Monday, April 12, 2010

Xbox Live Game Room Suggestion Box

This is an extension of the originating Game Room post.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject, with some of the more pertinent points from others from the official Xbox Live Game Room Suggestions forum, denoted with Green Text.

1) The Price Point
I'm going to break this down for you and give you the skinny.
Logistically, these games shouldn't cost the consumer any more than $1 a piece, and arcade machines should cost per-play no more than what they did back in the day (25cents rather than 50cents).
To put things in perspective;
The 21 games cherry picked from Atari Anthology and Intellivision Lives! would only cost you about $35 retail if you purchased the console compilations on disc (not to mention you'd get another 125 games on top of that).
If you decided to purchase them through Game Room it would cost you $63, or $105 if you wanted to have them available to play on both your Xbox and Windows PC.
If one day they included all the games from the aforementioned compilations, it would run you a total of $438 to play them on your Xbox in Game Room, and $730 to have them available to play on both your Xbox and Windows PC.
That's $35 for 146 games versus $438. I'm not saying the added features and convenience that Game Room brings to the table aren't worth anything extra, but they certainly aren't worth a difference of $403.

If you like a game enough to pay money for it, you'd be wise to purchase the XBLA version of Asteroids Deluxe, Centipede, and Tempest over their Game Room counterparts. While Konami's Scramble is available on XBLA, it lacks the option to play with original graphics.
Because for an extra $2 you'd be getting the option to play in original or enhanced/evolved modes and get individual game achievements.
Centipede & Millipede on XBLA is actually a better value than Game Room, as you'd be getting two games (albeit incredibly similar ones) for $5 rather than the $6 it'd cost you to purchase two games in Game Room.
Many have voiced their opinion that the classic console games should only cost a fraction of what the arcade games should, and I am all on board with that thought. In many cases, you could go out to a used video game store and purchase the original games for $1 or less per cartridge.
You'd have to be an absolute idiot to buy any of the Intellivision games in Game Room for $3 a pop, when Intellivision Lives! is available through Xbox Live Originals for 1200 pts. That's $15 for 62 Intellivision games vs. $15 for 5 Intellivision games in Game Room!

ALL of the following are valid arguments.
Some feel as though Game Room should be absolutely free of charge, especially for Gold members.
Some feel that their should be a separate monthly subscription fee which allowed unlimited access to everything Game Room has to offer.
Some feel that game bundles should be offered at a discount price.
Some feel discounts should be given to those who've purchased identical titles on Xbox Live Arcade, otherwise known as "double dips".
Some feel that the Atari 2600 and Intellivision titles should be at a reduced price (i.e. 80 points per title).

2) The Interface
The interface is somewhat of a disappointment. It doesn't invoke the days of yesteryear, the level of interactivity is virtually nill, and the locked viewpoint makes it incredibly difficult to appreciate the detail that they've put into the rooms or game cabinets/artwork.

I was really disappointed to learn that the whole Game Room environment is 'on rails' and that your Avatar serves no purpose apart from illustrating which machine you're standing in front of. You simply click on an arcade machine and your Avatar magically populates in front of it. Why not include the option of having complete control over the Avatar, being able to walk from location to location in third-person view, with the option to switch over to a first-person view (like the old Playstation Namco Museum volumes)?

All the Konami machines are missing cabinet art. Strangely enough, some have brought it to our attention that some pre-release videos showed Konami cabinets complete with cabinet art. So something must have happened between design and release.
Sin4Profit speculates;
I have since found out that Konami had developed the games on the software side of things but it was Stern who manufactured and distributed the cabinets in the US. Also there was legal friction between Konami and Stern so it's a fairly good assumption that they had to use the generic cabinets because of those legal issues with Stern.

In "arcade view" you can see your environment (avatars walking around) off to each side, even if you are facing the wall, which is just weird and confusing.
In "cabinet view", after having tested all of the currently available arcade games (that's excluding the Atari 2600 & Intellivision games), the only two that I see so far where they've actually included part of the cabinet overlay are with Centipede and Red Baron.
In a true cabinet view, you're able to see more to the left and right of the screen, a good portion of the joystick board, and sometimes even a portion of the speakers above.

I forgot about this and I feel quite strongly about this as well. GIVE US SOME SORT OF OPTION TO LOOK AT THE CABINETS. Seriously. They have so much detail and a lot of work went into recreating them, some way to actually inspect them would be a welcome welcome feature.

Give the option for a more open floor layout with endless positioning options. I would like to be able to design the actual architecture of the arcade (stairs, platforms, doorways, rooms).

Add a customizable lounge in the middle.

Much more freedom to design your arcade from the ground up. It doesnt have to be a super complicated interface or have the power to do anything you want....but you should be able to build and design an arcade. Something better than the current pre-made Mall-style arcade. Maybe like a Sims type game where you can choose the floorplan, put up walls, choose flooring type, etc. The place will have no roof as you will sort of look down into it at an angle. Maybe even allow you to design avatars to stand behind the counter as "employees" to really get a better "arcade feel and experience".

I much rather would've preferred more of a photo-realistic look to Game Room, and have at least one large arcade rather than a bunch of smaller arcades.
What could've been...

3) Content (Games)
The least companies can do is to bring something exclusive to the table. Of the first 30 confirmed titles, Konami is the only one who's done so with Battlantis, Finalizer and Jungler, as they've never been made available on a compilation of any kind.
Although don't mistake that as praise. Konami has no excuse for being the only company not to release an arcade classics compilation on the 6th and 7th generation (non-handheld) of consoles. After having dropped $20 on 4 Konami XBLA games, I feel like they owe me that much.
I'm going to dedicate a separate post focused on Konami!

