By Karli Winata / January 17th, 2015
Ever since Nintendo unveiled the Revolution’s controller, what we now call the Wii Remote, motion controls have had a bit of a roller coaster ride in terms of popularity with game developers. In the early days of the Wii, game developers jumped headfirst into developing games with the Wii Remote in mind. News of motion-control games being developed would come regularly. The results were…underwhelming to put it mildly, and development for motion-control gaming steadily dropped. Fast-forward to today, and motion-control gaming has all but dried up. With the Kinect’s unbundling from Xbox One systems last year, one daresay that motion controls looks to be dead in the water. So when a game developer boldly attempts to make a game that revolves around it, it’s going to raise some eyebrows.
This is Runes: The Forgotten Path, a fantasy role-playing game. Or at least, this is the beginning of it. Stormborn Studio, the developers with the balls to make a motion-control-centric game in this day and age, designed this game is to make the player feel like a wizard, without the pesky need for decades of book-learning. In the world of Runes, magic-casting is all in the wrist. To cast a spell, the player has to gesture the elemental rune and an archetype rune. The video shows an example of adding the Fire element and with the Beam archetype together. The developers aim to create a unique spell for every combination of the two.
The video shows them using SIXENSE older motion controls. Stormborn has since moved on to STEM motion controls, essentially SIXENSE second-generation motion control system. But they’re not stopping there. They’re also considering the Leap motion control system, the Kinect, and the PlayStation Move as well. In keeping with trying to make the player feel like a wizard, Runes: The Forgotten Path will support Oculus Rift as well. Perhaps just to cover their bases, it also supports traditional, dual analog stick controllers as well.
If the notion of a motion-control-centric game wasn’t enough of unorthodox thinking, Stormborn is also challenging another time-tested RPG notion: the experience points. To them, experience points feel too divorced from the narrative. Almost every RPG allows the player to finish the main quest without fully developing their player characters. Runes: The Forgotten Path will introduce its own take on leveling via memory points. In the game, the player character is an amnesiac. Stormborn reasons that for the character to grow stronger, they have to unveil their own memories by completing the main and side quests. This way, leveling and unraveling the story is one and the same.
Motion controls in gaming do not have a good track record. Many have tried, but only a handful can be counted as successful. Even those tend to come with a heavy dose of caveats. The Just Dance series is probably the most successful motion-controlled game there is. It’s also the only one. Every other game that has tried to incorporate it into standard gaming genres is usually met with failure. But that was then.
Motion controls have come a long way since the original Wii remote of 2005. Many companies have been quietly working on improving motion controls since then, and a couple of them, like the STEM System, even seem promising. Oculus Rift’s recent rise in popularity has also spurred the need for a good motion-control system. Gamers may not have the best experience when it comes to motion controls, but that may change if the Oculus Rift takes off like many predict it would. If it does, good motion controls won’t be far behind it. And neither will Runes: The Forgotten Path.
Currently, Stormborn Studio is looking for funding. Whether that means the traditional publisher route or crowdfunding remains to be seen. They’re working on a demo to get people’s interest and visibility.
Runes: The Forgotten PathStormborn Studio