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Input Devices XBox (Games) Games

Why Natal Is a Big Deal 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-to-combine-with-a-vr-headset dept.
Kikizo has an editorial piece evaluating the Xbox 360's upcoming motion-control scheme, Project Natal, and discussing why it's a bigger step forward for interactive gaming than many people think. Quoting: "[Natal] accurately perceives players in 3D space, simultaneously tracking over 48 joints on your body, enabling it to accurately redraw your skeleton in real time as you move about. On a separate 'debug screen' in the closed-doors session, we could witness for ourselves the 'mind's eye' of Natal, visually showing how it completely understands where we are, how we're moving, where we are in 3D space, how far in front of my face my hand is, whatever. It can supposedly even track individual hand and finger movement when it switches into this more finely-tuned mode. ... There is a surprising feeling of tactility and iPhone-like fluidity and precision to the way Natal works." Another interesting bit of news about Natal is that Wii-hacker Johnny Chung Lee is part of the development team. We've discussed some of his creations in the past.
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Why Natal Is a Big Deal

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  • by dalmiroy2k (768278) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:07AM (#28306373)

    Xbox Project Natal : Felicia Day
    "I can't wait to throw a fireball."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYuJivFFa-c [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by onion2k (203094)

      Excellent video demonstration of why Natal *will fail* (at least in the UK and Japan). Land is much less of a scarce resource in the USA so houses can have big open areas, but in countries with a higher population density people's houses just don't have that much space. Unless Microsoft can persuade people to rearrange their living spaces to make room by removing coffee tables, buying smaller sofas, etc Natal just won't be accessible for many people.

      • by Eponymous Crowbar (974055) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:49AM (#28306707)

        So the Wii is also failing in those areas? It requires a similar amount of space to play Wii Sports.... maybe a small amount less, but not much.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Someone obviously never discovered you can play wii sports golf sitting down and swinging the wii-mote over your head. Although in all seriousness I do have quite a large / empty living room (for the UK), and a few of the more enthusiastic wii games do have space issues, there have been more than one wii tennis related injury in my household, also having a £1000 TV on the wall makes one a bit apprehensive about getting "too involved"

        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          It requires a similar amount of space to play Wii Sports

          No, it does not "require" any more space than it takes to flex your wrist, at least if you're a fucking toolbox [penny-arcade.com].

          There's a difference between enabling and requiring.

        • by lxs (131946)

          I don't own a Wii because of space issues. No joke, my living room is tiny. I wonder how the Wii managed to become so successful in Japan where cramped housing is the norm.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kklein (900361)

          Here's a little N=1 for you, but I really enjoy Wii Sports (are there any other games for the Wii?), but my wife and I don't have one because we live in Japan, and even though we have the biggest place of any of my friends, there just isn't enough space for it to be fun.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 12, 2009 @10:11AM (#28307627)

        Yep... I have real trouble typing in this cardboard box sized house I live in. Keep banging my elbows on opposing walls. And my head sticks out the roof.

        When you Americans come to visit on vacation, its a bit like Gulliver's Travels. With one misplaced Nike you can wipe out entire villages of tiny houses. One carelessly discarded Big Mac wrapper can block an entire river.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday June 12, 2009 @10:58AM (#28308395)

        Wow, I'm having flashbacks to when the first Xbox came out and people were saying it was doomed in Japan because its case was too big. As is the extra inch on the Xbox was just enough so it wouldn't fit through the door, or some shit. (Given, the original Xbox didn't do well in Japan, but I don't think it's physical size had anything to do with it.)

        Now you're telling me that in the UK apartments (flats) are so small, apparently, that people with 36" TVs have to sit no more than 2' from the screen? Yeah, right. I know bullshit when I smell it.

        The simple fact is that anybody who has a decent-sized TV in a comfortable-to-view location has enough space to use Natal. (Or Wii, or Sony's Eyetoy, since your argument applies equally to those.)

    • by kieran (20691)

      Goddamit! Now I'm going to have to buy a fucking 360...

      (I have a PS3 that I rarely play on, and decided to wait on the Wii until there was a game out I REALLY had to have - hasn't happened yet.)

      • by Narishma (822073)
        Or you can just buy the waggle wand thingy for the PS3 once it's released next year. It's basically the same as the Wii remote but more precise and with a camera. As seen in this here video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaQsXdKbUw8 [youtube.com]
      • They're probably release the same games and controller for Vista/Windows 7? They will be desperate to get people to upgrade after the disaster they've had the last couple of years surely..

        If they do release the control system for PC I know it might encourage me to go back to Windows (at least for some gaming) rather than sticking with my Linux/PS3 combo, but I expect Sony will be able to do similar tricks with the eyetoy within a year or two anyway (if they haven't already been working on something like thi

    • by Barny (103770)

      There was a second E3 vid showing yet more of the amazing technology at work.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQZQCV40aK4 [youtube.com]

  • The Gamertag Report (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:11AM (#28306391)
    I could see myself controlling my Xbox interface like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Granted it wouldn't add much to the functionality, but damn if that wouldn't be the coolest gadget ever.
    • by GeorgeStone22 (1532191) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:37AM (#28306599)
      Did anyone else get out of breath just watching the girl play breakout? I can only see Natal taking off as an exercise tool in regards to using it as a control system. If I could fight effectively using my body then I wouldn't be doing roundhouse kicks at a TV screen, I would be at my local martial arts center sparing. IMO the point of video games is to escape reality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by slashmojo (818930)

        Well you could go to the local martial arts center to spar with a real opponent but that also comes with drawback of real brain damage when you get kicked in the head! ;)

        At least with the xbox you only have to worry about 'trivial' stuff like pulled muscles and heart attacks - unless players start trying back flips or something.

        Somehow I foresee many lawsuits coming out of project natal..

        Looks awesome though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by somersault (912633)

        Did anyone else get out of breath just watching the girl play breakout?

        Haven't seen the video, but depending on what age she was and how much she was bouncing about, I'm guessing a lot of /.ers got out of breath watching her :P

        Anyway, I feel exactly the opposite when it comes to performing motions in computer games. I love that drumming at expert level on Rock Band actually needs real drumming skills. My drumming improved greatly within a couple of months of getting Rock Band (I've never had real lessons, just taught myself) and within maybe 4 months I had completed the whole

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WCLPeter (202497)

      I'm much more interested in Milo [youtube.com] and the potential for a personal assistant.

      Wouldn't it be nice to come home and say something like, "Good afternoon Milo, did I get any new messages?" and then have him give me an itemized listing. Throw in some call display, my contact list, and the apparently impressive speech recognition, I could have something very unique and personal, "Hey Peter, welcome home. Your mom called, twice, and your sister wants to know if you're going to dinner with her and the kids next Sa

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:13AM (#28306401) Journal
    After scanning this article, I'm kind of worried. Everyone's jumping into 3D immersive technology and that's great. Heck, I own a Wii myself ... but one thing I don't like about it is my inability to become really good at a game that relies on WiiMote motion. I don't know what the deal is but the learning curve seems really easy yet once you get there there is no way to differentiate between the 98 percentile player and the 99 percentile player. Now, I haven't gotten addicted to the WiiMote intensive games and I'm grateful that games like Super Smash Bros. don't rely on 3D motion of the WiiMote. It's just too complex and inaccurate. That said, this screenshot [kikizo.com] really worried me. No controller required or controller optional?

    I welcome this new technology but as an avid gamer I'm more than a little bit afraid that with this new technology everyone is going to be expected to take advantage of it on the XBox360. We might be jumping into a new dimension too fast for software and hardware to support it. I know a lot of people would argue with that statement but Wii games feel 'soft' when they are WiiMote intensive and I wonder if Project Natal will feel the same way. Don't get me wrong, they are great games for four people to play while getting loaded.

    I guess Nintendo pioneered what is the next step in video games much like Sony pioneering the transition from directional pad to miniature joystick. My question now is really whether or not the PS3 will follow suit. They have to in order to attract these motion titles, don't they?
    • Haha, yeah, with multiplayer you can get punched out on screen AND in real life.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by racerx509 (204322)

      I guess Nintendo pioneered what is the next step in video games much like Sony pioneering the transition from directional pad to miniature joystick. My question now is really whether or not the PS3 will follow suit. They have to in order to attract these motion titles, don't they?

      Nintendo pioneered the miniature joystick as well. The n64 had analog sticks more than a year before the dual shock debuted. Nintendo always innovates, while everyone else takes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ThePhilips (752041)

        Nintendo pioneered the miniature joystick as well. The n64 had analog sticks more than a year before the dual shock debuted. Nintendo always innovates, while everyone else takes.

