Microsoft Believes Peripherals Are Old News

Microsoft Believes Peripherals Are Old News

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Citing the videogame industry's birth in commercial arcades, Microsoft's Eric Havir suggests Surface may be just getting started taking over the game industry. Already installed in a number of venues around the world, including the Palms casino in Las Vegas, Surface allows users to play by touch, using off-the-shelf processor and infrared camera technology. In addition to casinos, the Surface is landing in educational institutions and in hospitals, helping victims of head trauma and other injuries regain motor control through gaming.

According to Microsoft's Surface Game team lead, Gretchen Richter de Medeiros, gaming accessories and controllers are the biggest "barrier to entry" for a large potential gaming audience.

"Being able to touch and interact [with the game]", she says, "brings some of the magic back."

The Surface game team's goals are, among other things, to create gaming experiences that are more like board games than traditional videogames. Citing Hungry, Hungry Hippos, de Medeiros says there's a bigger audience for games than the market has currently captured, and touch-gaming will help the industry reach them.

"Bringing people back together in real-time, in real space, looking each other in the eye [as they play]," she says, is the goal of Surface in the game space.

The technology allows for upwards of 52 simultaneous touches and recognizes specially-tagged objects. You can roll a pair of six-sided dice on the surface, for example, and by reading the number on the bottom of the die, Surface can tell what number is on the top. Playing touch-based games can be a frenetic and strangely unique social experience, as multiple players can take their turns simultaneously, crowding around the table in very close proximity. The tech can also recognize from which direction a player is reaching and restrict access to certain game pieces and elements to people seated on specific sides of the Surface.

Using real-world objects as part of the game design, says de Medeiros, let's designers "connect the physical world with the digital world in a way that feels magical."

Microsoft and development partner Vectorform showed off a number of prototype game designs at GDC, most of which were little more than technology tests at this stage, but they hope that their appearance in San Francisco and at PAX East in Boston later this month will spur game designers to create innovative new applications for the device.

According to Havir, Microsoft, the software and gaming giant that coined the phrase "a computer on every desk in every home," now believes it will only be a matter of time before there's "a Surface on every surface." Just don't expect to get your hands on one any time soon. The Surface currently retails for $12,500.

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Counter-point, Guitar Hero: made loads of money and brought a whole lot of people into video games, with plastic guitars. Also, there's a reason controllers have been the standard input device for years: they work.

Well, on the bright side, this thing probably isn't a regular shitty touchscreen.

On the downside, it's TWELVE GRAND. Yeah, I'm sure you're gonna get "a Surface on every surface" with that price tag.

The surface computer will come down in cost, just like everything in computers. To really see what Microsoft is talking about I suggest looking up dnd on surface. They might make believers out of you yet. You see this and know it's the future. They just need time.

I saw a video of them playing DnD on that thing. Was AWESOME. But at $12k, it is a little pricy for me.

Yep. I don't like heaps of plastic shit everywhere. I only have the Guitar Hero 2 360 contollers, which I never use for GH3 and GH:A, because I don't play them.

And my two plastic mics for Lips, which I use a tad more often.

But this...I can make room for this.

They're bad for the industry, but don't forget to buy ours!

UltimatheChosen:
Well, on the bright side, this thing probably isn't a regular shitty touchscreen.

On the downside, it's TWELVE GRAND. Yeah, I'm sure you're gonna get "a Surface on every surface" with that price tag.

I don't know where you were twenty years ago, but you'd be surprised at how much computers cost. Not quite $12,500, but the only way you could get a PC for under $3000 was by stealing someone's computer and leaving the money at the scene. The cost of this will decrease fast enough.

Here's an idea: Have all the companies come out with multiple systems. You have consoles for the people who like to throw controllers at television screens, and you have consoles for people who like to play real games. Yes, I am suggesting segregation. This would be especially good for the Wii, so its owners can distinguish games from shit. The PS3 Move makes the PS3 look like a toy, as the Wiimote does for the Wii, and I can't wait to see on youtube someone roundhouse kick their HDTV playing Natal.

These companies have one true demographic, hardcore gamers. Casual gamers are a demographic that Nintendo happened to pull out of its ass with the Wii. They are not "loyal consumers," they bought the console that fit them, and now that theres going to be 3 by the end of the year, casual gamers have clearly overshadowed the main gaming population.

So no, we don't need peripherals like light guns, nunchucks, cameras, etc. All we need is a controller.

IMO, the Surface is really cool. While I don't agree with the viewpoint that peripherals are bad for the industry, I REALLY want Surface. Such shiny tech...

Should they really be saying something like this as we near the launch of Natal? I know he's talking about varied areas of focus, but still.

Just like the wii doesn't satisfy the "actual" console gamers this computer will hardly replace a keyboard for pc gamers. It's funny how people throw around this term "casual gamer" now in reference to wii owners. I thought I was a casual gamer since between college, work, wife and kid I hardly ever get to play games anymore but it's not like I pined for a wii at all...I guess whenever the mainstream media gets involved with games they just have to misunderstand everything.

