When Nintendo entered the video game market with the Wii, it was obvious that the company wanted to offer a more accessible control scheme for gamers by offering motion controls. Instead of just directing analog sticks and pressing buttons, Nintendo opted for a control scheme that would hopefully seem more approachable for the average consumer. Millions of Wiis later, Sony and Microsoft want in on the action. But with these new devices comes challenges. We take a look at some of these issues that these companies might have to overcome in the future.
Sony Playstation Move:
Sony has just recently released the Playstation Move for the Playstation 3 system. At first glance, it might seem that the PS Move is a copy of the Nintendo Wii controller. On many levels it is, but Sony has taken the device to a whole new level by offering extremely accurate tracking along side superiority in graphics offered by the PS3. But will this tracking and visual upgrade offer enough differentiation between itself and the Nintendo Wii? While it should make the move from the Wii to the PS3 more natural, will it convince Wii users and those not sold on the Wii to buy a Playstation Move?
Another issue Sony will have to face is the lack of standards for each game using the Playstation Move. Some games require 1 PS Move (table tennis), while others require 2 (one for a sword, and one for a shield). Other games like Socom 4 will require 1 PS Move and one PS Move Navigator. Confused yet? I know a lot of consumers are or will be.
A great thing about the Playstation Move is that it can also track your body movement to some degree in some games. You can’t just sit on the couch and do minimal wrist movements like in say bowling like you can on the Wii. Many games will require you to get up off the couch and do a lot more accurate movements to those in real life. The problem with this concept is that obviously you will need more space to get the tracking working effectively. Those playing in a bedroom or any other area with a limit in space might be out of luck. Add in another player, and the space required is obviously larger.
Microsoft has taken probably the boldest move in motion controls by having just a Kinect camera track your whole body. You don’t have a controller with buttons or analog sticks. YOU are the controller. While the concept is fantastic, it has yet to be seen if they can match the hype behind the product and or prove that it’s fun factor trumps the practicality of this concept.
Kinect works by tracking and calculating a rough skeleton of your body on the fly. One issue with this technology is that the camera used to track is a lower resolution than what would be optimal. Tracking things like fingers to say mimic pulling a trigger on a gun will be a challenge without say at least 720p resolution of data being interpreted for motion control.
There also seems to be many potential tracking variables to take in consideration when setting up Kinect. Lighting needs to be even, loose clothing can be an issue as well as height of the individual. It seems like sometimes it will track brilliantly, while other times it seems to have a hard time picking up certain individuals. Microsoft of course has time to iron things out, but they need to do so fast.
With all control schemes, there will be lag between the action taken on the controller and the response time on screen. With Kinect, an even more noticable lag seems to be an issue for many games. So much so that some games like hurdles require you to jump far before you would in real life to make it over the hurdle. Consider what might be in play here. Kinect has to calculate each point in your skeleton and convert that into workable control data for the game. But on top of that you have human lag. What do I mean? Touch your toes right now. Now imagine if all you had to do was press a button already on your finger tips to do the same thing. Standard control schemes, or at least motion control schemes that have buttons like the Playstation Move have buttons to remove this human lag that would effect anything from pulling the trigger of a gun to opening a door.
All in all, both Sony and Microsoft have some challenges ahead of them that they need to address. They both have some great potential for gamers wanting a new experience or a more accessible entry into video games, but it might not be an easy sell with some of the issues they face.