People Want Lightsabers – Game Design Challenge

30 Sep

So LucasArts (the George Lucas company that makes video games) recently announced that their new video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, will be available for the Nintendo Wii. This is exciting not because it’s a new Star Wars video game (there have been many, very few of which I’ve actually played) but because people want to have lightsabers.

See, in case you’re unfamiliar, the Nintendo Wii uses motion based controls (in addition to traditional buttons) for its video games. The two part controller includes a “wand shaped” (or, perhaps, “lightsaber shaped”) remote, which you hold in one hand while playing. This “Wiimote” contains a speaker, vibrates in your hand, and is motion sensitive. This is one reason the Wii is so fun. If you want to play baseball, you swing the remote like a bat and your character swings his bat. If you want to play tennis you swing the remote like a racket and your character swings his racket. If you want to bowl you “throw” the remote like a bowling ball, releasing a button when you would release the ball, and your character bowls the ball. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, when you want to swing your lightsaber (which is humming and vibrating, like a real lightsaber does) you simply swing the remote like a lightsaber and your character does the same… except that there is no lightsaber video game for the Wii. Yet.

This is why LucasArts’ announcement made such waves on the internet. People want to have lightsabers, and the Wii potentially brings us that much closer. Closer than we’ve ever been, really. I say potentially because this is actually a very interesting game design challenge.

If you take a real lightsaber and swing it at another lightsaber, they hit each other and stop. This is physical feedback which requires physical strength. Short of hitting two Wii Remotes against each other (which I wouldn’t recommend) there is no equivalent physical feedback with the Wii. So how is LucasArts going to actually do this? If it just involves waving your arm around wildly it actually won’t be all that fun. If it actually manages to be 1:1 with its movements, which a lot of people seem to think they want, the game would require actually being good at fencing/swordplay – and thus it actually won’t be all that fun, since that’s really hard. Hopefully the game designers there are up to the challenge. Because people want to have lightsabers.

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2 Responses to “People Want Lightsabers – Game Design Challenge”

  1. tinycaredance October 2, 2007 at 5:02 pm #

    i want a lightsaber! can it be purple!?

    • junorhane October 2, 2007 at 6:52 pm #

      You and Sam Jackson can have purple.

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