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What Kinect needs if it's going to sell to the hardcore

A new Black & White

The ironic thing about Peter Molyneux's championing of Kinect at E3 2009 was the fact that he'd pioneered stripped-down gestural control years before with his two Black and White games. Pretty much everything in the two god games could be done with simple in-game hand gestures performed via 1:1 mouse movements, making them very much a proto-Kinect in terms of design philosophy. And it all worked so well that the Creature petting mechanic seems to have been given it's own spin-off game in the form of Kinectimals.

Gamers are crying out for an RTS that works on consoles. Every new promise turns out to be little more than a tasty appetiser before the inevitable main course of fricaseed poo, but I'm still convinced that motion control is the answer to the age-old issue of controller innacuracy. Molyneux's trademark blend of big ideas and accessibility could make Black & White 3 a killer Kinect app.

Augmented RPGs

First up, I do not want to play Fable or Oblivion by waving my arms around and pointing to where I want to go. That would be crap. Fact. But early on, we were promised that Kinect's facial and bodily recognition would allow us to interact with game worlds via expressions and body language. That's all I want.

Role-playing games are by definition all about immersing ourselves in game worlds. If we could have NPCs picking up on our subtle mannerisms as we sat and played with a controller, every conversation and every simple walk through town would be a fresh experienmce. Every shop keeper could be schmoozed or intimidated into dropping his prices. And every annoying bard could be threatened to bugger off without us having to make any effort at all. Because we'd look already look annoyed by him in the real world.

Shooters

Right, don't get your pants in a twist over that man at GamesRadar wanting to break Gears of War. I don't. In fact I'd break anyone who did. In half. Over my very knee. I play my traditional first and third-person kill-blasters with a controller or a keyboard and mouse. And that's the way it's going to stay. Some games need the complexity of traditional controls.

But how about something less traditional? After all, Kinect is supposed to be about convicing us that it can provide cool new experiences, not just manage to not break existing ones. So how about a shooter tailored to Kinect? Tetsuya Mizuguchi is already bringing Child of Eden, which looks to all intents and purposes like a trippier, trancier, fully-current-gen Rez 2. My excitement over it transcents words, reducing my explanations to a series of mere gurgles and squeaks. That guided yet flowing movement would be ideal for Kinect, so let's have more of it.

How about something in the vein of Star Fox; technically on-rails, but filled with so much creative level design and hardcore combat that it really doesn't matter? One hand to guide the ship, the other to execute bullet salvos, boosts and - yes! - barrel rolls with simple, instinctive flicks of the wrist. It could be outstanding. 

A decent arcade racer

Note: arcade racer. I'm still far from convinced that motion control can provide the various control options that hardcore racing sims (and their players) crave, but something like Burnout, requiring far less precision and far less inputs, could be great. Just as long as I can use one hand to steer and rest it on my knee, making small movements when I do. I'm not standing up and doing a primary school mime act of a bus driver for anyone.

A truly interactive environment

Okay, this is a biggie from a design perspective, but it's what Kinect really needs if it's going to convince the hardcore. One of the most genuinely immersive experiences on the Wii is Metroid Prime 3. In fact its expansive array of environmental interactions, from twisting and pulling door lock mechanisms to grappling and pulling shields away from enemies, make it one of the best cases for motion control to date. With the extra freedom of interaction is supposedly affords, Kinect really needs an equivalent. In fact it needs to blow MP3 out of the water.

I don't want an FPS. I don't even particularly want a heavy action game. I just want a big, cleverly-designed, first-person game world to explore, using a controller in my left hand for analogue stick movement and a little light trigger control (perhaps for jumping, etc.), and my empty right hand to look around and interact with things. If that control scheme was grafted gracefully onto a big enough, clever enough environmental puzzler, it would do two things.

First, it would bring with it the potential for a Half-Life-2-standard jump in interactive play. And second, it would show us that Kinect could improve on our favourite experiences while providing worthwhile new ones that only it can bring about. And that, is how MS can make sure that the hardcore are the early adopters.

Topics

Microsoft

21 comments

  • NullG7 - July 3, 2010 1:47 a.m.

    I would pay anything under $150 (US Dollars) for a B&W3 on kinect on Xbox, solong as it was more like the first one than the second one. I would work to teach my creature more actions and behaviors, I would work for miricals and buildings, abillites ect. But just BUYING them was cheap and boring on a level that annoyed me on a deep level.
  • DabWolf - July 2, 2010 9:27 a.m.

    Ya know, the RPG section of this article almost convinced me on buying Kinect...but then I remember the premier of it, and I just quickly beat the notion right out of my head with a hammer.
  • Xtra_Tasty - July 2, 2010 5:33 a.m.

    i would personaly love to see black an white 3 or something simalar... that would sell it right there. at least to me.
  • chainsawninja600 - July 2, 2010 5:28 a.m.

