The Microsoft Hololens is taking a new twist on an old game. The Conker game series was originally developed back in 2001 for the N64. The character originally appeared in Diddy Kong Racing and although his early days saw it marketed very firmly as a children’s game, that changed quickly. Content became increasingly adult and crude earning him a loyal band of gaming fans.
Now they’re back with Young Conker – a new twist on the old game for a new generation and a very different type of gaming technology. This new game is designed to get conker playing in AR within your living room. In effect it can turn your entire room into a level of the game, as our hero – a slightly younger version of the one gamers might be familiar with – jumps off furniture and collects items from mid-air.
It is certainly an impressive game from a technological standpoint. How, for example, does the sprite know he’s running along the couch, but while developers obsess over the impressive technological achievements of the game, fans are really only interested in one thing – how it does and does not play and this is where we have a problem.
Whenever a company brings back a much-loved games franchise, the reactions are always pretty extreme. If you get it right they can clamour with excitement, but if you get it wrong you’d better get ready for the backlash. The one thing all the failures have in common is that they haven’t paid much attention to what made the game successful in the first place.
This is what seems to have happened with the Hololens version and judging by the comments from fans they are not happy. The problem is very simple. This new conker is nothing like the old one and that’s stoked up plenty of anger and resentment.
This is one of those occasions where there is a severe difference between what the developers have been trying to do and what the fans were expecting. The makers of Young Conker are all about developing a game for this next generation technology. A promotional video focuses on the technical challenges of making graphics appear within a real world setting. And while this is undoubtedly valuable it fails to understand what gamers want – a simple game they recognise and enjoy playing.
The troubles of Young Conker have plenty of implications for the rest of the VR world. Much is being made about the software challenges of making the software work and rendering the images effectively. But success will depend on matching this technology with the needs of consumers – in other words the way in which they will want to use it. Practicalities, therefore will play an important role in shaping the future of this product.
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