Why Isn’t Kinect “Kinecting” with Hardcore Gamers?

The Epic insanity continues. If you hadn’t heard, it almost doesn’t matter by now. Confirmed rumors of a Gears of War Kinect title have been trumped by a press update stating the game will never be. Gears of War: Exile has officially been mulched. Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski stated, “Gears of War: Exile was an unannounced game that…has since been cancelled.”

What does this mean for the Kinect?

The Gears of War franchise has sold nearly 20 million units. The possibility of transferring these high level sales onto the Kinect could not only mean a significant increase in Kinect sales, but more importantly the opening of a market that the Kinect has lacked: more serious titles. If you have a Wii, it’s still hard to find a reason to get a Kinect. Sure there’s been a handful of decent Kinect titles, but nothing that stands above the games compatible with Playstation 3 Move or Nintendo Wii.

PS3 and 360 have always appealed to the more serious gamers, and a push for blockbuster Kinect titles (decent ones) would mean hardcore gaming gold. While the Kinect helps the Xbox compete with the Wii and Move, it is also solid market research for what gamers prefer in a system. The thought of Epic taking the reins and leading a last minute revolution in Kinect games could have changed the face of the next generation console.

Some gamers may laugh off these serious attempts at Kinect games, but the good people at Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are taking serious notes. Failures now may cripple future attempts to retain loyal fans against each respective competitor. If one of the three console giants perfects the motion capture in the next generation, they could force a lot of gamers to jump ship. Move brought on a few non-platform titles that hardcore gamers had been hoping to see. Socom 4 may not have been a franchise fan favorite, but it certainly wasn’t the worst shooter. And of course, there was Killzone 3. The Kinect has suffered the same simplistic boundaries that the Wii endures. Serious titles are laughed away or not attempted. The remaining successful games are platforms, sports, or family oriented. The console to break the mold may take the cake.

Gears of War: Exile is staying true to its name, and will never exist alongside the other Gears titles. Stories like these break my heart. Who doesn’t want a cover based first person shooter that requires you to hide on opposite sides of your TV, forcing the player into blind cover? What gamer doesn’t need that extra level of suspense provided by a more physical survival horror experience (not counting Rise of Nightmares)? Why wouldn’t you want to motion a chainsaw to slice some Locusts in half? Moments like these are being postponed or indefinitely suspended.

Epic brought 360 owners a new console mascot. Imagine if Mario so quickly abandoned a Nintendo product. It certainly leaves the future of the Kinect (or its next gen counterpart) in peril for adoption by anything but the most casual gamers.

  • JPeeples

    I think the biggest thing holding the Kinect back is that it doesn’t offer true 1:1 motion control. The slight delay between your movement and the camera catching them makes even playing Fruit Ninja a chore – I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to have to play a shooter with the device.

    • Corellianrogue

      1:1 has nothing to do with lag. You could have something respond 5 minutes later and it still be 1:1 if it accurately matches the movement it’s tracking. Kinect does use 1:1 tracking on some games, for example the pack-in game Kinect Adventures, Rally Ball is 1:1 tracking. (In fact all the games in Kinect Adventures do but that’s the most obvious as you’re moving your limbs and body in general a lot so can clearly see your avatar matching your movement.) And a couple of other obvious ones are the Your Shape “games” (probably more accurate to just call them fitness software) and Michael Jackson: The Experience. (They actually track thousands of points to give even more detailed 1:1 tracking than the default skeletal system which tracks 20 points per player to create a 20 bone skeleton and it’s the parts of your body that those bones are applied to that are tracked 1:1.) In fact technically most if not all games and even the dashboard feature 1:1 tracking as long as the cursor works, lol! (But I wasn’t counting just a cursor tracking your hand when I was talking about 1:1 games previously, before you accuse me of cheating.) Watch this video of the hacky sack mini-game in Motion Explosion as a great example of 1:1 tracking in a game. (I’m not saying it’s a great game, although I haven’t had the chance to try it yet as it’s still not out in the UK yet for some reason. :( ) If you look at the player’s silhouette in the background you can see that his movements are tracked 1:1 and matched exactly by the avatar even down to leg twists.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P75CerISNJE

      As for lag, Kinect has about the same as a joypad playing 30fps games, the average lag on a 30fps joypad game is around 133ms and the lowest lag a joypad can have in a 30fps game is 100ms whereas Kinect is currently theoretically capable of going down to 102ms. (Last year Microsoft said they had got the processing of the tracking data down to 2ms, so you add the tracking data processing to the initial tracking which is 100ms because Kinect runs at 30fps and you get 102ms.) 2ms difference is basically insignificant. I think most Kinect games are 133ms-150ms judging by tests I’ve done. Lag may be more noticable with Kinect since you’re more aware of a game tracking your body than you are of a game responding to a button press or thumbstick move. Watch this brief video I made over a year ago:

      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xii0ea_joypad-and-kinect-lag-comparison_videogames

      Claiming that playing Fruit Ninja on Kinect is a chore because of lag is a lie or you’re doing something wrong like maybe there’s a problem with the setup. And you’ve got to be aware how Kinect works, for example if you wear baggy clothing then Kinect is likely to have issues in at least some games because in games using a skeletal system Kinect has to be able to see a decent representation of your body shape to accurately map the skeleton. So if you’ve got a baggy top with big hanging sleeves and baggy trousers or baggy shorts that are wide then your body shape won’t be accurate so Kinect will have trouble accurately mapping the skeleton therefore you’ll most likely have control issues in those games. If you use Kinect properly it works fine. (Although obviously there are going to be some bad games that don’t work well just like there are some bad joypad-based games that don’t work well.)