        I wish Nintendo also "pioneered" some new games... Motion controls are great, but useless if there are no new games to take advantage of them. WiiSports seems to be more of an exception.

        The only thing which "excites" me about Natal is that MS is known for pushing hard technology on developers. In other words once released, I expect better support for Natal on Xbox360 than that of WiiMote on Wii.

        Though there is also a probability that (similarly to WiiMote) Natal would degrade into some sort of "Waggl

      • by feepness (543479) on Friday June 12, 2009 @12:21PM (#28309619) Homepage

        Nintendo pioneered the miniature joystick as well. The n64 had analog sticks more than a year before the dual shock debuted. Nintendo always innovates, while everyone else takes.

        I still remember when Nintendo first started using optical media and everyone else had to stick with those dusty cartridges...

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Firstly, the N64 had a mini joystick before the original Playstation. The original Playstation controller from 1994 only had a D-Pad, The Dual shock [wikipedia.org] was released later in 1997. The N64 came out in 1996.

      Also, how immersed do you want to be in your game? I have a Wii, but I find a lot of time I'd rather play a game like Mario Galaxy, where it does use the motion sensing, but doesn't require you go be standing up, and getting your entire body into it. It's really nice for certain games, like golf, to ha
  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:13AM (#28306403)
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/6/5/ [penny-arcade.com]

    "SirWangALot hits you with his 'Pendulous Apendage of Pendulousnous' for 2 bashing damage, and you are afflicted with 'Point and Laugh Hysterically!' for 10 seconds.
  • by qpawn (1507885) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:14AM (#28306419)

    They could release an adult version of Project Natal that tracks 49 joints. That would make for a VERY interactive experience.

  • Im really looking forward to Natal, I think its one step closer to total immersion, however its not without problems. A wand or some sort of controller is still going to be needed to effectively "walk" in a game the only other way to do it would be to use some sort of gesture to glide the player along or to walk in place, neither of which is very practical. Using a gesture to walk forward in an FPS or RPG for instance would not only be awkward but would also completely destroy the "immersion" they are going for and anyone who has played Final Fantasy would balk at the idea of having to "moonwalk" your way across the map.

    I can easily see it working in conjunction with a controller for those types of situations though and would still make the game more fun. The gesture recognition has me thinking about Fable 3, especially with Lionhead already playing with the technology. Fable 3 used a gesture menu that caused NPC's to react differently and say different things based on the "mood" or jesture your character portrayed. Just thinking about being able to talk (even with a limited amount of things be able to say) to the npc's, or to be able to sneer, growl or smile and get a reaction sounds extremely fun. I still see this as being a rather long way off but its undeniable that its a leap forward.

    I had the pleasure of playing with a Z-Cam at last years CES, Natal is supposedly based partially on that and partially on something MS has been developing for years, the Z-Cam was already impressive, if with the melding of technology this is actually an improvement its going to be something to behold.

    • Im really looking forward to Natal, I think its one step closer to total immersion, however its not without problems. A wand or some sort of controller is still going to be needed to effectively "walk" in a game the only other way to do it would be to use some sort of gesture to glide the player along or to walk in place, neither of which is very practical. Using a gesture to walk forward in an FPS or RPG for instance would not only be awkward but would also completely destroy the "immersion" they are goi

    • by Xest (935314) on Friday June 12, 2009 @10:10AM (#28307619)

      This is the thing I've wondered about the most.

      As I've said in response to a previous article though, I feel even having a game like Gears of War controlled as normal but with the added ability to "physically" duck particles or move to cover would add a whole new level of immersion. Even if I had to walk and look with the controller I still see a lot of scope.

      Of course, one solution would be just to provide a cut down controller like the Wii nunchuck. Again another thing I pointed out in a previous thread is that Natal doesn't preclude the use of extra controllers - Guitar Hero can still use Guitars but give you extra points and extra interactivity for rocking like a true rockstar as you play ;)

      I think the best thing to take away from what Natal can do is that it adds a new dimension to interactivity, a dimension that can be used on it's own, or simply to enhance the experience of existing games. I think really it has to be taken in the context of what it can add to gaming, rather than the idea that it's a whole replacement or whole new way of doing things, but simultaneously that's not to say that it doesn't open doors for whole new styles of control as well.

