Controversial Kinect Game Idea: Sobriety Test

I just sent the last few months working on a Kinect game (I can’t disclose what or for whom -yet), and I see one potential idea where Kinect may come in handy. It wouldn’t exactly be a game, more like an app. And I call it “Sobriety Test”.

It’s exactly as it sounds. You would get in front of the Kinect camera and try to do a series of tests that would evaluate your motor skills. You’d walk a straight line, stand on one foot, and many other drills. It would operate like Simon Says, but with stern police officers watching.You would then be scored on how you perform. Fail, and the game will sound the alarm, and ask that your keys are revoked.

Yes it would be used as a drinking game. Yes there are legal implications to this app. Yes it may give people the impression that they have the ability to drive when they shouldn’t.

The truth is, video games are now a staple of many drinking parties, so why not have a game that might offer some entertainment, and possibly be used as a means to determine if someone shouldn’t drive? It would be a rare game that you’d win if you lost.

Plus having something like this present in a party will bring attention to the issue of drinking and driving. What do you think?

RTS Game Wrinkles

I’m a huge fan of StarCraft and Dawn of War: 40,000. Both franchises comprise the very best in RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games, and are nearly flawless in their design. A few things I would do to enhance those games, if given the opportunity:

EMERGENCY PURGING – In a scenario where your command base is under siege, and you are low on nearby infantry units/vehicles, you’d purge out unfinished units in the queue as a last-defense. What would happen is you’d have the entire queue pushed out of the armory in an incomplete state. This gives you some defensive firepower, but the troops or vehicles you purged are incomplete and not as diluted in firepower or defense. As a trade-off, your factory or armory would need time to recover from the purge.

INCIDENTAL TRAVEL – You select a group composed of ground troops and vehicles to reach a target destination, and what usually happens is the vehicles will get there first. What I would like to see are troops climb onto the sides of tanks and other vehicles that happen to be sharing the same destination. Not only could you keep your battalion better intact, but you’ll have increased firepower for ‘hitched’ vehicles, though the troops clinging aboard would have decreased accuracy. This should all be done automatically, as I’m not a fan of manually assigning troops to climb into a transport vehicle. Also, the tanks wouldn’t slow down and wait for hitchers – first come first serve.

BUILT-IN HUD – I’d like to see research progress and Unit build progress without actually having to select the building. I propose a smart HUD, where that information is built into the game buildings. For example, I’d design the armory to be made of 6 individual pistons that would be in a high position at the start of the build process, then sink as building progressed. Some color meters could also denote the progress.  Sure your opponents could tell which buildings are more active in building units, but these are priority targets regardless.

SMART COVER – The thing about RTS games is the troops fight like the British Red Coats – they stand around and just fire weapons, not really being evasive in their position. If it were up to me, I’d have them take cover behind pillars, armored vehicles (operational or destroyed remnants of), and whatever other section of the environment they deem safe. This would not only make the fights more dramatic, but would give way to using specialized Units, like Snipers and Anti-Tank personnel.

ESCAPE POD – The command base could have a backup escape pod that could be fired to another section of the map (much like the Terran buildings being able to relocate in StarCraft), that would include a builder and a few troops to start a new command base. The drawback: it would take a long time to fuel and ready, and would stop any other capabilities of the command base in the interim. So if defeat looks like a possibility, this last resort could be an option – but plan ahead.

LOOT THEIR POWER – I’d build a specialized Unit that could drain the enemy’s reserves. It would be a very costly and defenseless Unit, so you’d have to secure the enemy base to utilize it. This way you can add to your reserves while depleting your enemy’s supply. More incentive to capture the enemy base! More worthwhile in 3+ player games.

CONVERT THE NON-BELIEVERS – If you could steal your enemy’s power…why not their troops? There is a few ways you could do this: a mode where you could capture enemy units, a means to utilize abandoned or dead units (zombies?), or by dispatching your builder units to assimilate enemy structures to add them into your fold. Instead of wiping out your enemy, you’d claim their carcass for your own means. Only worthwhile in 3+ player games.

RISKIER RESOURCE COLLECTION – If you want more resources in quantity, or a faster rate of harvesting, you should be allowed to gamble with a more dangerous means of collection. Once this method/ machine of collection is built, your resource collection rates increase. But if taken out by the enemy, it could result in severe damage to your base. Pretty much like opting to harvest nuclear power – worthwhile output, but very dangerous.

