Monday 31 January 2011

E14 Idea Theater

Here at E14, you'll have noticed that we regularly engage our critical faculties in order to best recommend purchases in all manner of media things to you, the fine E14ies. However, this week, I thought I'd weigh in with some of the things that I think could not only work well, but also be really really bollocking awesome.

1: My idea for Kinect for Xbox 360. Let's be fair to the Kinect: as proof of concept it's excellent, but I imagine most 'hardcore' gamers (loyal fans will recall that I'm not in favour of branding anything as 'hardcore' except wrestling and pornography) turned their noses up at the motion camera when it was first released, particularly as some of the games have looked pretty similar to a few of the less popular offerings on the Nintendo Wii, the system that popularised videogaming as well as the concept of 'shovelware' with wave after wave of minigames that served mainly to bury the good games on Wii.

Anyway, I was on the fence about Kinect at the start, mainly due to the fact that when it first came out I was watching it being demonstrated in a PC World which meant that the gargantuan space behind the player led to absolutely enormous response lag. This meant that rather than track in more or less 1:1 motion, like it's designed to do and actually does in a smaller room, it was translating with massive lag. As a result of this, I initially found myself a little concerned, particularly as early impressions had been very favourable indeed.

However, I played a decent amount of Kinect round at my sister's the other day and found it to be a completely enjoyable experience. Though I did end up experiencing pains in muscles I'm fairly sure I didn't actually have before, I felt the burn of exercise in a way that I'd never felt before from a games console, and certainly never from my Xbox 360. The most exercise I'd experienced before that from my Xbox 360 was throwing my controller down in frustration when I got absolutely bitch-slapped in Halo 3.

Anyway, it was during the game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved that I was struck by inspiration. See, in this game, as well as have yourself illuminated by a figure made almost entirely from lava, it's also possible to have it track and reflect your body in a full-body video image. Sure, it's a little rough around the edges, but it tracks a very high quality, high-detail image. Unless you're The Human Torch, in which case you're better off sticking with the lava guy image to be honest. It's slimming.

Anyway, the other thing that made me think was the way you interact with the game. In order to select options from the menu, you find yourself holding out your hands and raising and lowering your arms in order to select from buttons, which are at various altitudes. Once you get your hand over the area, you hover in place until it registers what you're doing and selects the option for you. Now, the game is published by Ubisoft, and that developer in particular is responsible for a popular series of game. My suggestion, therefore, is thus:

A CSI Kinect game

How perfect is that, right? Ubisoft publish the CSI games, and their drivers for Kinect are particularly awesome. The whole concept makes perfect sense when you think about it. The player can place themselves in the crime scene, and move around within the little bounding box in order to move around the room. They can then hover their hand over an item to interact with it, whether that be to manage their inventory or to zoom in on an area containing evidence. They could then interact with the environment in order to pick up the evidence, place it in a bag and put it in their evidence.

Once they got to the lab, the fun continues. The player can then go through and play the role of the lab tech, reconstructing broken or damaged items on the assembly table, test-fire guns on the firing range (which, incidentally, is about as close as I want to get to firing a gun with Kinect), analysing audio and video sequences in order to piece together evidence. CSI: New York already pretty much does this technology when they're not having an uber-jizz about some Apple product (I watched one the other day where it was Mac this, Mac that...), so it's not a tremendous leap of faith to assume that it could be just as easily implemented on Kinect.

Think, too, of the interrogation scenes. Kinect already tracks facial movement as well as recognises voices, so you could actually do an interrogation just like the series, where the CSIs put on their sarcastic and/or mock helpful tones and offer the perpetrator a deal in exchange for coming clean early. Of course, Kinect would technically allow you to pick up a suspect's head and slam them repeatedly against a desk, but I'm guessing that it would probably count negatively towards your total score during the course of the game. Maybe that's not such a good idea after all. Imagine your supervisor calling you in and saying "Unfortunately, although you processed the evidence thoroughly and didn't ask for any hints, you called the lead suspect a fucking cuntrag."

Finally, the game could make use of the full potential of Xbox Live for the most logical purposes when it comes to CSI: Downloadable cases. It makes perfect sense for the game to allow this sort of thing using Xbox Live, but it's just not something that the developers seem to have ever run with as a concept. Telltale Games, the developers of CSI have already demonstrated that people will pay for downloadable adventure game episodes (with their Sam & Max episodic games among others), so it's not that surprising to think that something with a CSI theme could be successful.

Of course, they may just be worried that horny gamers might play as Catherine and never stop touching themselves. Though if you're willing to listen to her tell you that she used to be a lap dancer/is a single mother, you're a better man than I.

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