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Today’s comic is about the disturbing emergence of new technology and the frightening grip it could have on our lives should it get a little too advanced. With Microsoft’s Kinect, it has voice and motion recognition to control how you interact with your Xbox. Right off the bat, MS is launching this $150 add-on with a few motion control games which have the players standing in front of the TV to play. Pie does a good job touching on how I feel about the add-on; the bottom line being that nothing that has been shown looks very enticing. All the publicity videos shown have looked corny at best; especially the families playing the games together.
From a technology perspective, I can certainly appreciate the science behind the device. From a gamer’s perspective, I can’t help but scoff at the idea of this being very successful or used to make ground-breaking, AAA titles. Anyone who has been around for a while will tell you that console add-ons have a very reliable history of failing. I believe the main reason for this is that developers get trapped between a rock and a hard place. For one, as a developer you need to reach as many people as possible. Programming exclusively for the Kinect limits the amount of customers you can reach while programming exclusively for the controller may limit the innovation in your title. Programming for both is always an option, but typically one of the play controls ends up feeling tacked on or underutilized.
Because of this reason, it is usually a big push for console makers to try and get everything included from the get-go. If Nintendo were somehow able to make a $100 add-on for the DS to give it 3D technology, I would bet money that it would not be as successful as a new $300 console. The reason for this is that it levels the playing field for developers and players. It is a next generation system and is developed as such. In this way, companies can pick and choose what route to take – go for something fresh and new on the new console or reach out to the large install base of the current platform.
Microsoft has fronted a lot of money into marketing to make sure that everyone believes this device is the greatest thing since Jesus. So much so that even for their first 5 million units they are fronting $100 in marketing costs per unit. I believe they are viewing this as their 2.5 console in hopes of extending the 360s life, which may not be a bad bet in a flailing economy. Of course, only time will tell if the Kinect will be a financial and critical success.
It looks like Microsoft really tried building a lot of hype for the release of Kinect, their new piece of motion control game hardware, even to go as far as supplying the audience of an Oprah episode titled "The Next Big Thing" with them. It feels like such a sad, empty, and blatant corporate publicity stunt. Though I've never tried it, I find it hard to imagine the Kinect having a lasting appeal among normal gamers. Sure it's a rather advanced piece of hardware, but the library of games associated to the hardware are for the most part lacking and the idea of standing in front of the TV, hopping around and waving my arms for more than an hour or more straight just doesn't really sound appealing, especially with the time lag. One of the things that bothers me the most about the idea of using the Kinect is the seemingly half-second lag that occurs between when the user performs an action and the action that is to result on the television screen. Every video I see of the Kinect in action seems to have this lag. I can see this being a big problem if the device is to be used with games that require fast and/or precise timing in the future. I can't see myself playing the Kinect (if ever) for long solely for this reason.
In other news, I discovered the trailer to the movie Tron Legacy. XD Tron was one of those movies I grew up with as a kid so it was really exciting to see a trailer of a direct sequel. =D It looks pretty cool too!