism.
    I just got back from MT and the tide has turned against you Stalin.  I heard ranchers uttering anti-Bush sentiments.  I heard guys back from Iraq saying we should have never been there in the first place.
    Pretty soon the only remaining "Red-Staters" will be Internet tough guys from the suburbs and the Haliburton hand out crowd.

  8. Billy said on January 14, 2007:

    Heil Hillary!

  9. pat said on January 14, 2007:

    was there a previous name for storytron?  "erasmatron" or something like that?                    besides uttering meaningless drivel, devoid of any real content, such as billy has done above, i cant imagine any possible way of continuing to support the neo-con agenda.  basically every aspect of it  has been completely discredited, which has lead to the high turnover among appointed officials (see: paul wolfowitz, donald rumsfeld, etc).  stubbornness, ignorance and greed are the only remaining reasons for supporting this administration.  (my views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of vl)

  10. Billy said on January 14, 2007:

    Wow, what a speech. You could be a college professor, screeching America hatred and redistribution of wealth with that creed. Way to go dude.

  11. Stefan said on January 14, 2007:

    Alex – Yup, that would be a good example of the kinds of things I’m talking about. Computers have been able to construct literary story arcs encapsulating complex ideas like plot twists, betrayal, and personal sacrifice for quite some time now, and can reliably fill them in with detail. Most video game plots would be considered mediocre at best in the world of literature, so it doesn’t seem to me like we’d be asking for all that much. Of course, it would screw the game-guide industry, but I’m willing to let them suffer :)

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