Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Depth and Underwater Games

That is a video of a game called 'Depth: Aquatic Stealth.' The game takes place underwater with two teams. One team is made up of scuba-divers and they have to find treasure. The other team is made up of sharks and they have to defend the treasure by ripping the divers apart. Sounds like a great concept... right? Well, I think it is, though there is something that can make or break this game: the controls.

This game got me thinking about a question I ask often. Why don't we see games that take place underwater more often? (Not like Bioshock, I'm talking about games where you actually control yourself submersed in water.) I think it's for a variety of reasons, but mainly, it comes down to control and movement in a completely 3-dimensional environment. Sky-oriented games like Ace Combat are the same way, but there, you have a sense of gravity. If you've ever been scuba diving or even just let yourself sink in a large pool, it's like zero-gravity. There's still gravity of course, but it's force doesn't feel as strong.

I think the problem developers have with designing controls around an underwater environment, is that they haven't yet achieved that feeling of zero-gravity, of slowly drifting through a current, or sinking. We can see sinking and drifting achieved in some 2-D underwater levels, so why can't 3-D games do it? (Some probably do, but I haven't seen many examples.)

Mario can do it.
Maybe it's another reason... maybe as terrestrial animals, we're afraid of the depths, and many of us are. We rather look to the sky than to the sea. Up rather than down. I think because of this fear, developers don't make games that cater to people like me that often, the ones who would rather go scuba diving than sky diving. (Both can be equally scary if you ask me.)
The ocean: It's scary.

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