Sony and Microsoft Do It Again!

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Sony and Microsoft Do It Again!

A day late and some common sense short, Microsoft and Sony introduce motion controllers of their own.

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wow, with the consoles saying "screw you" to 'normal' and 'hardcore' gamers that made them rich in the first place in favor of those casual game cash cows, the PC is going to have a surge of popularity.

I think Natal could be really incredibly cool. But like you, Mr. Endo, I have no idea how it could be used for games outside of interactive toys like Milo there. I mean, maybe if the NPCs in Fable III all recognize my face they'll... er... they'll... Fill In Blank Here. I think right, motion control is just gimmicky to everyone but Nintendo. It doesn't serve a super-duper purpose for Xbox and PS.

Natal is impressve but I can only see it be used in eye-toy games and such. Plus neither Sony or Microsoft have the abillity to capture so many casuals, what Nintendo did with the Wii was a one time thing.

I don't think what you're proposing, that clarity of vision, is possible anymore with the 360 and PS3, namely because neither platform was designed with the motion controller as central to the concept. The Wii was. Without the remote and nunchuck, you don't have a Wii, even if you do have a classic controller or a gamecube controller handy.

It's that simple. Sony and MS can't tell non-gamers how Natal and DualWand (I'll just call it that because it sounds like DualShock) will change their lives because they won't. It's not that they're lacking in "common sense", it's that what you're demanding that they do isn't possible. Therefore, the only way they could go with that is to tell consumers what their stuff does "that Nintendon't". And they did, or at least tried to.

And yes, you're right. It's WAY too early to be complaining.

The games are the key point. Nintendo didn't win the new audience just by throwing a new controller at them, they sold to that audience by giving them games they wanted and they used a new controller to do so. Technology is an enabler for games that then sell the system, it is not a system seller by itself. I don't think MS or Sony have the capability (mostly based on understanding, those who think the extended market means "casual gamers who have no taste" or "people just like us who just can't handle difficulty and need easier games" will not reach that market) or desire to build a game library that appeals to the extended market. You can't just take a market like that with one gimmick and a token game, you need to commit to it. MS and Sony are focussed entirely on the core market, they would have to split their attention like Nintendo does. There we have the next problem though: How much attention, i.e. development capacity, do they actually have available for splitting? Both MS and Sony rely strongly on third parties, they have very little capacity of their own that could be used to go where third parties won't (and they definitely won't, they're failing to capture the market on a system that already has a huge number of extended market gamers, they would never do it on a system that doesn't have that market at all).

Finally, the crucial bit that made me think Natal is too late was this: During the conference the guy said the dev kits are going out NOW. That means games can only now START development (and since the concept of Natal is just so different from the regular controller I don't think you'll be able to incorporate it into an already running project without turning it into the controller-less equivalent of waggle*). What does that mean for the game releases? They'll be VERY late in the game.

As such I don't think either of the two will make inroads on Nintendo's market, they lack the necessary skill (the software development, not the hardware), the necessary motivation (they'd rather serve people who actually care about graphics and cinematics and HD) and the opportunity (they could have been there to compete with the WMP this year had they revealed their clones last year but now they're going to be late to even that party and when they finally launch go up against an already matured library which is further boosted by the Wii's previous focus on motion controls and thus involving less shoehorning).

*= To me waggle means substituting a digital input with a gesture so the resulting game could have been played just as well with a button, Wii Sports is NOT waggle because its gestures are analog, the way you perform them affects the outcome. Many core games on the Wii use waggle though because they still get designed for buttons.

KDR_11k:
The games are the key point. Nintendo didn't win the new audience just by throwing a new controller at them, they sold to that audience by giving them games they wanted and they used a new controller to do so.

That's the other issue that I didn't even begin to address: That Nintendo, through it's prowess as a first party developer, was basically able to teach other developers the types of games that would work with the Wii. They were able to lead the way, which is crucial for paradigm shifting technology.

tendo82:

KDR_11k:
The games are the key point. Nintendo didn't win the new audience just by throwing a new controller at them, they sold to that audience by giving them games they wanted and they used a new controller to do so.

That's the other issue that I didn't even begin to address: That Nintendo, through it's prowess as a first party developer, was basically able to teach other developers the types of games that would work with the Wii. They were able to lead the way, which is crucial for paradigm shifting technology.

Well, you can't discount the price of the Wii (and Nintendo won't do it for you), or the free game that you got. Both of these helped with the initial popularity, and now people are getting used to the control scheme, the games being released are getting better.