Also, some feel that instead of downloading 'game packs', they should have the ability to download singular games instead, reserving precious hard drive space only for the games they actually want to play.

How about some Pinball? Perhaps selections from Crave's 'Pinball Hall Of Fame' Gottlieb and Williams Collections.
Or how about Redemption Games like Skee-ball, Mini-Hoops, Air Hockey, Wack-a-Mole and Claw Machine like Activision did for Arcade Zone for the Wii.

Zuckuss 02;
Have a ticket counter where special games give out tickets that you can redeem for prizes like avatar items and the likes.

Darth Smurf X;
Project Natal support.
Not for the arcade games, but for the "other" games people want to see. Imagine Skee Ball and that basketball hoop game with motion controls. Maybe even the air hockey game could benefit from Natal. Might be cool.

4) Content (Decor)
Then there's the "decor" when designing your arcade rooms. They are all entirely non-interactive. Not only that but they are incredibly generic. A good example would be the poster you can put on the wall, which is a non-descript 'Star Wars-esque' design. To make any sort of impression, they're going to need licensed material.

I think it would also be cool to unlock game related stuff when getting better or further in specific games. Like unlocking artwork posters or stuff to put up in your arcade when getting a specific score or reaching a certain level or something.

Rev Sick;
More decorations and backdrops also more themed decorations and backdrops that are era specific. Since there's going to be licensing for games wouldn't it be great to have licensed deco, imagine hanging a Millenium Falcon from your arcade ceiling!

5) Authenticity
Another irksome fact is if they want to be historically accurate, regardless of the fact that the Atari 2600 and Intellivision consoles are pictured sitting on their respective machines, one shouldn't be playing Intellivision and Atari 2600 games in virtual stand-up arcade cabinets but in separate rooms with shag carpeting, wood paneling and bean bag chairs.

Cheese Touch;
As more and more games for the arcade come out it might be a good idea to have it so that the Atari 2600 and Intellivision only take up one spot. They could have a big, 80s-looking cabinet TVs sit in the back corners so they'd be easy to see. Going up to it and activating it would zoom into one of those old school cartridge holders and then you could move among the carts [like in Activision Anthology].

Allison Axe 87;
A graphics filter that simulates old CRT televisions, specifically for the console games.
Related Article

A big part of the arcade experience was watching others play while while waiting your turn, or simply to admire and learn from better players, or for cheap entertainment once you've run out of tokens/quarters.

And I'd want a "Spectator Mode" to be able to watch my friends play their game.

Have realistic cigarette burns and chewing gum stuck to the game controls. Have a crowd of moody and mean looking avatars hogging one machine and not let you play. Have sad avatars wandering around looking miserable because they've run out of quarters!

Chuck in a miserable member of staff stuck behind a 'Change' booth, another one who just walks around with a set of keys but is completely unhelpful and include authentic sticky carpets and annoying children sitting in the driving game cabinets with no intention to play, and you truly will have a Virtual Arcade experience in your home!

6) Sound Design
Regarding the "authentic arcade sound" which when enabled permeates wherever you are inside of Game Room, regardless of which room you are in.
Now while it does seem the game sounds do change when you're in different rooms, they have no directional authenticity. Meaning no matter which machine you're focused on within a room, the sounds from the games within that room do not veer off to one speaker or another.
The "authentic arcade sound" completely cuts out once you 'enter' a game.

Agree 100% with having ambient arcade noise while playing. Pipe it through the rear speakers for those with surround sound.

The arcade sounds advertised as "authentic" were also pretty good, but lacked the cursing, swearing, and general high pitched whining found around most machines in that time.

I grew up playing most of the games in that time frame in a bowling alley. How about adding the background noise of bowling balls rolling and pins dropping?

Thankfully you can stream all the eighties goodness you like off your hard drive while in Game Room, but back to the topic of accessories, how about a functional jukebox in Game Room to arrange & play music off your hard drive?

7) Controls
It is said that Microsoft has no plans to release an official arcade stick for Game Room. Although I think this is a big mistake by Microsoft, there are a number of third-party arcade controllers (designed for fighting games) by Hori and Mad Catz, albeit controllers a bit on the pricey side.
I would like to see a controller attempt to emulate Trackball and Paddle (aka Dial, Spinner) controls. Mad Catz did attempt to emulate a spinner with the 'Mad Catz Arcade Game Stick' (no longer for sale), though from what I hear the spinner portion was a disaster. The unofficial $200 X-Arcade Tank Stick does have a Trackball, though whether or not the Trackball controls correctly translate to games played on Xbox which originally used a Trackball is unknown.

A trackball emulating an analog stick is just going to be a disappointment in the end. For a useable trackball Microsoft needs to make mouse drivers for the 360, which do not exist at this point.

8) Diversions
Arcade Tycoon Metagame
It wouldn't have to be anything too crazy, really, just pretend that this arcade is open to the public and have it so every 24 hours there's new stats for each cabinet that's placed for how many times its played, and for each room how many people visited it, all simulated by A.I., like some simple algorithms based on placement and chaos and how many friends visited your arcade. Then arcade machines that aren't performing well you can move to another room or place or reposition everything in a sort of 'Feng Shui' of arcade machines, to improve those numbers. Then it can keep track of if you made any profits or not over the course of a year, and maybe if you are in the green after a year you'll get a free machine or something, something simple.

But basically it would reward people for visiting the game room on a regular basis and let people feel more like they actually own this arcade and the way its laid out matters.

Again, nothing too crazy, and you obviously shouldn't punish people for not keeping up with it (just don't reward them). Personally, I think it would add to the immersion of the experience.