If you recall, I did an article earlier in the week regarding a new console called the OTON X that apparently has the ability to self-generate games. I've been finding it hard to believe that something like this could be a legitimate product and I've doubted its quality, but my recent interview with CEO and Founder of EnGeniux Derrick Samuels has made me a believer.
Derrick contacted me after my article was posted and was willing to give me an inside scoop on what really makes the OTON X tick and why it could very well change the face of gaming as we know it.
Travis Shuman: Starting things off right, you've claimed the OTON X has the ability to self-generate games. I'm sure you can understand the hesitation a lot of readers may have, considering it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. How exactly is this little console able to do what huge teams of educated developers and programmers do?
Derrick Samuels: First, thanks for reaching out to myself and the EnGeniux team. I know OTON seems crazy when people first heard about it. But the process that OTON uses to create games is somewhat complex but we'll keep it simple for this interview. We created a special algorithm we call the ‘Game Creation Engine'. In this engine are pre-set parameters that OTON use to build games from inventory in its database. From that point OTON has an autonomous automation code that creates and deploys games. Now remember on the OTON UI we have two means of obtaining games. One is strictly the autonomous part and when you decide to create your own games OTON will assist with this effort as well. Trust me, I had three years to think about this and, in a nut shell, OTON is just a program creating other programs. That's how I see it.
Travis: Isn't there a worry of a lack of originality in some of these games the OTON will be producing? Does the OTON really have the ability to create an FPS (first person shooter) game then turn around and make a completely different style of game like an RPG (role playing game)?
Samuels: Great question! I thought about that too during early discovery phases of the project. OTON will be updated every six months for free with a application we call "OTON Asset Modules". These modules will contain new game physics, artificial intelligence, OTON challenges and other vital new game components OTON will need to create new exciting gameplay. We can take certain aspects of these games and change them. For example, if you have a game about an ant, OTON can take a peek from our information on ants and see what could be a challenge, con or pro for ant character that can be rolled into a game. Our system will do its best not to repeat certain configurations over so many system configurations. Also our system will be set to 8 Bit, Classic, Retro and Modern gaming visuals, so expect different game elements, different outcomes, etc. When I wrote my patent in the beginning the idea was can we have a assortment of thousand of genetic environments and when the user request a FPS or RPG, that's when OTON does it's work and start to create the challenge, the goal and rules for the game. And with constant feedback from users and crowd source assets there is no limit to what can be created. I'm a die hard Legend of Zelda fan myself and can't wait to see what similar games will come out of OTON.
Travis: Jumping back for a minute here, you're also the creator of the EVO console we all remember from four or five years back. A successor to the console was in the works last year but has since been cancelled if I'm correct. One intriguing aspects of the EVO 2 was its Android compatibility. With mobile platforms on the rise, will OTON have that same Android compatibility upon its release?
Samuels: Yes, we introduced the EVO 2 in late 2011 as the successor to the EVO Smart Console that we introduced in 2004. We saw an opportunity before any other company to use Android as a gaming hub for a console. The idea intrigued me. We were on the verge of wrapping up EVO 2 development when Ouya made their announcement. We were originally going to have an Android console share the stage with Ouya but instead we decided we could add Android gameplay to OTON and still allow gamers to get that Android game fix. We have to have Android on OTON. We will take a similar approach other companies take to have Android work with PC's. So, yes Android, as well as Linux, will be compatible with OTON!
Travis: This then begs the question: with such a strong interest in the mobile market, will OTON have a long life cycle similar to consoles or will owners be looking at more frequent cycles similar to that of smart phones?
Samuels: I'm thinking more like a console but our hardware is based on ARM. That will be new a challenge when merging to dynamic platforms. Android for OTON is an amazing bonus for our gamers. I can better answer that once we get a feel of the market but I see this OTON hardware on the market for a few years. But more study and discovery need to be tested to give a sure answer.
Travis: Throughout all the pictures we've seen of the OTON so far, it looks as though it comes with one controller (similar to the Wii U). Is split screen multiplayer an option or are you looking more towards a strict focus on online for multiplayer?
Samuels: Yes, one standard controller. We hope to do a cool demo at E3 2013, using split screen and multiple devices. Online gaming is a must lest we face the wrath of the gaming Gods!
Travis: One of the more intriguing aspects of the OTON is its ability to project games onto any surface with the custom environment creation simulator. What led you to want to include laser projection into the OTON?
Samuels: The idea of originated as an element of EVO and EVO 2 but it didn't seem easily doable with technology we had on the table at the time. However, when OTON took shape I got the same vibe when Sony added the Blu-Ray player to the PS3. With OTON Creation Engine it added a new layer that finally felt right. Now gamers can play on any surface, or pack up OTON and play where a TV isn't present. Plus, with HD video output, you can create some of the most amazing environments; re-create events and places in history all by projecting on a surface in large HD quality, or just use OTON as a low cost business presentation device. There are a ton of ways OTON can be used and I'm sure your readers can come up with a few. We currently have a vendor we are speaking with to get this installed in the device!
Travis: Motion and voice controls are something we're all surprised to see this console. It's no secret that motion and voice controls are becoming more popular as time goes on. Will the OTON have a separate camera/microphone accessory and will they come with the system at launch or be sold separate afterwards?
Samuel: Yes and no. For those who donate for the basic units that ship without cameras they can purchase both rear and front facing cameras separate. For the Premium OTON X unit it will ship with rear laser HD camera and for the Deluxe it will have both rear laser HD and front motion/voice camera integrated with the unit.
Travis: You have a donation system similar to that of a Kickstarter project on your website (www.OTONX.com) with a very ambitious goal of $1,000,000. What are your future plans for OTON if your campaign is successful?
Samuel: OTON Gen 1 is the blueprint to OTON Gen 2 where the technology improves. If funded we'll see about 1000 demo levels and 50 to 100 launch titles as well as continuous improvements and content packs to keep the auto-generated games fresh as I mentioned before. Just sit back and think what can be turned into a game and also think ‘what new original heroes will OTON create?' There will be challenges, but that's why we need the game community to support us. I believe in the Steve Jobs idea "Every once in awhile a revolutionary products comes along and changes everything." I live and die by giving people more value for less and just challenging myself to invent more innovative products. I don't know how to do it any other way. I want our supporters to feel good in the morning after they support us!
Whether or not this OTON X is going to succeed still remains to be seen but I'd definitely like to think that it could. The video game industry could really use a push in a new direction and EnGeniux's OTON X could very well be the one to do it.