      Despite all that I do not expect us to see much from it this console generation, I do not believe it will be released and then have time to really flourish until the next console generation, i.e. I think it'll be 2 years before we really see Natal come into it's own.

  • by CubicleView (910143) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:19AM (#28306461) Journal

    "iPhone-like fluidity"

    gimmie a break. How and why did you manage to fit a reference to the iphone into the summary.

    • I agree! It's bad enough trying to turn "iPhone" into a generic noun to replace the perfectly good word we already have: phone - now we get to use it as an adjective? (Although perhaps we should - if successful, Apple lose their trademark!)

      I honestly can't even fathom what he means by it - although I suppose it's true that Natal doesn't have a keyboard, and probably doesn't have copy/paste...

      Anyhow, now I'm off to iPhone-like read the rest of the ipHone-like Slashdot on my iPHone-like computer (it can acces

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      "iPhone-like fluidity"

      gimmie a break. How and why did you manage to fit a reference to the iphone into the summary.

      No, no, that made up adjective was very informative. I now know that Project Natal will have the same viscosity as the iPhone [youtube.com].

    • This must be a new American unit of measure for viscosity. Water has .98 iphones at 80 degrees (on the hogshead).

    • by kieran (20691)

      I've got an android phone, and I've tried out the hacked multitouch. I've never even wanted an iPhone, but I've played with the multitouch and it responds perfectly, fluidly, intruitively. The android multitouch hack feels very clumsy by comparison.

  • This thing is crying out for applications beyond games (which will be interesting, don't get me wrong). Imagine hooking this up to your front door - you could use the gesture recognition to make it so that your door only unlocks for people when they do the Truffle Shuffle!

  • Mouse? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by robvangelder (472838) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:23AM (#28306487)

    If this technology is as good as it sounds, this spells the end of the mouse.
    Seriously, my mousepad could be a touchpad.

    Would probably need a thimble to avoid friction burn though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      If this technology is as good as it sounds, this spells the end of the mouse.
      Seriously, my mousepad could be a touchpad.

      Would probably need a thimble to avoid friction burn though.

      The resolution isn't remotely close to being able to replace a mouse. Why do we use mice instead of touch screens?

      1) They allow us to interact with our screens with our hands in a neutral position. A simplified and reengineered Natal could do this.

      2) They allow us to move across a thousand pixels with only an inch of movement. It's going to be awhile before the precision of the mouse comes to motion recognition. Even then, motion recognition tends to have small jitter, and if it sees my hand with less t

      • by kenp2002 (545495)

        Precision can be increased with reflective dots integrated for high degree of control. A simple set of elastic\velcro bands with a reflective dot (if their tech supports it) can increase a system like this to 1/4 inch resolution. By integrating more dots beyond just say ankles and wrists the software can inprove resolution by using more reference dots on the individual and measuring changes between all the dots against one another (swarm detection).

        Same tech that is used for MoCap. More dots (be they reflec

      • by Inda (580031)
        I used to build engineering models to within 4 thou. Your precision is too much.
    • Re:Mouse? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by qchan (1402387) on Friday June 12, 2009 @09:24AM (#28307085)
      This technology seems kinda fake to me. If you refer back to E3 where they first showcased the device, there were several odd and unexplained things going on. 1) The twitchy avatar character shown (especially when the guy tried to show the bottom of his shoe and couldn't.) seemed to show that the technology wasn't really complete. 2) The other presenters wore dark clothing that seemed to contrast better with their surroundings. Yet, the people in the promotional video wore more colorful clothing. 3) The device only seemed to be able to detect only wide movement and not subtle movement like the promotional video suggested. 4) Most core gamers would like to take advantage of this technology. However, most gamers like to play in dark rooms. It seems to me that it'll be more difficult for this camera to adjust to harsh lighting conditions (dark rooms, lens flare, moving background lights, etc.). 5) It didn't feel as though the camera could decipher between more than one person, because no one (presenters or journalist in the closed room) tried to test it with that in mind. Sure it could detect more than one person; but could it tell the difference between the two? 6) Where are the games that utilize this technology? It seemed that all that was available were tech demos. I'd very much like to see this technology put to use in actual real time environments instead of controlled environments. It gives me the sense that this project is a little premature and may not see the light of day for a long time.
      • by Zenaku (821866)

        I'm sure it isn't ready for prime time yet, but you seem to be criticizing a tech demo for being a tech demo.

