Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Honeymoon is Over

OK, early adopters. It has been one calendar month since you and your beloved Kinect tied the knot. How was the honeymoon? Did Kinect blow your socks off?

Below are my concerns about purchasing Kinect. Can anyone convince me to jump in? I am still on the 3D depth fence. Leave a comment to help me allay any fears.

Lag: I have read many different experiences on lag with Kinect. This is an area of importance for a core gamer who expects quick responses from input. Should I be concerned?

Space Required: The measured distance from my 42" LCD to the couch is 5'8". Should I buy a Kinect?

1:1 Controls: This could be a pipe dream. But on the whole, can Kinect be considered a 1:1 control scheme?

Core Games: The launch titles for Kinect did not spark my interests, in the least. It's all about the software experience, right? What can I, Joe Core Gamer, look forward to?

I must confess. If Kinect had launched with a hardware-based controller and 2-3 core games, I would have purchased the device immediately. Regardless of whether I had the space for it, or not.

Obviously, I am still not sold. I need convincing!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Did you ever see Project K?...(Yup)...But did you ever see it  *dramatic pause*...on WEED?! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kinect Hack-A-Thon!!

Kinect, a new 3D depth sensing camera for Xbox 360, hit retailers on November 4, 2010. Mere weeks after its release, the hacker community is showing software giant Microsoft where the limitations of its device lie.

Modders across the world are using Kinect to dream up the future of user interface input! The extent of Kinect's application extends much further than just video games. Microsoft seems to know this,  but looks to have been caught off guard by the persistence of the hacker/modder community.

MS has addressed the trend with a show of force by releasing the following statement: "We will work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant." The statement is a futile attempt to control an inevitability. It would be in the company's best interest to support the hacker/modder community. Update: Microsoft has wisely backed away from their original statement.

The majority of the hacks being reported revolve around Kinect to PC/MAC input scenarios. Ironically, there has not been much modification performed to the initial video game purpose of the device. Is it because of the closed nature of the console? Or, is it felt Kinect's future in games is largely held in the hands of software developers? I side with the latter.

However, I believe software developers will quickly reach the limits of Kinect. This will be exceptionally swift without a hardware-based controller to marry Kinect and core games. Its this perceived fact that I am betting my prototype controllers' foundation on. Without the core gamer being drawn to Kinect with the option of standard controls, the device could flop.

The hacks we are seeing are proof of the limitless applications of Kinect. The issue that the CPU receiving the input is an open PC, and not a closed video game console should be of no concern. I hope Microsoft takes notice and allows Kinect to live outside of the boundaries originally set.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is a partial reveal of mock-up "Alpha". In hand, it's light, a quarter-inch shorter in height than a 4.3" screened smartphone, .6" in width, and offers standard control expected of todays' games with no interruption of Kinect functionality. 

Please understand I can not reveal the entire device at this moment. There is way more to Project K than it aesthetic similarities to the new 360 slim design. Stay tuned!

Size comparison:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kinect Launch a Success!!

It is being widely reported that Microsoft's launch of Xbox Kinect is a monumental success! The sensor is sold out at many retail locations and looks to not be slowing down!

For the most part, the user experience has been positive. The ability to control your Xbox dashboard with gestures is trending as a welcome experience. However, the voice controls are something that needs more tweaking, according to first adopters. These users are asking for a uniform experience for voice and gesture based controls.

A good example would be the voice controls in the Netflix app. They are non-existent. Users are comparing the excellent voice controls in the ESPN app to that of Netflix and wondering why the controls are not present in the latter. The gesture controls should be uniformed as well. It has been stated that some menus in the dashboard still require you pick up the 360 controller to input selections. (Source)

Software-wise, the Kinect has left a great deal to be desired. The overall tone of the launch software is Wii-like. We can only hope Kinect can deliver much deeper experiences than the current crop of software. Such experiences will require the current xbox controller. There is already buzz around software that will take advantage of both Kinect and controller. (And buzz of a new hardware controller type!)

Overall, the launch of Kinect looks positive. It is yet to be seen whether the sensor will truly be Xbox 360's mid life cycle boost. But, as an avid Xbox core gamer, I hope it becomes just that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Itch

Core gamers are a fickle bunch. We stand in the path of ingenuity seeking a middle ground. We laugh in the face of innovation and demand of it a compromise that allows us to scratch an itch. An itch that asks us to be true to a passion that has placed a controller in our hands since the Atari 2600: Video Gaming.

Core gaming is at the cusp of an experience evolution. The controller we have so fondly interacted with for decades is being shown the door with the invent of Xbox Kinect and similar devices coming to market. Microsoft has built a 3D depth and motion sensing camera for the Xbox 360 that asks your body to be the controller. Exciting, isn't it?! As Xbox core gamers and the console's primary consumer, we are energized for the Kinect and all its promising wonder. We want in! But our hands are itching!

The itch can only be satisfied by one thing: A physical hardware controller designed specifically for Xbox Kinect. Core Gamers can all agree on the immersion factor in needing a physical controller; let alone the nostalgia factor that ties us to our first consoles. What Microsoft seems unwilling to admit is how to introduce a physical controller while staying true to the controller-free foundation of Kinect. Of equal concern, introduction of a physical controller would falsify Kinect's core investment from conception to launch. However, it would be foolish to believe a discussion on a hardware-based controller for Kinect is not occurring in Redmond as we speak.

Murmurs across the web are proclaiming core gaming genres ( ie FPS, RPG's, and simulators) are not meant for Kinect due to no available physical controller. A sentiment that is evident in the launch titles for the device. Consequently, Microsoft is telling the media and gaming community that Kinect will provide standard core gaming experiences sans physical controller. A statement that is par for the course, business-wise, when marketing a new product. But we core gamers blindly ask: How do you expect to do this, Microsoft? A question that has gone largely unanswered and unacknowledged by the company.

Thankfully, my gaming peers offer this answer: Microsoft can't provide standard core gaming Kinect experiences without a physical controller! But what they can and hope to do is redefine the core gaming experience. Microsoft wants us to believe, through new hardware and mediocre software, that future core gaming experiences are less tangible and more intangible. This approach will work for herding casual gamers during the holiday season; plus the overall financially driven goal of audience expansion. But without a physical controller, we core gamers who churn the gaming industry, say nay!

Microsoft, we dare you to look the hordes of Halo players in their MJOLNIR helmet visors and tell them Kinect will allow the same control needed for those SW33T double kills and intense multiplayer matches over Xbox LIVE! Can you assure the loyal sports gamers that Kinect will allow the same unprecedented control as a standard controller when its 4th and inches in the red zone at Lambeau Field?! Or when the Lakers are down by 2 in the 4th quarter with 3 seconds on the game clock?! Will you face the simulation auto racers with a Kinect control scheme affording true control of that tricked out Nissan Skyline they spent countless hours upgrading, painting, and modding to drifting perfection?! (And no, we do not mean that on rails E3 demo control 'crap-scheme' that sucked the everlasting joy out of Forza 3! Yes, we remember that and it gives us nightmares!)

If you can do this with Kinect, Microsoft, core gamers worldwide will applaud your efforts to the high heavens! But if you can not, there will be hell to pay!

And just in case Kinect hits the fan, it would be in your best interest to make sure you have a backup plan. How does 40+ million hand scratchers sound? Here is one to consider!