Boogie Adventure in the Kinect Wonderland
Microsoft's Kinect Magic
We attended the media launch of Microsoft's snazzy new Kinect controller for its Xbox 360 and we were amazed enough to admit that the product is definitely a revolutionary device that may change how users interact with other stuff in the future. Here's the most important bit of information from the event that you probably want to know first:-
On November 18 2010, the Kinect will be launching in Singapore for a price of S$229. It will come with the game "Kinect Adventures". It will also work with your current Xbox 360, so fret not if you were thinking you have to buy a new one. If you don't have an Xbox 360, then Microsoft is selling the 4GB edition of the Xbox 360 bundled with a Kinect and the Kinect Adventures game for S$469.
Also available at launch will be a few Kinect ready games, and Wikipedia has a handy list you can consult over here. At the launch event, we had the opportunity to try out a few games, and our recommendation really goes to Dance Central by Harmonix (read more about it here at www.gameaxis.com). That is one game you really need to get for your shiny new Kinect. Also be sure to take notes of its other requirements/limitations:-
- Requires an Xbox 360
- Requires a minimum room space of 1.8m (i.e. space to interact and track changes)
- No direct sunlight (affects tracking by the camera within the Kinnect receiver)
- Can track 6 persons, but can only focus on two persons for active gaming.
Looking at the limitations, this doesn't bode well for casual gaming parties of four, but we're hoping for maybe an update in the future that will allow for more players. However, space for four may be a problem though, since you do need some space if you're going to be flailing your arms about. But unlike your PlayStation Move or Nintendo Wiimote, the chances of a misdirected loose controller smashing your TV screen is almost nil (unless you happen to loose balance and crash on the TV set).
As for the no direct sunlight portion, it seems that the camera doesn't work too well with bright sources of light, as it needs a reference point to track your movements (up to 20 points for a single player) for you to control the game. If you were to shine a bright light at the Kinect's camera constantly, you would be blinding the camera, not allowing it to see you. Similar to flash photography, as the amount of light constantly changes, it will be unable to track you. So, if your living room has plenty of sunlight, close the curtains or the Kinect may have trouble with you - literally speaking. Interestingly, here's a clip of hot Hong Kong models demoing Kinect Sports but unable to do so due to flash photography that's happening in the background. We're sure you would want to watch it because it shows how too much light and the Kinect don't really mix and not because of the hot Hong Kong models, right?
Thanks to Microsoft's Kinect, fundamental shifts in the way we play games and the way we interact with devices are going to take place soon enough. Remember Microsoft Surface? It was the precursor to the currently massively popular touch-screen interfaces. While Nintendo changed the gaming industry with its Wii and motion gameplay, Microsoft's controller-free Kinect seems more like a sci-fi device than anything we would have imagined happening in our lifetimes (well, at least from a standpoint when motion-based gameplay had yet to debut). Kinect works pretty well with the game's UI (though you would have to work out how to do so with flicks and gestures since there are no buttons) and imagine one day, changing the channels on your TV can be as simple as flicking your hands or holding out the fingers to select channels. No more missing remotes!