My Top Five Designs of the Eurogamer Expo 2011*

Following the Eurogamer Expo last weekend, I have compiled a list of the top five designs I saw while there. The number one spot may surprise you…

5. Assassin’s Creed Revelations

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I love the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer, so Assassin’s Creed Revelations was one of the first games I checked out at the expo.

A game of Manhunt was set up with morph as my first ability and the new tripwire bomb as my second. It took a couple of attempts but I did manage to lure an attacker toward me with the tripwire bomb between us for a sneaky stun.

The bomb mechanic will add another layer of depth to this already brilliant multiplayer, but in Revelations the multiplayer will even have its own story which promises to reveal more about the Abstergo organisation. This coupled with the new gameplay modes makes me a bit jealous of those with PS3 beta access.

4. Playstation Vita

Vita was something else I was keen to get my hands on. I was particularly interested to experience how the rear touchpad would be implemented and how it felt. Fortunately I drew Little Deviants to play so was able to try out the rear touch pad and a few more features of the console.

Before experiencing Vita, the rear touchpad was the feature that intrigued me the most and in practice it works well. There were two mini games I tried that utilised this feature in different ways. The first was a whack-a-mole style game in which you had to tap the front facing touch screen when the deviant was facing you, and tap the rear touch screen when the deviant had its back to you. Despite not seeing where you’re tapping, it feels surprisingly natural and I was quickly able to tap where I wanted to. The only downside was that it was a bit of a stretch to reach the middle row. The second game that used the rear touch pad was a game where you made hills to roll your character by pressing the rear of the console. Unfortunately I had only a few seconds to try this game as time was short so I wasn’t quite able to master the controls. It’s games like this though that really interest me as a designer, and it’s exciting to see what others will use this impressive bit of tech for.

3. Mario Kart 7

It’s all well and good designing exciting features for new games, but it takes something quite special to innovate on such a long running and successful franchise like that of Mario Kart.

Mario Kart 7 on the Nintendo 3DS would surely have been a very successful game had they just kept the tried and tested formula of past games and just created a good number of new levels. Thankfully, Nintendo aren’t the kind of company to rest on their laurels.

The new hang glider and propeller attachments encourage the player to seek out alternate paths through the level, and as a seasoned Mario Kart player myself, the first time I slipped off a narrow ledge trying to take a shortcut I fully expected Lakitu to lift me back to safety. Instead, as I fell into the water below, my propeller was deployed and I was able to continue racing on the ocean floor.

I wasn’t expecting to be surprised by a new Mario Kart game but 7 did just that, and if you can keep the player guessing, you know you’ve got a fantastic piece of design on your hands.

2. OnLive

The UK launch of OnLive coincided with the Eurogamer Expo and while still in it’s infancy I think it’s clear that it will form a big part of the future of the industry.

The ability to play your games from anywhere with a decent broadband connection is an exciting prospect. The days of taking a pile of games round to a mate’s house could be a thing of the past. Just sign in to your account and stream your games on demand from the cloud!

1. Special Effect

Remember way back at the start of this blog post I said that the number one spot may surprise you? Well this is it.

Special Effect are a charity that make playing the games that we take for granted accessible to those less fortunate. As part of the Eurogamer Expo, the Special Effect team were showcasing their eye-tracking software, which enables games to be played simply by looking at the screen.

The game on show was a racing game and the controls were simple enough; look left to turn left and look right to turn right. In practice the technology is incredible and feels really natural.

The pioneering work that Special Effect do has the potential to not only allow young people to play existing games, but offers so many new design opportunities not just in games but in all media. Imagine that you’re typing away at work and a new e-mail arrives, just glance at the pop-up message and hey presto, you can open the e-mail without even clicking a button.

I can’t overestimate how amazing not only this tech is but how amazing the people at Special Effect are, the least you can do is go and like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

*There were many games at the expo that I didn’t have time to play, if you think there’s something missing from this list, I’d love to hear about it!

About Adam

Games designer, Newcastle fan and prolific tea drinker
This entry was posted in Assassin's Creed, Design Discussion, Eurogamer Expo, Mario Kart, OnLive, Playstation Vita, Special Effect. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Top Five Designs of the Eurogamer Expo 2011*

  1. Iain Russell says:

    Errrrr… I was expecting to see Zelda Skyward Sword somewhere bro!

    • Adam says:

      Skyward Sword was great, but the demo’s were very closed off individual sections so it was difficult to get a sense of the overall game design. Also, the bird racing was pretty tedious 😦

  2. Pingback: Down is Up, Dammit | Adam Russell, Games Designer

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