First Impressions: Microsoft Kinect

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First Impressions: Microsoft Kinect

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Microsoft uses Cirque Du Soleil to show off its latest motion control technology at E3.

I wasn't sure what to expect. After an interminably long line outside USC's Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles, members of the videogame press and other notaries were ushered inside and asked to don white faux-silk smocks. I thought that these over shoulder-padded "ponchos" were to protect our clothes from water or mess a la Gallagher or New York's De La Guarda. We felt somewhat ridiculous, garbed as we were in white material, but we allowed ourselves to be brought into their world.

Inside, the Galen Center was transformed from a basketball arena into a jungle showcase. On the floor, Cirque Du Soleil performers strutted their stuff, clowning with ingenious props (such as a plush "telescope" the lens of which lit up like a spotlight) and drew people out of the crowd into their mischievous, elfin world. The motif of leaves and branches was everywhere, and the performers reminded me of nothing more than the Brownies in Willow. What all this had to do with Project Natal, I don't know, but it was entertaining to watch a man in a gorilla suit prance around a bunch of stuck-up videogame journalists.

After a terribly long time, the "show" began. A very loud voice told us that a long series of mechanical computer inputs had alienated most of mankind and that it was now time for the human input to reign supreme. With true Cirque pomp and circumstance, a boy rode in on a fake elephant and ascended a series of rocks, playing games using an Xbox controller. The last rock was revealed to be a sphere made to look exactly like the Xbox logo. A manifestation of the boy was projected on a white screen, jumping and moving his hands in time with actual movements. The boy asked, "What is your name?" The screen showed a jumble of letters which were finally revealed to read "Kinect."

The boy was then beckoned to join a family at play and the real demonstration began. With no introduction, a series of games were shown in succession, controlled by the family in a white room. First was a rafting game, where the kids could lean and jump to score points as the raft went over ramps and fell down waterfalls. Next was an obstacle game that had the family dodging bumpers and reaching to grab balloons to score points. Track and field events had them running and jumping hurdles while a racing game used two hands extended to steer and leans to perform jumps and tricks.

The most exciting game shown, at least for me, was Star Wars. The "father" of the family, Mark, swung his arms as if he was wielding a lightsaber and cut through storm troopers on the planet of Daboo. Reaching out his hand performed force powers that knocked down troopers and even ships until he was met with a terrifying foe: Darth Vader. Mark and Vader faced off, clashing lightsabers and that segment of the demonstration ended to the only genuine enthusiasm I heard in the crowd all night.

There were a few more impressions of games shown, including a yoga instruction and a dance game, but they were only impressions. I left the performance feeling that it wasn't quite a dance show and it wasn't quite a press conference, but some weird mash-up. Microsoft certainly displayed its monetary resources by making such a show happen for just one performance, although, with the heavy amount of cameras and a generous TV schedule (check your local listings!), it's likely it will try to get as much mileage out of the show as it can.

Oh and those ridiculous smocks? The shoulder pads all lit up for the finale in different color patterns, based purely on where we were standing or sitting. The catch was that there was no assigned seating; the placement of the audience was purely random, yet the patterns shown were not. It was a simple, yet amazing display of the technology behind Natal, er, Kinect. And if Microsoft could do it to impress a bunch of videogame journalists on a Sunday night, then it might just have the moxie to make it happen for the rest of the world.

Keep track of our E3 2010 coverage here.

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The fact that the presenters were "a family at play" pretty much says it all.
Us, gamers, aren't really welcome there, are they?
Still, the Star Wars thing sounds genuinely entertaining.

Hooray for family casual gaming!

Actually, I think i'll stay secluded in my room playing Gears of War 2.

Well, they certainly drew the families in for it, thats sure. What they seem to be targeting at the moment.

As it looks so far, a comparison to the Wii, perhaps...and thats all. I still havnt seen anything from the release that makes me want to leap up in excitement

Pretty much my thoughts, with the sole possible exception of that Star Wars game, I fail to see how any of this is remotely relevent to serious gamers.

