Microsoft has been working on a system that’s part Super Guide and part Demon’s Souls for well over a year. A patent filed by Andre Vrignaud, Director Games Platform Strategy at Microsoft, reveals a plan to assist gamers during difficult parts with help from other players. When a player gets stuck the game looks up the problem spot, accesses a database, and brings up a list of user submitted tips and guides. After absorbing the collective information players, with some more practice, should be able to pass the challenge.
The patent mentions this service will utilize Xbox Live, but it isn’t clear if it will be free or for Xbox Live Gold Members only.
On paper, it sounds like in-game FAQs. So, why would authors want to use this? Microsoft’s game guide system mentions a robust authoring system which allows players to capture screenshots, video clips, and annotate them with a digital pencil. Authors may even be able to add audio commentary and tag situations, objects, and items. Tags will be used to link tips to specific game situations. Developers will be able to created guides too, which can be starred or weighed higher than user created guides.
Microsoft’s community focused plan has potential, especially for achievement hunters, but it also has a chicken and egg problem. Popular series like Halo will have tons of tips. No problem there. However, smaller games — perhaps games to difficult for the masses, won’t have as large of a community.