        Of course there are going to be glitches and limitations, and of course there are no games for it yet. It was just a tech demo. An exciting one if you ask me -- I want to know when it will be done so I can get it! You seem to be of the opinion that nobody should hear of its existence until it is production ready and hits store shelves with a dozen games along side it.

        Oh, and a dark room is not goi

      • 1) It's probably not, that's why it's not due out for at very least a year, probably 18 months minimum.

        2, 3, 4) It uses an infrared projector and monochrome camera, so low light isn't actually an issue. I'm not sure which site I read it at, but the reports coming back from E3 said most the demos were actually done in dark rooms. Regarding subtle movements, the racing movements are much more subtle, they have to be as not every race track is a sharp corner. It's also worth pointing out that even existing cam

    • by Xest (935314)

      I think you assume is geeks have more energy than we really do.

      I like slouching in my chair having to do little more than twitch my wrist and fingers like someone in a vegatitive state, none of that flapping your arms around for me, far too much effort in that ;)

      On a more serious note this is why the Wii never really clicked with me, do I play RPG that doesn't look as pretty and requires me to stand up and swing my arms around after a hard day at work or do I play the game that I can actually sit back, slou

  • Depth sensing camera (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:35AM (#28306587)

    The project Natal is indeed different for an Eye tool of a wii mote. This is a depth sensing camera (you have a RGB image and an image with the distance to the camera). This camera is made by Primesense (you can check theirs patents), it works by projecting a grid (infrared so you can't see it). By analyzing the deformed pattern with a camera, the depth is computed.
    Having the deep information is really useful because you get the 3d cloud of the user and with some math, you can guess where is the user and what he is doing. For example you can find the biggest cluster of point (the user). The mass center of these points will give you the position of the user (this is already enough to to a lot of thing).
    But the technology is not perfect. It will never be a full replacement for motion capture because it's subject to occlusions and there are a lot of ambiguous cases so the system will always need to cheat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Timmmm (636430)

      "This camera is made by Primesense (you can check theirs patents), it works by projecting a grid (infrared so you can't see it). By analyzing the deformed pattern with a camera, the depth is computed."

      Wrong on two counts. Firstly, the Primasense camera works using speckle imaging, not by triangulating a projected pattern. Secondly Natal actually uses technology from 3DV Systems which uses infrared time-of-flight to measure distance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Couldn't it be made more accurate and less susceptible to occlusion problems by having multiple cameras on different sides of the user? Seems like building a different model based on the dimensions of each individual player would also help; don't know if it already does that. If done correctly, the more you use it, the better it should get at determining your real position and eliminating ambiguity.
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:52AM (#28306729) Homepage

    Project Natal adds a new dimension for your cat to bother you while playing games.

    • by PingSpike (947548)

      Now, not only can the cat block the television causing your in game avatar to die...but he can trip you while playing causing you to bash your skull open on the coffee table.

      Perhaps the solution is to capture the motion of the cat as a second party and represent him onscreen alongside you.

    • by kenp2002 (545495)

      and a new way for your pets to play with you and play with it themselves.

      My cats already play with a DVD of nothing but butterflies on the screen. An interactive version could keep my cats happy for hours while I am at work.

      Games for Pets... theres a niche market there...

  • by MaXMC (138127) on Friday June 12, 2009 @08:59AM (#28306811) Homepage

    Say you only got one arm? or One leg?
    Will Natal still work correctly?

    EA: Sports 2010
    Requirements: Xbox 360, Natal system, no physical disabilites

    What happens if I stand just behind my friend and it looks like we have four arms? Will Natal work that out?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Say you only got one arm? or One leg?
      Will Natal still work correctly?

      Say you only got one hand. Will a gamepad still work correctly?

      What happens if I stand just behind my friend and it looks like we have four arms? Will Natal work that out?

      Since the system handles occlusion, probably not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xocet_00 (635069)
      I understand the point you're trying to make, but the question is a bit silly. While I acknowledge that this eliminates more physical disabilities from gameplay than traditional console designs, I don't think that a one-armed person could play, say, Halo on a normal XBox 360 controller either. Further, the much-loved Nintendo Wii has plenty of games that also require the Wii-mote attachment and therefore two hands, including Boxing which ships with the console (part of Wii Sports).

