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Five things in gaming that sounded cool but ended up sucking

Kinect Sports: Season Two Screenshot - 1081599

Have you ever wished that you could sit in on your favorite game’s development meeting months, even years, before it ever hit store shelves? Hearing producers, designers, and artists toss around ideas that would be transported from paper to digital media, and eventually boxed on a compact disc for the world to see – simply put, it has to be an amazing process. But what happens when some of those ideas go wrong? When a grand idea turns south when players finally get their hands on it? It’s happened hundreds of times in gaming, and we’ve compiled a list of our five favorite things in gaming that sounded cool but ended up, well, sucking.

American Football in Kinect Sports: Season 2

American Football

What went wrong?

As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough to be captured on a camera wailing your arms from side to side, gamers were fortunate to be introduced to shoulder soreness and strained vocal chords with American Football in Kinect Sports: Season 2. The idea itself actually sounded pretty fun: playing against an opponent with voice commands in a sport that’s not as generic in gaming as golf or bowling. What happened, though? Pretty simple, actually: Cheesy gameplay that involved absolutely no skill whatsoever, laughable character models that oftentimes coordinated their attack to get past defenders by teleporting through their bodies, and lets not forget about the, seemingly, ten second lag between “HUT!” and the actual snap of the ball (granted that’s pretty realistic when your accustomed to Kansas City Chief’s games).

How could it have been done successfully?

Oh, I don’t know, maybe involving some actual intelligence. It’s understandable that Kinect Sports wasn’t created for the hardcore crowd, but my sever year-old cousin found it absurd that he was just throwing his arm back and forth and seeing the ball going in whichever direction it felt. Kinect’s voice commands offer an excellent opportunity for American Football because you can call audibles, let your lineman know which side of the line to pursue and overprotect, and even run hot routes. Madden NFL 13 got the Kinect part down pat, and if Season 2 would have even somewhat matched that, then its arcade-y format would have been unbelievably fun to play, especially with friends.

Social Media Applications

Xbox 360 Facebook

What went wrong?

I’ll be the first to admit that I was an outspoken believer that social media applications would change the way we played games and interacted with other games, but who wasn’t? The thought of Facebook and Twitter integration, especially for the Xbox 360 crowd, seemed to pave the way between gaming and other media. However, what we got was a pointless, bare-bones format of our favorite social media sites that are a hassle to even get to. Why would I ever want to back out of my game, head to the Xbox 360 dashboard, then find the Twitter application and wait thirty seconds, when I could simply pull out my nearby phone or computer and tweet in less than ten seconds?

The applications themselves also had no importance or connection on gaming whatsoever. Sure I could tweet an achievement I just received in Halo 4, but what about the ability to tweet my final K/D in a match? What about the ability to attach an embarrassing tea bag to my friend’s Facebook wall in game? That’s what we were sold years ago, and to be frank, we were tossed garbage that doesn’t pair in comparison to other applications’ worth like Hulu Plus or Netflix.

How could it have been done successfully?

Begin by implementing the examples I listed above that actually bridge gaming and social media. Make social media viable and needed on our favorite consoles. Hulu, Netflix, and ESPN’s applications all thrive because they have valuable worth on consoles, and offer an experience that’s unique and convenient for entertainment connoisseurs. In addition, introduce social media for gamer’s gamertags and ID’s. Give users the option to have their current Facebook status or latest tweet on their profile’s (at the consent of the user, obviously), with the ability to add and follow users you meet online. Oh, and for the love of carpal tunnel, please come up with a way to quickly type using a controller. My 2004’s T9 SMS texting operating system runs faster than rummaging through the entire alphabet to type a simple sentence.

Crackdown 2 zombies and orb collecting

Crackdown 2

What went wrong?

Maybe it was the fact that we were getting access to Halo 3’s beta – a marketing genius – but there was something about collecting orbs in the original Crackdown that kept us coming back – kept us climbing to new heights. However, something went horribly wrong in Crackdown 2 with our beloved orbs, and not even zombies could save the day. Instead of discovering new pathways that led to dark alleyways and ledges that directed us to towering skyscrapers, we were told to climb buildings to find already visible orbs. Oh yeah, we forgot to mention that there were hundreds of these things. Crackdown 2 also proved that zombies can’t fix everything in a game. These baddies weren’t threatening and to be honest, their only worth was sweet zombie treading.

How could it have been done successfully?

As we alluded to, go back to the original installment and what made it fun: exploration. Most of the orbs in the first game weren’t visible from the streets, and could only be discovered by finding ways to climb towers and enter mysterious alleys. Exploration is such an invaluable aspect of incentive for gamers that goes beyond what any achievement or trophy could provide. It offers bang for your buck and lets you play a developer’s work – work that goes beyond the main path. Oh, and about those zombies, scratch them. They aren’t needed, but if you insist, make them insane and life threatening. We have an arsenal of weapons and vehicles – make us feel like we’re fighting for our lives. That’s where fun comes back into play.

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Tate Steinlage I write words about video games and sports. Hope you like them.
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