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Augmented Reality Shaping the Future of Games 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the since-diminished-reality-was-already-handled-by-beer dept.
Slatterz writes "Microsoft's Natal can recognize a player's skeletal structure, and also perform some sophisticated translation of body physics into in-game movement. As a control mechanism this is fascinating, but the next step is to merge the game graphics with the real world. Now, basic examples of augmented reality (AR) are being shown using a mobile phone, unlike previous demos which have involved walking around with a large backpack strapped to your body. A game titled Arhrrrr blends live-action video overlaid with game graphics. The processing is taken care of by Nvidia's new Tegra platform, while the game's 'maps' are generated by pointing the phone's camera (in this case 5MP) at a 2D drawing/printout lying on a table. The end result is a 3D world which seems to spring forth in real time, with buildings popping up as players move around the game 'map.' This story shows two other interesting videos demonstrating AR, including the ability to add real-life objects into the virtual game world and have the gameplay respond and react accordingly."
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Augmented Reality Shaping the Future of Games

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  • Skellie (Natal's version of Clippie): It looks like you are trying to perform "Monkey Boy Dance". Choose the following options:

    1) Continue with "Monkey Boy Dance".
    2) Make someone else do "Monkey Boy Dance".
    3) Patent Natal's "Monkey Boy Dance" initiation methods.
    4) ...
    5) Profit!

    • Skellie (Natal's version of Clippie): It looks like you are trying to perform "Monkey Boy Dance". Choose the following options:

      1) Continue with "Monkey Boy Dance". 2) Make someone else do "Monkey Boy Dance". 3) Patent Natal's "Monkey Boy Dance" initiation methods. 4) ... 5) Profit!

      4) Apply ballistic trajectory to office furniture. There... fixed that for you

  • Ready? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spyware23 (1260322)

    As far as I know, Natal is still vaporware with some sexy CGI and PR. The live demonstration seemed crude when compared to the promising, albeit slightly ambitious CGI-movies.

    I realize that the technology to enable such a contraption as Natal are already available, but I doubt that Microsoft is ready to develop for such a system, and I also doubt that most of Xbox's fanbase is ready for this change in how people play games. Not sure if Microsoft should be betting all it's money on Natal.

    • by immakiku (777365)

      I don't think Natal is supposed to be a replacement for traditional control mechanisms. As their researchers have said, it's meant to provide control for tasks that traditional controls aren't optimal for. I'm sure for certain game genres Natal will be great; while for others we can still use the handheld controller.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by rhathar (1247530)
        Science Fiction has lied to us - where's our VR with sex?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by centuren (106470)

          Science Fiction has lied to us - where's our VR with sex?

          The scientists who were assigned to work on that project haven't been heard from for years now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xest (935314)

      Well Microsoft have already shipped out 1000 dev kits to 3rd party developers so the technology is clearly ready to develop with.

      I've not seen any evidence of CGI yet, there seems little reason to think what's shown isn't real, certainly the Milo demo was pre-scripted of course because AI isn't that advanced but certainly there's no reason it wasn't responding to the given inputs via Natal as was suggested. Similar if you have a look on YouTube there's a few videos of various people using the system at E3.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:58PM (#28454605)

    I'm playing an Augmented Reality game right now. I'm driving my car, with my laptop on my lap, and my cellphone tethered to my machine. Uh oh, here comes another playe

  • Augmented Reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:00PM (#28454625)

    This tech has huge potential. Just yesterday I was watching the video for the Gizmondo 'Catapult' Game [youtube.com]. Very cool. I've been looking at virtual reality glasses, and the Vuzix VR920 is a stereoscopic headset that has 3d compatibility with some games as well as head tracking. Attach a couple of webcams and connect it to a portable computer and you can walk around viewing an augmented version of reality, such as having a Terminator-style red overlay with scrolling code and primitive object recognition as shown here [youtube.com]. You'd look like a complete dork walking around with it in public, but it's neat tech nonetheless.