    "using a controller in my left hand for analogue stick movement and a little light trigger control" this, you see? this, and it improves by 87%
  • Visual217 - July 2, 2010 5:10 a.m.

    lets see bitches now try to do what they do in the game to bunnyhop like a bitch all over the goddamn place and get in glitches
  • FlacidDonkeyGuy - July 2, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    Head tracking in FPS Nuff said.
  • WouldYouKindly - July 1, 2010 5:25 p.m.

    It's funny, the first time I heard about Natal, I thought of RPG's where characters could read my facial expressions...
  • philipshaw - July 1, 2010 10:31 a.m.

    Great article but they would have to give me one for free before I even thought about using it
  • powerpc127 - July 1, 2010 5:16 a.m.

    What Kinect needs if it's going to sell to the hardcore: Buttons. kthxbai.
  • JADENkOTOR - July 1, 2010 12:14 a.m.

    @ Metroid- did you mean Skynet
  • Wunderbolt - June 30, 2010 9:51 p.m.

    If they made Portal 2 compatible with Kinect, would that satisfy your last concern?
  • Metroidhunter32 - June 30, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    Shutting someone up by glaring at them would be epic. But it would never happen until we get real AI, skytech style.
  • ElGuybrush - June 30, 2010 8:12 p.m.

    If they want hardcore gamers, they have to make non-rail games playable with subtle body movements. If I'm sitting on a couch and Kinect has the capacity to see I'm tapping my feet on the floor and translate that to my character walking, that's a step in the right direction. If it can interpret moving my head slightly to the side to turn my character, then that's a step forward. Inability to move is, IMO, one of the biggest reasons this would fail miserably, and if kinect isn't strong enough to interpret fairly small movements like tapping feet into character actions like moving, then it doesn't have any hardcore hopes.
  • JADENkOTOR - June 30, 2010 6:10 p.m.

    Im buying one just to have it... they don't need to convince me with they're hardcore promises. Cool shit will eventually be done with Kinect and the idea of playing Minority Report with my television is enough for now. Me being someone who wishes they were born 500 years in the future, this is too cool to pass up. I also still want a fucking hover-board that Marty McFly promised me so many years ago. I hope MS is working on that.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 30, 2010 6:04 p.m.

    Sadly, this won't happen. Microsoft is becoming nintendo, Nintendo is becoming Sony, and Sony is becoming Microsoft. Sigh...
  • myguyfromthe80s - June 30, 2010 4:09 p.m.

    @Spunkweazle Those people already own a console known as the Nintendo Wii. I can't see many 'casual' gamer spending monies on an addon - or worst, buying a new console to wave their arms around (again) Recaptcha: is plantain
  • Spunkweazle - June 30, 2010 3:26 p.m.

    But Microsoft isnt aiming this at the hardcore, they have made that abunduntly clear. They are aiming Kinect squarely at the people who dont buy games. Am I the only person to see the flaw in this logic
  • BillyBrush - June 30, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    'Tetsuya Mizuguchi is already bringing Child of Eden, which looks to all intents and purposes like a trippier, trancier, fully-current-gen Rez 2.' Given rez was initially called Project Eden, yes, for all intents and purposes it is. The thing about gaming, and media (your site is fantastic btw and Edge my favourite games mag ever)...is that that's a bit of text right there in the middle of a big article that people will get the general negative gist of, but not spot the diamond in the rough, there are less 'hardcore gamers' in reality than we all assume, it's 'massmarket' that they want to hit...most gamers are not hardcore, they've not just tried dark or pixel on the indie channel...they've played call of duty. I agree that 'shooters' and 'arcade racers' would sell the device to a big chunk of the masses, probably not augmented rpg's though, (but i suspect someone will try that with FPS weapons sometime). The thing looks like it will flop, the thing has Rez2 controlled with your hands, therefore it is a true 'hardcore' dream, as were many of the biggest gaming flops of the past. Dreamcast didn't do so well, but there are some games i can think of (one mega budget flop in particular with a sequel) that many people hold dear.....perhaps they're all loons..i don't care, i'll get Eden. Buying a peice of tech and only ever playing one thing on it, that my friend is hardcore. All these people, did they play samba di amigo...nope...was it good...
  • myguyfromthe80s - June 30, 2010 2:13 p.m.

    @db1331 HAHAHAHA - Couldn't have put it better myself A famous phrase springs to mind: "Those who ignore history, are condemmed to repeat it"
  • db1331 - June 30, 2010 1:30 p.m.

    You are 100% correct Dave, but little to none of this will happen. This is like making an article called "What Rosie O'donnell Needs to look Attractive to Men" and then saying she needs to lose 150lbs, have her vocal chords removed, and stop being butch. It's just not gonna happen.

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