275: I Punch the Body Electric

I Punch the Body Electric

Forget petting tigers and swinging swords: The truly important question is which motion controller best replicates smacking someone in the face.

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Oy. The activator.

It seems simple...but it isn't even remotely simple!

I was just mentioning this thing less than a week ago. It's terrible. It's basically like trying to play regular games with an octagonal DDR pad.

This suggests that to be a better technology, Motion controls need some sort of proper force feedback. I can see that working for the Power Glove; I wonder why it wasn't.

Great article! Very funny and interesting read.

I'm trying to remember what the other weird IR peripheral was. I know it had to deal with using both of your hands, and it kind of resembled a notebook, but I can't remember what it's called. I'm also pretty sure it was white, expensive(for a kid growing up in the 80's) and didn't work at all.

the title of this article reminds me of a TSOL song

Brendan Main:
I Punch the Body Electric

Forget petting tigers and swinging swords: The truly important question is which motion controller best replicates smacking someone in the face.

Read Full Article

Motion controls are like 3D--they're cute, but little else.

These gimmicks engage only one sense at a time, and not even fully. The problem here is that even if you do fully engage one sense, there's a reason your body has five (or six). A stimulus needs to register on more than one of these to be considered of immediate consequences (either threat or boon). Yes, you can see the storm... but can you hear it? Nope? Then you're good.

Motion controls attempt to engage your sense of touch. Unfortunately for them, all you touch is the controller, and all you feel is the vibration of said controller from time to time. This means that it isn't engaging your whole body. It's engaging that bit of surface area wrapped around the controller... and if there's no controller, even less. You've got the ability to use motion to input information, but you feel no response of any sort. This one-way engagement fails to captivate the senses.

The controller is trying to tell your body, "You're really doing this!" Unfortunately, your other senses, and the only-partly-engaged sense of touch, are getting plenty of (absent) information that tells them, "No, in fact, you're not." 3-D has a similar problem, in that it is at its most effective only when it fills your entire field of view (to include peripheral vision). Otherwise, you've still got other visual information that (thankfully) informs your brain, "This is not really three-dimensional."

Those folks that say, "Motion controls without force feedback are pointless" are correct. But only partly so. Even with incredible force feedback, should that day come, motion controls will not be able to do the job alone. You've got to have a unity of visual, audio, AND tactile information if you want to fool the body enough to immerse the mind. My only hope is that taste and smell can take a pass on this one, unless the future of gaming is in Cooking Mama.

best to hang an invisible punching bag in front of your TV. Yeh im sure they make those right? invisible punching bags?

If you cant get that and have a little brother, you can also use that. XD

vxicepickxv:
I'm trying to remember what the other weird IR peripheral was. I know it had to deal with using both of your hands, and it kind of resembled a notebook, but I can't remember what it's called. I'm also pretty sure it was white, expensive(for a kid growing up in the 80's) and didn't work at all.

I think you're talking about the U-Force:

http://tech.uk.msn.com/gaming/photos.aspx?cp-documentid=149689972&page=9

I don't get the endless hate for motion controls. (anyone used a TrackIR? it's amazing)

Motion usually isn't as precise as buttons - I get that.

So a designer shouldn't rely on motion for game critical actions (like "punch" or "jump" - The actions you need fast and reliably).
But this common design failure : doesn't mean motion controls are worthless.

There are still many things that motion capture can do better than buttons.

When the wii first game out, and I played Twilight Princess, it proved at least two things:
1) light gun gaming is still fun, and just not possible on standard controller.

2) it's a lot of fun to let people act out non-critical actions with a gesture. For me this was clear the first time I reached up and yanked my sword from behind my back in Twilight Princess. - Sure, it wasn't fun to LEARN this action the first time. But when i saw a bad guy, reached back, and whipped out my sword - it put a grin on my face. Controller sound and rumble help. but my point is that when you train yourself to perform a motion it's much more fun and immersive than training yourself to thumb a button. see also : stabbing, tennis rackets, golf swings, steering wheels, etc.

...

This article read like someone complaining about technology they couldn't figure out how to use. I see it as an indictment of the instruction manuals and a handful of lazy game designers. I don't believe for a second that motion control is a waste of time.

I remember a Sega magazine they were trying to demonstrate flying kick in game with that activator. Btw still got the sonic poster from that mag on wall xD...

Georgie_Leech:
This suggests that to be a better technology, Motion controls need some sort of proper force feedback. I can see that working for the Power Glove; I wonder why it wasn't.

A lot of people seem to think it is (I believe Yahtzee included?) but force feedback is not the solution. For one, it's entirely unfeasible with modern technology to implement force feedback on a free swinging wii-mote like device, at best you'd have to rig up some body suit device that would be super expensive and openly mocked by the 'hardcore' gamers it would be targetted to. If you want force feedback, go play paintball, take up a martial arts, or try some sort of fencing/kendo. You're not going to get it in a video game.

