Remember 5th Cell? These are the guys and gals who made Scribblenauts. As we’re talking about experimentation it makes sense to kick things off with Scribblenauts, it’s one of the most original and experimental games I think the industry’s seen in quite some time. I mean puzzle solving by dropping basically any object you can think of into the play area? Not only was the nature of the game experimental, it lets players themselves experiment with the limits of the game.
Anyway, that’s not why I really want to talk about 5th Cell for a bit today. What I want to talk about is their new game Hybrid; essentially a third person shooter but with the all crucial aspect of some experimentation thrown into the mix. This isn’t just another Gears of War style shooter, or even just your bog standard cover based shooter.
From what I understand of it you can’t just run through the level, circle strafing enemies as you go. Instead your paths are limited to only travelling between two points of cover. On top of that, you aren’t just limited to the floor, being able to snap to walls and the ceiling. Sound unusual? Well that’s sort of the point isn’t it?
See, it would have been easy, although a bit out of character, for 5th Cell to go for just another third person shooter. They seem relatively common at the moment, both as full retail titles and in the digitally distributed environment that Hybrid will be competing in. Going for the slight tweak on traditional mechanics as Hybrid has may be slightly tougher in terms of selling it to the public, but it’s certainly more interesting than simply rehashing the same concepts over and over. At the very least, it gave me a reason to notice the game.
Of course, like I noted with Scribblenauts, there are those games that let the players experiment. These are probably more interesting than games that are trying something new in gameplay. No developer can ever predict how their players are going to put things together or what little twist they’ll find. I mean, when MediaMolecule built LittleBigPlanet they clearly had no idea the extent to which the community would experiment with the game. In fact some of the things the people fiddling achieved were simply incredible.
The same can certainly be said of Minecraft, a game that contains nothing but user experimentation. Even so, seeing projects like the USS Enterprise being built in the game, or other players attempting to build a working CPU inside the game, really shows just how far you can push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Perhaps I sound a bit like a broken record talking about this sort of thing, saying that developers need to try something new if they want to stay relevant. I mean there’s almost no experimentation from the developers or users in franchises like Call of Duty or Halo, but millions (myself included) enjoy games in these series. It’d just be nice to see more experiments making their way into our hearts.