Welcome to the first entry in our VGB “Op-Ed” series, which are simply opinion pieces or articles written about a particular topic relating to videogames. Articles that fall outside the categories of news/features/reviews/cheats/walkthroughs, etc.
These articles will generally be written by contributers, although sometimes me, Ferry or Jester will also post our own opinion pieces regarding whatever is swishing around in our brains regarding the gaming industry.
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Keep in mind that because these are opinion/editorial articles, the views expressed herein are not necessarily reflective of VGB as a whole, or of me and Ferry’s opinions. Unless of course it is one of us who wrote the Op-Ed.
So give a round of applause for newcomer Yagami-Iori, who has some thoughts on the recently unveiled Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move systems, and the whole “Motion Controller” wave in general.
In This Gamer’s Opinion: Sony & Microsoft Get a ‘Wii’ Bit Nintendo
The impact of the little Wii that could has finally resulted in what we all knew was coming, new input devices from Sony & Microsoft. Nintendo has found a new way to engage the consumer gaming market and has run away with what is technically inferior hardware, and now the HD competition will enter the motion gaming battle with their own devices. But how do they stack up? Let’s breakdown what each of the devices has to offer and the impact they will have, in this gamer’s opinion.
The Sony Move
Once again, Sony held a conference filled with trailers galore and overuse of the words “innovation” and “momentum” (30 space dollars to anyone that watched the conference and gives me a full count of how many times those words were said) but as expected, we also saw first hand what we can expect from the new Playstation Move controller system for the PS3.
The Playstation Move uses anywhere from 2 to 3 devices which allows users to interact with their gaming worlds in “new” ways that weren’t possible previously on the console. The EyeToy camera, a long time staple peripheral camera device (which originally made it’s debut on the PS2), is mounted on or under the television and tracks movements of the Playstation Move “wand”.
The Move wand has a bulb at the end, which the camera can use to track movements from any position based on the size of the bulb as perceived by the camera. As the bulb moves closer, further, up, down, left right, etc, the camera can calculate where the bulb is moving; therefore translating into in-game movement/aiming. The device contains both an accelerometer & rate sensor. It can also track movements relating to spinning/hand gestures by using these sensors.
Then there is the “Navigation” controller or “Sub Controller”, which gives additional analog/d-pad inputs as well as giving the player full access to the buttons normally accessible using the SIXAXIS controller that aren’t accessible with only the Wand portion of the Move set. The Sub Controller looks similar to the Wii’s “Nunchuck” attachment, although it hooks up to the Move wand wirelessly (unlike the Wii’s Motion Controller system).
Kinect for Xbox 360 (previously called “Project Natal”)
Microsoft was the “safe” player this year. Most of the trailers that came out at Microsoft’s E3 2010 Press Conference were of titles which the world has known about for some time now (if you didn’t know Gears of War 3 was in the works then I would like to welcome you to the Internet, good sir!). But at E3 2010 we finally had a chance to see the ambitious “Kinect” in the field.
The Kinect is basically a dual set of camera which combines high-resolution tracking and depth perception along with a microphone input. What this allows is for true direct input into your games as your hands, arms, feet, your ENTIRE BODY, can control movement or actions within a given Kinect-supported game.
This tracking can be used in multiple ways, including seeing a silhouette manipulate items within a game or even placing you entirely into the game to perform actions & stunts. Early word is that the device does require the user to be standing straight up in front of it at all times for it to work properly, but this could change in the future as developers work with the tool kit and learn how to better use it. So stay tuned on
that one. Microsoft has been rather sparse on all of the details on exactly how the technology works, but we will learn more in time.
Verdict On New Motion Control Input Devices
Of the two input devices that were debuted during E3 2010, I would have to give the Playstation Move the clear advantage. What Sony has done is taken what Nintendo has provided for hardware innovation and found a way to improve it (but this time not just by multiplying by two, but that’s another article).
The Move will allow gamers the same, if not more precise, interaction with their games using a more fail safe technology, due to the use of a camera.
Early on after Nintendo released the Nintendo Wii, it was found out that the sensor bar doesn’t so much actually “sense” anything but is in fact just two infrared sensors that are sending a signal which the controller processes for depth and in game tracking. People then proved this simply by using two candles to display how easy it was to replicate what the sensor bar was providing.
The issue with this technology is a LOT of every day items can display infrared and thus cause interference with your Wii’s motion sensing. Try plugging in your Christmas Tree this holiday with standard lights next to the TV with the Wii and see what happens when you attempt to play. It’s worth a good laugh.
With The Move, the software behind the scenes knows exactly what it is looking to track and will translate that accurately with little to no lag and no interference.
The Kinect, on the other hand, has something that I believe to be a fatal (hey, that rhymes with Natal!) flaw; there is only one input device . . . your body.
Now while this sounds fun and engaging on the surface, it also severely limits the complexity of in game inputs which can be used by developers. That’s because, really, you only have so many “inputs” on yourself. Your hands, your feet . . . your head. And after that you have run out of inputs! (Octopus LOVE this device though). I realize that this device is meant to appeal to the blue ocean market of moms & seniors, but when combining this with the rumored price point of USD 149.99, it is hard to imagine that this device will be able to
penetrate the blue ocean market with a price point equal to that of a full system. Also the lack of inputs will constrict development, possibly leaving out the hardcore gamer. Which, again, would be fatal to the device’s success.
For this generation, the impact of the Move and Kinect will be marginal, but I cannot see them turning into game changers, unless this generation extends out for 3-4 more years. The Kinect development kit was announced at E3 to have just been shipped to developers, so other than the games that we see from in-house Microsoft developers, the berth of games will not come for at least another 6 months (for Live Arcade titles) to a year (for full releases); I would estimate. Which will only put the Kinect further behind in the eyes of consumers.
Purchasing either device set alone will run the consumer over USD 100, which will alienate many. But it appears that Sony especially has a device with some true promise at delivering an accessible yet possibly deep gaming device.
The Playstation EyeToy currently retails for USD 39.99 and is available in stores now. The Playstation Move wand will retail for USD 49.99 and the Playstation Move Navigation Wand for USD 19.99, with expected release dates of September 15th, September 19th, and October 21st for the EUR, NA, and JP markets, respectively. The Kinect for Xbox 360 is rumored and available for pre-order at USD 149.99 and unless GameStop is completely off base (which they tend not to be), this price should hold suit.
So what are your thoughts on Kinect and Move?