This leads to the fundamental problem with using motion controls for real life like action orientated combat, with or without force feedback. Many people when first seeing the wii-mote think "that's gotta be put in a lightsaber game so I can be a Jedi!", and blame the waggle effect when they don't get it. The problem here is that unless you have years in some sort of martial arts weapon training, most people picking up a wand thinking it's a lightsaber will look more like Star Wars Kid than any sort of actual Jedi. Even if you were able to implement the coveted force feedback on the PS device, you're only going to be graduating from silly looking waggle to pathetically inneffective flailing. A motion control lightsaber combat game just doesn't work unless it's heavily assisted like Jedi Knight was on PC.

Now what's really needed on the other hand? First off where Nintendo falls short is proper calibration. The motion controls in Wii Sports Boxing for example are fairly good but it fails from using a one size fits all approach. Whatever device you're using needs to be able to properly calibrate your reach and adjust it to your onscreen avatar.

Second, and this is the big one, is software assisted controls and player restrictions. Think of the early Rainbow Six games on PC. Unlike other FPS's at the time where twitch reflexes ruled the day, in Rainbow Six if you turned/ran/moved your mouse too fast your aiming reticule would expand and you lose all accuracy. This simulates using a real gun and trains the player into using smooth & steady controlled aiming. Simularly a real sword isn't as light as a feather and can't be swung like one, just think of the guys at a renaissance fair. so here the game needs to guide the player into the proper pace, and punish them when they deviate. Once you're moving at a proper pace no force feedback is necessary because the player can watch the onscreen action and stop themselves if their controlled swing is blocked. If the player doesn't respond in tune with their avatar and follows through with the swing, then the avatar needs to stumble/slip until the player repositions themselves.

That's basically how it would have to work... personally I'd love to play games like this but I have to wonder how well it would sell among the gamer crowd who are used to performing super human feats with a single press of a button.

Dude, if you want to punch someone so badly, sign up for MMA lessons at the gym.

I, for one, find that a game of videogame golf is enhanced tremendously by motion controls. Football, not so much.

Developers need to focus on experiences that take advantage of the technology, instead of shoehorning every experience into the tech.

Ha ha, yes. This article was perfectly written. Someone fetch that Citizen Kana applause gif.

I think we will know we have reached a perfect motion control device when it's not hyped as a motion control device. If one advertisement goes on and on about how awesome it's play without a controller it means it isn't and technology just isn't advanced enough for it to work properly.

I think we should stop thinking of motion controls as enhancements of existing genres and start thinking of ways we can use them to their own unique benefit. Red Steel 2 is a prime example of this; the rapid combination of sword lashing, gun slinging, dodging and positioning would be hell to control smoothly with a standard pad, but with the Wii-mote, it feels incredibly natural, fluid, engaging and fun.

"Now I'm no physicist, but I'm fairly sure that kicks don't go at the speed of light. Kicks go at the speed of kick."

XD

The one game that could make me buy kinect? Kinect K1 kick boxing.

It won't happen. Why? Because the average, pasty, lunchbox, gamer can't throw a head kick at all or string more than 3 strikes together without an asthma attack.

I'll give motion control a miss.

Brendan Main:
…that basest, most gormless of all motions...

HOME KEYS FAIL!

SaintWaldo:

Brendan Main:
…that basest, most gormless of all motions...

HOME KEYS FAIL!

Gormless. Adjective. Lacking intelligence and vitality; dull.

I'm bringing it back, baby.

Brendan Main:

SaintWaldo:

Brendan Main:
…that basest, most gormless of all motions...

HOME KEYS FAIL!

Gormless. Adjective. Lacking intelligence and vitality; dull.

I'm bringing it back, baby.

I'm TOTALLY on board! I'm taping "Gormless 4 Lyfe" on the back of my Mooby's work-shirt as I type.

Unfortunately, motion controllers is simply a toe dipped into the future for gaming.

Motion Controlled games will never truly catch on. Whether its the Kinetic, PSMove or the simple Wii-Mote, its just a fad that is a precursor, a taste, of what is to come.

Total Immersion Entertainment. Not a bad title. Any game executives reading this, i give you permission to use TIE as a brand name. Thank me later.

The only way to truly become part of a game and use your whole body is by not using your body at all, and only use your brain. They're already tapping into the technology now - by placing a helmet or a wire mesh on your head, you can think your actions into the games, and thusly become more 'one' with the game then if you were holding a controller. You'd move realistically, with reflexes and balance. You'd be consigned by your own phyiscal - and therefore mental - limitations, but of course, it wouldn't be a game without removing some of those limitations. And eventually, there wont be a screen to watch, but you could close your eyes and see the game world unfurling around you. You'd be able to smell and taste and touch things you'd only ever dreamed of before. And then probably blow them all up.

The thing about this, though, is that this kind of tech wouldn't be reserved for gamers. Disabled people, confined to wheelchairs or beds, could use it as a means of escape, to feel like themselves again. If possible, you could even hook up a incapacitated person to a monitor, and let them have an actual conversation with family members, instead of wallowing in silence, unable to speak because they cannot speak.

Thats the future. Motion control - its just a fad.

That genesis thing sounds like a big controller you can stand on...

