Analysis of research
Nintendo 3DS Specification
Launch Date: 27th March 2011
Size: 2.9 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight: Approx. 8 oz
Battery life: 3-5 hours (5-8 hours when playing DS game)
Stylus: Extendable to approx. 3.94 when fully extended
Buttons: Arrow keys, A/B/X/Y, L/R and Start/Select
Circle Pad (360-degree analog input)
3d Depth Slider
Game card slot (for 3DS and DS games)
SD Card slot
Charging cradle connector
AC adaptor port
Wireless Connection: 2.4 GHz
Sound: Two speakers positioned to the left and right of the top screen (supports virtual surround sound)
Cameras: One inner camera and two outer (3D) cameras with 0.3 mega pixels resolution
The Nintendo 3DS has many ways of inputting information which will all need to be considered when designing a game for it, especially the touch screen and camera abilities with 3D output on the top screen as well.
I looked at Augmented Reality as I need to use the camera in my game, and Augmented Reality is an easy way of using it rather than trying to think of complicated or weird gameplay. Augmented Reality is a new feature for handheld consoles and other devices, using their cameras and 'Augmented Reality' cards to play games in your own environment. Placing an AR card(s) in front of your devices camera, whether it is a 3DS or PSP, will trigger things in-game, such as spawning a character or showing a mini-game.
Good examples of this are Invizmals and EyePet for PSP and AR Games and Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir for 3DS. Invizimals and EyePet both use the camera to spawn your creatures/pet into your environment. In Invizimals, the AR card is used as a trap to capture creatures. Different creatures can be found depending on the colour of the surface the card is on and the time of day. In EyePet, you use the AR card to make your pet appear so you can interact with it. Remembering that the PSP doesn’t have touch ability like the DS, makes EyePet very different to its PS3 component. As you cannot touch the pet via the screen and you also cannot touch the pet from behind the camera, as it will obstruct the view of the AR card.
AR Games uses the cards to spawn a mini-game that you can also manoeuvre around by moving the DS around the AR card. It comes with a normal AR card, as well as 5 character ones where you can spawn Mario, Link and other Nintendo characters to take photos of. Spirit Camera uses the camera to show ghost characters in your environment. It comes with a 16-page Augmented Reality Book that is used during the game to spawn the ghosts and cutscenes to tell the story.
Augmented Reality is a good idea to take gaming another step forward, showing the game in your own environment and manoeuvring around it, but it does seem like a feature that will easily get boring or over-used in the games industry for unnecessary gameplay elements. Nintendogs and Cats uses it which is something I found out after much researching of the game, because it is such an unnecessary, small element in the game, to take photos of your pet in your living room. Tetris Axis also uses it to show your own background while you play Tetris but I think this is also unnecessary for the game, and doesn’t introduce any new gameplay because of it, it is solely there just to change the background.
I started looking at pet games after I noticed how the PSP’s EyePet and Invizimals used Augmented Reality to make the game(s) more exciting and interactive. I then looked at more pet games such as Nintendogs and Wappy Dog to see how the pet games were like using the DS’ touch screen and microphone.
Excluding Invizimals as this isn’t a pet game, I noticed the similar traits of these games, such as basic grooming and feeding to look after the pet, customization of the pet and also mini-games such as taking the pet for a walk and entering competitions.
Nintendogs is a very popular one as it features realistic and cute puppies that can be interacted with via the touchpad and microphone. This makes it quite realistic as you can call to your dog and stroke him with the stylus.
Wappy Dog stands out compared to other pet games as it features a large plastic dog that the child can play with alongside the DS. This is probably the closest thing you will get instead of having a real pet, which is what makes these games so appealing to children, as not all children are allowed to own pets.
EyePet was a good idea but I wasn’t sure about the Augmented Reality in the game. The PS3 version was really successful because the player(s) can interact with the pet like it is actually there, seeing themselves on the tv screen with the pet. Whereas on the PSP version, if you tried so stroke your pet, you would probably obstruct the AR marker and the pet would vanish. This made me think that the Nintendo DS’ touch screen would be useful as you can instead stroke the pet using the stylus on the touch screen, like Nintendogs and other DS pet games.
So I noticed a gap as you could see your pet in your own environment and be able to stroke that image on the touch screen, which hasn’t been done before. I had the idea of really maximising the ways to input and interact with your pet, using the camera with AR cards, touch screen and microphone.
Above is a mindmap of all the ideas I have pulled out of the games I have looked at.
After looking at an array of research related to pet games, I realised the main audience is children, when my brief states I need to attract a wide audience including more mature adults. So I need to figure out how I can attract an older audience.
The Sims and Pokémon games are good games to look at as these attract wide audiences. The Sims attracts a large audience as it is a game you control all yourself, with high customization on making your own characters and houses, like a virtual dollhouse. Pokémon also attracts a large audience as it is appealing to kids but also more geekier adults, maybe because they started playing when they were young and it is a bit of nostalgia they don’t want to let go of, but also because it is an addictive game where you level up your Pokémon and fight to try and be the best Pokémon trainer you can be.