As much as anybody complains about gimmicky Wii games, anything created by Sony and Microsoft is going to be worse. I expect that at least one title from them will be good, but without a complete shift towards motion controls for the next few years, there won't be enough support to make this pay off.

I pretty mad that sony and microsoft made their own motion-based games and what not. Thats what the wii is exactly is. Now they have a better wii type thingy and their own console. But natal was amazing and I will defintly get my homies together and make a pillow elephant.

I view Natal as more of a tech upgrade than a games controller: I could care less about it being used as a game playing device.

Rather, I'm excited about the voice/facial recognition, and the motion-controlled menus. It strikes me as being tech of the future, today: it gives off the same feel that the Jetsons did.

As far as Sony goes, while they may have released what looks like a blatant ripoff of the Wiimote, I have to give them credit for getting it right from the start. It has a lot of potential if they can back it properly. They stole the thunder away from the WiiMotion Plus, and then some.

An odd conference.
Nintendo seems to have a serious case of resting on their laurels. Their big announcements, they've improved their controller and will be able to read your pulse. That's it? I was expecting HD, or at least some upgrade to processing power. Geeze guys, I know the machine prints money as is but if you don't get off the stick the other guys will eventually eat your lunch.

Of course, the biggest threat of doing that is Microsoft giving us what looks not so much like a gaming UI as an OS UI.. why? Because it's pretty apparant that they've decided to forego precision in exchange for ease of interaction with the user. Makes all kinds of sense for an OS, but not much for many gaming applications.. how, for instance, would one play Halo (either FPS or RTS) with the new Natal? Are you really going to want to be jogging in place to get to the next cover spot? (In fairness, I suppose people said the same thing about the Wiimote and swinging your arms to play tennis, but I tend to think there's a lot of difference between upper body movements and lower body.) Of course, if this is Microsoft's attempt to cash into the casual market, they've forgotten one of the key attributes of the Wii that randommaster pointed out. It's cheap. For Natal you have to first purchase your Xbox, then add the price of the natal system on top of that. I dunno if that'll sell mass market. Don't get me wrong, I really hope it does, because Natal strikes me very much as the next step to the real "home of the future" as they often portray.. but I'm a bit worried they've made the same mistake with this that Sony made with the PS3.. overshooting the mass-market desires because they're more in tune with those on the cutting/bleeding edge.

And speaking of the bleeding edge.. then there's Sony. Who presented last and couldn't help but looking like "Oh yeah? So Microsoft has a camera and Nintendo has a super-senstive wii-mote? Well we're gonna do a camera AND a super-sensitive wii-mote.. in fact, we'll do TWO wii-motes! Yeah, that's the ticket.. we'll get right on that." What they did right, however, is finally recognize the real revolutionary property of the Wii-mote -- not the motion sensing as much as the light gun. Something that can give the casual user precise control over the screen, much like a mouse. I'm still stunned that we haven't seen developers really start to work with this. Picture every game that was fun with a mouse but sucked on a console.. with the light-gun, this doesn't have to be an issue any more. So RTS's, FPS's.. or.. scariest of all -- WoW.. Put that in the hands of the mass-market and we'll really know crack gaming.

Was a bit odd.

Amen to your byline, Tom. As cool as all this motion control stuff is, I hope it doesn't mean the end of the classic, non-motion controller. Sometimes I just want to veg out and play something relaxing.

From what I have seen (which, admittedly, is not that much) the Microsoft one is just an eye toy, and the PS3 one is accurate but probably won't have the support that, say, Nintendo gives the Wii's motion sensing.

Jeez, do they seriously think that we want motion sensing? There is a reason hardcore gamers hate the Wii...

azadiscool:
From what I have seen (which, admittedly, is not that much) the Microsoft one is just an eye toy, and the PS3 one is accurate but probably won't have the support that, say, Nintendo gives the Wii's motion sensing.

Jeez, do they seriously think that we want motion sensing? There is a reason hardcore gamers hate the Wii...

Do they?

LewsTherin:

azadiscool:
From what I have seen (which, admittedly, is not that much) the Microsoft one is just an eye toy, and the PS3 one is accurate but probably won't have the support that, say, Nintendo gives the Wii's motion sensing.

Jeez, do they seriously think that we want motion sensing? There is a reason hardcore gamers hate the Wii...

Do they?

Depends.
I have generally not been impressed with the Wii, as it's vaunted motion sensor tech is something that has been around since the mid '90s and I still don't see it being applied in anything save the most rudimentary fashion. In fact, it isn't better than the motion sensor tech post 2000, because that could read 3d movement that Nintendo is making you pay for.

