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The Top 7... failed futures of gaming

5. Voice control

The promise

A whole new world of... No, no more! The underserved hyperbole stops now. Voice control was popularised (for want of a much more accurate word) by Nintendo's mic-equipped Hey you, Pikachu! on the N64, before evolving into the Dreamcast's cult aquatic conversation simulator Seaman. We've since seen it reappear via Ubsoft's recent Tom Clancy games and the DS mic. Again, the idea was to  bring us coser to our game worlds of choice by allowing us to interact with them just like we would with the real world. Ignoring once more, the fact that we play games because they're more fun than the real world.

The crushing reality

We control things by talking all day long. It's our most basic and most effective way of communicating with and affecting our surroundings. Games are escapism, and making them operate just like everything else strips away the excitement. And until AI (and microphone technology for that matter) catches up with Knight Rider, the best we're going to get from our CG talk-partners is a garbled mix of recycled, canned responses and requests to repeat whatever it is that we just said.

Plus, if you spend hours on end talking to a fish outside of a video game, you'll be quite rightly diagnosed with schizophrenia or terminal lonliness. Maybe both. Actually, definitely both. Just think about that.


4. Episodic content

The promise

Much like a high fibre diet, episodic gaming purported to make releases smoother, faster, more regular and a great deal more manageable. Just like a high fibre diet, it produced a honking great load of shit.

The crushing reality

We're still waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode Three, four years after Episode One came out. That's two-thirds of a game in twice the usual development time for a full one. What was billed as a punchy new, edge-of-the seat method of keeping gamers topped up with regular fun has turned into a yawn-filled running joke, as we all wait for the completion of an episodic add-on trilogy that has now taken nearly as long to develop as the original Half-Life 2 did from scratch.

Telltale Games is the only company that really pulls off episodic games to an impressive degree, but perhaps that's because its witty, dialogue-driven adventures are a genre actually suited to the model, unlike 90% of mainstream games. From everyone else though, it's just long waits for short plays, and sometimes even series killed off mid-flow. Video game Firefly, we do not need.

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32 comments

  • scorcher64 - February 21, 2013 4:13 p.m.

    I can see a spot reserved on this list for 3D/Steroscopic games, glasses, TVs, etc. we have now.
  • TheBoz - March 15, 2010 9 p.m.

    Here is a notion. In the news today was an article about a blind soldier that attached a piece of equipment connected to a pair of glasses with cameras to his toungue, this in turn sent information through his senses to the brain enabling him to see. Could THIS be the way forward in Virtual reality? It is an interesting piece of technology and a very interesting concept.
  • Fiirestorm21 - February 13, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    To say Telltale is the only developer so far who has done episodic gaming well is a fair argument, but the nonsense about the HL2 episodes being a failed experiment need to stop. The whole point from the beginning was that they'd be shorter but cheaper and take less time to come out. Shorter? Yep, though still ironically about as long as most mainstream shooters these days. Cheaper? You betcha. And the last time I checked, three episodes are coming out in the same amount of time it took Valve do a full-scale single entry in the series. So, last time I checked, that would mean that they are being released more frequently. Not to mention that saying it's taken 3-4 years for Episode Three since Episode One completely skips over that little game in there called Episode Two. Come on, people, basic math isn't all that hard. Though, granted, like I said at the top, I agree Telltale is the only company to do episodic gaming well in the way gamers envisioned it. @drawed - Considering the success of Steam in addition to the successes of Xbox Live Arcade and the PSN store (both of which you mentioned but seemed to undercut substantially), I wouldn't say digital distribution is a failed future. Simply that we're not completely where we want to be doesn't mean that it's a failed future. That would be like saying our trip to Kansas failed because we're still in Michigan...driving...to Kansas. Doesn't exactly make much sense.
  • Romination - February 11, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I'm calling it, the fiber diet metaphor made my fucking DAY
  • Yeager1122 - February 10, 2010 4:23 p.m.

    haha love the virtual reality one.
  • Duckmaster - February 10, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    I never played it when it first came out, but my mom got me a Virtual Boy a few years ago and I love it! It's graphics may not be the best, but the red and black coloring of every game is interesting and for some games, it has great 3D for when it was released.
  • mentalityljs - February 10, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    Goodness, the only thing keeping Sega CD alive in my head is Eternal Champions. That shit kicked ASS! I think I've only known one person my entire life who's ever owned a 3DO. And Virtual Boy, LMAO. I remember playing it and burning my eyes out at Blockbuster when it first came out. They had the right idea, just WAY too ahead of it's time.
  • upUPandAWAY - February 9, 2010 6:49 p.m.

    hahaha! 3DO. I had the first version with the flip top not the auto sliding disc loader thingy. That system was so far advanced compared to the others out at that time. Road Rash was the whole reason I bought it. Does anybody remember "R.I.S.E. of Robots"? For anyone who doesn't remember that game, just think of a fighting game with only 6 battles and no music. It did however have exceptional graphics (at the time) and full motion video for the characters.
  • 8bitBaby - February 9, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    daawww... the future is fail.
  • AuthorityFigure - February 9, 2010 12:07 p.m.

    My advice to you, fellow gamers, is not to wait for any Half-Life 2: Episode Anything. Valve seem very arrogant to me.
  • GameManiac - February 9, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I can only imagine the money that eye doctors have made with Virtual Boy reladed cases...
  • RebornKusabi - February 9, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    Ah my childhood! How many useless abandonware was released during that period lol
  • robotechandnarutosucks - February 9, 2010 12:46 a.m.

    LOL at the last pic.
  • MaynardJ - February 8, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Sega CD, 32X, 3DO, Virtua Boy... I remember all of these. Damn, the 90s were exciting! Thankfully the Activator never made it to Europe, this is the first time I read about it. Thank heaven for the choices my brother and I made back then; SNES and Megadrive (European name for Genesis), after that PC and Playstation. We're both still gaming omnivores. Episodic gaming still looks interesting, at least the way Telltale does it. I just finished a free episode of Sam & Max and I'm interested in more of it, but I'd still like it on a disk. I do want all three HL2 episodes, but once the third is complete they'll probably release a new Orange Box and I'll buy that. Which means I still haven't played the main game... life's not fair.
  • Cyberninja - February 8, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    as long as the new sonic episodes are good it will be fine by me
  • WonsAuto - February 8, 2010 10:04 p.m.

    Holy crap, that picture of the fat guy with Short Round is gold!
  • farsided - February 8, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    um...let's see. Motion control is booming, and eventually it will be able to capture small hand gestures (aka Minority Report). So that hasn't failed. Episodic content works for the most part (Sam and Max anyone?), but citing valve taking forever to release Episode 3 does not cement your argument. Virtual Reality is in essence dealing with 3D, and while the stupid little helmets didn't work (come on, it was too far ahead of it's time) CES'09 or whatev basically proved how into 3D and immersion people are. So while VR basically hit a 10 year road bump, it didn't fail, it just had to wait for the technology to catch up with the concept. So only 4 of the 7 were spot on. WEAK.
  • Madserj - February 8, 2010 8:33 p.m.

    To be fair, the Sega thing looked ok, but I bet that 1-800 number was in meltdown on the first week. That has to be the most complicated controller ever.
  • OberKommando44 - February 8, 2010 8:29 p.m.

    Ugh Virtual reality, another 60 bucks down the drain :(
  • twewy13 - February 8, 2010 8:20 p.m.

    hah, virtual reality, super fail...

Showing 1-20 of 32 comments

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