Last week I talked about how the mobile platform is the future of games. Some readers may have thought that I believe gaming consoles and PCs will go the way of the dinosaur and that not too long from now will be obsolete. I don’t think that at all. What I do believe is that the quality of games on our mobile devices will be indistinguishable from those on other platforms. Don’t believe it? Just look how far phones have come in roughly a decade.
Controls have come a long way in that time too. Back in 2000 the Playstation 2 had just been launched in Japan and in October it would hit U.S. shores, but it wouldn’t be until the next generation of consoles some six years later that we’d have a system that would drop the wires connecting controller to console. The Wii did two things for controls when it hit stores. The controllers were wireless, but bigger than that was the motion sensing it did. This would usher in the Xbox 360′s Kinect and the Playstation 3′s Move. Yet even before both of those each of the consoles I just mentioned would be released with wireless controllers.
The problem with these new ways to control your games is that it doesn’t make much sense for many of them. Take for example Shadowgun in the picture next to Snake above. It’s a cover based type shooter much like Gears of War. That sort of game doesn’t translate to touch controls very well. A game like Angry Birds does (which probably has something to do with its success). A game like Just Dance played with the Kinect makes perfect sense, but that can’t be said for everything Microsoft has green-lit for the Kinect. In many cases a PC or console game has been ported over to the iPhone. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, and in the case of a game like Plants Vs. Zombies I believe the port is far better suited to touch controls than a mouse.
Alternative control methods are currently a lot like the 3D movement we’re seeing in movies. The problem with both is that many developers and studios seem to think that when there’s new technology is must be used, and that’s not helping anyone. We end up with absolute garbage like the latest Resident Evil movies that only utilize the 3D as a complete gimmick (random projectiles flying at the screen) and in no way helps the story. This is something that creators of RTS (Real Time Strategy) games have realized–and forget now and then. The RTS genre works brilliantly on the PC with a mouse and keyboard, but trying to make the same game work on a console with the use of a controller is a serious chore.
The future of mobile gaming will undoubtedly see improvements in graphical capabilities, but where will controls go? Will we be forever limited to touching our screens or pushing buttons? I don’t believe so. I would not be surprised to see Kinect like motion sensing in a future iPhone or Android device and things like Siri will become something we actually use. Imagine for a moment what a game using some of things things together will might be like. I’m sure you can come up with your own dream game, but for myself I see something squad based. You tap the screen to pull up a map, you verbally tell your team members to flank around a building, and then motion with your fingers for the surprise attack to comence since using your voice could give your position away. Doesn’t sound all that far fetched given what we already have, does it?