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Project Natal Plagued By Lag?

As many of you may know earlier this week many celebrities and technology experts where invited to a secret evening taster session in London to try out Project Natal. The only game being exhibited at this event was the coveted ball game Ricochet. One person who attended this evening was Jason Bradbury who commented on Natal’s performance and the hardware being used. According to Mr.Bradbury the hardware being displayed at this event was just the E3 hardware, which was months old and that the next prototype of Natal was ready and supported voice control. You can view the video of Jason Bradbury sharing his thoughts here.

Noticeable Lag

Just across the pond in New York, Russ Frushtick a Video Games Editor for MTV News gave Project Natal a try and discovered it had a noticeable lag problem.

‘I had a pretty large sample size, sitting through 5 demos, capturing about 40 different movements from a variety of journalists. Across those 40 movements, the fastest life-to-screen transition was .08 seconds, while the slowest was .12 seconds. A tenth of a second was the consistent average, though.

What that means is that, in its current state, Natal is not instant, one-to-one motion capture. It’s close, very close, but once you start playing you’ll undoubtedly notice a tiny delay. It’s to be expected, certainly. Even high-end Hollywood studio motion capture devices have a slight delay, and a camera sitting in front of your TV doesn’t come close to the fidelity of 30 cameras in a massive studio.’

He also noticed that this demo in New York was very similar if not the same one as was shown at E3 the previous year. This suggests to me that this old hardware is too old to judge, as it’s only a proof of concept.

Shortly after the article was posted on MTV’s Multiplayer website, Microsoft released an official statement addressing the matter.

‘The proof of concept “Project Natal” demo shown in New York last week was not new, nor was it intended to show incremental progress. We wanted to share the same E3 experience with those who weren’t able to experience “Project Natal” in June. However, the “Project Natal” development team has been hard at work perfecting the technology over the past eight months and will continue to do so. When “Project Natal” launches this holiday, the experiences will be in keeping with Xbox 360 standards of performance and will transform living room entertainment.’

Possible Release Date?

Ok, now we head back over to London because Jonathan Ross also had a chance to play Natal. You can view that video here. He commented on his twitter feed his thoughts about Project Natal and may have leaked a release date.

‘OK. Before bed. Natal on X Box impressive. Not quite there yet i think but tye have til october and if they get it right…sky’s the limit.’

They have until October? Could this be the actual planned release date for Project Natal or merely an educated guess made by Jonathan Ross who knows?

My Thoughts

It would be unfair of me to reach a final verdict on Project Natal at this stage, instead I look forward to hearing news from GDC, TGS and E3. It would be very unlikely that Microsoft would release Natal without ironing out these creases in performance and body tracking. With that being said it appears to be pretty close in terms of the time it take natal to process what each of the cameras see (three in total). In conclusion I feel that Microsoft still have a long road ahead of them if they hope to achieve instant motion capture capable of tracking fast moving objects.

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