Move vs Kinect: In their own words
6th Sep 2010 | 11:03
In the first part of our motion control interview spectacular, Sony's Dr Richard Marks did his best to convince you of Move's exciting future.
Annoyingly for Sony, its not the only platform holder with its tanks on Nintendo's body-popping lawn.
Microsoft's Kinect launches in November for a cool £130. It's left critics equally excited, deflated and bemused - with plenty of questions still to be answered.
We caught up with Microsoft's Kinect Kingpin Kudo Tsunoda to, erm, ask 'em:
We've heard that Kinect has improved a lot recently in terms of performance - and you're constantly updating the SDK. Does it still have room to get better?
I think like any development process, we're not done with the games yet - there are bugs we're fixing. A lot of the demos we showed at Gamescom were smaller versions of the [final] games - just because you only have ten minutes or so to show people the product.
The stuff that is really important to making the games good - so far as them being fun, having gameplay skill and that depth of gameplay that I think is important in game - those are all already in there. We're adding the last bits of polish and bug fixing, that is a normal part of the game-making process.
What was the reason for going with Kinect Adventures for the £130 bundle, rather than Kinect Sports or another title?
All the launch games do a really great job at highlighting the technology. One of the things that we've been very focused on - and why Kinect is the name of the programme - is really trying to make a social experience for people; not so just playing games at the same time, but making part of the gameplay experience something where the communication is an important part of the gameplay skill.
I think Kinect Adventures does a great job of highlighting the technology; it's very social, inclusive and has great features like the show-off and share stuff, where you can take pictures and share them. It uses the full body tracking, the voice features. Really the game was built to be inclusive so multiple people can enjoy it.
In terms of technology how sophisticated is Kinect as a piece of hardware? Was it a case of cleverly using existing hardware or did you spend a lot of time on R&D?
To me it's not even the hardware that is the magic, it's the software that allows the hardware to do what we're doing with Kinect that makes it unique. There's the full body tracking part of Kinect where it uses infra-red to get a full 3D view of the room.
If you think about how sonar works, where it will send out a signal and as it comes back it collects the signal and depending on how strong the signal is, it can read the depth of everything in its range.
That's how the Kinect full body tracking works, it gives you the full 3D look of the room. Then the software that we've developed allows us to identify what in the room is a human being, because that's all we're really tracking. Obviously you don't want sofas or tables being a part of what we're tracking in the game.
We're filtering out what is the human being and what are they doing in the room, and that is special software that we've developed in Microsoft - it really was in development for many, many years in our Microsoft research department and is something that nobody else is doing.
It has a multi-array microphone inside the sensor, so what that means is we can listen to audio positionally in the room. So if two people are playing and we want to focus on what one is saying we can. Combine that with full body tracking and we know who is who and can get the mic really listening to what you're saying.
We have a lot of great noise-cancellation technology, so any of the noise coming out of your TV or if there are dogs, people or other noises in the house, we can cancel all that out. I think those are awesome technology innovations.
Also, the human recognition system of Kinect, being able to stand in front of the sensor and have it sign you into Live is super cool.
When we first announced it in E3 2009 we were calling it facial recognition but what we found was facial recognition was a very rudimentary way of doing things. If someone has a beard, shaves, and show up the next day he'll look totally different from a face perspective.
So we actually used the RGB camera in the sensor to look at who you are, the full body tracking to see your body shape and the voice technology in combination [with facial reading] to give that human recognition system the functionality that it has today.
These are really big innovations in this space - but I think the great thing is that the technology isn't something the user interacts with. They don't even know it's there, they just interact and it makes stuff fun to play on Xbox.
Where are you with Kinect on PC?
So, we're very focused on Kinect on Xbox and the launch of Kinect on Xbox. I think it is cool though - and this is just from me - in the games industry we take a lot of things from other industries and bring it into game. Like we take stuff from movies and bring it into games, or we'll take technology from PC and bring it into games.
Kinect really is the first time that the video games industry is pioneering something that I really think has widespread application outside of just video games.
So, hypothetically, if I worked at a company that didn't only make games but also did stuff with PCs and phones, I think there could probably be some possibility that the tech might get used in other places but at least for now we're focused on Kinect for Xbox and getting us to launch.
A lot of core gamers feel like there isn't much on Kinect that appeals to them, what would you say to them? Will they ever get a chance to play Gears or Halo with Kinect?
To me, I It's funny because everyone always has a different definition of 'core gamer'. I think somehow core gamers all-of-a-sudden got almost pigeonholed as people who only want to kill people. If you're not shooting somebody or chopping somebody in half you're not a core gamer anymore.
I've been playing games since I was a kid and I'm a core gamer right? The thing to me is, what is important about making a game fun is that skill-based gameplay. What I think gamers hate is: 'Hey you know I've been playing this game for two months,' and then somebody who has never played the game before just comes in and instantly beats you because the game is tuned to make anything you do successful.
We make it so the controls are very accessible- again, I'm a core gamer but I don't like having to learn some complicated new control system every time I get a new game. We spend like an hour in tutorials in each game today, and when we talk about the game being 'accessible' it just means you don't have to learn the controls. But they still have skill-based gameplay with depth.
That is something we've focused on in all the Kinect launch experiences. If you think about a game like Sonic the Hedgehog, in the old days, would you say Sonic was a core game or a casual game? It's a mix between both. There isn't some complicated set of controls to learn but it has all the gameplay skill and depth.
If we'd never heard of Sonic the Hedgehog and we were talking about Kinect and I'm like 'we've got this awesome game, you're this little blue hedgehog and you're running around collecting golden rings' you'd be like 'that's not a core game, where are the games for the core?', and yet Sonic was a core game and in fact we have a Sonic game in our Kinect launch line up.
Those are the important things, it isn't about shooting people or chopping people in half, it's about making sure there is that really good skill based gameplay and that depth of gameplay, that is what I think really makes gaming fun for everybody.
Kinect is released on November 10 in Europe and November 4 in the US