      It is unfortunate that pe
    • What happens if I stand just behind my friend and it looks like we have four arms?

      What if you jump on your friend's shoulders to form Mecha-Shiva?

  • I'm of 2 minds about this. On 1 hand, this is really neat and could lead to some nice games. On the other hand, the Wii has produced the crappiest set of games of any console I've ever owned. No console of mine has ever had so much off-time before. The Wii showed the same promise that this does...

    Also, the driving games... They insist they will be perfectly responsive and all that, but there's no way that much processing can go on and add no lag whatsoever. And any time it glitches and thinks my hands

  • "Natal does not track players by colour (although we know from Milo commenting on my blue shirt that it can if it wants to); it tracks them by infra-red "

    Gah! Willful, unthinking ignorance like this really yanks my chain. When you get things like this wrong it makes me want to ignore you completely, because you're probably an idiot. There are several mistakes like this in that article, and the continual invoking of "magic" is particularly bad. There is quite a fair bit known about how Natal works. I
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      "Infra-red is a color, you nitwit"

      Yeah? So what does it look like? Is it like red, but darker? More "infra"? Oh what, you've never seen it, even though your eyes are right now being bombarded by infra-red radiation?

      What's the color of X-rays?

      Infra-red is a frequency of light just like the visible spectrum is. Maybe that's the nitpick you meant to make but couldn't because they didn't make that mistake, so you had to make one of your own instead.


      Gah! Willful, unthinking ignorance like this really yanks

  • The new Wii Fit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Friday June 12, 2009 @09:46AM (#28307325) Homepage

    I always see Natal being compared to MotionPlus and Sonys Motion sensing, but I think that isn't really correct. Both MotionPlus and Sonys solution feature more or less classic controllers, but with motion sensing added. Both of them also have heavy focus on wrist movement, while ignoring the rest of the body.

    Natal on the other side features no controller at all, thus no buttons and analogsticks, making navigation through pretty much any normal game impossible or at least really cumbersome. On top of that Natal doesn't put emphasis on the wrist/hand, but on the whole body, so you lose a lot of the small movement precision that MotionPlus and Sonys solution have. So Natal really isn't an improvement over other motion sensing solution, as it can't do what those can.

    So what is it? Pretty much the same thing as WiiFit or EyeToy, just in an improved form and those didn't exactly turn out as hardcore gamers best friends either. Natal will fail for the same reason. Positional information on where your arms and legs are just aren't enough for precise gameplay, you need buttons for that. Look for example at Ricochet, you have to punch the ball into the game instead of doing the more natural thing of throwing it. Why? Because there is nothing in Natal that could give the game a clear idea when the player let the virtual ball go.

    Unless somebody comes up with some actual interesting gameconcepts instead of the full-body-waggle, that Ricochet is, I remain highly skeptical on the future of Natal. At this point it looks like an interesting techdemo, not like a way to control future games.

    Natal might be the first step towards the next gaming revolution, but so was the Powerglove, that alone doesn't turn it into a useful peripheral.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      "On top of that Natal doesn't put emphasis on the wrist/hand, but on the whole body, "

      From the E3 painting demo, I saw that the hands were highlighted.

      How much resolution you get, I don't know.

      To me I'm just wondering how much lag the whole system has. Lots of games are still possible with 250ms lag, but the "feel" is just so much better if the lag is 1/10th that.
  • While many are missing the practical application of this in gaming is not so much just full body games.

    As several readers pointed out Minority Report gives us an excellent idea of how it can be used. In addition for those that remember Black and White's gestures a wide variety of discrete tools come along with this.

    Flipping through button bars, resizing things, and a wide variety of gesture controls will have a major impact in an area many of you are missing.

    Carpel Tunnel and other Repetitive Stress injurie

    • This also opens up a wide variety of aids for people learning martial arts (practicing a kata for instance), learning to dance, and the applications for hospitals for physical therapy (which is tearfully boring) would aid in what is usually called Occupational Therapy (doing things).