BUY TIME – Every Unit you build in an RTS game has a set cost attributed to it, as well as a set build time. Well if you want to get your Units a bit sooner (without purging, see above), I’d allow the option to spend more to hurry the Unit’s production speed. The trade-off being you got your Unit sooner, but burned through more resources to do it. A costly short-term measure.

Tron Hockey Puck

Tron hockey puck by davesgeekyideas

I used to make fun of the absurd Fox Puck, but a part of me thinks it would look cool if the hockey puck had LED lights embedded within. It would look remarkably different for starters, the Fox Puck relied on graphics applied in the TV broadcast (much like the line of scrimmage in football); whereas the lights would emit from the actual puck and be cast onto the nearby ice surface, boards, skates, hockey sticks, etc.

The puck would be more apparent in scrums in the corner and in the crease. I don’t know if it would look like a blur of light from a slap-shot, but I’d like to think there would be some tracer effect.

UPDATE: since I posted this 4 years ago I’ve received many inquiries for such a puck. A few products have come and gone, and there might even be a new one now, but there’s nothing I can personally recommend.

Geeky Gadget Wish List #15: Star Wars Mouse

Thermal Detonator Mouse Star Wars

This mouse is based on the Thermal Detonator (or “glop grenade”) used by Boussh, the bounty hunter disguise adorned by Leia – her second-most popular outfit from Return of the Jedi. She threatened Jabba with this handheld device, now it can sit on your desk and look almost as menacing.

Because the detonator was a sphere that opened in the middle to form more of a capsule shape, I thought it could work as a mouse device. I had to stretch it a bit to be as ergonomic as a mouse though! The open cavity caused by “arming” the grenade is filled with a clear plastic.

Geeky Gadget Wish List #14: Star Wars Surge Protector

Hoth Generator Power Adapter

Just to prove Lucas hasn’t made every possible product out of Star Wars, I give you the Hoth Shield Generator Surge Protector. Yes, the doomed station with 18 seconds of screen time.  But here it looks very much at home guarding your electronics like it did protecting Rebels – albeit with more success against AC/DC currents than AT-AT walkers. Somewhere an electrician is shaking his/her head.

I try to implement geekiness into everyday products.  When I look around my desk, I see potential even in the neglected surge protector. It’s a messy terminal of wires, so why not make it look like an intended mess? Plus the protective purpose of the Hoth Shield Generator would make a knowing geek nod in appreciation. Damn straight.

And yes I skipped thirteen. Not that I am overly superstitious, but would like some ideas to actually happen and become a reality.

Geeky Gadget Wish List #13: GTA GPS Device

GTA GPS Device

Again this is one of those ‘no-brainer’ gadgets, so why doesn’t this exist? Is it the stigma of the Grand Theft Auto franchise? Or does Rockstar refuse to merchandise the brand? Either way, I think this is one of those ‘Art-imitates-life’ devices utilized for the sake of a video game, so why not revert GTA’s take on an everyday device back to the consumer?

Some must-haves: It has to give the User the ability to input the make and model of their vehicle, so every time you start the vehicle, you’d have that GTA moment. Sure it’s redundant, and may not be a helpful reminder that you’re kickin’ it with an 89′ Ford Festiva, but it’s one of those ‘authentic’ GTA touches.

Also, you should be able to input your friend’s initials and other landmarks onto the map, as though they were mission contacts. Lastly, it needs to display the radio station you listen to, and announce every neighborhood you are cruising through.

If you need to go the extra mile and incorporate a laser/radar detector (do people still use those?), that could alert the driver using GTA’s infamous ‘police star’ meter. 5 stars if you are really in trouble.

Geeky Gadget Wish List #12: Super Mario Bros. Alarm Clock

Super Mario Alarm Clock

Wouldn’t you like to flatten a Goomba when you need to hit snooze? Of course you would. And this alarm clock design would give you just that opportunity.

Granted the Goomba feature would need to be durable to handle many snooze presses, so it might not be feasible. That said I feel the score UI from the bottom of Super Mario 3 would make for a neat alarm clock, so at the very minimum something that looks like a diorama with lights and sounds like above would do the trick.