Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here's An Idea

I wrote earlier in the week about duo'ing experiences, with a special emphasis on your significant other.  Like I mentioned there, I rather enjoy the topic and got a couple of good responses to boot.  I've also found that a vast majority of my thinking happens in the shower.  Back when I used to write emo songs and poetry (didn't we all have those awkward years?), this was particularly problematic.  I mean, I slept with a notebook by my bed (as any good writer could advise you to do, who knows when ideas will come), but you couldn't very well take a pen and paper in the shower.  Well, you could, but I wouldn't suggest it.  Unless you're writing your emo song with a strong rain metaphor and using a lot of diminished chords.

In any case, I was in the shower the other day when an idea spit out of the nozzle and smacked me in the back of the unsuspecting head.  With my Pro Couples Gaming movement, I wondered why there didn't seem to be any games geared specifically for couples.  Think about it.  Can you come up with any games for couples?  I can't.  The best I can do is Co-op on things like Modern Warfare too, but despite my wife's best intentions, she is just not an FPS person.  She tends to freak out when someone is shooting at her, go figure. 

There are a lot of multiplayer games, but I'm talking about true cooperative games.  I think one of the big draws for MMO's right now is that couples can play them together.  I know a good amount of gaming couples and I've gotta believe they represent a significant market portions.  At least as significant as some of the other niche markets that games have been designed for.  So I say, why not?

I'll let you guys in on a little secret (Fuu, look!  Shiny object distraction!  Stop reading for a while! Go grab a coffee.): I'm going to pick up Dragon Age: Origins as a Valentines Day gift for Fuu.  You can get away with that shit when you're a gaming couple, and I love it.  I mean, we'll have a nice dinner together too, but we're not doing anything extravagant this year on account of being in the market for a house.  Houses are expensive.  Games, even with a ~$60 price tag, are not.  I'm sure I don't have to expound on the fiscal benefits of gaming.  Sure you may need to invest in a console or a decent computer, but the price per entertainment hour is probably the best bang for your buck out there.  But I digress.  The point here is that I'm going to pick up a single player, RPG style game that my honey has been "dropping hints" about for the last few weeks (you know, whereby the female of the couple says things like "Honey, have you seen _____.  I think _____ looks neat" *wink wink* *nudge nudge*).

As I was pondering over our shared love for RPGs, I thought: wouldn't it be great if we could play the game cooperatively.  Sure, we could help each other out, take turns, and the like, but I'm talking true cooperative play.  I'm not sure I've ever seen that in an RPG, and I think there could totally be a market for that.  Here's some of the things I would like to see in such a game:
  • Choice of complimentary roles - I spoke before about how duo'ing can be fun and effective when each person takes a role.  Doesn't have to be tank/heals/dps either.  In an RPG that isn't an MMO, you don't have to worry about things like "bring the player not the class", so you could make classes that are extremely synergistic and each with key abilities for certain fights.
  • Perhaps solo arcs to the same story line - Many of my favorite novels have seemingly divergent story lines that converge at the end for an epic conclusion.  You could combine solo and cooperative content so that they actually fit together in a story.  Not two separate modes, but side quests that each person could do, say when the other is busy, that would progress their character yet not totally leave the other person behind.
  • A love story between two playable characters - I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for love stories in RPGs.  I feel that an RPG without some sort of love interest is totally missing a key facet.  Wouldn't it be cool if your love interest could be, well, your love interest?  
  • Interaction on a small scale - Maybe this stretches the "couple" thing a bit to include more, but it would be neat to have playable characters play off one another.  Look at table games like the classic Dungeons and Dragons.  These games aren't massive and thus allow for a lot of player to player interaction.  I would say it's one of the main draws of the genre.  Why, for our electronic RPGs, do we only have "massive" or "not massive".  Games like Mario Party or Rock Band were big hits because you could just have a few friends and interact together.  Why not extend the same thing to RPGs?
  • All the usual RPG elements - I didn't want to list these all separately, but it stands to reason that I don't want things like moving cinematics, engaging storylines, well-designed UIs, smooth combat systems, and the like to be thrown to the wind.  A lot of us love RPGs and where they've been taken in the last few years.  This should be in addition to the current trend, not in place of
What else can you guys think of?  Maybe this is just the romantic in me getting revved up for Valentine's Day, but I thought this idea had some merit.  Perhaps a bored game designer will stumble across this and bring me on, or just poach the idea.  I'm okay with that too.  Or are there a whole bunch of games that fit this bill out there that I'm just missing? 

4 comments:

  1. Ful, I love the idea. If I could get my wife involved in a game, I think she'd be happier with my own gaming. In my guild, we currently have 2 active couples playing WoW. They can help out each other, farm mats when the other is busy and are a great duo when you need more for something.

    Unfortunately for me, not since the "Sierra Network" has she actively played games online though.. Rather play cards or backgammon than interface with me via a box.

    :)

    Oh well.

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  2. My significant other and I have been playing WoW together for a few years now and I have to say it's definitely made the game more enjoyable -- particularly certain aspects of it, like raiding or old world instance completion achievements. I find it also has a nice sort of 'feel' to it, I dunno...for us, but also for me when I look around and see other couples in groups or raids or what have you duo-ing it up. Gives the environment a nice, chill, positive feel.

    We've since been purchasing games and playing them together (when appropriate, that is, or at least when it's interesting to both parties!) and have found that it's typically more fun if we both get something out of the experience. Even if it's just one of us playing and the other watching; games are pretty close to movies now, anyway, so it's entertaining either way.

    At any rate, I say thumbs up for the idea of the gaming industry taking couples into account. I'd love to see more interactive stuff we can both enjoy!

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  3. Ful,

    As I mentioned the other day, my wife and I are an active WoW couple, but long before WoW, we found a way to play gmes together. I could never get her interested in my Halo addiction, but there are games on the Xbox that we do play together. Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones are two that we played, much as you described above. There are two characters active in the game at any one time, and you can not complete a mission without working together. Rockband is another one we do, much to the dismay of our poor kids. (It's probably a good thing my insurance offers a good therapy option, it helps with the mental scaring they suffer from it.)

    -Arondil

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  4. I have a few of the lego franchise... love 'em. Rockband is great too, but Fuu is mostly an RPG player and those are action-adventure or w/e genre you call Rockband. Plus it's like, I can beat most of those games in what, 30 hours if you're lucky? Most games that are not RPGs can run somewhere between 30-50 I think, though the trend is for longer games right now. Still, traditional RPGs had upwards of 80 gaming hours. If you love those kind of games, 80 hours is a great amount of "together" time for the price. But, yeah, the lego games are full of win for sure.

    It would really be a challenge to design such a game, I think. But I also think it would really marketable and could even generate some good gaming press. A lot of folks thing of video games being things that can ruin relationships. It'd be great to show more about how they can build relationships too.

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