http://www.oxm.co.uk/64093/features/roman-tabletIt's taken me a while to warm up to Ryse: Son of Rome's Xbox One SmartGlass features. I like how they work on paper, but they seem troublingly out of synch with the game's fiction - how are players supposed to feel steeped in that lush barbaric world, if you're going to urge them to pull out a smartphone or tablet? But I'm perhaps being over-sensitive - as is my wont - and at the end of the day, Ryse's SmartGlass features are optional. Here's a little chat with Justin Robey, Microsoft's senior producer, about how Crytek and the manufacturer have made those touchy-feely auxiliary mechanisms feel like a natural extension of the game.
"What we really wanted to do with the Ryse UI on SmartGlass was to think of new innovative ways to use it, that weren't so limited in scope," Robey told us at Gamescom. "Everything you can do within the Ryse user interface is in SmartGlass. You can set up your campaign, set up multiplayer games, purchase downloadable content to get your booster packs - while you're on the bus you can upgrade your character. If you're trying to figure out certain abilities you're trying to get, you can do that all in here."
SmartGlass is the foundation on which Ryse's player community will be built, he added. "You've also got the community section, which is a central location where people can get all news on the game without having to go to Xbox.com or anywhere like that. We can pull all the news from news outlets like OXM and pull it all into one place for players to read. On top of that we have the game DVR section, which is like YouTube, and the 'Me' section which is all about you."
Robey was particularly eager to discuss the possibilities for video tutorials, doubtless mindful of official messaging around the Xbox One's DVR feature. "There's also the timeline. This is like a running strategy guide. People often look up YouTube guides for tips and help, but we handle all of that via DVR, automatically curate it, find key moments in gameplay and then highlight them for users.
"You can get videos at every point in the game - you can see who has uploaded it and basically have an entire strategy guide automatically built in. On top of these gameplay hits you can see your friends' details, what their achievements are and any basic game DVR that they've unlocked, all in a single central location."
As with other tablet and phone apps like Battlefield's Battlelog app or The Division's drone app, much of this can be done while you're away from the console itself. "Using telemetry data it can update on the fly, and you're always good to go. Think about being on the way home, you load it up and you can take a look at the level you're going on, you can pin achievements you want to complete. Everything Ryse, all right there."
Should you feel compelled to flaunt your arsenal of handhelds, you can tether a number of SmartGlass-supporting devices to the console and use them all to interact with Ryse at once. "You can have more than one SmartGlass device, too. Surface, a phone and other devices, and each one can run different parts of the UI system simultaneously."
If all this sounds worthy of a Roman general, I bring glad tidings - Robey feels Ryse's raft of touchscreen features will be more or less the norm for Xbox One games that are published by Microsoft. "This is the level of implementation you can expect to see from the majority of first party titles. Because of the instant communication and all the things that Xbox One does with SmartGlass as a natural extension, you will see a lot more activities like this. We want it to look like something that you would love to have on your device."
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Roman tablet? Why Ryse's use of SmartGlass on Xbox One is "natural" - not a gimmick..
Sub-stance1 wishes they had posted this first.
I plan to use a lot of smartglass next gen. Can't wait.
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