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Five ideas that could take video games to the next level

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The mysterious 2011 UFO sighting in Jerusalem, captured independently by a number peoples’ camera phones.[/caption]

Doctor, Doctor Please

Some of us claim to have seen them roaming our skies. Fewer of us have photographic evidence. Me being one. Unless you are the FBI then I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not mental or anything, I would just like to see UFOs appearing in the skies of video games, but as an extremely rare event. One lucky player might even get to witness it up close. Like Fallout 3’s Mothership Zeta. Except nothing like that.

An MMO environment would make the perfect setting. Especially if there were some camera phone functionality in the game. Friends could showcase photos of the UFO they spotted only to be called a liar and a crazy person. A huge map where a UFO could appear in the sky, seen by only the tiniest fraction of the online population, during a lull of online players. The game itself could never openly advertise this as being part of the game, nor would they need to acknowledge it. It would be all about the essence of mystery, conspiracy and surprise.

Bee tee dubs, the above subtitle is a reference to a song by the band, UFO

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This could even extend to rare, paranormal events, such as ghosts, Poltergeists or Mormons. Imaginably catching a flash of a spooky figure dart past your car. Your mind reels to make sense of what transpired – maybe it was a glitch, maybe you’re just imagining things.

A Struggle for Self

What if we are all just puppets being controlled by an almighty, transcendent space giant? What if we have no free will, but are just a computer simulation? It’s a philosophical question great thinkers have been throwing around for a long time. What if video game characters started to realise too that their free will was an illusion being manufactured by the player? Protagonists in games certainly appear to believe they are acting of their own free will. But what would happen if the character were to grow tired of this constraint on their free will and struggle for control with the player?

An Epic Sign-off to a Decommissioned MMORPG

It’s a sorrowful day for a lot of people when the suns sets on a beloved MMO. Sony is shutting down a number of MMOs this year, and as sad as it is, I think it’s a perfect opportunity to make the online servers sweat and etch an unforgettable memory in every player’s mind.

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Above: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is to be shut down by 31 July 2014.

The end of an MMO is the end of a world. It could only exit with a bang, not simply the flick of a switch. If I were in charge of demising an MMO, I would create one final, epic quest to band together every player to try and save their world. But no matter how ridiculous their level, their best efforts will prove to be just not enough. Of course…they don’t know this. Fans and players would only know of the release of an epic, unmissable quest. Winning people over to this release will fall into the hands of marketing departments.

At the point where the virtual world is saturated with numbers of players unseen in years, darkness falls, the enemy overwhelms and apocalypse beckons in the closing hour of the game. Everybody fights so hard to save the world they’ve spent so much time crafting. But in the end, it’s just not enough. That moment of realisation when it dawns that their best efforts were unsuccessful, they will remember the strife of fighting for the world they loved. Other than a memory, it brings much deserved closure to such long-term games.

Personalised Worlds

I have always dreamed of playing an open world game modelled on my own town. Ideally using a HD video camera to capture every detail; all the streets, cars, people, houses, wildlife, landscapes, shops, dodgy alleyways, red light districts, everything. Or perhaps even pull improved quality graphics from Google Earth. The game could then recognise and pick out each of these entities to allow players to even interact with them as they would in real life. You could even GTA your neighbour’s Porsche.

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Above: “Where’s Conti?” I guess what I’m describing is like that Misfits episode where the guy sees the world around him as GTA. At times, it’s how I, too, see the world.

Why stop at environments? Import your friends into the game! Maybe even go as far as importing your entire Facebook friend list as characters in the game. By this I mean their appearances would be downloaded and assigned to various pre-made characters in the game. The story would play out normally but with the skin of your own life. Form a renegade assault force with your schoolmates to fight through levels and dethrone the evil villain. Played by your ex. Combined with a virtual reality headset, which is soon to hit the mainstream, it could get weird.

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Above: Weird, like the episode of Adventure Time where Finn finds a bag of shrunken versions of people of Ooo.

Unpredictability

Depending on your philosophical outlook, life is not predetermined. We can have a bloody good go at analysing patterns, studying past experience to predict future events. But nothing is certain and anything can happen. By contrast, video games take place in a world that will definitely play out in a preset way. Unless it glitches, of course.

We’re kind of already seeing this concept evolve, such as with Skyrim’s radiant quests. Leaving my list of quests forever unfinished. Taunting me. Laughing at me. You’ll never satisfy me, it says.

Anyway. I realize the technology isn’t there yet but conceivably some day in the future we could see games using artificial intelligence to create themselves. Different each time you play it and an experience personal to every player.

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