    A co-worker and I were discussing how you could take a normal laser tag arena, paint all of the walls with patterns that can be recognised by intelligent systems, and combined with headsets you could have an augmented reality laser tag. In one round everything could be decorated in a futuristic theme with metal panelling, neon lights, another could be stone castle walls or a dusty Wild West theme. If the players are wearing patterned jumpsuits, you could overlay them with different skins so they appear to you as terrorists, zombies, whatever you want. You would need some pretty good tracking to calculate location so that people don't run into walls that appear further away and are able to shoot eachother with accuracy, but if implemented well it could be awesome.

    /geekout

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)

      There are some tech demos out on youtube (here [youtube.com] and here [youtube.com]) that have AR running at 10fps on an iPhone.

      Combined with gaming the potential is huge.

      Imagine a D&D table top where the characters are alive or even augmented reality chess.

      And yeah... I had thought about an FPS laser tag game way back when as well. Hopefully we'll see that soon.

    • I attended a presentation [ama-kc.org] on Tuesday, hosted by the Kansas City AMA chapter (marketing, not medical). The presenters were Chris Haas of Google and Drew Mitchell of YouTube. I was immediately struck by how frequently both presenters mentioned augmented reality, something that (in my experience) has been relegated to sci-fi stories and hypothetical tech discussions.

      Now, I'm not intending to make some sort of "Google is going into augmented reality" statement, as I am clearly in no position to make such a cl

  • Lies And Non-News (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573)

    Microsoft's Natal can recognize a player's skeletal structure

    No it can't. It identifies a few joints.

    and also perform some sophisticated translation of body physics into in-game movement.

    If by sophisticated, you mean "primitive", sure.

    As a control mechanism this is fascinating,

    Not really, we've had this shit for ages, and it's never really taken off outside of fixed machines (arcades, real sports, etc.)

    but the next step is to merge the game graphics with the real world.

    I'd say the next step is launching th

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Shit man, you have some anger issues. Seriously. This is another incremental step in tech, backed by big marketing, but it is a step in tech design/distribution. It looks to be damn interesting too.
      • What I've seen ISN'T interesting, is my point, and it's nothing new.

        Natal is all marketing. And it won't even be out for at least another year.

        Other attempts to incorporate real-world elements into games have always been a huge failure or a pointless gimmick. Same for drawing game elements over a video feed of the real world.

        This shit is gimmicky. No one has shown a way to make this shit improve gameplay. It's always "take a pic and have it be in the game" type shit.

        The ONLY advances we've seen lately a

    • Do you have any idea what you're talking about? This stuff is neither ancient nor primitive. There was a company 2 years ago at siggraph which was getting a lot of attention with markerless optical motion capture. And 2 years ago it was incredibly impressive. And they only worked on a solid color background and required multiple cameras. Natal is really quite cutting edge. Especially if it works even somewhat reliably.

      • Natal is 2 webcams, one tuned to IR.
        It's got some software behind it.

        It's not cutting edge.

        Do you believe the Milo/Milly demos? Those were scripted, you know.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      So it takes a picture of a map and makes a ... map?

      *sigh*

      The first thing I thought when I saw this piece of technology was chess (remember to let the Wookie win), Warhammer, Close Combat, and AD&D.

      If you can't correlate AR potential with table top games then you need to turn in your geek card over there ---->

    • by tixxit (1107127) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:16PM (#28456033)

      while the game's 'maps' are generated by pointing the phone's camera (in this case 5MP) at a 2D drawing/printout lying on a table.

      So it takes a picture of a map and makes a ... map?

      The end result is a 3D world which seems to spring forth in real time, with buildings popping up as players move around the game 'map.'

      I've seen this before and it was nothing but a poorly executed gimmick.

      You are seriously underestimating this. Technically, it would appear it recognizes a 2d image in 3d space, positions and orients it in that 3d space and then can displays some 3D model/animation associated with that picture. Yeah, not a technical miracle, but the biggest marvel is not what it does, but the fact it does it cheaply (processing power) and does it well.

