E3 Keynotes & Motion Gaming

It’s been almost a month since E3, and any major media coverage involving the “future of gaming” seems to have died down. Now having been given this time to reflect and think about all that was presented, how it was presented, and my own personal preferences involving gaming I’ve come to this conclusion: the Playstation Move looks the most promising of the three motion control technologies.

I realize a lot of people will probably accuse me of being a fan boy, but I’ve always tried very hard to remain pretty unbiased. But it’s no secret that I’ve always touted the PS3 as a phenomenal piece of hardware both for gaming and versatility. But I understand that not everyone needs it’s capabilities for video, photo, and internet access. I basically treat it as my portable desktop, but most people just need their gaming system to be just that and nothing else. But even after talking to a lot of my friends who are XBox 360 evangelists and biased in that direction, they agree that the kinect looks like another gimmick destined for shovelware.

Let me say that the Kinect, apart from it’s terrible name, is an impressive piece of technology. It’s use of Primesense’s 3D Sensing Technology to get a more accurate image of the players and gather the data necessary to enable motion-free gaming is very cutting edge. In short the Kinect has two layers of sensing, the primary CMOS sensor to get visible light data (the stuff we see day to day) and a secondary infrared light source that floods the scene with invisible long wavelength light. The CMOS however is better than our eye, and is able to pick up the intensity of the IR light that’s reflected off the scene, and  this second layer of data is what Kinect owes it’s ability to get depth data from it’s players and probably helps increase contrast for player detection.

Now here’s one of my primary sources of annoyance. Everyone’s treating the Kinect like it’s never been done before. Like it’s completely new tech. But the premise behind Kinect was delivered in 2003 when Sony’s Eyetoy came out, and with a game that I greatly enjoyed called Antigrav. Even the new Playstation Eye has a handful of games that use the same idea (ie: Trials of Topoq) just without that added layer of accuracy that allows Kinect to perform so many of the functions that it promises. My point is that a lot of people have bashed the Playstation Move for being a Wiimote with better precision, well the Kinect is an Eyetoy with better precision. Same idea, the Wiimote used IR LEDs to determine an approximate position of the Wiimote, whereas Sony has boasted that the Move has 1:1 tracking. Microsoft boasts that Kinect has 1:1 tracking, well this is likely due to both an advance in camera technology and the added IR layer that the Eyetoy did not have. So how is it any different?

My second and only other issue I have with the Kinect is the lack of tactile satisfaction. When I’m playing a game in which my character or avatar is using a sword to do battle, I don’t want to pretend to hold a sword. I want to actually be holding something regardless of if it’s weight is comparable to what it’s actually representing. In a lot of games that Kinect is proposing, you’re actually holding something in-game be it a gun, paddle, sword, or otherwise. Like the ping-pong game that was shown, if I’m going to be playing a ping-pong game where a motion controller is the primary input device, I want to actually be holding something. I don’t want to pretend to be holding a ping-pong paddle when the Playstation Move can actually give me something that I can hold to use as a paddle. Very few games involve actually using nothing, the few I can think of are volleyball, track & field, and boxing type games. While the fact you have to pretend to hold a steering wheel might appeal to a lot of casual gamers, I think more hardcore gamers (those that are familiar and love their controllers) will find the move more accommodating with it’s buttons and physical interface.

Nintendo’s 3DS is also a pretty awesome example of human innovation. As a side note, I totally called that it used a parallax barrier for it’s 3D effect. Then again it’s really the only reliable and proven method (ie: oldest) to get 3D without glasses, but TVs that use it warn that many people get headaches after prolonged usage. That’s my caveat to you people that expect to be playing 3DS for an inordinate amount of time. I don’t really have any comment about the 3DS. It looks to be pretty cool, if not gimmicky. I think it’s going to be very hit or miss depending on the developers and games that come out for it. I think there are going to be some incredible games that take advantage of the 3D to provide a highly immersive experience, as well as games that use the 3D in a clever and novel way. But at the same time I’m sure there are also going to be a ton of crappy shovelware for it as well. Companies looking to jump on the train and take advantage of this new gimmick. I have high hopes for the 3DS even if I probably won’t get one for a while. I didn’t even get a DS until probably 3-4 years into it’s lifespan. I use my PSP more, primarily because the DSi wasn’t out, and the PSP was my replacement for an MP3 player that could play REAL games, videos, and go online. Mostly the “real games” and “I don’t need to carry around 80 GB of my music with me at all times” were my main reasons for getting a PSP over an iPod Touch. Also I now hate Apple. But that’s a story for another time.

Okay last but not least, the Playstation Move, on which all my hopes are placed for motion gaming. So let me explain to you why I think the Move was the “winner” at E3. First of all Microsoft’s Keynote SUCKED. If you don’t believe me, please watch it. Sony’s was excellent; it had Kevin Butler, a wide breadth of games the Move could be used for, both casual and hardcore, and it showcased it’s 3D capabilities for everyone in attendance. Now I know all this makes me sound like a fanboy, and that may be the case but I really do try to present an unbiased front. But I am very much an advocate of the PS3 and all it’s versatility. Anyways the Move’s augmented reality features, the tech demos that were shown for it, and also the precision that Sony has been going on about make it seem like a great advancement from the Wiimote. And while many criticize Sony for basically reinventing the Wiimote, I submit to you whether or not this is a bad thing. The Wii has found success with it’s sub-par controller and good games. A better controller could lead to better games right? Right?! I guess like the 3DS, only time will tell.

Welp that’s all I have to say on the matter, take a look at the E3 Keynotes. At the very least they’re amusing.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!


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