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The Future Of Kinect for Xbox 360: googly eyed casual gamers, or hardcore lightsaber wielders?

by Steven Williamson on 9 June 2011, 11:03

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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At E3 this week, Microsoft has given us a sneak peak of what we can expect from Kinect over the coming months. Having launched in November 2010, the "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" has largely been a disappointment, with Microsoft and third-party developers failing to capitalise on the impressive technology. While Dance Central impressed, the mediocre list of casual games has only shown glimpses of what the future might hold for the technology. Finally, Microsoft has laid down some firm plans, giving us hope that the great games are coming and Kinect can really become the centre of living-room entertainment for casual and core gamers alike.

The bad news for Xbxo 360's core gamers is that Microsoft's E3 press conference was heavily geared towards Kinect's casual audience, with the likes of “Kinect: Disneyland Adventures,” “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster" and...wait for the groans, “Kinect Sports: Season Two" being key features. These games, however, will be just what families who have purchased Kinect will be waiting for; and in all fairness, my young daughter was jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of walking around a vitual Disneyland. I'm not complaining, because forking out £40 for the game is better than shelling out a few hundred to actually take her there.

A new Dance Central game is also, inevitably, in the making which is sure to delight those who enjoyed shaking their booties to the first critically-acclaimed game. From a personal point of view though, I've really been looking forward to seeing how, or if, Kinect will integrate with core, mature gaming experiences - after all that's what Xbox 360 was really all about when it launched, right? Well, there's some good news. The announcement of Kinect Star Wars was a welcome surprise, and though graphically it doesn't look amazing, it does suggest that Microsoft isn't going to forget its core audience. The implementation of Kinect in the new Ghost Recon Future Soldier looks particularly impressive; and if customising your weapon set-up instantly by speaking, or moving your hands is as smooth and quick as it looks it may well give Kinect owners an advantage on the battlefield -- that's exactly how Kinect can really engage core gamers.

Ubisoft's Splinter Cell will also receive the Kinect treatment, alongside Fable The Journey and Mass Effect 3, where players will be able to step into the role of Commander Shepherd and use their voices to interact with characters, rather than having to select options on the conversation wheel. Ubisoft is most certainly leading the way for Kinect implementation, with Ghost Recon Future Soldier looking remarkably impressive with Kinect, and if third-party developers follow their lead there's no reason mums, dads, children, teenagers - and those who have been gaming since the days of Chuckie Egg - can't all get something out of Kinect.

Voice search will also soon be 100% functional, rather than the half-baked experience that it currently is. Before Christmas, Microsoft promises us that if you say it, Xbox will find it immediately, regardless of where your favorite entertainment resides across Xbox Live. That's kind of how I envisioned the future when I was child; sitting on my arse commanding things to happen without lifting a finger -"Kinect sausage sandwich, and a can of Stella Cidre, please!" There's also Video Kinect, which will allow users to hook up instantly with anyone else who has Kinect to video chat without the need of a headset. That's a great function, especially for those who might have family overseas, but it does mean you might not want to lounge about in the living room in your pants too often in case you get a call.

Microsoft concluded its Kinect-focused conference with news that Kinect Labs is now available to download on Xbox 360. It's essentially a set of experiences that showcase Kinect's technology. The likes of 'Googly Eyes' allows you to scan an object (no, don't even think about waving your penis in front of that camera) and put a pair of googly eyes on it. You can then move around the screen, jump up and down and record your own skit and share it with other like-minded nutters on the official website, or just pals on your friends' list. You can create art with your fingers, transform yourself into a bobblehead, and bring your teddies to life by following a few simple steps. In truth, I've played each of these "games" a couple of times and I'm unlikely to play them again, but it's pretty cool technology and kids will no doubt love it. The most impressive aspect of Kinect Labs, however, is the ability to create an avatar that looks like you. Okay, so it's not exactly perfect - it makes you look slim when you're fat (wife loves that,) doesn't get your hairstyle right, and makes you look slightly more handsome/pretty then you really are - but it's far more accurate than trying to create an avatar that looks like yourself from scratch. It even scans in your clothes perfectly, so your avatar wears what you're wearing.

It's this gimmicky side of Kinect and its casual offerings where its future will undoubtedly lie, but it is looking increasingly like the core gamers won't get left out either. It's still not a brilliant time to invest in Kinect, but come the end of the year it could well be the perfect Christmas present.


