Features// Seconds Out for the Second Screen

Posted 13 Mar 2014 16:30 by
James Parker is the Design Director at Opposable Games, who specialise in the design and development of connected, multi-screen and multi-platform games. James told SPOnG about why he has issues with the term 'Second Screen'.

No one ever wants to be second. No matter how magnanimous Olympic silver-medallists are on the podium, thereís always an awareness that they are somehow, "First loser".

Second-screen has become "a thing", at least as far as TV broadcasters are concerned. So terrified are they of losing their viewers to their smart phones, they are ever increasing the amount and visibility of second-screen content. Want to comment on the latest reality show?

Just jump on Twitter in the ad breaks. Want to play along with your favourite quiz show? Well thereís an app that lets you do exactly that. Forgotten what thing that girl in that other thing was in? Why not fire up IMDB as you watch?

But games donít need this, games are interactive and compelling and if you look away to do something else, youíll probably get killed by a sniper, or youíll spin off the track, or your Flappy Bird will crash into a pipe. Games are sufficiently fun on their own, what possible benefit would introducing second-screen content have for an interactive experience?

The problem with the Wii-U isnít the presence of GamePad, itís the fact that the GamePad isnít used more comprehensively!
Itís a question weíve been wrestling with at Opposable Games for the last couple of years, ever since a group of ex-console game developers hooked up with some heavy-hitters from the mobile development world and tried to find projects that the whole team could get behind.

We love the idea of connecting players and devices together, we can see the opportunities presented by the fact that the vast majority of gamers also have access to a smartphone or tablet. But even we try to avoid the term "second screen".

The reason we donít using the term is pretty simple. As soon as your mobile device is "Second" or "Companion" or in any way subsidiary to the main game, it becomes pointless again. The problem with the Wii-U isnít the presence of GamePad, itís the fact that the GamePad isnít used more comprehensively!

The reason that people shy away from Smart Glass is because actually, why would you bother when no game actually requires it? We prefer dual-screen or multi-screen, it implies some kind of parity.

At the end of last year, when Mark Rein - the VP of Epic Games - said he was unconvinced by "the second screen thing" and there had yet to be a killer app - he was dead right.


Through my career Iíve tried hard to steer away from games industry absolutism, the road to ruin is littered with those who have seen a trend and assumed that that future couldnít be anything else.

At Opposable, weíve never believed that all games would have the need to be multi-screen, but we firmly believe that some would, and those that embraced it would see exciting and fresh new game experiences that wouldnít otherwise be possible.

As unashamed old-school gamers, we went right to our 16-bit roots with our first game - Clockwork Racers - a multi-screen homage to Micro Machines, allowing local multiplayer across multiple iOS devices.

The technology proved robust and formed the basis of our current multi-platform implementation: One Touch Connect, and the game was a lot of fun. We captured the feeling we wanted and proved it could be done.

But to really push through the idea to the core, we knew that we needed to hit a different group of people. We wanted to attract tech-savvy gamers, willing to step out of their comfort zone and experiment a bit. We needed forward-focussed gamers who would be willing to take a risk on something.

At the end of last year, when Mark Rein - the VP of Epic Games - said he was unconvinced by "the second screen thing" and there had yet to be a killer app - he was dead right.

So with Salvaged weíre trying to do something bold. Weíre making a single player game where dual-screen play is integral to the game and to the playerís experience. We know that not everyone will have the hardware to be able to play Ė and we accept that.

We want to prove that dual-screen play isnít just a gimmick and can be the genuine heart of a truly innovative game experience.


But we also know this - those that can and those who want to will be able to play a game the likes of which they have never played before, interacting in a way that captures the very best of both experiences Ė combining the intuitiveness and flexibility of a modern multi-touch device, with the power and visuals of a top-end PC game.

In Salvaged you play as a the captain of a Remote Interstellar Salvage Crew, commanding your team as they enter the wrecks of stricken spacecraft in search of the shipís black box and anything else you can salvage along the way.

The game is a classic squad-based tactical-action game. Your team of four RISC operatives are controlled via the elegant touch-screen interface Ė issuing orders to move, selecting targets and loot, and identifying upcoming threats.

On the PC screen, in a bank of first-person views, you then see the outcomes of those orders playing out, the real-time nature of the game creating the need for quick reactions to what you see through your teamís eyes.

The game makes a virtue of both the immediacy of your connection and the inherent separation. It captures that classic sci-fi feeling of being in control but at the same time detached.

We want to prove that dual-screen play isnít just a gimmick and can be the genuine heart of a truly innovative game experience. And we want to do it first, because really... whoíd ever want to be second?
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Comments

James Parker 13 Mar 2014 17:00
1/2
If you're interested in learning more, check out:

http://salvagedgame.com
ClearF 14 Mar 2014 08:51
2/2
Play touch games on a incredibly large screen:http://tabler.tv/
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