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Sneftel

The headset as an enabler of local gameplay

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Sneftel    1788
When I got my 360, it came with an absolutely free bit of uselessness: a headset. Useless because I'm not a fan of the online play scene, and because outside that particular arena it has no reason for being. Or does it? The headset represents, to me, something consoles haven't had since the Dreamcast (and there, barely at all): side-channel communication. Suddenly, the game has a way of telling you things without telling them to the guy sitting next to you. It's not a very broad channel--for instance, you couldn't really use it to play Catan locally--but it's there. It's like the GM in a tabletop gaming session slipping you notes. So, brainstorming session: what can be done with it? How can it be used to meld cooperative and competitive gameplay?

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Galliard    128
Red Steel did something similar to this with the speaker on the Wii Remote. In one of the multiplayer modes each player gets a "phone call" that provides him with a mission. These missions can range from killing a specific person, getting a certain number of kills, or keeping another player alive. By keeping the missions secret (assuming your speaker isn't turned up too loud of course), it made it more exciting.


Alternatively, I could see a kind of Werewolf game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(game)) working. One of the players is given instructions to subvert an otherwise co-op game (e.g. assasinating a hostage in Counter-Strike), and the other players have to figure him out and stop him.

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I thought that a really cool use of the headset was in NFL:Head Coach. There, you're assistant coaches would talk to you in the headset, while the crowd/game noise played on the main speakers. It really added to the immersion. I think it could be used similarly in games like Metal Gear Solid where Otakon (or whoever) would actually talk "in your ear" rather than interrupting gameplay to look at a communications interface.

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Moe    1256
Perhaps a bit off topic, but I tried to use mine via the Wireless receiver for Windows as a headset for MSN Messenger video conversations, but I never did get it to work. If anyone has any ideas... </offtopic>

I had an interesting experience which relates to this some time ago. I took my computer over to a friend's place and we played some Battlefield 2 - both of us on the same team, both playing in an internet game (so no just a LAN game). Unfortunately we were in separate rooms, which made communication a little difficult.

I could definitely see it being used for communication in LAN or co-op games (co-op in particular). As small_black_sun mentioned, it could be used exactly as a headset. Imagine playing some sort of co-op game where you hear your buddy's voice in one ear, like some sort of radio while all the other ambient noises are coming from computer speakers.

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speciesUnknown    527
Noise cancellers and team chat combined? For online play the headset is less than useless, since all you ever hear is a 14 yr old kid going WOO WOO WOO AHAHAHAH HAHAHAHA CAMPER EVILGAMER123 IS A P90 NOOB RGH YARG down the (cheap, poor quality) mike, with it too close to his face. Its just not fun, I usually mute all voice chat.

In a Lan - party environment, however, noise cancellers and team chat could be far more useful. I've played counterstrike sessions with 8 people, 4 to a team, where it was impossible to say "ZOMG HES BEHIND YOU" because of the noise from everybody else's rig, the sound effects out of sync, etc. Spontaneous lan parties don't always have everybody using headphones.

So, noise cancellers together with microphones for team chat would be perfect for a lan party.

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by Galliard
Alternatively, I could see a kind of Werewolf game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(game)) working. One of the players is given instructions to subvert an otherwise co-op game (e.g. assasinating a hostage in Counter-Strike), and the other players have to figure him out and stop him.

It's a good approach, I think. One idea I had early on was to make a game mostly-co-op, but at certain times the game would whisper in one player's ear "you'll get a bunch of bonus points if you kill your teammate in the next fifteen seconds" or the like. The problem there is that I don't think there's room for both cooperative and competitive play during a single round of play. This is not a factor in Mafia: Your teammates are your teammates for the entire round, and nothing is carried forwards to the next round, so all is forgiven. With my idea, the bonus players accrued by one player might or might not make up for the other player's loss. So the game would either be purely competitive, with players avoiding each other even as they try to achieve the same objective; purely cooperative, with one player announcing his intention to kill the other, and the other player accepting this for the good of the team; or meaningless, with out-of-game penalties for following the kill order (e.g. "hey, quit being a dick or I'm not playing") resulting in them being ignored. So I do think that it's only a viable game mechanic where there are short rounds with plenty of "team churn".

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