HEXUS Forums :: 11 Comments

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The problem I've got with Kinect is simply the sheer amount of space that it needs. As far as I'm concerned this is definitely something you use in a living room. Certainly there's no chance of using it in one of the bedrooms in the houses they're building locally (unless you dedicated a room as a ‘games room’).

Some of the titles (like the upcoming Forza4 and possibly that other driving game, who's name escapes me for the moment) don't need large movements, so it's a wee bit annoying to have to have that large amount of free space to be able to use it. So if MS can “update” it to allow the use of smaller areas (we don't all live in places like that Southfork clone that they used for the PR videos) then I'd be really happy.

Don't get me wrong - I bought one at launch and was very impressed with it. Unfortunately, to be able to use it means having to move the XBox into the living room, then setup it and Kinect, move furniture, get the cat toys/scratching posts/etc out and then recalibrate. This is such a pain that really the Kinect is only bought out when we've got company (as an alternative to the Wii) and the rest of the time it's in the cupboard gathering dust. :(

I'm wondering whether to try mounting it up high, because - according to some of the forums posts I've seen - doing that means you can use a smaller area. In which case I'll need a monitor/tv mount.
crossy
The problem I've got with Kinect is simply the sheer amount of space that it needs. As far as I'm concerned this is definitely something you use in a living room. Certainly there's no chance of using it in one of the bedrooms in the houses they're building locally (unless you dedicated a room as a ‘games room’).

Some of the titles (like the upcoming Forza4 and possibly that other driving game, who's name escapes me for the moment) don't need large movements, so it's a wee bit annoying to have to have that large amount of free space to be able to use it. So if MS can “update” it to allow the use of smaller areas (we don't all live in places like that Southfork clone that they used for the PR videos) then I'd be really happy.

Don't get me wrong - I bought one at launch and was very impressed with it. Unfortunately, to be able to use it means having to move the XBox into the living room, then setup it and Kinect, move furniture, get the cat toys/scratching posts/etc out and then recalibrate. This is such a pain that really the Kinect is only bought out when we've got company (as an alternative to the Wii) and the rest of the time it's in the cupboard gathering dust. :(

I'm wondering whether to try mounting it up high, because - according to some of the forums posts I've seen - doing that means you can use a smaller area. In which case I'll need a monitor/tv mount.

That's a great idea. I too think that the space required is far too big. I have to play it in my living room, but lucky for me I have the luxury of being able to move it from a smaller space to this larger space - even then I have to move furniture out of the way. Would be great to have some games optimised for a smaller space.
The only problem i have with kinect is that althouhg its fun for casual games, the only shooters you can play on it are rail shooter/fighting games so its almost like games are taking a step back in some cases. Also i don't understand how Kinect will be integrated into Ghost Recon, i love how interactive it is but i feel like it should be kept on the same level as the Wii, fun and casual, great with friends but no more than that.
The worst thing is that when i was watching the livestream of E3 i skipped to a bit where there were LAATs leaving a battleship in starwars and got excited over SW Battlefront 3, and it turned out to be Starwars Kinect which really pissed me off. I guess thats probably why i dislike it more than i really should.
Steven W;2089664
That's a great idea. I too think that the space required is far too big. I have to play it in my living room, but lucky for me I have the luxury of being able to move it from a smaller space to this larger space - even then I have to move furniture out of the way. Would be great to have some games optimised for a smaller space.
That was kind of my point - Kinect Joyride (I finally remembered the name!) could probably be played reasonably in about 2-3 sqm (or even less perhaps?).

Just ordered a Turtle Beach DSS sound processor (because the sound output from my new monitor sucks, and having HDMI+VGA cables in means my XBox360 boots twice) and I came across this:
http://www.gamingzap.com/blog/2011/06/how-to-use-a-microsoft-kinect-in-a-small-room/
Okay, the lens is £30+ but maybe that, and another 30 quids worth of TV mount, is the answer. Although the lack of VESA mounts on my LG monitor means I can't use the “official” TV mount. :(

Maybe this'll help someone out there with the same lack-of-space problem.
crossy
The problem I've got with Kinect is simply the sheer amount of space that it needs.

4 Player Tekken in a box room? :juggle: