Bethesda says Kinect-controlled combat would have been a mistake.
If you play Skyrim on the Xbox 360 and you own a Kinect, you'll soon be able to shout like a dragon, tell your companion what to do and even navigate some menus all with the power of your voice. Pete Hines - lead designer of Skyrim at Bethesda - said we'll get Kinect support the week of April 23rd, and that his team wanted to enhance the game, not replace the control scheme for combat altogether.
"Doing combat and swinging your sword and all that stuff without a controller would dramatically change the game," Hines said, referring to Kinect-based combat as a "whole 'nother can of worms. We're trying to enhance the experience as we designed it with some additional functionality."
What voice support does do, is reduce the fussing around in menus. "You have your full arsenal of Shouts available using Kinect without having to stop, go to a menu, pick the one you want to use, and go back in the game and use it," Hines continued. "You just say the Shout, and as long as you have the ability, your character will just use it on the fly."
The whole idea came from a game jam style affair at Bethesda. After Skyrim released in November last year, the company told employees to work on whatever they wanted for a week, as long as the project was somehow related to Skyrim. Ricky Gonzales, a programmer on the game, came up with the idea to integrate voice commands and Hines loved it so much he decided to push forward with it.
"[Gonzalez] deserves a lot of the credit for putting the time in to get it to work and then working with Microsoft on some of the extra bits that they helped us out with," Hines said.
Of course, almost since the game released, PC users with the help of mods have had the ability to actually shout in the dragon tongue as well as sort inventory by value, weight, or name as the Kinect support also adds. But to have all these features integrated with a console title is still pretty impressive.
Like many of you, I'll be excited to test this out come the week of April 23rd.