You may have gathered from my previous article that I have a troubled relationship with Microsoft’s Kinect. The problem I have is that it feels like such a missed opportunity; it had so much potential and I wanted it to be so good, but it just hasn’t happened. Why didn’t gamers buy in to the opportunity? Fundamentally I think it’s because Microsoft and developers alike haven’t really bought into the technology, and poor old blinky hasn’t had the chance to be all that it could be. Well, that and the slight fibs told about its capabilities, but we’ll ignore that.
Ignoring my last sentence, let us assume that the posturing about the capabilities of Kinect 2.0 by Microsoft are accurate, and let us also assume that now developers know that every single Xbox One owner has the all seeing eye sitting there with them they will be more inclined to explore the possibilities rather than just tack on the apathetic calling card ‘Better with KINECT’ label; what are they actually going to do? Well fear not chaps, I have some suggestions
1 Do Star Wars, and do not cock it up this time!
You know it, I know it, George Lucas knows it, hell even David Prowse knows it; Star Wars is the only thing that people wanted from the Kinect. Millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, and we all knew something terrible had happened as Jar Jar Binks started teaching us dance routines. NO. THIS WILL NOT DO. Let’s try this again shall we? Number one; get me a light sabre peripheral. It doesn’t matter how young or old, how too cool for school you think you are, everyone is 9 years old when they find themselves alone in a room with a wrapping paper tube. Get me a light sabre, make it glow, and I will hand over my life savings right now. Number two; I’m told Kinect 2.0 is sensitive enough to pick out individual fingers, so I expect to be spending my evenings ‘these aren’t the droids you’re looking for’-ing my way through Eisley Spaceport. And then I want to turn evil and bust out the force lightning. And then AND ONLY THEN can you include a level with Jar Jar Binks, and it will be something along the lines of Fruit Ninja.
2 Give me another Bioshock
Think augmented reality. Think about reaching out, and on screen you see your hand reach out and grab an object. Now imagine that object is a vigor or a plasmid, and think about jamming that bad boy into your arm. Now think about using Devil’s Kiss or Shock Jockey, but with the more immersive experience of having to actually aim at your attackers with your own hands rather than be guided by the game. Then think about being a Big Daddy, and giving a splicer the big drill to the face. Under no circumstances however, should you think about harvesting the little sister. This would be an example of things not to use Kinect for, as this would REALLY upset those who think ‘video games’ are actually the root of all evil.
3 Table Tennis
What’s the game that made the Wii? That’s right, the Tennis bit in Wii Sports. But we’re talking realism here, not cuddly little characters for old people’s homes to use in place of getting their residents to go outside. You can’t really run around your living room like Rafa Nadal, you’re just going to break your toe on the coffee table and pile head first into the book case. Let’s think differently then. Now they’ve finished with GTA V Rockstar must be at a bit of a loose end, and history tells us that they know how to make a wicked cool table tennis game. Do you need a bat as a peripheral? Arguably no, however if Microsoft HAL turns out to be as accurate as its touted to be, by holding a paddle it would be able to work out spin angles and the power put into the shot. And let’s be honest, table tennis is cool.
4 Multimedia Centre
I was promised pop up virtual reality keyboards. I was promised voice commands that actually work. I was not told that I would have to stand in front of my TV waving at it like I’ve been touched in the head to get its attention. Microsoft want the Xbox One to take over your TV, so lets have some features. Lets have some form of bespoke Sky/LoveFilm user interface, designed specifically for the Kinect. Lets have the damn pop up keyboard. Lets have voice commands that work. And I mean ACTUALLY work, and that means only have to say it once. Lets have a Kinect controlled web browser; you’ve already got the template with touch technology on mobile phones, so it shouldn’t take long to knock it up a notch and remove the touch element. Do it.
When the point of the game is to be hidden, sneaking your way through a level pointing gadgets at various items in your surroundings, the involvement of Kinect pretty much writes it own way into proceedings. I can just imagine standing in the street pointing up at CCTV camera’s on screen to make them move around, pointing to peoples phones to listen in on their phone calls; I’m kind of imagining a Minority Report style interface, and in my mind it all looks awesome.
6 Red Dead Immersion
Ignoring the fact that they’d have to make another Red Dead game which would be pretty special on its own, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy the shoot-out at high noon, doing the quick draw and gunning down Billy Joe the young punk with a twitchy finger. I can’t help but think there would be some serious satisfaction to be had in using an imaginary lasso as well, but I think I would have to draw the line at the animal skinning. That would sort of cross the line between doing something cool and doing something that marks you out as a serial killer.
As I said, the reason I don’t like the Kinect is because it was such a let-down. It should have been great; it should have changed gaming forever. Instead it’s just a lump of black plastic that no one bought into, slowly and sadly gathering dust tucked away behind the TV whilst the Nintendo Wii sensor bar sat in prime position, giving it the big one and ruling the roost. Now however it is time for Kinect to rise from the ashes. It’s time for Kinect 2.0 to shine, and I just hope that this time, it gets a fair crack at success.