There are three parts to a game if you choose to divide it in this manner.
There is the shit that the player does, the shit that the player senses (usually via sight and sound but sometimes feel i.e. force feedback and very super rarely taste or smell i.e. I can’t think of any examples), and the shit that happens in between. We’re not talking about the shit that happens in between because I think we can all agree that it is a very complicated and nuanced subject.
Then again, so are input and output.
Nintendo has got all their eggs in the “wacky as shit new input” basket, and Sony and Microsoft eventually chase along once something seems successful or popular enough. Not big surprise. It’s not what I’m trying to talk about, though. Yes, you can introduce peripherals ad infinitum, but you can also work with what you already have; take, for example, Frets On Fire — it is a game that I have not played, but as far as I understand it’s basically Guitar Hero except for the computer and you use your keyboard instead of a plastic guitar.
Wait — I mean as a plastic guitar, in that you’re meant to hold it up, placing your fingers carefully on some keys that are set up to make such things comfortable. Do you think that’s awesome? I do.
Look at the keyboard and the mouse. Consider games for a second: If a game said “This game is meant to be played with one finger only” and was based around pressing buttons far away from each other, do you think people would cheat? Sure! But a game is inherently (usually) a set of rules designed with fun in mind: If following the meta-instructions is actually more fun than ‘cheating the system’ (and, say, there weren’t any high scores), why would you bother ‘cheating’? — AND WITH THAT IN MIND, TAKE TO HEART THAT SHITTY INNOVATIVE INPUT (SEE: A LOT OF WII GAMES) MEANS PEOPLE WILL TRY TO FIND WAYS AROUND YOUR SHITTY INNOVATIVE INPUT SYSTEM —
It’s not necessary to have extra peripherals for a game to be creative with input methods! Just take a look at Let’s Tap and the Wii Remote Drop minigame in Warioware (sorry, no link — basically you’re expected to drop the remote, so you’d better have the wrist strap on x3); innovation on top of already-innovative control schemes. Tasty — even if very slightly pointless.
HOLD UP, DROQEN! WHAT ABOUT OUTPUT?
Imagine a game designed to be played on a mobile system where the screen rotates, expecting you to rotate the system, too.
Games that frighten you by ejecting your CD tray (I’ve heard of this, a long time ago)?
There’s also extracting things from unexpected places: not from the player’s direct input or what happens between input or output, but rather from an external source? Black & White (or so I hear!) grabbed files from your computer to whisper your name at you. I’ve experienced whispering myself and it was pretty creepy; I can’t imagine what I would’ve done had I heard my own name in there somewhere.
Was I getting somewhere? Nope, but I have a very special input idea that I plan to use in a future game — so I’ll keep that little treasure close to my chest for a while. I hope maybe I’ve inspired someone to try out some bizarre input schemes (or maybe output schemes! who knows).
BACK TO LUDUM DARE 19 ON MY 19TH BIRTHDAY ON DECEMBER THE 19TH