      As for shooting games, I think there’s a great potential for shotting games, especially FPS games, with Kinect. I made a simulation video of one in fact. I did use a joypad to shoot (although also showed that you could just use a gesture too) but then that doesn’t matter since there’s no law that says you can’t combine Kinect with a joypad, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour is for example. Here’s my FPS controls concept video that I made last year but had the idea for and talked about ever since “Project Natal” was revealed:

      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjv3q9_kinect-fps-controls-simulation_videogames

      There could also be options in the game for people who don’t want total Kinect control and want more joypad control too like you could use the right analogue stick on the joypad to move forwards and backwards (body motions would still be used to turn and sidestep/strafe), that way you’d require less space to play games with those controls. So if you have the space and want to use the foot stepping forwards/backwards method you can or you can switch to the analogue stick instead in the options.

      Also there could be a sitting down option so that you can also strafe with the right analogue stick. You can still turn with your body as you can twist your upper body left & right while sitting down. For leaning left and right you can obviously still lean left and right in the chair (which is why I didn’t use leaning for strafing) and for crouching you can just lean forward & down in the chair. Not sure about jumping though, maybe raise both hands in the air above your head? Otherwise that might require that you push a button on the joypad.

      See, all that’s needed is good ideas to make good core Kinect games. And I’ve got loads of them, not just that one, so developers have no excuse if they don’t come up with more. There are already great core games on the Kinect though, just ignore “professional” reviews as critics bash pretty much all Kinect games, probably because they can’t even play them properly. Rise Of Nightmares and Blackwater are great examples of core Kinect games totally underrated (and even blatently lied about) by so called “professional” critics.

  • http://HardcoreGamer.com Dack

    It’s a shame more games like Child of Eden aren’t being released that really take advantage of the hardware ala Rez.

    • Corellianrogue

      Child Of Eden is great but doesn’t really take advantage of Kinect since it’s just tracking your hands. (It’s still an even better, more immersive and fun, experience than using the joypad though.) Check out Crimson Dragon as that does more since it not only has the same shooting mechanics as Child Of Eden (but even more in depth as you can select different weapons) but also tracks your body to move the dragon around. Yes, it’s still on-rails but that’s intentional as it’s basically Kinect Panzer Dragoon as it’s made by the creator of Panzer Dragoon and a lot of the team who worked on the games even including the same composer! :D

      Here’s the latest trailer:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oZIctt1SmQ

      And here’s a video of someone playing a demo at PAX EAst and he says in the video that it’s the first time he’s ever played with Kinect! As you’ll notice he’s able to move his body very subtly to move the dragon:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xgdIa0EVGM

      There’s also a (poor quality) video of a Japanese demo on YouTube where the person showing the demo does some more exaggerated moves with his body a few times during the demo just to show the audience how it works:

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

      • http://HardcoreGamer.com Dack

        You seem to know a lot about Kinect.

        • Corellianrogue

          Yeah, from right back when it was first reveled as “Project Natal” I find out how it worked and thought of all kinds of ideas because of its potential. Unfortunately I don’t think enough has been done with it yet but there are still a lot of cool games for it. Also, unlike some people ot seems, if I ever encounter a problem (rarely) I don’t just throw a tantrum and blame the game and Kinect I see if there’s something else that could be the problem. Like when I first played Child Of Eden the cursor was messing up and I eventually realised I just had to roll up my sleeves and that a recent accuracy update had obviously made Kinect even more sensitive to baggy clothing. (My top wasn’t that baggy, but it was a bit.) I also play games properly, like with Kinect Star Wars I actually do proper swings and don’t limp-wristedly flail around like I’ve seen many critics do. (Then complain not only that they’re flailing but that all their moves aren’t being replicated exactly by the on-screen character, lol!) Seriously, you should check out the video Kotaku did, the guy is acting like a retarded window cleaner!

          • Awesome

            You are what I like about this site. No random nerd rage, just informative posts. On any other site, all your posts and the questions prompting your post would be a huge flame war.

            Also, if they want to make Gears of War Kinect, they should replace all the main characters with the dancers from Dance Central 2. That would get people playing fast.

  • correction99

    “As for lag, Kinect has about the same as a joypad playing 30fps games, the average lag on a 30fps joypad game is around 133ms and the lowest lag a joypad can have in a 30fps game is 100ms whereas Kinect is currently theoretically capable of going down to 102ms. (Last year Microsoft said they had got the processing of the tracking data down to 2ms, so you add the tracking data processing to the initial tracking which is 100ms because Kinect runs at 30fps and you get 102ms.) 2ms difference is basically insignificant. I think most Kinect games are 133ms-150ms judging by tests I’ve done. Lag may be more noticable with Kinect since you’re more aware of a game tracking your body than you are of a game responding to a button press or thumbstick move. Watch this brief video I made over a year ago:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xii0ea_joypad-and-kinect-lag-comparison_videogames

    Wrong.
    There is a reason your video has no views. Your testing is flawed, who are you trying to fool? You can put Look sensitivity at 10 and it will be instant. Movement was always ‘heavy’ in those games for a reason.

    There is effectively No difference between being wired or wireless for controllers on the ps3 and xbox 360. Wireless can go toe to toe with wired counterparts.

    http://shoryuken.com/forum/index.php?threads/do-wireless-360-and-ps3-pads-lag-any-reason-to-stick-to-a-wired-pcb.49295/page-2