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Arcade user timing challenge...

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I'm creating an arcade cabinet and custom game for a local arcade.  But I'm faced with a unique challenge.  The arcade is a pay to enter, free to play setup.  meaning people can hog games, since they are no longer spending 25 cents on every play.  

 

So the challenge I'm facing is how to create a fast paced game that a player really enjoys, but also will step away for a few minutes, let someone else play, but still want to come back.  of course we could also do multi-player with benefit from players jumping in at any time. 

 

Of course the game has to have obvious play, and have a typically short play cycle.  

 

A couple things to note.  We have complete control over technology used in the cabinet, and the game.  We are using Unity to develop it.

 

1 idea we had, was that your character is randomly generated, but you can take photos of things, upload them to the server, and then get a code to enter on the game that will give you a character generated from that image.  we can generate algorythms that look at characteristics like average light, hue, color count, and also look at different regions of the photo, so darker on top than on the bottom, etc, and tie attributes to them (at random for the most part)  this will get the player to try a character, step away, take a photo of something, take the time to upload it and get a new code.  (we can have the server wait a few minutes to reply, as if it is 'thinking')

 

We control the hardware, so we can add a kinnect, fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, wifi, bluetooth, nfc what ever.  (price limited to a certain degree.) :)

 

any ideas?

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If someone should want to come back to the game, there's a good chance they don't just want to step away from it for a while. A reason to step away would be a leaderboard system. Person 1 sets a score, and asks his friend (Person 2) to see if he can beat his score. When he does, Person 1 will definitely want to get the highscore back on his name. 

With a traditional leaderboard system however, there's alway this one guy that's played the game a lot and  has amazing scores that nobody can beat. With daily leaderboards however, there's always also a challenge for mere mortals.

 

A tournament game style is also one to get multiple people in. Everyone signs in. First, person 1 competes with person 2, the loser is out, the winner continues. Person 3 plays vs person 4, etc. The winner of match 1 plays vs the winner of match 2.

 

Just some ideas.

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Thanks @Peethor, these are some good concepts.  

 

1) Daily leader boards.  Perhaps even consider different areas of leaderboards.

2) Tournaments.  We can setup the game to support official tournaments.  I.e. you sign up online.  When you get there during the tournament, you sign in however, and play for a while, then the game asks for the next contestants.  (or even do a fast sign up on the game itself or at a terminal in the arcade)

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Not sure I agree with the concept that it's better for people to move from game to game rather than stay in one place.  If the game machines are like computers, why not put all the games on each machine, like you see in bars sometimes?  Kind of like a giant smartphone with only games on it.  Then any player will be happy as long as one station is open, since they are all the same.

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@SunAndShadow, I understand where your coming from, but I can explain a reason why that is not likely to happen.  

 

Arcades don't really need to exist.  Especially ones with out dated games.  Pretty much any game will run on emulators at home.  or there are very close matches to the content.  The Arcade Cabinet, (the physical container that holds the game) is actually a part of the game.  I.e. you don't play Splinter cell on a phone even if you could, because the game is immersive.  I.e. you want the larger screens, the better sound, and the improved interactions provided by your home entertainment system or PC.  

 

In the case of arcades, they have the unique ability to make the entire box all about the one game.  

for example:

* is it a shooter?  Typically a flat screen, with ranged weapons to stand a few feet away.  

* What buttons do I use?  "A", "B", "C" or "Kick", "Punch", "Block" - To make an arcade game effective, the buttons are usually very clear to their purpose, something a home console can't do.  

 * Is the game sci fi, fantasy, something else?  The art on the box can expand the feeling of that, as if you are stepping into the environment. Especially noted on some racing games where you sit down in the chair that moves, have the pedals, and it closes you in, as if you were in the seat of a race car.

 * Where is the sound needed?  Many games are just 2 speakers.  but others want a more rich environment.  Do the surround speakers get used as in behind the player, or is it used as Top/bottom speakers on the cabinet.  Those will have very differing effects on the audio experience.

* are their lights or special symbols? (think pinball) the box might give extra clues to game play, as in flashing lights that occur in conjunction with screen explosions.

 

There are more, but to recap, the arcade game is about the full experience, where a console is about versatility to the loss of some environmental experience.

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@SunAndShadow, given the issues I just brought up, I had a thought that perhaps could make a novel way to do this.  Perhaps using OLED Buttons, as shown here: http://www.mouser.com/Search/ProductDetail.aspx?qs=uwKJARvjadPdPW233F3QLQ%3d%3d

 

The idea being that the controls can change to Kick/Punch vs Fast/Jump, etc depending on the game, Also, art panels can have oled or other displays.  the buttons are as little as 55 $ each.  panels are another story.

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Other than a time limit, two things that'll probably keep a game short would likely be a physical activity component and some kind of in game physics where it's difficult to produce the exact same reactions each time due to slight differences in precision input from the player.

How about some kind of Angry Birds thing where the player throws or launches something (something real like a ball or a water spray or track a player's throwing motions (I'd prefer something real)) at the screen which then knocks down some kind of structure. The main hook being that it gives the player more of a hands on element to the destruction in Angry Birds.

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@Kseh, I like the physical approach.  I'm imagining a fake sling shot for an angry birds type clone.  something where you adjust pull and aim physically, but then the digital ball launches.  Or cannon fire game, where you and and enemy are trying to damage each other, but you need to setup the trajectory to hit, and the wind changes.  You could actually move a little cannon, and have fans that blow in the area of the cannon, so you can feel the breeze.  

 

Or perhaps put a 3D scanner in the arcade box.  a person brings in a model of their car.  Could be micro machines, hot wheels, or a rock.  but it scans and then they drive it in the game.  I'd love to see driving a rock.  and whatever else people bring in for this.

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@Dan  I personally go to Dave and Buster's arcade/restaurant on a regular basis, and the reason I do so is primarily for the tickets and the prize shop where you turn the tickets in.  The secondary reason is that I like games like coin-pushers which can't be effectively emulated.  The same applies to games where I can burst balloons with darts, punch targets with my hands, make water splash around while I do some fake fishing, and other visceral activities like riding mock motorcycles.  I guess that's the experience you are talking about, but half the games I like don't even involve a computer.  One other reason I would consider going to an arcade would be if they had antique consoles or good emulations of them set up with big libraries of old games, so I could play both things I felt nostalgic for and things I never got to play the first time around.  Ideally there would be some kind of data storage for all my games-in-progress and high scores, and an achievements system that told me whenever I got a new high score.  It doesn't seem like any of this would quite work with your arcade concept though.  Have you considered using a concession stand as your main source of income and the games as more of a carrot to get people to pay the cover charge and enter your captive audience?

Edited by sunandshadow

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@ SunAndShadow, the arcade has a concession stand.  The cabinet/game we are building for fun. :)  In this case, I'm representing a group of video game developers, that wants to make more connections in the community, and generating an arcade cabinet seems like a great way to do that.  

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller

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