CuddlyCombine:

UltimatheChosen:
Well, on the bright side, this thing probably isn't a regular shitty touchscreen.

On the downside, it's TWELVE GRAND. Yeah, I'm sure you're gonna get "a Surface on every surface" with that price tag.

I don't know where you were twenty years ago, but you'd be surprised at how much computers cost. Not quite $12,500, but the only way you could get a PC for under $3000 was by stealing someone's computer and leaving the money at the scene. The cost of this will decrease fast enough.

Exactly twenty years ago? I was one year old. So... yeah.

I have no doubt the price will drop. I just don't buy that it'll be so popular. The reason computers really broke through was because they were so versatile (well, maybe not so much as first, but still). This is basically just a new interface for an already existing apparatus. Granted, it appears to be a very sophisticated interface, but I just don't think it's enough of a draw yet.

I'd have to agree with Microsoft, I really enjoyed guitar hero when I played a friends copy, but it took me almost 2 years from then to buy my own copy because the guitar was damn expensive ($190 for the pack in Australia), I can justify buying a new game, but spending almost double that just to get a controller? bite me.

I finally managed to get a guitar controller when I saw a pack on sale for one of the crappy spin offs, at $75.

For me having to pay extra just to play the game most of the time is a deal breaker.

nonl33t m4st3r:
Counter-point, Guitar Hero: made loads of money and brought a whole lot of people into video games, with plastic guitars. Also, there's a reason controllers have been the standard input device for years: they work.

With a few notable exceptions.

I was hoping they would make surface more accessible to third party builds. It would be nice to be able to throw together a cheap infared multi touch screen built off an HDTV LCD and install the surface software on it. Third party drivers already exist for the cheap versions of multi touch screens for Win XP, doubt it would take a whole lot of effort to adapt those to the surface OS, if Microsoft was willing to open up to that.

It's not as difficult as it sounds to make a decent multi touch surface type display.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/multi-touch-surface-PC-DIY,7484.html

Scrythe:

nonl33t m4st3r:
Counter-point, Guitar Hero: made loads of money and brought a whole lot of people into video games, with plastic guitars. Also, there's a reason controllers have been the standard input device for years: they work.

With a few notable exceptions.

A few more

thrubeingcool13:
They're bad for the industry, but don't forget to buy ours!

Exactly what I thought. XD

Scrythe:

nonl33t m4st3r:
Counter-point, Guitar Hero: made loads of money and brought a whole lot of people into video games, with plastic guitars. Also, there's a reason controllers have been the standard input device for years: they work.

With a few notable exceptions.

A few more[/quote]

I beg to to differ that the zapper was awful. I quite enjoy light gun games.

Could you imagine playing any of the modern games out today without the standard two-stick, four-face-button, four-shoulder button layout/keyboard and mouse set-up that has become standard these days? Could you play any of those games with a touchscreen? I couldn't, and I doubt a touch screen would make add anymore immersion.

Peripherals. Like Natal?

Well I'm at a loss as to the article title per the actual article, but I like what they are doing with Surface. Beyond just D&D. Microsoft has a real opportunity here to put Jobs back in his place with this gizmo. I actually hope they really go forward with doing something with it. iPad? Please! Why go that small when one can have a whole tabletop for gaming and other uses. I seem to recall a certain powerful mainframe computer had quite the handy dandy surface interface. A very masterful controller it was.
Speaking of peripherals, though, I agree they are bad. Not like Guitar Hero Guitars(even I will grant that they were a nice touch to the games when they first came out) but ones like what gets slipped on a Wii control. As we have seen with quite a few Escapist articles.
Afterthought: Nice to see you are still around, Kane, er, Mr. Pitts.

Doesn't a significant portion of MS revenues come from sales of peripherals?

This coming from the same company that's been hyping up Natal, which is a PERIPHERAL, for the last year or two.

Am I the only one that finds this piece kind of ironic. I'm not sure if ironic is the correct word but at 3:30 in the morning it is the closest that can come to mind.

Seriously though the article contradicts their whole Natal project. First they damn thing is a peripheral.

Second they say by being able to touch the screen it brings a whole new level of interactivity. I find this rather humorous since the whole bloody point of Natal is that you don't have to touch a fucking thing.

2010 = It's the future now.

Shadeovblack:
2010 = It's the future now.

its not the future till i get my hover chair WHY DONT I HAVE A HOVER CHAIR YET

The Surface is an amazing piece of tech I have to say. It's real interaction and no need for annoying wires and cables. But as most people point out. It's freaking $12k Holy crap.

UltimatheChosen:
Well, on the bright side, this thing probably isn't a regular shitty touchscreen.

On the downside, it's TWELVE GRAND. Yeah, I'm sure you're gonna get "a Surface on every surface" with that price tag.

Yeah...we all just happen to have that much money just lying down the back of our sofas, heh.

Come on Microsoft, if you want us to have stuff at least make the price tag realisitc!

 

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