Though I admit, seeing a family at play gleefully going about a survival horror game would be amusing.

Doxcology:
Hooray for family casual gaming!

Actually, I think i'll stay secluded in my room playing Gears of War 2.

Ditto.

OT : The star wars (ars warts) game sounded the only vaguely interesting. The rest just seemed like a expensive version of Wii Sports resort.

It's exactly like I predicted a few months back; with Kinect, Microsoft is aiming for a piece of the casual market pie that the Wii is currently hogging. Why is the Wii so successful? Not because it's a technological marvel or the best console, but because it found an untapped resource: the casual family market.

Us hardcore gamers are a minority compared to the enormously large casual/family market (which is basically everyone who isn't a gamer). As a gamer, I hate Microsoft for doing this. But from a marketing stand point, Microsoft is doing the right thing to get some respectable profits out of it. Kinect wouldn't sell that well to hardcore gamers anyway, but to a casual market? It has the potential to make shitloads.

We'll have to wait until someone makes some sort of motion technology that appeals to us hardcore gamers, in the mean while, I'm sticking to my controller/mouse and keyboard.

I don't know why but for some reason I find the word 'Kinect' absolutely hilarious. It's even dumber than 'Wii'

I quite liked the name natal. Can we not keep it that? :(

The Star Wars clip they put up on Kotaru is hilarious. It's clearly fake, there's nothing in it that indicates what the gameplay will be like, and games on Kinetic are 100% dependent on good gameplay.

I know this isn't all that important, but Kinect? Seriously? Why Kinect? Who thought an incorrect spelling of connect would be a good name? How is that even relevant to the concept?

Footage of the Star Wars clip clearly shows the on screen action happen before the guy moves. Either it was a pre-rendered scene or Microsoft have ironed out the lag issues so well that they can read your movements before you make them. (believe it or not this is possible.)

>.>

The performance made little sense, IMHO...

But still, that light up thing isn't that hard, all you need is a bluetooth grid and several colours of LEDs, not all that impressive.

I seem to be the only one here who's excited for this, I quite like the idea of expanding technology and finding new ways to play computer games. I guess I'm not hardcore enough or I'm too casual, names thrown around a lot these days. Well I like the idea anyway... I just get a little annoyed with how... close minded people seem to be about these leaps, every body seems to just be dismissing it and calling those that don't "Not real gamers" because they like the idea of playing games without a joystick.

For God's sake don't let the wife and kids see this, the Xbox and PS3 are the only peace I get at the moment!

I love it when a company turns their back on their core audience.

Why are they going after a dwindling audience?

The people that are MOST likely to use this kind of thing already have a wii and for most of them that's all they'll want. I would be amazed that current Wii owners even bothered buying a Wii 2 if it ever came out, because to them there is very little reason to justify the extra purchase.

It is quite blatantly an attempt by Microsoft to try and get a slice of Nintendo's pie.

I honestly fail to see how this will improve gaming.

*waits to see what Peter Molyneux does with it for Fable 3*

What? I love the Fable games. I'm not asking you to like them. Don't hate.

Am I experiencing some kind of deja vu? I think I saw this article before, on Escapist..Or somewhere. - Goes back to lurk. -

Straying Bullet:
Am I experiencing some kind of deja vu? I think I saw this article before, on Escapist..Or somewhere. - Goes back to lurk. -

Susan Arendt did an article with regards to an elephant TV and Cirque du Soleil.

Anyone else creeped out by microsoft marketing? its like the old PlayStation adverts, only creepier.

"whats your name?"
"lecutus, resistance is futile"

More Fun To Compute:
Footage of the Star Wars clip clearly shows the on screen action happen before the guy moves. Either it was a pre-rendered scene or Microsoft have ironed out the lag issues so well that they can read your movements before you make them. (believe it or not this is possible.)

Truth.