      I think their goal is to bring AR to the masses. It has a lot of applications, certainly outside of games. Did you watch the demo of them looking at the newspaper? Enhancing printed media is definitely a cool application. Imagine being able to hold your iPhone over your car manual and watch as a 3D diagram of a transmission explodes and reassembles itself. And the killer part of this is that it is running on a chip designed for phones; in other words, this is NOT one of those techs that you probably won't ever see in the real world. The demo shows it running well on a chip designed for the smart phones of TODAY. It will only take one killer app (probably not a game) and "AR" could be on millions of people's phones within a week.

      • by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:39PM (#28457259)

        Why point a device at a manual and watch the diagram? Why not watch the diagram on the device?

        The tech is NOWHERE near being able to take a random 3D diagram to explode, nor will it ever be.
        There is information lost in the 2D diagram.

        If we're making diagrams with extra information for the reader (such as a different angle, or a colored height map or occlusion info), why not just make the fucking 3D diagram itself?

        It's a neat gimmick, but it's just that. They looked at a newspaper and got... a dancing goober? A video? Why the fuck wouldn't I just go to the content directly if I had access to it?

        Device points at thing.
        Device recognizes thing.
        Device checks database for content for thing.
        Device populates content.
        No content? Add gremlin for lols.

        That's all the newspaper demo was.
        I'd fucking just go straight to the content and skip the physical newspaper, and the dedicated device if possible.

        It's neat, but it's a gimmick.
        This is all just a slashvertisement for Tegra.

        • by tixxit (1107127)

          Why point a device at a manual and watch the diagram? Why not watch the diagram on the device?

          The tech is NOWHERE near being able to take a random 3D diagram to explode, nor will it ever be. There is information lost in the 2D diagram.

          Of course, that wouldn't make sense. The 3D model comes from somewhere else (which someone designed). Perhaps there is an RFID chip in the manual where your phone can go off and request the models/whatever that go along with the book, download them, then display them as you go (without you ever noticing a thing).

          If we're making diagrams with extra information for the reader (such as a different angle, or a colored height map or occlusion info), why not just make the fucking 3D diagram itself?

          Perhaps because you can make it easier to access. Especially if its just additional information that is more conveniently (and usually) accessed in hardcopy form, like a newspaper or a car manual.

          It's a neat gimmick, but it's just that. They looked at a newspaper and got... a dancing goober? A video? Why the fuck wouldn't I just go to the content directly if I had access to it?

          Be

        • I think you should imagine 5 years down the line, when every phone has the capability. I'm a science teacher. I imagine that in 5 years, I can get my hands on some AR science apps and roll them out to pupils phones (I'd hope the mechanism for doing this would be easy and built by then)

          Imagine clearing your desk then looking through your phone at a 3D model of a galaxy, spinning right in front of you, or taking a tour around the solar system right there.

          What about simulating predator/prey relationships on
          • by Gravatron (716477)
            There was an anime released several years ago dealing with augmented reality, called Dennou Coil (a coil of children).

            In it, pretty much everyone wears these glasses that overlay a virtual world on top of the real one. It was so developed it was like living in a virtual world, as people had phones, pets, objects, etc, that only existed in virtual space. Kids used it at school for parts of their lessons doing exactly the sort of stuff your talking about.

            Really interesting show, clearly ahead of it'
          • 5 years from now? Sure, stuff will be better then, but still a gimmick.

            Imagine NOT clearing your desk and looking at the same 3D model of a galaxy, spinning right in front of you, or taking a tour around the solar system right there.

            Holodeck? You mean a movie theater, right?

            Building a 3D representation of shit quickly is good. You can fly cameras by an area and do a few passes and have a 3D model for people to explore.

            Tying that to a special device they have to look at and position is a gimmick.

            All that

        • by Reapy (688651)

          I strongly agree with you in it's gimmicky feel. I think the same way as you right now with the demos they show for this type of thing.

          But I can't help but feel that we just haven't seen a 'killer ap' for this kind of technology. I don't think it should be discarded entirely. I could see this type of tech being used instead as a different user experience rather then practical.

