As a submariner, I used to think military games didn’t have enough submarines in them. So, like any wannabe modder would do, I set out to create a mod that had a submarine in it. I quickly learned it wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought and so I never got a submarine map. Now, it seems like nearly every military themed game that comes out has a submarine or a submarine base or a submarine mission. Apparently someone stole my idea. It’s okay though. I’m happy. I have my submarines now.



Perhaps you have had this happen happens to me all the time. You come up with a really good idea. An original idea, or at the very least, something a bit out of the ordinary. It might be something small like a different game play mode or map location that hasn't been visited a hundred times before; or something big that could revolutionize the entire gaming community. You think about it. Ponder it. Dream about it. And just when you have the idea nailed down, you wake up and read in the news that Game A or Company X is introducing this idea...your idea...and the community is on fire over the whole deal. You didn't think anyone would ever come up with this idea, so you didn't share it with anyone. Not your significant other, not co-workers, not even the family dog. Of course telling anybody that you had the idea first is pointless, because they always look at you with THAT look. You know THAT look. The "I hear what you're saying but I think you are full of --it" look.



Another example, (that I certainly can't prove and in no way could have ever created this on my own...)


I remember after the kids and I saw the movie, "The Incredibles", we talked about how a first person shooter with those kinds of graphics would be awesome (I was looking for something a little less violent than Quake or Unreal for the wee ones).



A few years later...what did we get? Team Fortress 2...and Battlefield: Heroes. (Granted they are every bit as graphic as other first person shooters, but hey, at least with TF2 its cartoon gibs, LOL.)


Heck, Microsoft is even capitalizing off of this whole concept with their Windows 7 commercials, where the person claims that Microsoft implemented one of their own grand ideas in the new operating system.


When this happened, sometimes it would really frustrate me. I would sigh in exasperation and mumble how Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or John Carmack or Infinity Ward or Nintendo was stealing my ideas again. But then it dawned on me. Based on my current occupation and technical background in the video game industry (or lack of), my only real connection with the gaming community is as a product tester and freelance writer. That's a fancy way of saying I play video games and write about them.


While the chance of me actually coming up with an idea as awesome as the invention of sliced bread might be fairly high (hey, I'm being optimistic), the chance of me actually implementing said idea or whispering it in the ear of someone who could make it a reality is very slim. Like, so slim, I think I have a higher chance of winning the Power Ball lottery, with current odds of 1 in 195,249,054. (Maybe tonight is my night?)


But now I have a new outlook. One that perhaps might help you if you are also a visionary that thinks about the future of gaming. Now when this happens, I consider it a compliment. It validates how in tune I (or you) am with the game development community. When I think of something and see Microsoft or Apple or Sony or major game companies introduce it, then I know someone must have thought it was a good idea to get the endorsement from the executives to move forward with the concept.


(For the record, I had nothing to do with the NES Power glove.)



Yes, it happens all the time, probably for you too. I'll try and be brief and keep it to a couple of examples of my own. And while I can't prove that I thought of them first and am certainly not suggesting I did, I do have some previous blogs that document some of my thoughts and ideas, which can be compared and contrasted with the various news spots and articles published by the handfuls of sites dedicated to following industry trends.


1. PSP Sony phone - In a blog dated February 26, 2010, I discussed how my iPhone had replaced my PSP as my portable gaming device of choice. I ended with a call to Sony to solve the problem by creating a PSP with a phone capability. Sure, there have been rumors of this before, but days after my post...on March 04, 2010, the lights were on in the rumor mill as the Wall Street Journal posted an article indicating that Sony is working on one.


2. Cloud Computing - While the concept of cloud computing isn't really all that new, it being explored and implemented in a gaming environment is. In a blog dated February 18, 10, I suggested that cloud computing is here to stay and the way of the future. Ironically, on March 04, 2010 - at a conference held at the University of Washington, Microsoft's own Steve Ballmer "bet the company" on cloud computing.


Lucky guesses, coincidences, reasonable expectations or simply subconscious ideas that have been circulating for years. Maybe, maybe not. Again, it's one of those things that are difficult to prove. But as I mentioned, with my new perspective, it's not frustrating anymore, it's actually kind of neat.


So, what does the future hold...what does the Magic 8 Ball say...who knows for sure...but here are a couple of items that I've talked about before and we're starting to get a glimpse of.



1. Cross Platform - I think one day, with the transformation of cloud computing and technology improvements, there will be a capability in the near future that allows certain titles to be merged and enjoyed by users on all the different platforms. It's not a new concept as there are a handful of games (although not very successful) that bridge the gap between the PC and Xbox 360. Microsoft even recently publicized their pursuit of bridging the PC, Xbox 360 and phones using MS operating systems.



Some gamers stick to a particular platform because that's what all their friends have. Imagine if it didn't matter what you had, you were able to log on to a game and meet up with players from around the world, regardless of what platform they are using. I think we've only scratched the surface of what is to come and whoever is able to successfully implement it first is going to be able to retire and move to the Virgin Islands a wealthy person.


2. Cross Genre (no, not cross gender…cross genre) - I think one industry expert (can't remember who) labeled it, "blurring of genres". Again, something we are starting to see and have witnessed in the past, but have not even scratched the surface of what's to come (or so I think). One of the games with the most potential in this area is EVE Online and DUST 514, which is being labeled a FPS/MMO Hybrid. One of my favorite games that I feel explored multiple genres was Battlefield 2 - you could drive or fly vehicles (which certainly wasn't as technical or complex as a full fledged driving/flight simulator) or you could play commander, which somewhat resembled components of a real time strategy game. Imagine in the future, gamers playing a RTS type game send in their units to do battle, and the units are actually other players. If they're ground forces, then game play might be like a FPS; if they are mobilized units then game play might be like a simulator. All in one glorious battle space. Heck, the virtual people back at home taking care of the kids might be real gamers treated to game play like in the Sims. How far do we take it?



3. Apple - In a recent blog, I speculated whether Apple is (or would ever) consider making a game console to compete with the big three currently in existence. Apple is making truckloads of money on all of its other products and gaming is one area where they always seem to suffer. But recent activity seems to indicate a more than a casual interest in changing this perception.



News of Valve/Steam and a collection of their games coming to the Mac certainly should raise an eyebrow or two. So does the fact that the Unreal 3.0 engine is being converted to run on the iPhone/iTouch platforms. A Mac console? I wouldn’t be surprised.


So, what about you? Do you have any ideas or thoughts that you think the industry is progressing towards? Or, an idea that you are holding close to your chest because it's so unique and brilliant you don't want to share it just yet? Well, if that's true, proceed with caution or else someone might come up with it first and then it's their idea. Share it here (or in your own blog) and remove all doubts whose idea it really is/was.


The Magic 8 Ball says…



Last thing…do you have any original ideas worth a $1,000,000? Apparently Nexon is offering a sponsorship and publishing deal. Check it out here.