Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finally, An Emotionally Attachable Game

Game developers have long been, and still are, cracking their head to come up with a game that will have a big emotional impact on players, something that will make your heart pump a bit faster, sweat a little, and.. oh, bring tears to your eyes. But if you think a bit harder, there are some titles that have already achieved all this, and the next title from Japan's acclaimed developer of ICO looks like it's going to be the next to do this.

And the game is Project Trico, which is probably a temporary name. The game features a little boy and a mythical, giant animal who seems to be fond of the boy, and follows around and helps the boy navigating in ancient looking platforms and structures.

Watch the trailer HERE.

While watching the trailer, I immediately realized that these people hit the nail on the head of the whole "emotional game" thing. By creating a meaningful interaction between the player character and the adorable friend (san the tail... ew), the developer can pretty much embew the game with any emotional effect it wants using these two characters.

The key, I think, is to create a believable animal, a sentient being outside the player's control, that player can become attached to. Surely, this is easier said than done, however, there has been some games(?) that were able to achieve this: Tamagotchi and, more appropriately, Nintendogs. These titles brought about relevant emotional attachments from players to these virtual beings very strongly. (While I make this sound like I know it all, I haven't played the latter title, nor spent too much time on the earlier. So, take my words with a grain of salt.)

I've long thought that the next step for games to become a relevant artistic medium is to somehow involve one or more animals and create a chain of interactions between player and the animal that would result in a story-like experience. Project Trico seems like it's geared to achieve just that.* It is very heartwarming to finally see a game that has potential to advance the medium as a whole, and show the world games' hidden potential.

But then again, I may be setting myself up for a huge disappointment. But we'll see.

*Fable II and its dog could have been the title to achieve this. However, it failed miserably because the game simply isn't about the relationship between the dog and player. So, they completely missed the perfect opportunity to exploit and become a hallmark of modern gaming.

No comments: