Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 05, 2010
Body control

Kinect, Wii Remote, PlayStation Move, there is a definitive trend towards console games being controlled with some sort of device that tracks the motion of your body, instead of just being controlled with the fingers. But I'm not buying any of these, after having tried out both the PS2 EyeToy and the Wiimote. Very simple reason: I like play sessions that last several hours. Technically I'm not a couch-potato (I mostly play PC games sitting in an office chair, not a couch), but a full body control game is a lot more strenuous than either a gamepad or a mouse/keyboard control scheme.

For exactly this reason I don't think that this sort of controller has any future for MMORPGs. The amount of hours people want to play a MMORPG for per week largely surpasses the amount of hours they'd like to work out. I think these full body control schemes are great for casual games, and have a potential to get people to play who think gamepads are too complicated. But they aren't the future of gaming.
I agree completely.
IMO, they are just gimmicks to keep people playing 6+ year old "next gen" consoles.
Motion control is not just a way to simplify games, it's also a way to move beyond the gamepad's, the mouse's or the joystick's limitations. Current-gen gamepads feature two analog sticks and several analog buttons. These are fine for rapid movements, but fine control in three dimensions is difficult without increasing controller complexity tremendously. If the games move beyond scripted attacks, then I can see great benefit in a Wiimote or a Move. For example, a game like Darkfall could feature realistic swordplay where being able to attack from any angle could be crucial advantage. That has been a pipe dream since Die by the Sword, but current-generation motion controllers can handle it. But as you pointed out, that same game couldn't feature hours upon hours of nonstop combat.
I don't know so much. I'd like to see an MMORPG include a "live action" control system. Somethings I think would be difficult particularly healing and I'm not sure how pet classes would work.

There would also issues for pet classes and the unfit would be disadvantaged so we'd end up with more jocks and less nerds.

And I'd be scared of the ERP possibilities.
Gross generalisation here, but most geeks like myself play games rather then sports as their level of un-coordination will cause much failure in sports.

Tobold is right on the money here, these games are awesome for parties or small groups when people have had a few drinks, but not so much for the player vegeing out on the couch.
But remember, most gamers don't play MMORPGs. Motion control is here to stay people.
2-3 hours of light physical exercise is in the reach of most people, surely?

Although I will be interested to see if any interesting RSIs start cropping up from motion-control games. Developers are going to have to be a bit careful about that.
Mick - this may be a UK/US thing, but I don't see much of a difference in enthusiasm for exercise between my gamer and non-gamer friends.

Off the top of my head, the best and second-best Badminton players I know (a surprisingly intense game) are both much harder-core gamers than me, I know one gaming couple where one's a blackbelt and the other one's a semi-pro cage fighter, other gamers I know are gym fanatics, swordfighters, Fillipino Martial Arts types...

And I know some serious couch potatoes too. But it's by no means universal.
I think long-play MMOs and motion control could match up. Sure it sounds hard to move for hours at a time multiple days a week, but the average person used to move for hours a day every day.

As for lack of coordination, I think the practice would help. But also, swords or shots could be made fatter, effectively adding an aim and sword use handicap.
I'm not so sure. I played the archery game on the PS3 and if they came out with a MMORPG that had an archer character I would definitely buy it. I felt so much more involved in the game play.

Currently, MMOs tend to last hours and take place in front of a computer but who's to say that in the future with people having less free time that game sessions become shorter and more active.

Think of a game where you have to make complex motions to cast a spell rather than mash a button. They do have to do something about sword fighting though. All sword fighting games with motion sensors seem to encourage flailing wildly. Maybe they could come up with a weighted sensor, something you could add little plates to depending on the weapon you are using. Or if you swing you can't swing again for a half second while you recover.

I would love to see the possibilities in this type of gaming, especially in some kind of MMORPG.

Also, myself and all my friends (except for one) that play WoW are jocks. We all play sports every week.
Only if you use a current designed MMO.

Then again EQ wouldn't work in WOW's minimum play time and people are, I think, more resilient than you think.

I know starting out with the pro drums in Rock Band that my right shoulder wasn't used to hitting the much higher cymbal pads--but it acclimated quickly enough.

I think you really need to redesign your basic play unit (hit auto and reactive buttons) heavily--as I think a basic sword swing would get really tiring and boring quickly.

There is also nothing saying that you can't design a motion controlled MMO for short, intense play sessions.

I would agree that motion control won't be successfully integrated into current generations MMOs.
For all the crying that we need something *new* for combat, UI and so forth -- when something radical that is *new* is released -- I find it interesting when it's immediately disregarded by the norm.

I'm not saying that Kinect or Move will be the future of MMO gaming, but I do think they offer an interesting alternative gameplay that is not a 'gimmick'. I am absolutely a fan for that reason alone.

I'm also finding that as I get older the 'micro' adjustments that I need to make with a mouse keyboard cause me Karpal Tunnel fits -- something I'm not exactly fearing with Kinects.

All that said, this type of system will never work for an MMO as long as other forms of interfaces are offered as alternatives.

Given the choice between two controllers, competitive players will choose the most efficient interface even if it's not the most fun to use.

For example, if you want to play around with Mario Cart -- you use the Wiimote like a steering wheel. If you want to WIN against your buddy -- you need to use it as a controller with the nunchuk.

So unless Kinects is the only form of interface -- it won't pick up steam as the interface of choice in something as competitive like an MMO.
Far from gimmicks, these are the start of gesture based UI's.
Why fumble for a remote when you can halt or play a video with a wave of your hand. The possibilities are endless.
Once they become good enough, I'll be all over them.

When I say good enough, I mean accurate representation of my gestures, not just an interpretation of what I may or may not have done. PvP will be incredible then.
I pre-ordered the Kinect and Xbox 4GB bundle on Amazon. It arrived yesterday, I set it up at night, and played for 2.5 hours. Now my body feels like I've been through a serious workout.

Personally, I would love to play a Kinect-based MMO. As you've mentioned many times before, Tobold, today's MMO's are skewed toward people who have more money than time (though that is changing as more MMO's offer people the chance to buy levels). I am a bit jealous of people who can level faster than me because they have more free time and can sit in front of the computer for longer. I would be less jealous, or at least feel like they "earned it" more if they had to do some physical activity besides keyboard and mouse. Then the game would be skewed not just to people with free time, but also to people who are in shape.

A large part of MMO's is competitive, either in beating the other players, or at least keeping up. I would much rather devote 1-2 hours per night exercising to keep up with the game's hardcore players rather than 3-5 hours sitting in a chair.
NES Power Glove.

It's a gimmick.
Innovation should always be welcome in the console/compuer gaming world. The kinect really is a new idea and will likely make for some interesting gaming design.

The main problem is that the lack of any controller is just stupid. Why would I want to pretend to drive a care without a steering wheel? Also, the lack of buttons and a controller just makes the controls too simple for most complex games, esp an MMO or RPG.

MS needs to combine the kinect with a controller, so you can actually play complex games with it. Would it really be that tiring to do some WoW bg's where you can use a arm movement (or something simliar) to active shield block cooldown, or actually a left foot kick to interrupt an enemies cast? It might be a lot more fun and engaging. Eitherway, we wont' know until someone tries it.
There are likely years of tech problems to solve before those kinetic controllers would work for complex games like MMO's, but the biggest barrier IMO is that many of us want to RELAX when we play video games. Like watching TV.

I work all day, go to the gym or run with the dog after work. Then I want to SIT DOWN and play WoW. If I had to flail a controller and kick my legs all standing 4 or 5 feet from my 23 inch computer screen (which looks awesome 12 inches away but not so much 4 feet away) I'd go back to reading books (which would make my wife giddy).

The active/kinetic controller games are great options for gaming, though. I'm going to get a controller for my Xbox, partly to see if I can FINALLY get my hyper-kinetic wife interested in playing games with me.

But raiding for 4 hours while standing and/or jumping around? No thank you, sir.

HOWEVER, I could imagine having a dedicated room in my house. Totally dark and empty with a 360 degree projector that filled the entire room. I'm outfitted with sensors that allow my movements to interact with the projected environment. All my guildies around me as we walk through a dark forest...

If I have to swing around a controller for a few years to get to THAT, I'd be in.
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