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Should You Be Excited For Kinect?

Ah, Summer 2009 how I miss you. Such a simpler time where I inwardly obsessed over the fifth season finale of Lost unendingly, and all-night Team Fortress 2 sessions somehow never got old. Also, I was completely and utterly positive, no questions asked, that I was going to get then named Project Natal on release day. Oh how a year can change things.

When I first saw Natal at Microsoft’s E3 briefing last year, I was awestruck. The possibilities seemed endless, and I just wanted to play it right there (the sure sign of a must buy). That brick breaker game, where your body has to keep the ball in play, looked like a lot of fun. And, of course, who can forget that creepy yet cute kid Milo? I remember Peter Molyneux (of Lionhead Studios, creators of Fable) talking excitedly of the features and prospect of what Milo could achieve; I couldn’t help but get a bit antsy. I mean c’mon, you can draw something, hold it up to the sensor, and it gets translated right into the game world. It’s unprecedented, something no one’s ever done before. Not to mention the intelligent conversations the woman, Kate, had with Milo; discussing school, projects, and how she was feeling (he could read her facial cues and decide what her emotion was, thus adding another wrinkle to my brain). It got me excited for not only this game, but the ideas of all these features that could be presented into other games.

Milo, basically like having Haley Joel Osment from Artificial Intelligence live inside your TV

That idea of being able to, Minority Report-style, swipe between menu options, or tell your Xbox commands, is what got me most excited. A simpler, cleaner and funner way to navigate their system is what I yearned for. While some of these points ended up in the newly (and poorer) named Kinect, I feel a little left out in the cold. I was just confused after this years E3; it felt wrong to go from hyper excitement, to bitter disappointment. I was expecting more assurance that this tech would be under my tree come Christmas morning. Unfortunately, I found myself to be more excited last year. And this year, well, I feel almost apathetic about the whole thing.

My first major problem, as any semi-hardcore to hardcore gamer would say, is the games. I thought Microsoft would understand their fan base, and the people who practically keep their company running, don’t want to play around with creepy baby zebra things. I mean, Kinectimals.. really? Everything seems so obviously copied from Nintendo titles, I feel almost embarrassed for them. From Kinect Sports, to Kinect Joy Ride and the previously mentioned Kinectimals. I won’t insult you guys’ intelligence, the Wii and DS games they mirror are joltingly obvious. The only game my friends and I could agree that looks even worth playing is Dance Central. And we have NEVER played dancing games, hell we barely play Rock Bands or Guitar Hero. But it’s original and looks like a decent amount of fun, despite how much of a complete moron I would look like playing it.

And the slew of obnoxious and so-called "peripherals" begins

And you thought because it doesn’t use peripherals Kinect would be spared a bunch of ridiculous third-party add-ons. Well, you were wrong.

This is Atomic Accessories’ “Game Boat”. It’s for Kinect Adventures, a game which includes a rafting game. So you blow up the inflatable boat, and…look, I’m not going to dignify this with an explanation.

I’m just going to ask that if Atomic are mad enough to release this boat, they could at least go the whole hog and release the plastic jungle to go with it.

Problem number two comes with bits of information I’ve read over the Internet in the pass couple of months. Over the summer it was unofficially revealed, when pre-ordering on Amazon, you must make sure you have 6 feet of room between you and the Kinect sensor. I get that it was probably a problem that was insurmountable, being that the tiny lens needs you far enough to see your entire body. But the way I feel is that this problem won’t even let some people ponder getting a Kinect, like out of the gate they are refused it. I have about five feet from my television to the beginning of my bed, so even if I really really wanted one, it’d be impossible for me to play. I know there’s going to be someone in that position, and if they have a PS3, they may just go for Move instead.

Oh look at us with our conveniently spacious and generic living room!

“You’ll need any Xbox 360 console, a Kinect sensor, Kinect games and 6 feet between you and your television for play space,” the listing on Amazon’s Kinect pre-order page states.

More recently we learned of the multiplayer situation. You want to play Kinect Adventures with a buddy? You need to be at least eight feet away from the sensor. Pause for thoughts. Do you have eight feet in your gaming center? That’s about a little more than half of my entire room. I felt a little lenient on them for the six feet, but this just flabbergasted me. Just a nail in the coffin of what was, just a year ago, my gaming dream

I wonder how much abandoned warehouses are in this economic climate...

Most significantly is the confirmation that you will require a minimum of six feet of space between you and the camera for it to properly read your motions. If you add a second player to the mix, that number moves to eight feet, severely limiting the practicality of the device for many.

And, an admittedly petty and bitter problem of mine, but a problem nonetheless, is the hardware features. Yeah you can turn your Xbox on by walking in front of it, control menus with your hand in front of you held out like you’re stopping traffic for a group of five-year-olds, and start Netflix by simply talking into the speaker. Cool. Awesome. But there’s a whole separate dashboard for it, so there won’t be any Minority Report swiping done anywhere, sadly. I would have also liked to see some sort of voice integration done with more of the well-used features on the Xbox guide. For instance if I wanted to start a party with one of my friends, why couldn’t I just say “Xbox, start party with <gamertag>”? Or demand “Xbox, send message to <gamertag>” and then speak the message. Maybe, hopefully, features like these, that us true gamers would use, could be included in a software update later. But for now, on launch day, I’ll keep a safe distance.