DDR. Nuff said.

Also, while not a movement controller, Boktai with its solar detector asked for more then gamers are used it; it required you to use the REAL sun to power gameplay mechanics. Something I thought would fail, but was really really fun.

Anything, pulled off badly, will of course be bad. But the entire medium shouldnt be damned because the Wii is mediocre and full of Shovelware: its selling, and kids and non-gamers like that crap for whatever reason.

warrenEBB:
When the wii first game out, and I played Twilight Princess, it proved at least two things:
1) light gun gaming is still fun, and just not possible on standard controller.

2) it's a lot of fun to let people act out non-critical actions with a gesture. For me this was clear the first time I reached up and yanked my sword from behind my back in Twilight Princess. - Sure, it wasn't fun to LEARN this action the first time. But when i saw a bad guy, reached back, and whipped out my sword - it put a grin on my face. Controller sound and rumble help. but my point is that when you train yourself to perform a motion it's much more fun and immersive than training yourself to thumb a button. see also : stabbing, tennis rackets, golf swings, steering wheels, etc.

I'll give you point 1, but I have to disagree on 2. Sure, maybe you start off playing like the Wii Remote is like a real sword, but like the article suggests, soon enough you forget that "I'm going to put the remote behind my back and pretend I'm really pulling my sword" stuff and go to Waggle Central, wondering why the hell they couldn't just put it on a button like The Wind Waker and other older titles did. It's no longer immeserive because there's no immersion to be had there. Just remote waggling instead of button pressing, and the moment where a game's motion controls devolve into just waggling is the moment where they should have just not bothered and used a button.

For motion control to mean something it has to work and be something more than just a substitute for pressing a button. For a sword game, it'd have to be 1:1 sword movement instead of just "waggle instead of pressing A" like Twilight Princess did. For a steering wheel... Well that's never going to happen with a motion controller, it's never as good as an actual racing wheel or a simple joystick. Motion controls work well with sports games, but people want more than that.

Uber Waddles:
DDR. Nuff said.

What does an endless tide of quick time events with a controller slightly less stupid than the SEGA Activator have to do with motion controls? It's not using your body to play, it's pressing buttons with your feet instead of your thumbs.

Uber Waddles:

Also, while not a movement controller, Boktai with its solar detector asked for more then gamers are used it; it required you to use the REAL sun to power gameplay mechanics. Something I thought would fail, but was really really fun.

Or a REAL blacklight, if you're a gutless cheater.

I'm playing through the first Boktai right now, and I absolutely agree that there's a fascinating idea there. I'd actually like to do an article on it in the near future. We'll see.

You know, in "A Clockwork Orange", which is what most people knowthe phrase "a bit of the old ultraviolence" from, it was used to refer specifically to rape, not just fighting with people. In light of this the third paragraph seems rather awkward.

mjc0961:

warrenEBB:
When the wii first game out, and I played Twilight Princess, it proved at least two things:
1) light gun gaming is still fun, and just not possible on standard controller.

2) it's a lot of fun to let people act out non-critical actions with a gesture. For me this was clear the first time I reached up and yanked my sword from behind my back in Twilight Princess. - Sure, it wasn't fun to LEARN this action the first time. But when i saw a bad guy, reached back, and whipped out my sword - it put a grin on my face. Controller sound and rumble help. but my point is that when you train yourself to perform a motion it's much more fun and immersive than training yourself to thumb a button. see also : stabbing, tennis rackets, golf swings, steering wheels, etc.

I'll give you point 1, but I have to disagree on 2. Sure, maybe you start off playing like the Wii Remote is like a real sword, but like the article suggests, soon enough you forget that "I'm going to put the remote behind my back and pretend I'm really pulling my sword" stuff and go to Waggle Central, wondering why the hell they couldn't just put it on a button like The Wind Waker and other older titles did. It's no longer immeserive because there's no immersion to be had there. Just remote waggling instead of button pressing, and the moment where a game's motion controls devolve into just waggling is the moment where they should have just not bothered and used a button.

For motion control to mean something it has to work and be something more than just a substitute for pressing a button. For a sword game, it'd have to be 1:1 sword movement instead of just "waggle instead of pressing A" like Twilight Princess did. For a steering wheel... Well that's never going to happen with a motion controller, it's never as good as an actual racing wheel or a simple joystick. Motion controls work well with sports games, but people want more than that.

motion gaming is not ergonomic and takes up too much room. buttons are faster than some random flailing motion. the mere mention of sports-games makes me laugh. sports are IRL, the virtual version is an affront to all i hold dear and is proof that EA cares nothing for us. motion controls are worthless to me until i can preform actions that aren't scripted. example: crouch, back to wall, roll a smoke grenade into a room, fall prone rolling sideways into doorway taking out targets with surgical precision head-shots. this is something that will never be possible without some neurological interfacing and simulation force feedback. i figure it will look like being jacked into the matrix. and you know once that happens the adult entertainment industry will flood the market... especially Japanese titles! the the movie "surrogates" will be non-fiction.

What a different era I grew up in.

Or is it 'error'?

 

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