They don't have anything good for Kinect and know it, so they chuck in star wars.

ColdStorage:

Straying Bullet:
Am I experiencing some kind of deja vu? I think I saw this article before, on Escapist..Or somewhere. - Goes back to lurk. -

Susan Arendt did an article with regards to an elephant TV and Cirque du Soleil.

We were both at the same show and thought you guys would want to get some different perspectives. The show itself was kind of amazing, but we left with the same feelings that a lot of you guys seem to feel. Kinect is trying to horn in on the Wii audience which has largely dried up.

Do the latest versions of the 360 still sound like jet engines? If so no thanks. However a Police 911 game that doesn't suck would change my opinion real quick.

There was one cool thing that I forgot to mention. At one point, an Xbox live menu was shown on a grid and the actor playing the daughter could reach up and point to what she wanted to do, i.e. watch a Zune video of Planet Earth.

It was a little thing that reminded me of the Minority Report possibilities of Kinect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwVBzx0LMNQ

Sovvolf:
I seem to be the only one here who's excited for this, I quite like the idea of expanding technology and finding new ways to play computer games. I guess I'm not hardcore enough or I'm too casual, names thrown around a lot these days. Well I like the idea anyway... I just get a little annoyed with how... close minded people seem to be about these leaps, every body seems to just be dismissing it and calling those that don't "Not real gamers" because they like the idea of playing games without a joystick.

Oh yes, that's what it is. I'm sure anyone in this site would scoff at virtual reality because there's no joystick.
Or maybe people criticize these games because they lack originality, depth, vision, graphics and quite possibly decent gameplay (assuming this is the reason they opted to show an actor that memorized the Star Wars scenes moving as if he was controlling anything, instead of showing actual gameplay)

Nerf Ninja:
I love it when a company turns their back on their core audience.

Why are they going after a dwindling audience?

The people that are MOST likely to use this kind of thing already have a wii and for most of them that's all they'll want. I would be amazed that current Wii owners even bothered buying a Wii 2 if it ever came out, because to them there is very little reason to justify the extra purchase.

It is quite blatantly an attempt by Microsoft to try and get a slice of Nintendo's pie.

I honestly fail to see how this will improve gaming.

Why is it that anybody who isn't in a target audience sees the target audience as "dwindling"? First is was the "dwindling" PC games market. Now it's the "dwindling" market of .. families with kids? Seriously?

This is quite obviously MS's attempt to begin to move the Wii audience "upstream" as it were. The problem is that most people say "casual gamers" when what they're really thinking is "retard gamers", rather than what they actually are -- novice gamers. Nintendo has a problem, as you point out.. when is the time to start moving their new casual market upstream into the more high-end units? If they don't do it at the right time, the audience will move on its own to some competitor product, such as the Xbox or PS3. Well, this is MS's shot at saying to the Wii audience "Look, you can get the experience you're familiar with but even better.. better analysis of your body position, no controller angst at all, or if you've decided you want games that are faster/prettier/more involved -- hey, we've got that too."

What'll determine if Kinect flies or dies is simply price point. The whole bundle has to be not much more than your standard Wii.

Hey, you know what people do when they're confident in their product? They let regular people play around with it and decide if they like it. Go to the iPad keynote, get to fuck around with it after. Go to Google I/O, leave with a new phone with the product in it.
Go see the Kinetic demo, get to see actors act as if they were controlling a big cutscene.

Greg Tito:

ColdStorage:

Straying Bullet:
Am I experiencing some kind of deja vu? I think I saw this article before, on Escapist..Or somewhere. - Goes back to lurk. -

Susan Arendt did an article with regards to an elephant TV and Cirque du Soleil.

We were both at the same show and thought you guys would want to get some different perspectives. The show itself was kind of amazing, but we left with the same feelings that a lot of you guys seem to feel. Kinect is trying to horn in on the Wii audience which has largely dried up.

If the "Wii audience" has largely dried up, than the audience for the other consoles is dead and buried, Greg.