So what about you, oh loyal Platform Nation reader? Are you excited for Kinect, or are you going to wait and see if better games and features come out? Or are you as jaded and disappointed as me?

via Kotaku, MTV Multiplayer Blog, Destructoid, and Amazon

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  • Crabsticks

    For the 6 feet problem, I’m afraid Move won’t be an alternative option. It too requires 6-8 feet to work optimally, and whilst it does work if you stand closer (as I’m sure Kinect will), it isn’t really perfect, if not altogether broke (as I’m sure Kinect will be in similar situations). Heck when you turn Sports Champion on it says “Please stand 6-8 feet back”.

    I’m afraid if you’re at all interested in this motion-based future, such space is going to be a necessity at some point along the line regardless of what technology you go for.

    • Josh

      I have a move and I can tell you I only stand .. Oh… 3 feet back? It’s in my brothers room which is tiny, but it works fine. You basically just need to get you waist up in the middle of the camera and your good for it.

    • Makidian

      That’s more of a recommendation than a requirement and it’s not because Move won’t function if you are closer, it’s more there to keep a person from smacking their television with the controller. You have no choice but to play at six feet from Kinect or it will not work and that is a huge problem and Kinect may sell well for a while but I bet it sees a substantial amount of returns.

  • Todd Packard

    Microsoft was continuously criticized for making 360 a hardcore only console. They have made Kinect an experience for the casuals, it is not aimed at the hardcore, and all I see is article after article nitpicking the yet to be released product.

    One of the things I find interesting is, all these articles all have the exact same tired complaints. No hardcore games, you have to be 6 feet out, and whats the other one, oh yeah the price.

    I find it odd that like the above reader pointed out, Move works best if the player is at least 6ft away as well yet no one finds the need to write an article complaining about that, in fact everyone seems to think that it is completely appropriate that Sony didn’t bother to in the least bit show any originality, or innovation in their venture into motion control, and simply made a Wii with a ball on top. I have seen ZERO article complaining or even mentioning this reality. Yet we see countless articles picking Kinect apart.

    The question I have, what is with this agenda the media seems to have against Kinect?

    Even the author of this article claims he was excited for Kinect when it first was announced, but did we ever see an article written about how excited you were, if so please link. Somehow I doubt that article was ever written. All we have seen since the very first mention of Kinect, is negative toned, overly critical articles.

    I guess you guys are hoping if you all keep saying Kinect will fail, maybe it will.

    The bottom line is Kinect is not for the hardcore, its aimed at folks who have trouble using controllers. IF your interested in Kinect then you will need to have a room big enough to jump around in, that is common sense, not a design flaw. The price structure may not be perfect but if you want Kinect its certainly not a deal breaker.

    How about we all adopt a wait and see approach, since most of us are hardcore gamers and this Kinect is clearly not a hardcore product, shall we save all the negative analysis and see what the audience the product is aimed at thinks of it. After all, we were wrong about Wii, perhaps we should have learned form that.

  • Mboojigga

    OMG two common sense post. I have been beta testing Kinect since the beginning of September and my family and I have been enjoying it look forward to playing the other games. The menu integration is very responsive and we have been playing Kinect Sports, Joy Ride and Kinect Adventures. The games are actually fun and the space requirement is not any worse than the Move. Te move saids during loading how u gave to have 8ft of distance. I know from using it that it is best played from thy distance for optimal performance. If you are going to complain about the space for Kinect then u should share te same concerns about Move

  • I really like the enthusiasm guys, but the only point i was trying to make was simple disappointment in Kinect from one year to the other. I am adopting a wait and see approach (if any of those features i mentioned do get integrated, I would get more interested). And dealing with Move, I wasn’t trying to write an article about Move, I was writing an article about Kinect, and as an above commenter gratefully noted, the distance needed to play is quite shorter for Move.

    And Mr. Packard, you won’t find any article for my first reaction to Kinect due to the fact that I just started writing for P*N a couple of weeks ago. I would have loved to do one if i had been, though.

  • Silentkill

    Actually dance central is a blatant rip off of WII’s Just Dance

    • The Ventriloquist

      So is motion control so how about we start there.

  • Dead box 102

    Tired of seeing articles like this. Of course you’ll need plenty of room to play Kinect, it’s common since.

    • The Ventriloquist

      Making it accessible for every gamer is also common sense but that didn’t stop them.

      • Dead box 102

        Kinect is obviously geared towards children and the casual gamer. Which is a week area for Xbox. Its obviously an attempt to cut into the Wii’s strongest customer base. I had a Wii and it doesnt work well 3 ft from the TV.
        I have plenty of room for Kinect and the games look fun. I’m a hardcore gamer, but still enjoy the simple games. As I recall, the 360 didn’t have a large selection of titles when it launched and look at it now. Give the developers time to get creative with the technology.

  • Interesting to read – I’ve just read a hands on Kinect report over at The Sixth Axis… The best they could say about it was “not completely terrible” – man that’s a quote Microsoft might want to put on the box… KINECT is ‘not completely terrible’ – they say the games are mostly broken and not much fun but hey at least it’s not terrible!?