Chrome Hounds as fusion cuisine

Dawdling on the subject of Player-VS.-Player forms for MMO’s with a colleague last week, we took a look at some of the currently available forms.

One of the forms that stuck into my mind, was that of Chrome Hounds, a mecha game by From Software, that let players gain control of certain areas by scoring points during missions situated there as a freelancer. Being able to gain resources and shift alignment across a persistent three-way conflict proved very good, though the main game mechanics could not entice the common public.

Yet, the idea fitted perfectly for the PvP purpose in my opinion. But as my colleague pointed out, that’s because it somewhat resembled the German-style board game (I always sneeringly called them ‘board games 2.0’). It got me thinking about if it is possible to incorporate such simplified designs to perform complex situations. Like, using the basic rules behind Set to quietly put in a deeper mechanic to a combat system for instance.

Imagine my surprise then, when Two Tribes and The Games Factory announced at almost the same time to be doing the same thing, yet the other way around. Rubik’s Cube World seems to be using the complexities of a video game to liven up that of an analogue one. Though, that’s partially because translating analogue games into a digital environment can be as problematic as trying to create a good game based on a film-license.

Do both forms work sufficiently, though? Can you inject simple analogue games as a deeper mechanic, to such an extent that it will feel natural? And can you use a complex concept to liven up a rather simplistic model? The Rubik’s Cube World example leaves little in terms of ‘hiding’ one element within the other. Yet, I wonder if you could mix those two elements together to create something which does not feel… forced (by lack of a better world).

The same applies to Chrome Hounds; as it uses those board game elements, they do feel out of sync with the rest of the game. It is rather clearly a vehicle instead of a body part, despite being a rather good and fun vehicle. But can it be used in-game? Not only as a part of the game, but also a part of the world? Can it add to the density of the IP instead of being there to facilitate?

The concept I am getting at sounds and feels a bit like fusion cuisine; blending tastes to create a new one, instead of having two separate tastes consumed at once. And in that light, I’m quite looking forward to Rubik’s Cube World.