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Category: Games

Stop challenging my opinions! Never see an alternative opinion again, thanks to this new feature that will save gaming and also your sensitive feelings!

Background:

Sometimes, a game will have a political statement to make, which you might disagree with.

For example, in the game “Papers Please,” you must perform bureaucratic duties in a stifling faux-Eastern Bloc nation, and there is a strong negative message about the oppressive regime. But what if you think that totalitarianism is actually a great sort of government?

Similarly, in Super Mario Bros., you must save the princess, but what if you aren’t a monarchist?

The issue:

If you disagree with the political statement of the game, it is possible that you will find your opinions challenged in some way, which could be either annoying or informative.

Proposal:

In order to prevent this, we introduce the following proposal: an option in the game settings that will let you customize the political message of the game (Figure 2), as well as the normal settings that most games have already (Figure 1).

 

1-normal-settings

Fig. 1: Most games already have a basic set of user-configurable options, like the example here.

 

2-politics-left-right.png

Fig. 2: By modifying the “POLITICS” slider here, the user can pick their desired political message along this single-dimensional axis that represents early-2000s United States political affiliation. This may be insufficiently granular: see Figure 3 for one possible alternative.

3-politics-slider.png

Fig. 3: The classic two-dimensional “political beliefs” plot may be somewhat more useful than the single LEFT / RIGHT slider.

Details:

The implementation of this “politics slider” would vary on a per-game-genre basis.

In the easiest example, dialog could change to uncritically praise the the player’s actions. For example, a gritty military shooter might feature the dialog “Good thing we burned down that village, those civilians were definitely going to betray us!” or “Good thing we didn’t burn down that village, now the citizens have joined our cause!The gameplay would remain the same, so this would be an inexpensive change.

Graphics could also be altered; for example, if a map appeared in a game, there could be different borders displayed for areas such as Taiwan and Kashmir (depending on the player’s opinion of the proper political affiliation of the region in question). Even bodies of water could be re-labeled: for example, “Sea of Japan” vs. “East Sea of Korea”).

Differing graphical options could also be used to avoid political controversy or antagonizing important markets. This has already been partially implemented in some games: in the simulation of San Francisco in the game “Watch Dogs 2,” no Taiwanese flags are flying in Chinatown—only (mainland) Chinese flags are present. One could imagine this being a user-defined setting, or perhaps automatically set based on a user’s location as inferred by their IP address.

Even in a game like Dr. Mario, the pills could be relabeled as “VITAMINS” or “HOMEOPATHIC REMEDY” or “JUST A PLACEBO.”

4-advanced-sliders.png

Fig. 4: For the gamer who never wants to see an opposing opinion, this high-dimensional settings option will let you customize the game to parrot back your exact beliefs in every conceivable axis.

Conclusion:

No one wants to feel like they’re wrong: now you can have a game affirm your beliefs at every turn!

PROS: No more hurt feelings when a game challenges a person’s opinions!

CONS: May only be applicable to a tiny set of games that actually have a message to convey in the first place.

Add a new level of excitement to baseball by taking the lack of outfield standardization into the infield. Revealed herein: THE ULTIMATE SPECTATOR SPORT.

Background:

Baseball is one of the few [1] sports where the playing field is not standardized:

  1. The outfield can vary substantially in size and shape from ballpark to ballpark.
  2. The presence / absence of fences can change the possibility of an out-of-the-park home run.

This adds up to the strange situation where a home run in one stadium might have been an easy out in another.

[1] Cricket fields also vary in size and shape. And in golf, the non-standard courses are a crucial feature, not a problem.

Proposal:

Although the outfield can vary substantially, the infield does not exhibit the same level of variation.

But it certainly could!