          I could see perhaps in a store where there is a local network with the DB of store items, and every item on the shelf has a 'marker'

          • We had this in America with barcode scanners.
            It never took off, because it was a dumb gimmick.
            I think you can find them in some bookstores still. The idea was you would take a CD to the headphone kiosk, and then scan the barcode, and get sample tracks, more info, etc. They quickly realized having people move CDs and put them back in the wrong place or not at all was retarded. And that making people physically find the CD was an unneeded step. Now you just go up and browse their DB with a web interface.

            T

    • by Xest (935314)

      "No it can't. It identifies a few joints."

      Yes, enough to make a useful map of the relevant parts of someone's skeletal structure in a way that can be adapted to a game. It has proper depth sensing technology so it doesn't not suffer from problems of ambiguity as to where a particular part of the body sits in relation to other parts in a full 3 dimensions. This differs from the likes of the Eyetoy or the XBox vision camera in that they only work with a 2D image of the body and have to try and figure out from

      • Natal IS taking 2D pictures.
        It's a webcam and an IR camera.

        IR camera provides a height map while the web cam provides the 2D image. There may be MINIMAL stereoscopy going on, or possible, but the IR camera is a much lower resolution and both cameras are in a fixed position.

        Mocap too expensive? What the fuck? Most games with a decent budget use motion capture for animations!

        If you think Natal will be able to scan your car or your house, well, get ready for disappointment.

        If you think this Tegra slashverti

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:29PM (#28455121)
    Vinge is a damn genius. If you haven't read it yet, check out Rainbow's End [amazon.com]. For my book tastes, personally, it was a bit on the touchy-feely side (but I really don't like character development at all - I'm in the very small minority), but the science and concepts are really second to none.

    How soon until we see these augmented reality games embedded in our contact lenses and we wear "smart" clothing on a regular basis? I'm just waiting for the self-driving cars!
    • Hah, try Stross. Halting State has what looks to me like a pretty damn good prediction for what AR games would be like a decade or two down the line. I can't wait to sign up for SPOOKS.

    • by Gravatron (716477)
      The anime Dennou Coil was about augmented reality in the near future. Fascinating stuff.
  • A game titled Arhrrrr

    Let me guess...its about .. ninja monkeys?!

  • This tech + Legos = awesome!

    One of the reasons my folks didn't allow video games was because the games weren't social or creative enough. Video games today can certainly be more social, but I still think they lack user creativity. But this! All the castles we built with Legos, all the forts we designed with construction paper... a way to integrate that kind of creativity into video games just sounds awesome. And it wouldn't hurt video game reputation, either.

    • I envision a world of Sims, where every thought that flits across people's minds is picked up by a meshcap, translated into a simple icon, and broadcast for all to augmentedly see. A world where people wander around, looking rapturously at nothing at all, twisting their hands around visions in the air, reacting in the real world to events that are only accessible through a shared hallucination.

      A world of meandering, pseudo-telepathic lunatics.

      And me, laughing with riches, picking all their pockets.

  • Whoops! Shouldn't have waved my arm in quite that way! Guess it was calibrated for a smaller operator. Bye, bye, Denver!

  • so by "sophisticated translation of body physics into in-game movement" I assume they mean "wave your left arm to jump, wave your right arm to shoot!"
  • Augmented porn! Walk into a bar, every person in the place is absolutely stunning! Plus you could have NPCs walking around. Never had a gorgeous babe / hunk living across the street? Now you can! I sense a new movie coming on: "How Shallow Hal Got His Groove Back"

  • Sony just hasn't advertised it right - PS3 is the premier augmented reality system - truely amazing AR stuff. Can't believe more people haven't taken it up. If you thought WII controls were innovative, stuff like Trials of Topoq, and to a lesser extent, "operation creature feature" are more fun than any Wii weirdness, without any controllers at all! The Eiffel Tower video on the link is just like what the underdated PS3 game "Eye of Judgement" has been doing for years... You can slam the PS3, but I bel
  • The AR French guy in the second video wasn't very realistic. He was about as authentic as the French soldiers in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They need to work on the technology.
  • You don't want to enable this when playing FPSes or MMOs...

    http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/6/5/ [penny-arcade.com]

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