A grand number of Wii games would either be the same or better if a standard controller modeled of the SNES controller were used, and Nintendo is yet again continuing their abysmal relationship with everyone else by denying them full access to their proprietary tech. Maybe they do it because they know at the core, Nintendo will make money, if no one else does.

I find this quite annoying in the fact that used to be (and maybe still is) the only reason to buy a wii. Basically Nintindo is going to end up in gamer heaven, and we're going to the sony vs. microsoft war between all gamers. Kinda wish dell or hp would release something, to bad both componies are traced back to microsoft anyways. About the motion controllers I'd like to say "YAY! I don't have to buy the Wii" but instead i find myself asking "Microsoft... and sony leave this to the experts who apparently are fixing the controllers anyway." Just like Xbox live releasing the rip off of the mii in order to draw nintindo fans to them. O well it's inevitable now I guess.

the reason the wii mote took off is because it came with the system and over all worked pretty well, strange add ons like these have a long history of failing so I would guess chances are that the sony and microsoft motion things will really just add to the long list of strange add-ons that didnt quite make it.

Can I not just be HAPPY for these things, ALL of them. I'll start complaining when the shovelware flows in but then i'll Mark (to use a wrestling term) the fuck out once we get something like DEMONS SOUL with the Dual Sticks. let's not beat around the bush despite owning all 3 consoles and a PC I love my PS3 in ways that would make /m/ cock an eyebrow. like the guy was talking about playing ratchet and USING his weapons, they got it right THE FIRST TIME. yes it's pretty much the Wii motion plus, but I can tell you when I picked up Dragon Quest Swords, a RAIL SWORD SWINGER was not on my mind for the game!

I like this a lot.

Also not necissarily fighting games but for the PS3 fans.

God of War.

can anyone say GUNCON?
[edit]
I predict that these controllers will be sitting sadly on the wayside with little to no games supporting it.

Nurb:
wow, with the consoles saying "screw you" to 'normal' and 'hardcore' gamers that made them rich in the first place in favor of those casual game cash cows, the PC is going to have a surge of popularity.

I feel compelled to agree.

Looking back, I always see Nintendo adventuring out and coming up with the new stuff, while Sony (and more recently, Microsoft) take the easy route and just follow the winner (not with everything, of course, such an assumption is as ridiculous as the very notion).

I don't get it, I understood IMMEDIATELY how the Sony controllers were "going to change my life". Sony came out and demonstrated a practical and useful control scheme and some familiar scenarios which were previously difficult to handle with a d-pad or analog stick.
For the first time ever, I want to play an FPS on a console because I think it will be better than playing with a mouse.

Meh, the quality of this column has kinda fallen after the joking disappeared. Oh, mourn the day ... :(

Kwil:
Picture every game that was fun with a mouse but sucked on a console.. with the light-gun, this doesn't have to be an issue any more. So RTS's, FPS's.. or.. scariest of all -- WoW.. Put that in the hands of the mass-market and we'll really know crack gaming.

Exactly my thoughts. The Wii-Mote and XBox-bar do gestures, the Sony-motes do real live INPUT. Put analog sticks, d-pads and triggers on those things and you'll have the best of both worlds - a playstation controler and a set of wii-chuks

i just am hoping that they dont make any games that are dedicated to only using the motion sensing control, all there games they make with this should have "Optional Motion sensitive controls" so they dont release a game that looks really great only to be ruined by crappy motion sensitive controls, Hardcore gamers (like myself) don't want these controls, they are too gimmicky.
I have a Wii and was really, really excited about it getting released, only to go out 6 months later and buy an Xbox360 so I could get back to playing real games. (only to get RRODed and go buy a PS3 afterwards)
The only games that I like on Wii is Smash Bros, Mario Galaxy and Zelda. They are 3 of the highest rating games on the console and for the most part dont really use the motion sensors, apart from Zelda's Sword swipes, and arrow shooting and Marios Star collecting and spin jumps which they could have done with out.

All I see is "Cheap Performance Capture Device" I mean, C'mon, someone has GOT to mod this into some wicked homebrew animation-building kit...

Kwil:
What they did right, however, is finally recognize the real revolutionary property of the Wii-mote -- not the motion sensing as much as the light gun. Something that can give the casual user precise control over the screen, much like a mouse. I'm still stunned that we haven't seen developers really start to work with this. Picture every game that was fun with a mouse but sucked on a console.. with the light-gun, this doesn't have to be an issue any more. So RTS's, FPS's.. or.. scariest of all -- WoW.. Put that in the hands of the mass-market and we'll really know crack gaming.