      You hit the nail on the head. This type of control is so new no one knows what to do with it yet. It would be a mistake to try retrofitting existing gameplay styles. Take your martial arts sim for example, Imagine if they combined this with "force feedback" bracelets so you could feel your foot hitting the side of someones face. I've always wanted to learn Tai Chi, and I think this type of simulation would be a perfect way for a beginner to learn the basics or a master to go back to the basic motions an

  • http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&safe=off&q=microsoft%20e3&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv# [google.com]

    Seriously, has anyone actually paid attention to the stage demo?

    Take a look at the first bit with Ridiculous Sunglasses Guy and his avatar - he makes little, uncomplicated poses and the avatar twists itself into pretzels.
    It's _extremely_ glitchy.

    Then they change to the girl playing ricochet, which is something like 500+ ms lagged and it seems clearly impossible to control with any kind of pr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 (17499)

      This is the power of Microsoft's marketing department.

      Like no other company in the world, they have the ability to stop the presses and get ever news organization on the planet to talk about their products. CNN? New York Times? Sure, even if it's obscure gaming technology. Tech sites? Obviously. Linux news? Anti-MS sites? Slashdot? They're first in line.

      I don't know what they pay the marketing guys over there, but they deserve a raise.

  • Remember PDC2003 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbanffy (584143) on Friday June 12, 2009 @10:13AM (#28307665) Homepage Journal

    By watching:

    - all that "movie magic" (as one put it) in the non-live demos
    - the highly choreographed demos given on stage
    - Microsoft saying this is a very early in development
    - Microsoft saying there is no shipping date
    - the Milo video suggests a very capable AI far beyond what we could expect today, with reactions to facial expressions and broad-domain speech recognition
    - how Vista looked great in that early video when it was called Longhorn and what a dog it is.

    I call it bullshit.

    This is Microsoft showing a non-product in order to damage sales of its competitors who are selling obviously less-advanced technology (of course - because they can ship a real product right now) than the fantasies they depict in their promotional videos.

    Wake me up when they have a product.

  • Peter Molyneux... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vohar (1344259)

    I can't trust anything associated with Peter Molyneux anymore. The man has over-hyped some of his games as a mighty revolution in gaming; the released product then falls far short(Black and White, Fable). This article is just a part of that hype machine rolling on.

    I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'll believe this when I see it.

  • I can certainly see the potential here, but I think they're making a mistake if they try to ditch the controller entirely. Some games will simply function better with more precise controls. And motion sensing will not work well in every situation. Someone who is disabled, or fat, or in a small space, or wearing a funky shirt that messes with the motion recognition, or just tired after a long day, might prefer traditional controls. Ideally, games will be designed so that they can be controlled by motion and/

  • Singularity will come from game AI. Let it be said that I was the first to predict this. That Milo dude was ... too close to passing the Turing test. WTF, Xboc LIVE will become sentient in 2020...

    P.

  • track individual hand and finger movement

    Great feature for multiplayer games.
    Not only do you get to tell the idiot teamkiller how you feel, you can accompany it with the actual gesture.
    Awesome.

  • As usual, Microsoft uses the policy "announce early, release late".

    Compare this to Apple's policy: "announce late, release early"

    Microsoft's policy worked several years ago, when they crushed their competitors.
    But, seriously, who will wait several months to get a console that *may* be better than the current ones ?

  • Minority Report, well known as a huge SciFi future-wank that did pretty much nothing but act as an excuse to show off random imaginings of what the neato future might hold, had Tom Cruise using a stupid awkward light-up glove when using a motion-tracking input device. Natal can easily do the same thing simply by looking at you, today

  • by HikingStick (878216) <<z01riemer> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Friday June 12, 2009 @11:08AM (#28308553)
    Relying on cameras and sensors, the players are still stowed if something crosses between them and the sensors. At least with the Wii, if you see someone coming, you can raise the Wiimote or slide it to the side. If Natal is watching your whole body, and someone needs to cross in front of you to get to the bathroom (or if a large dog or smaller siblings come into the play space), you're stowed. Until they describe how they will compensate for environmental disruptions, I'll put this in the "useless hype" category.

    I'm not saying the tech isn't cool, and I definately can see uses for it (the manipulation of 3D models alone would be awesome), but you're more likley to find uses for this in commerce and industry where dedicated manipulation zones can be established. Of course, it would also work if the game system is in someone's bedroom or another space where no one will bother the player, but those households are not going to be as broad an audience as that reached by the Wii. Hardcore gamers do have funds to spend, and I'm sure many will buy, but they will hit a market saturation point.

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