Yes, It Does Look Cool

Dear Kinect devs: I do not want to do simple binary actions with complex interpreted gestures.

Let’s say you have a menu select gesture where you have to wave your hand and hold it up for a second. If I have a n step-depth menu tree and it takes two seconds to select with a gesture versus 6 frames to select via button press, it is likely to take 10*n longer to get anywhere I want to go using gestures versus the old button system. If your menu tree takes six steps like a “Play Now” game of Madden, then you’ve increased my time to get into the game by ninefold, not to mention any additional interpretation time or false interpretations.

I can use a gesture to open a car door in Forza. Great. Why do I want to do that? To show off the technology or for increased enjoyment?

How about button presses versus gestural gameplay? We’ve seen this on the Wii already. Shaking the sword in Twilight Princess was inferior than the button presses used in the Gamecube version. Shaking to spin in Madden/NCAA Wii was vastly inferior to the button presses on its next-gen brethren. But aiming via tilting the Wiimote with our bow in the aforementioned Twilight Princess or using the MotionPlus to putt in Tiger Wii were much better applications of new tech. The tech is not good or bad, but applications of the tech can be.

Let’s learn from our mistakes. Gestural methods can create new outlets for gameplay. You can’t do EA Active with button presses and it was a creative success. If Kinect creates new gameplay methods, like it seems to in Dance Central, then the tech is being used appropriately.

There’s some great stuff being produced, just don’t let the tech tail wag the gameplay/usability dog.

6 thoughts on “Yes, It Does Look Cool”

  1. i agree with you that menu navigation with Kinect doesn’t work well. They ripped off Eye Toy too much with that. Also, I hope Dance Central gets some attention, looks awesome.

  2. So what do you think of all the combat games that are being made for motion control? Will it be better to have the sword and shield “in your hands” or would you still prefer to press square a bunch of times to do pre-determined combos?

  3. Kinect has no buttons. It will let me do what I can already do, just in a video game. I play video games to do things I am unable to do in real life. I need some way to tell the game I want to do “something extra” like shoot a gun or do a flip kick. Without buttons, I have to use voice or gesture to do this. Both have draw backs (adding a gesture that can be recognized will take you out of the action you are performing, with voice you have no context cue as to what the controls are).
    So far all the games I see using these next gen motion controls seem to be more tech demos than things that are fun to play.

  4. I think people are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of having a game be completely controlled by Kintect, just use it to enhance. Imagine a dialogue system such as the one in Mass Effect but using speech of the player to communicate (kind of like a bunch of Milo’s). If done right, it could infinitely increase the amount of immersion and depth a game would have.

  5. Whether or not you see things like that will depend on the penetration of Kinect. Devs will have to create UI that can be used by both controller and Kinect – why spend the time on making the Kinect one extra responsive/clever/useful if, say, only 10% can use it?

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