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PlayStation 4: You Can Walk Through a Wall, If You Wanted To

A column article by: Dorian Scarlett

 

We here at Comics Bulletin Games love video games quite a bit. We also have quite a bit to say about them, but are usually held to the restrictions of reviews, news and other various outlets. But, what if we were given a platform to discuss whatever we would like to about video games without the filter? A soapbox, if you will.

Welcome to Infinite Ammo, where we provide the weapon and the writer can load it with whatever words they choose!

 


 

A video game’s longevity doesn’t necessarily spring from a dedicated multiplayer community. Some of the most fun isn’t generated from what a game’s story or mechanics are trying to achieve. Whether it’s due to their high entry fees or natural human curiosity, the more avid members of the gaming community have taken to expanding games into new longer lasting experiences.

It’s nothing uniquely new to games. When you were younger, chances are you learned the basics of a board game, like checkers. When you got bored or frustrated, you probably took the pieces and fashioned them into a new game. You had learned the rules of your new game’s progenitor and attempted to build off of that.

So it’s not completely surprising to see that video games have taken to these malleable tendencies as well. And it’s not solely produced by something as open and deliberate in customization as a Garry’s Mod or Little Big Planet level editor. It’s coming from fans running through Dark Souls with no armor trying to see how far they can make it, or players breaking game worlds entirely to clock in faster speed runs. Fans have taken Pokémon, a fairly straightforward RPG, and implemented the now infamous “Nuzlocke Challenge”, arguably giving more weight to the players choices, along with an overall heightened sense of achievement upon completing the main game. An invisible wall has stopped being a barrier and become an interesting problem to solve.

But I don’t believe this level of tinkering is doomed to be relegated to software. I’m certain this same attitude could be implemented into this oncoming eighth console cycle. Nintendo and its Wii U seem to be testing the water with asymmetric gameplay, courtesy of the Wii U gamepad, and more daring PC games have an array of tools to implement new forms of gameplay built into its infrastructure.

The Wii U and PC have the luxury of coming with fairly obvious tools for divergent gameplay styles. Though Sony’s latest showing, the Playstation 4, has me more interested at what kind of play styles could blossom from what appears to be, at the moment, just a high powered PC. Sony seems to be catering to streaming and cloud based gaming this time around, and are so dedicated to the omnipresent “social” trend that they dedicated a button for it directly on their controller’s face. Their press conference did well to show that their next console would play shiner looking games, but it inadvertently showed the potential of the console as a malleable playground for strange ideas.

From here on, we’re working under the notion that what was promised will be delivered and working flawlessly for the sake of this article.

If you watched the February 20th PlayStation reveal, chances are you witnessed a feature that purportedly lets you jump in and take control of someone’s game, supposedly to help them in a pinch. Some might take this as a detractor, rallying around the idea that all video games should be composed of an impenetrable framework that only die hard enthusiast could hope to break. In all honesty, this will probably just be a tool Sony uses to try and convert hold-outs who still have trouble with the confusing landscape that is the modern controller. And that’s admirable enough. It even extends their message that this next console is catering to the user by creating the figurative and clichéd boy scout who’s leading the frail woman across the street. If you remove this feature from what they demoed and view it as a standalone input possibility, you’re left with a rather interesting mechanic. Giving power to a second party and allowing them to make small or wide reaching decisions in your game - whether they be negative, like dropping a successfully passed baton, or positive, like keeping the beat going in a rhythm game - open up the possibility of multiplayer without having to buy two separate pieces of software or dealing with intrusive online passes.

Sony’s omnipresent “Share” button seemed to be a major talking point despite it being a fairly simple concept. Social media has become a widespread trend, and the PlayStation 4 seems to be reaching for all the users it can pull in. And when you tell those hip kids that old man Sony is “down” with the twitters and facebooks, you’ll be able to bottle the energy coming from their celebratory skateboard tricks. What seemed initially disheartening though was the fact that PlayStation is already integrated into most social media, just horribly so. This Share button is going to have to be implemented in a way that is less intrusive than the current system, which announces each and every trophy you’ve earned. More importantly, it will also have to shy away from the model set in place by current social games. No matter how close you are to your friends, none of them want to share your status so you can earn “Kratos-Bucks”. If I can share items from my game to a friend’s game or streamline the “Pawn” process from Dragon’s Dogma, I’d feel less silly having a button dedicated solely to social media on my controller.

New consoles and fancy controllers are slowly bringing in less fanfare, replacing it with worried gazes. They’re large investments with dated shelf lives in terms of the software and genuine effort created for them. So why not bend it to its breaking point? This isn’t a case of thinking outside the box. The box is fine, hopefully the box will provide me with a new Okami. This is more a case of cutting the box up and seeing what else you can fashion with the pieces you’ve got.

 


 

Dorian Scarlett was born in a combination arcade/fun zone. He was then taken to Florida, educated, and now seeks refuge on the internet where he writes about games. If you were ever curious to see material comedians throw out, you can find those at his Facebook. Or if it strikes your fancy, go enjoy the horrible things he likes over at the Tumblrs.

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