From VgChartz weekly hardware sales, June 5, 2010. worldwide numbers.:

Nintendo DS: 218,699
Wii: 188,116
PS3: 128,772
Xbox: 93,508
PSP: 79,002

Dried up? Do remember that these stats are even though Nintendo has basically stopped marketing the Wii for the past 5 months, while Sony's been pushing the hell out of the PS3 lately.

More Fun To Compute:
Footage of the Star Wars clip clearly shows the on screen action happen before the guy moves. Either it was a pre-rendered scene or Microsoft have ironed out the lag issues so well that they can read your movements before you make them. (believe it or not this is possible.)

Please explain how the machine would be able to predict your future movements before you make them.

Actually, I think 'Kinect' is pretty clever: a combination of 'Kinetic' and 'Connect', and implying both. MUCH better in my opinion than the bland 'Move'.

The Star Wars lightsaber game would be a hardware-selling game, if it's worth a crap. Clearly they didn't get it polished enough to be ready for E3. I'll be interested to see what they trot out at PAX.

ark123:

More Fun To Compute:
Footage of the Star Wars clip clearly shows the on screen action happen before the guy moves. Either it was a pre-rendered scene or Microsoft have ironed out the lag issues so well that they can read your movements before you make them. (believe it or not this is possible.)

Please explain how the machine is able to predict your future movements before you make them.

We telegraph our movements with, essentially, micro-movements. So if Kinect could pick up on what you were doing before you fully did it, it could, in theory, complete the move before you do. So.. theoretically possible. Personally, I think it's bloody unlikely that that's what's going on though.

Greg Tito:

ColdStorage:

Straying Bullet:
Am I experiencing some kind of deja vu? I think I saw this article before, on Escapist..Or somewhere. - Goes back to lurk. -

Susan Arendt did an article with regards to an elephant TV and Cirque du Soleil.

We were both at the same show and thought you guys would want to get some different perspectives. The show itself was kind of amazing, but we left with the same feelings that a lot of you guys seem to feel. Kinect is trying to horn in on the Wii audience which has largely dried up.

Just making sure you realise, I wasn't critising you guys, I was just telling Straying that Susan did in fact do the same thing. Its nice to get different perspective, after all thats why alot of us frequent several different gaming sites.

Have you tried out the tech yet?, I'd love to get some feedback, I'm also looking forward to some KillZone 3D feedback, but watching something fail is more fun so Natal or Kinect or whatever looks like it'll be the one to watch.

The problem with the Wii audience is that they aren't the same as the Xbox audience, lets be honest here and say the Xbox audience are the powerful persuayers in the 13 to 25 year old demographic that gets their parents and later there girlfriends to buy them these things. I remember an article with Peter Moore stating that "mothers can get in by micro transactions to buy a character clothing", which just showed the immaturaty of Microsoft and its handling of merely a potential target demographic. I think I read it in Edge magazine, which is ironic since I don't know many mothers with a subscription to that magazine.

Mothers will buy the Wii, or want the Wii, I know my mother, Aunt, Grandmother has one each because they all wanted one so I had to buy the things for them (at the expense of my own games, stupid families).

Not once have I heard someone outside of the Xbox demographic of young men say, I really want an Xbox with MicroFit.

ark123:

Sovvolf:
I seem to be the only one here who's excited for this, I quite like the idea of expanding technology and finding new ways to play computer games. I guess I'm not hardcore enough or I'm too casual, names thrown around a lot these days. Well I like the idea anyway... I just get a little annoyed with how... close minded people seem to be about these leaps, every body seems to just be dismissing it and calling those that don't "Not real gamers" because they like the idea of playing games without a joystick.

