Nintendo Patent Details In-game Hint, Developer Walkthrough System

By Nick Breckon, Jan 09, 2009 3:19pm PST Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto recently filed a US patent for a system that would provide in-game hints and developer walkthroughs, allowing players to "jump in" on pre-recorded gameplay and clear areas of a game that would otherwise stump players.

As reported by Kotaku, the hypothetical system would have several modes: Game, Digest and Scene Menu.

"Game" would allow for typical gameplay with on-screen hints provided. "Digest" would play a video of a developer's run through the game, allowing users to resume control over the game at any point--though without the ability to save the game.

The "Scene Menu" would act in a similar fashion to Atari's recent Alone in the Dark, providing a DVD-like menu to skip through portions of the game.

Early developer reaction to the patent has been mixed, with some questioning the merit of a system that essentially plays the game for you.

"The defining characteristic of a game is that you play it," said Braid developer Jonathan Blow to Kotaku. "If, in order for games to be accessible to a wider audience, we need to make it so that most people can skip over the playing it part, then what that really means is that our medium sucks.

"If you have to elide the basic property of your medium to make experiences in that medium desirable, then the medium itself is questionable at a very deep level."

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  • It sounds like it could be a decent enough idea, really. It would probably work best if the player had to earn 'hint credits', either through a timer, in-game actions (Killing enemies, random drops, stuff like that?) or maybe just a certain amount per level. I mean, otherwise it'll just make puzzles completely pointless, as the only reason to complete them yourself is because you're stubborn.

    Obviously this mechanic has been invented to help newer gamers through puzzles that more experienced players breeze through, but there has to be a balance in there somewhere where using a hint is a last resort rather than 'what's 2+2 oh fuck it *hint*'

    However it's not that easy to do, because good players would probably be more likely to build up hint points than more inexperienced players if getting them requires any form of skill. Ideally, you'd want it so the game could recognize an inexperienced player, but even then it can be difficult to separate them from experienced but thorough players.