Game Design Similar to Ender’s Game

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/03/the-enemy-gate-is-down-5th-cell-debuts-innovative-shooter-hybrid.ars

Jeremiah Slaczka may have never read Ender’s Game, but his game HYBRID looks a lot like the Battle Room from the famous science fiction novel. And although the game was not designed to be a “learning” game, it seems to owe at least some of its success to the application of learning principles.  5th Cell was looking for a new spin on third person shooters, something that could be differentiated from classics such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War.  The result was a shooter with a parkour-style movement and cover system emphasizing slower, more careful battlefield tactics.

The part of the article above that struck me most was that it took them a whole year to design (just) the movement system, but it only takes about twenty minutes for a player to learn, thanks in part to the simplicity of the controls.  To run across a room filled with whizzing bullets, from one point of cover to another, you simply point one of the thumbsticks in the direction you want to go and tap A.  Your player will automatically jump/flip/parkour-move over any obstacles in the way.  Oh, and if you double tap A you can fight on ceilings and walls.  The rest of the moves are simple one or two button combinations, too.  Sounds a lot like Gee’s Amplification of Input Principle to me.  And the gameplay seems like it utilizes Gee’s Multiple Routes Principle pretty heavily.  If you can fight from any surface of a room, including the ceiling, using everything and anything as cover, you’re going to have plenty of options.

I, for one, am excited about this game.  I think that although the game is not a learning game in the sense that it teaches any K-12 content, it still has the potential to teach gamers a lot.  Especially those of us that love first and third person shooters, but don’t know much about battlefield/movement tactics.  I can definitely see myself taking tactical concepts learned from HYBRID and applying them to my favorite shooters, such as Call of Duty and Halo.  And even though the tactics won’t translate perfectly – I don’t think the next Call of Duty will allow you to walk on ceilings – I’m guessing that my gameplay will still improve (Gee’s Transfer Principle, anyone?).

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