Oh yes, that's what it is. I'm sure anyone in this site would scoff at virtual reality because there's no joystick.
Or maybe people criticize these games because they lack originality, depth, vision, graphics and quite possibly decent gameplay (assuming this is the reason they opted to show an actor that memorized the Star Wars scenes moving as if he was controlling anything, instead of showing actual gameplay)

People aren't criticizing the games, I can understand that... they are criticizing the technology. Pushing it aside as a Wii wannabe when really, if anything it's an eye toy wannabe. I just see potential for more, this tech could have countless possibilities for video games. Playing an RTS on a 360 would be pretty cool with tech like this. The Starwars game is a cool idea (though apparently faked) if they could execute it. Oblivion would be pretty cool if they could find a way in which we could walk around in the world without having to jog on the spot like a pillock.

Kwil:

ark123:

More Fun To Compute:
Footage of the Star Wars clip clearly shows the on screen action happen before the guy moves. Either it was a pre-rendered scene or Microsoft have ironed out the lag issues so well that they can read your movements before you make them. (believe it or not this is possible.)

Please explain how the machine is able to predict your future movements before you make them.

We telegraph our movements with, essentially, micro-movements. So if Kinect could pick up on what you were doing before you fully did it, it could, in theory, complete the move before you do. So.. theoretically possible. Personally, I think it's bloody unlikely that that's what's going on though.

So what you're saying is that they might have developed a technology that's amazingly futuristic and made such a small deal out of it that they didn't even think of mentioning it, actually covering it up by making a video that makes it look like the actor's instead doing the equivalent of air guitar in front of a music video.
Might as well go full sci-fi and say it might be reading his brain wave pattern before the electrical signals reach his muscles. I'd say that's about as likely.

Sovvolf:

ark123:

Sovvolf:
I seem to be the only one here who's excited for this, I quite like the idea of expanding technology and finding new ways to play computer games. I guess I'm not hardcore enough or I'm too casual, names thrown around a lot these days. Well I like the idea anyway... I just get a little annoyed with how... close minded people seem to be about these leaps, every body seems to just be dismissing it and calling those that don't "Not real gamers" because they like the idea of playing games without a joystick.

Oh yes, that's what it is. I'm sure anyone in this site would scoff at virtual reality because there's no joystick.
Or maybe people criticize these games because they lack originality, depth, vision, graphics and quite possibly decent gameplay (assuming this is the reason they opted to show an actor that memorized the Star Wars scenes moving as if he was controlling anything, instead of showing actual gameplay)

People aren't criticizing the games, I can understand that... they are criticizing the technology. Pushing it aside as a Wii wannabe when really, if anything it's an eye toy wannabe. I just see potential for more, this tech could have countless possibilities for video games. Playing an RTS on a 360 would be pretty cool with tech like this. The Starwars game is a cool idea (though apparently faked) if they could execute it. Oblivion would be pretty cool if they could find a way in which we could walk around in the world without having to jog on the spot like a pillock.

You're wrong. If they'd shown a Star Wars game with PS3 graphics that allowed the player to actually duel with a lightsaber against an AI using kendo/fencing patterns, parrying by flicking your wrist, manipulating two sabers, one in each hand, scissoring a sith warrior's head off, they could just show the game and it would sell a trillion units.
The thing is, it obviously can't do that, or they would have just shown it. They aren't stupid.
Playing an RTS with hand movements would be horrible. Do this: Hold your arms in front of you for twenty minutes straight. See how that feels. Now do this: Drag your mouse cursor across the screen. Easy, right? Had to move the mouse an inch or two? Now imagine having to slash across your big screen TV instead. Every time you want to check a unit. Every time you want to click on an enemy unit to tell its health. Imagine if you had to scratch your face mid combat. Imagine microing a hundred units at the same time in a big battle.
The technology sucks because the games you can play with movements are, by their very nature , simple. Thats what people criticize.

You will not be playing RTS games with this. You will not be playing shooters with this. You will be playing "River raft jump", "whack the ball against screen" and every Wii sports copy you can think of. We know this because if it was capable of more, it would have been shown.
They resort to this air guitar nonsense when they want to hype up a shitty product.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqxkgJkGnro

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