Figures 1 through 5 (below) show several possible ways of reconfiguring the standard baseball diamond.

baseball-options-0-rearranged

Fig. 1: Left: a traditional baseball diamond. Bases are numbered 1–3, with home plate marked with an “H.” The pitcher’s mound is in orange. Right: in this custom base configuration, the distance between bases 1–3 is dramatically reduced, but the trek from 3rd to home plate is extremely far. This would have significant scoring implications.

baseball-options-pentagon

Fig. 2: It would also be possible for certain ballparks to add more bases; perhaps a fourth base, as shown in this pentagonal arrangement.

 

 

baseball-options-2-circle

Fig. 3: There’s really no reason why the number of bases couldn’t increase to an extreme degree, as shown in this circular setup.

baseball-options-two-way

Fig. 4: Some fields could allow runners to chart their own course through a complex network of bases. There’s no reason why the course between all bases must necessarily be a one-way path through all bases; perhaps there would be strategic reasons for a runner to skip bases entirely, or to escape backwards to an earlier base.

baseball-options-3

Fig. 5: Left: some fields could be deliberately annoying, perhaps to entertain an especially cruel and capricious audience. Right: taking an inspiration from golf, this field has water hazards (as well as multiple routes to the bases). Note the non-centered pitcher’s mounds, which may make the left/right-handedness distinction even more crucial.

PROS: Bizarre stadium arrangements could entertain the fans and increase the chance that an “out of date” stadium would be torn down (and a new one constructed), thus increasing the amount of money that can be siphoned away from taxpayers in the city funding the stadium.

CONS: The extreme variation in fields would make it even more difficult to compare player statistics across ballparks. A player who only plays on the “has exactly one base” field (Figure 5, left side) will probably have an extremely disappointing number of total home runs.

Solve your getting-research-participants problem in one easy step with the medium of VIDEO GAMES. Possibly even ethical, who can really say!

The issue:

Gathering data for scientific studies can be difficult. So why not tap into the world of VIDEO GAMES to conduct experiments on willing participants for no additional monetary cost!

Normal scenario:

  • Researcher: “I wonder what factors lead to a person trusting Person A instead of Person B?”

or:

  • Researcher: “I suspect that—all else being equal—ugly defendants in murder trials are convicted twice as often as attractive defendants”

Then, a ton of work has to be done to design a study and recruit participants for it.

Plus, people are always going to nit-pick your conclusions, for example: “what if ugly criminals are also just worse at committing crimes than attractive criminals? Then you’d expect them to be convicted more often, too, thus invalidating your results!”

But, maybe we can short circuit this process AND get scientifically-valid conclusions!

Proposal:

Instead of making researchers talk to a bunch of undergraduates and/or figure out how to get a sufficient number of participants over the Internet, we can perform research via video games.

A researcher would come up with a scenario that they’d like to test, for example:

  • “People with annoying voices are less likely to be helped by a random passerby.”

Then, they’d set up a scenario like:

  • Record both annoying and not-annoying voices for a character in a game.
  • Later, see if the player is motivated to save the character from falling into a volcano / being eaten by a carnivorous plant / falling behind on their car payments, etc.

This could be done for a variety of scenarios, as shown in Figures 1 through 3.

suspects

Fig. 1: We can randomly generate a huge variety of different faces to test how players’ behavior is determined by appearance. For example, upon finding out that the middle guy here is a murderer, does the player let it slide (“well, he had it coming”) or turn him into the police? Maybe we’ll find that EVERY triangle-headed individual is let off the hook, which would raise interesting sociological questions.

 

final_candidates

Fig. 2: Here is a feature that can be added to any game where the player accumulates money: one of the characters above steals money from the player, but there is evidence implicating all three characters, so it’s difficult to determine the actual perpetrator. The culprit is randomly chosen for each player, and is equally likely to be the colonel, the horse or an octopus. However, players are FIVE TIMES more likely to accuse the octopus, as seen in this fabricated figure!

Fig. 3: For a Cold War spy thriller game, any one of these three characters might be a spy. Despite the fact that all three characters have essentially equivalent behaviors (randomly chosen) and backgrounds, we might find that the horse is usually executed when he is discovered to be a Soviet agent, while players allow the toaster to escape back across the Iron Curtain—thus revealing a widespread callous disregard toward the welfare of horses.

PROS: Probably could be a useful research tool!

CONS: Expensive! Requires very specific programming and art expertise.

Never be unfashionable again, with these five amazing 3d-modeled clothing tips! You’ll never believe tip number three!

Background, part 1:

Clothing catalogues occasionally provide a summary of the clothes that a model in an advertisement is wearing; usually this will be a piece of text that looks something like Get this Look: Jeans $100, Shirt $40, Weird Socks $10.”

This is a good system: the company can sell you more clothing this way, and the purchaser gets a pre-vetted complete outfit that (presumably) looks good.

Background, part 2:

“Open world” games often allow the player to customize the look and clothing / armor / random accessories of their character.

One example of this is Grand Theft Auto, where a player can buy hundreds of distinct clothing items for their player character.

Proposal:

Strangely, no games have yet implemented the (seemingly obvious) step of adding an in-game “Get this Look” button that would:

  1. Confirm the player’s clothing measurements
  2. Generate an order online for correctly-sized versions of the clothes that the player’s character is wearing at the moment.
  3. Mail those clothes to the player’s home address.

This could be made even easier if players could set their clothing sizes in a common interface (Figure 1), which would be shared between games.

get_this_look

Fig. 1: “Clothing Size” (bottom left, highlighted in blue) could be another system setting for a user, next to “WiFI settings” and “Sound.”

Conclusion:

This seems like it’s almost an inevitable feature of games in the future. People will probably wonder why it took so long!

Since it’s already profitable to sell virtual cosmetic items in online game, the sale of actual clothing (which can be printed / ordered on-demand) for human beings should be a simple extension of that idea.

 

Fig. 2: When selecting a shirt for one’s avatar in a game, a “BUY IT NOW FOR YOURSELF” button will appear next to it.

 

dark-souls

Fig. 3: Some games—particularly ones in futuristic or medieval settings—would be more difficult for designers to adapt as modern clothing.

 

duck-head

Fig. 4: Strange novelty outfits are a staple of character customization. Now it’s easier than ever to bring those options into the real world.

PROS: Adds new and amazing fashion options, just a click away!

CONS: All your old clothes will seem TOO UNFASHIONABLE now. May not work for 2D games.

Sitting down all day is bad for you! Instead, wriggle through the crawlspace under your house and possibly fall down the stairs in a mad dash to run between rooms of your house while playing this new insanely immersive simulation game! Also, it makes your house into a spaceship.

Background:

There are a few cell phone games that use real-world GPS data to control your in-game character.

The most well-known are probably the two games by Niantic, Pokemon Go and Ingress, in which you physically walk around in order to move your in-game character.

However, no one has yet implemented a smaller-scale version of this idea.

Proposal:

This proposal is for a simulation game that is played on a portable device (probably a cell phone) in which you are the pilot of a large crew-operated vehicle; perhaps a train, a 17th-century galleon, or a futuristic starship.

The vehicle will have several physically-separated “stations” that all need to be manned (by you!). For a galleon, this could include following: the wheel, the sails, an anchor, and the cannons.

In order to operate each station, you (the player) will have to physically run around your house to different locations. Your cell phone GPS will figure out where you are, and will give you the appropriate controls.

  • So if you want to operate the sails, you have to run upstairs to the “sails” station in the second floor hallway.
  • If you want to operate the cannons, you have to go to the “cannon” station in the kitchen, etc.

See Figure 1 for an example of a possible house that this game could be played in, and Figure 2 for an example of a spaceship-ification of the same floor plan.

plan-1-house.png

Fig. 1: A regular floor plan for a house. We will turn this into a spaceship; each different room is designated (by the player) as being a different crucial spaceship component (see Figure 2).

plan-2-spaceship.png

Fig. 2: We have overlaid a spaceship onto this one-story house. NASA guidelines strongly discourage the conversion of a 2-bedroom house into a spaceship, due to the unsuitable floor plan. See artist’s rendition of this architectural fiasco in Figure 3.

spaceship-artists-rendition.png

Fig. 3: Although this spaceship has a terrible layout and extremely poor atmospheric handling, it may be the best that could be done given the layout constraints (see Figure 2).

Addressing GPS issues

Realistically, GPS may not have the required resolution. It also has a hard time with elevation, so it might not be able to report whether you were on the first or second floor of a multi-story dwelling. It might be possible to use WiFi signal strength to fix this, but we also have a more low-tech version that should work.

Instead of using the GPS at all, we just draw a set of symbols that can be easily identified by the cell phone camera.

For example:

  • Draw a triangle on a plain piece of paper. Put that piece of paper in your laundry room. Now it’s the “engine room.”
  • Draw a circle on a piece of paper. Put it in your kitchen. Now it’s the “control room.”
  • Etc.

So when you travel to the correct room in your house, you briefly hold the cell phone camera up to the marked piece of paper, and the phone then knows which room you’re in.

Of course, someone could cheat by putting all the cards together on their desk, but that’s probably not worth worrying about.

We could also use proximity-sensing NFC-enabled cards to prevent having to use the camera, but this is a much less low-tech solution than drawing a triangle on a sheet of paper.

Bonus possibly actually-useful feature:

Instead of being totally frivolous, this game could actually incentivize you to perform useful real-world tasks! Useful tasks that involve walking around a home could include the following:

  • Replace your home’s fire alarm batteries
  • Find the emergency natural gas line shutoff (and the wrench you might need to close the valve)
  • Find the emergency water heater shutoff
  • Check your home for poor drainage around the foundation
  • Water your plants

More difficult tasks:

  • Water a lawn
  • Mow a lawn
  • Re-roof your house (this is the equivalent of taking your galleon into dry dock to scrape barnacles off the hull). (For advanced players only)

PROS: Brings new exercise opportunities to otherwise indolent game aficionados.

CONS: May be difficult to integrate the location-determining aspect without ruining the flow of the game. People would probably also trip and fall down the stairs while playing it.

Dust off your 3D glasses (or excavate them from the geological strata that they are buried beneath) for this new multi-versions-of-a-movie plan that is definitely here to stay and not a gimmick!

Background:

3D glasses  provide the ability to put two totally separate images on a screen at once. Normally, the technology this is used to provide a stereo-3D effect (Figure 1).

But we could use this same technology to show subtly (or entirely!) different films to different groups of people in an audience.

glasses1

Fig. 1: Each lens lets through a specific type of light. Here, the colored lenses separate out red and green light.

Proposal:

Instead of everyone’s glasses having both a left and a right lens, we can instead supply a LEFT/LEFT set of glasses and a RIGHT/RIGHT set of glasses, as seen in Figure 2. (We could also apply this idea to three groups—imagine another audience member with a BLUE/BLUE set of glasses.)

players

Fig. 2: One person would get a pair of glasses that was only the “left” lens, and the other would get only the “right” lens. Now we can display a different image to moviegoers (or game players) #1 and #2.

Possible applications in film:

  • In horror movies, one group of people could get the “ultra gory and horrifying” version of a film, while the other group gets a tastefully understated version with minimal blood and guts.
  • Additional horror movie option: for people who hate jump scares, the video footage accompanying the traditional “jump scare loud violin noise” could just be video of an actual violin, rather than of a cat and/or hockey-masked killer jumping out of a closet.
  • Two version of a film could be shown at the same time in a theater (for example, a PG-13-rated film and an R-rated film).
    • For example, if a film is rated R for brief nudity, the PG-13 version of the film could be generated by adding a bunch of computer-generated tumbleweeds. Ratings problem solved!
  • In a Sherlock-Holmes-style mystery, some people are annoyed by the fact that it’s usually impossible to “play along” with the mystery solving—instead, you wait until the detective reveals the obscure clues at the very end. With this “two movie” approach, the crucial evidence could be pointed out (e.g. with a red circle / arrow), so that the viewers would know which evidence Sherlock Holmes thought was important. But if you didn’t care about that, you could still watch the original cut!