I'm glad I'm not the only one that saw this. Despite the fact that the presentation itself wasn't an impressive as the one for Project Natal, Sony got it right by clearly demonstrating that the precise control possible with their new tech can be used as a substitute for mouse control in genres like FPS and RTS. The presenters on stage also spoke directly to Natal when they said that one of the things they learned from EyeToy is the need for buttons or triggers. Right now I'm trying to figure out how Natal is more than an advanced EyeToy. Furthermore, to this grumpy PC gamer, it's got me thinking of definite increased potential for games I like on consoles. If I was a 3rd party dev that dabbles in one of these genres, I'd be most intrigued by Sony's offering at this point.

What made it worse for me, personally, was bringing Molyneux into the Natal presentation. Sure, Molyneux is a great innovator, but he's notoriously bad at creating fun games. Good ideas, bad implementation has been Lionhead's calling card for years. Sure, Milo is a great idea and all, but as a matter of practical gaming, what was shown falls short.

I am really fine with non motion sensing controls, really.

Natal, for example, may be big on possibilities (although the actual Milo seemed much more underwhelming, naturally, according to Eurogamer), but when it comes to using it for "non casual" Games, you don't really seem to benefit from the motion control. According to Eurogamer (again), a Demo with Burnout being played by imitating pedal and steering wheel movements was nice and responsive, but hardly as usable as playing with a controller (or a "real" steering wheel). Tony Hawks Ride won't use Natal because it is not accurate enough.
So, it seems like Natal just seems to be suited for EyeToy-ish Games, maybe with the odd innovative Idea thrown in the mix, along with gimmicky "applications".

As for Sony...things look a bit better, but i am once again rather skeptical when it comes to replacing usual controls. For example, just because it is more responsive to play an FPS with that instead of a controller, does not mean it is better. I could imagine that playing an FPS with motion control could be a rather frustrating affair, especially when your arms begin to get tired and you are not really that good at "real", precise aiming.

There will be a time when the common control methods in games will be replaced by something more intuitive, but honestly, i don't really see that change right now.

I don't understand the big deal with the motion-sensor gimicks anyway.

I traded a 360 for a Wii when they first came out, and I think I re-traded it within a month.

To sum up the reasons why:-
1) I play games for long hours (4-8 hrs) and the ability to swing a remote around or target something degrades with time+effort. Controllers/Mouse+Keyboard only require less effort.
2) Games released at the time were too 'kiddy'. Great games for your drunk friends or kids (Wii Sports, Rayman, SSB etc) to play but not for someone who likes a modicum of adult content, and if I'm gonna pay $100 per game I want something with substance.
3) I don't have a huge LCD/Plasma TV, which in my opinion would be the best way to enjoy games that require you to point something at a screen. Seriously, it's ridiculous pointing a wii-mote at a screen less than 12".

Frybird:
I could imagine that playing an FPS with motion control could be a rather frustrating affair, especially when your arms begin to get tired and you are not really that good at "real", precise aiming.

Exactly.

Apart from the exhaustion factor - I can't begin to number how many stree-machine light gun games I've tried to play and had to 'aim off' to score a hit. Most light gun shooter games are 'rail' shooters anyway.

The Dream
I'd like to see a voice-interactive and 'hands' interactive (like those scenes from Minority Report/Johnny Mnemonic) console/peripheral. Imagine a RTS game where you can use 'command' words and your hands to select, control and direct units/buildings/etc. EDIT: Of course the ultimate in immersion would be something Virtuosity/Matrix like, but that's a long way off I reckon.

Anoctris:

The Dream
I'd like to see a voice-interactive and 'hands' interactive (like those scenes from Minority Report/Johnny Mnemonic) console/peripheral. Imagine a RTS game where you can use 'command' words and your hands to select, control and direct units/buildings/etc. EDIT: Of course the ultimate in immersion would be something Virtuosity/Matrix like, but that's a long way off I reckon.

Assuming the accuracy's good enough, Natal should do that.

Personally, I think it's more a matter of third party developers are going to have to start understanding motion sensing as a tool in the tool box and not as a gimmick. For instance, the way I would recommend moving forward with Natal would be to keep the controller but use the facial system for optional advanced camera movements that don't effect the reticule. If you had a system such as Left4Dead has with the AI director, you can use body language as an additional weighting factor for enemy spawns. Also, allowing the player to move a hand for more complicated interaction with their environment. Or perhaps an updated version of the Arx Fatalis magic system.

