Interface

1 October, 2006 at 5:09 am Leave a comment

For my first ‘article’, I felt it necessary to comment on a topic that is currently very relevant to the gaming community as we move into the next generation of consoles from all 3 manufactures. And that is interface.

For those that don’t know, interface is how a person interacts with computer hardware/software both through the input, e.g. keyboards, and output, e.g. monitors. When looking at consoles, the interface used is rather large. For input, controllers, cameras and microphones are all used in some games. For output, TVs/Monitors, rumble, speakers, lights, force feedback.

As a developer, interface is the most important feature of a console, above the graphics ability, above CPU speeds, above internet services, etc, because the interface dictates what games will be made and how they will be made. Using PC applications as an example, you are not going to build an application that requires a mouse if you only have a keyboard, nor are you going to build a voice recognition application without a microphone.

Cliff Bleszinski (commonly know as CliffyB) is a game designer who works for Epic Games and has worked on the unreal franchise for the PC. A few year ago though, he began work on a title for Xbox 36o called Gears of War. He said recently in an interview that the biggest challenge he had from moving from the PC platform to the console platform was learning to build a game that used a controller, as it requires a totally different process.

Currently,many changes are being made in the console world in relationship to interface. The big story is the Wii, where controller interface has changed from just buttons, joysticks and trigger, to also incorporate physical position and movement. The PS3 has added physical rotational movement to its controller, HD output and a rumoured motion sensing camera, similar to the eyetoy for the PS2. The Xbox 360 has added an emphasis on voice and video being used in games as well as Xbox Live Vision, a camera that has facial recognition, 3D modeling functions and 3D motion sensing and HD output.

It is clear that the uptake on newer interface in all 3 consoles will take time. Voice is heavily used in 360 games, yet the functions of the Xbox Live Vision camera are yet to be utilised in many games. Similarly the PS3, with the physical rotation sensing only recently added to the controller design, has very few games that using this function. All these interface technologies hold great potential to create many great games with new ideas that people haven’t seen before, but it will take time for developers to become familiar with the technology.

This is especially the case with the Wii. Although admittedly I am yet to play any games on the system, from my reading of how the new controller will be used in games, it seems that the majority of games were designed like they were for previous consoles and were made to fit the new controller, instead of creating games for the controller. Let me explain. To do something in a game, you would press a button that you knew would do that action. With most of the games currently being made for the Wii, instead of a button press, a predetermined movement of the controller will do that action. This is essentially the same thing, and doesn’t used the controller the way it could be used.

Hopefully with time, developers will start to develop new games for the Wii that is designed from the ground up with the controller in mind. This will mean games of the like that we have never seen before, which also means it is a risk for publishers to finance these games as there is no certainty that people will like them an hence they will sell. Here’s hoping that some quality developers manage to release some great games that suit the Wii, so that eventually the Wii will grow into it’s own.

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First Post Content Only = Games?

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