Friday, December 30, 2005

XBox 360: The Same Old Thing

Everybody knows that 360 degrees means all the way around. If something turns 360 degrees in any direction, it ends up exactly as it started. That's what has happened with the XBox 360.

The XBox 360 design isn't bad; on the contrary, it's quite good. The processing power is there, a nice loyalist movement has been built, the foundations are all there. But something is missing from the final cut. Something, not surprisingly, that was missing from the first XBox, and also something that Nintendo is already making up for with its new Revolution console.

That something is the same thing that has been sought out for ages; history is full of stories of people searching for this one great objective. It isn't something that can be tacked on; it isn't another feature like "sound" or "story." It can't be designed purely by trying hard. You have to be a genius.

A genius like Albert Einstein. Like Thomas Edison. Like Martha Stewart (just kidding :D).

It's the elusive element so often missing from otherwise good designs, games or otherwise. The pearl of great price that some people have given their lives looking for. The something I'm talking about is innovation.

The XBox didn't have it. Unfortunately, neither does the XBox 360. Apparently innovation isn't as important at Microsoft as other things, like processing power, or graphic appeal (wondering wether I'm talking about the XBox or Windows, aren't you?) It's another feature that was left off so people could get (or try to get) Sucksboxes for Christmas.

So what is Nintendo doing to stay ahead? Not skipping features, for one thing. For another thing, they aren't so concerned with cosmetics or power. They're thinking about what counts. They're thinking about their customers, the people who are always right.

XBox gamers proudly display their long-and-hard earned abilities (I know some). "If you can't tell which stick is look and which is move," they proclaim, "you just aren't good enough to play video games!"

Nintendo is going beyond that. They're shattering the usability layer with one of the greatest innovations ever created. Instead of depending on players to conform to their designs, they're conforming their designs to consumers. Genius.

Of course I'm referring to the new Nintendo controller (and in a roundabout way, the DS, too). Instead of forcing people to learn how to use an uncomfortable controller, they've created a controller that anyone can use. Can you point at an object a yard away? Can you pull a single trigger? Can you push a button with your thumb? Then you can use the new controller. No need to learn what button does what; it's exactly as you would expect it to be (can you imagine sword fighting with buttons and/or a joystick?).

They've taken things as simple as pointing a remote and writing with a pen (referring to the DS) and made them primary control means. This means anyone can play these games, not just seasoned gamers. What a way to expand your consumer base!

Some gamers are mourning over the loss of the great GameCube controller. The old one was better. Now we have to learn something new, different. We have to start all over.

Nonsense. You've been training yourself for this controller your whole life. If you've ever pointed something out or written a letter (DS), you've used this controller. Have you ever changed the channel with a remote? Bingo. It's totally natural, and the training is already done.

What's going to be difficult is making games challenging!


Blogger Mr. Levingston said...

I'm gonna love Metroid Prime 3. I will pwn everyone! muahahaha. jk!

I've always imagined a controller like that... point n shoot. BAM BAM BAM!

ha ha, yeah... i'm gonna love this coming summer!

Saturday, December 31, 2005 10:43:00 AM PST  

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