* For the benefit of people with face blindness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia), a hovering name tag could be added above each actor’s head (like the floating name tag present in many multiplayer games). This would also help normal people in shows with a large cast of characters (like Game of Thrones or Arrested Development).

Possible applications in games:

  • You could have a game in which player #1 has the controller, but can only see a limited view of the world, while player #2 has no controller, but can view critical on-screen information that is not visible to player #1. For example, player #2 could have a map, or perhaps be able to see certain invisible walkways / invisible enemies / secret passages, etc.

scary-more

Fig. 3a: In the haunted house movie above, we want to only show the full Grim Reaper to one portion of the audience members (the other viewers should see the glowing eyes but not the specter itself). See figure 3b for a description of how this is done with a traditional set of red/green glasses.

scary-both

Fig. 3b: A colorized version of 3a, ready for 3D-glasses viewing. Yellow = shown to all viewers. Green = only shown to the “right lens glasses” viewers. In this case, the flying Grim Reaper thing will only be visible to a green lens-wearer. See figure 3c for specific images.

scary-red

scary-green

Fig. 3b: Top: “red lens” view where only the eyes of the haunting specter are visible. Bottom: “green lens” view where the entire Grim Reaper is visible.

PROS: Creates additional jobs in post-production. Allows multiple versions of a film to coexist without compromising a director’s original vision.

CONS: Prevents the use of 3D. May increase production costs.

Footnote: Existing applications for console games:

This “show two totally different images” technology has been commercially available for split-screen video games as a semi-standard feature of 2012-era 3D televisions.

The screen could be split (either vertically or horizontally), and one half of the screen would go to the “left” 3D channel while the other would go to the “right” 3D channel. In this fashion, players with left/left and right/right glasses (as seen in Figure 2) would get an entire full screen all to their own. (This also greatly reduced opportunities for screen-looking, although some light still leaks through.)

Unfortunately for this technology, both split-screen games and 3D televisions appear to be a thing of the past.

Increase your own enjoyment of a game by making everyone else’s experience WORSE. It’s all about relative enjoyment, after all.

Background:

One common method that video game developers use to make additional money beyond the initial sale of a game is to sell additional downloadable content (“DLC”) online.

This typically includes things like:

  • New missions and areas.
  • Ridiculous hats or costumes for your character.
  • Additional absurd guns / swords / etc.
  • Additional in-game currency
  • Various things to give the player an advantage in online play (derisively known as “pay-to-win”)

Proposal:

However, there remains one entirely untapped type of DLC: instead of just allowing a user to add features to their own game, what if a user could instead pay money to make someone else’s game worse?

Options include:

  • Set the player’s game language to Esperanto.
  • Provide your own new and annoying replacement sound effects (or voiced dialog!) for the game, which are then uploaded and overwrite the original game’s sound effects (example: bullet ricochet sound replaced by horse whinny).
  • Replace all character models by rubber ducks (Figure 1).
  • Flip all character models 180°, but nothing else changes.
  • In-game music re-recorded by the Portsmouth Sinfonia (check online for videos).

ruin_dlc.png

Fig. 1: Now that everyone’s head is a rubber duck, this space marine game takes on a different character.

Conclusion:

If you work at a major game development studio, you should make sure you get reassigned to the division that works on this sort of thing—it’s going to be a career-maker, for sure.

PROS: Brings in additional revenue, reviewers will love it (since they tend to like unusual or experimental things).

CONS: None!