Spending too much time or development dollars on games that are pure motion controlled but intended for an audience already comfortable with controllers seems like a waste to me. However, even pure motion control can get by without feeling too gimmicky, but you will need designers who are much more familiar with body language and natural movement patterns to pull it off well. Of course, you'll also need a way to handle lower body movement that doesn't require a 12'x12' area of free space. =P

Edit: An autopause feature if the player leaves the room could be nice, or something that allows a player to safely look away from the screen for a time.

No matter how good motion-sensing controllers get, there will always be a subset of people who don't want to wave their arms at a TV. In unrelated news, my Wii hasn't been booted up in months.

Any estimates on a consumer price point for Natal? I imagine it'll be somewhere in the range of 100 - 150 dollars (CDN).

I'm curious how it's going to play out if the controls can port to other games. Playing an FPS on a Wii is way, way easier than with dual-analog. Are people are going to start bitching when everyone on Halo 3 is making Battle Rifle headshots without batting an eye?

You can't just change the controls on a console, it affects every game and the balance for them when you do it.

300lb. Samoan:
Exactly my thoughts. The Wii-Mote and XBox-bar do gestures, the Sony-motes do real live INPUT. Put analog sticks, d-pads and triggers on those things and you'll have the best of both worlds - a playstation controler and a set of wii-chuks

Er, what? You realize the Wiimote and nunchuk have quite a few buttons, an analog stick and a dpad in addition to the whole motion deal? The Wii has had combined button and motion inputs since the beginning.

asam92:
i just am hoping that they dont make any games that are dedicated to only using the motion sensing control, all there games they make with this should have "Optional Motion sensitive controls" so they dont release a game that looks really great only to be ruined by crappy motion sensitive controls, Hardcore gamers (like myself) don't want these controls, they are too gimmicky.

They are gimmicky when they are shoehorned into a game design meant for buttons. If the game is perfectly playable with a standard controller then motion controls CANNOT be more than a gimmick, a pointless addition. You complain that the controls are gimmicky and then demand that they remain gimmicky. They can do things regular controllers cannot and then they aren't gimmicky but too many game developers FAIL at developing games like that.

If Sony would release a dungeon-crawler with a nice variation of weapons, armours, spells, etc.
Include online deathmatches and co-op, and do it with a polished version of that sword/shield and bow/arrow tech demo with those two motion sticks I'm going to buy it.

Really, just imagine how fun that could be.

Surely Sony knows how great that idea is. They do, right?

Hmm, I actually like Sony's approach better than Nintendo or Microsoft's. With Nintendo's announcement, I very much questioned the fidelity of the controller (even though I get the application, but the question of execution still lingers).

With Microsoft, I don't see the point of it. PSEye already do everything that Natal does in the video (except for the navigating the menus, but what's the point in that if I have to pick up my controller to play Gears anyways?). And then there's Milo. I don't see what's the point of having someone fake to talk to. Xbox Live already has an excellent community service, so why wouldn't I just talk to my party? There's no point to Milo. I'd never turn on my 360 and say "hey, let's talk to a fake person for no reason." And if Milo is a tech showcase on how it can be implemented in games as NPC, it'd seem better, but there still is no point. When I talk to NPCs, I want them to communicate to my character in a significant way that applies to the game so it reveals the characteristic of my character and the game world. I don't want the NPC to talk to me, the player, what's the point in that? It'd be like me walking into a weapons shop, and the NPC starts to talk about the economic crisis with me, why is that relevant to the game?

With Sony's reveal, the tech demo showed both how it can be implemented, how it can be revolutionary, and how well it can work. It shows me why I should care (finally a real way to play RTS on console that rivals the mouse? Can't wait), it shows me that it works much better than the Wii mote in that it's not just if(swingleft() == true) {presetMove();}. It's real fully 3D movement.

And Wii Motion Plus is still a joke to me. It doesn't change how the WiiMote is implemented. It's still mapping certain swings to certain commands, rather than having a full 1 to 1 imitation like Natal and PSMotion Control. It's just less frustrating than the original Wii Mote.

With that being said, Natal has potential, it has the same potential that PSEye has, which is very impressive. Milo is useless right now unless it works like a profile save so that in an open world game where the player gets to choose as good or evil, the NPCs can recognize your character's personality and morality and responds accordingly. PSMotion Control has potential to suck if no developer jump on it and Sony ends up making "Petting Zoo" with it. Or worse, a dev makes a game to showcase the controls and force the player to use motion control only *stares Lair*. Nintendo's Motion Plus to me is just more of the same, but a little bit better, meh.

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