Short Wave Gamin #2: Motion Gaming – Malibu Stacy’s New Hat?

I’ve had a discussion about all of this with my friends Colm and John (so you guys won’t read anything here you haven’t heard from me in the last week) and I just wanted to share some thoughts about it all that I have because I have nothing else to write about right now.

Here we are, October 18th, tomorrow will be the 3 year and 11 month anniversary of the Wii coming out, the PlayStation Move has been out a full month as of tomorrow, and we have a little over two weeks before Microsoft’s Kinect is released. What a time to be a gamer!

Does everyone remember back in 2006/2007 after the Wii was released and the competitors mentioned earlier got up on their high horses talking about how the Wii isn’t hardcore, and how hardcore they were and only non-hardcore players would play the Wii and motion gaming? And as they said that to the masses they started pouring in even more money to R&D of their own peripheral to compete with the non-hardcore Wii. Sure they probably had their own idea to do something like motion controllers before the Wii was released, they might have even started development and designing, but it was Nintendo who took the initial step and proved it could be done. Oh yeah, and Wii’s selling out for something like 3 Christmas’ in a row I’m sure added to the allure of motion games. Suddenly everyone is copying Nintendo again like it is 1989 and the hardcore speak from SEC & MS was nothing more than fan service while they took all of the hardcore money they made off of their hardcore games and dumped it into development for something they were shunning like a leper.

But that’s business, right? Who cares, you don’t have to buy it (until your favorite games are only available for use with that peripheral) and all that really matters if how it performs. So what have the hardcore companies come up with? A near carbon copy of the Wiimote and what looks like R.O.B. the Robots head with an extra eye. But, again, it’s all in the performance. The Move does perform well, with the accuracy of the Wiimote plus, if not better, but it still feels dated to me. The Kinect I haven’t used but at least it is a new approach, but who knows how well it will work until the release. Sure I could go to Macy’s, but I’m not one to socialize. And when I do leave my room, I usually want to get back there as quick as possible. Plus there are always lines and I can’t leave work early enough to make it worth it. What I would like to see is the Kinect do something totally different, and just be like a living machine almost Hal-like. It could always be in an idle state and when I walk into the room just speak “tv on” and have the Kinect do it all for me. The Move/Wiimote model doesn’t allow for extra Sci Fi thinking like the Kinect does. The Kinect should take care of everything in your entertainment system by just you speaking it or making some predefined motion. That would totally sell me on the Kinect, the room of the future today! If it could somehow control the cable box and everything too it would be amazing. No more remotes, speak the number of the channel to change, jump up to raise the volume, squat to lower it, put your right foot in to change the channel up, left foot in for channel down, it would be like hokey poky on the Enterprise.

But there’s no point in speculating, we have a just a few more weeks until we know for sure.Or maybe longer because I’m sure more features will be added later with updates and such, some which you may have to pay for some you wont.

And what about cloud gaming? Remember OnLive? They claimed that gaming by consoles would be done, everything could be played on their system over Internet? An awesome thought, while all the controllers were pretty much the same (and if the internet connectivity could handle the info stream). You can map buttons to a generic controller to make it act like any other controller (with enough buttons), but with motion gaming peripherals each company now has it’s own system that games must be built around. No more “easy” porting over to another console for motion gaming, and the cloud gaming could be dead unless you also want to buy the special peripheral so that you can play the newest games. But will the big 3 let this first party peripheral work on a random system boasting the end of consoles? I’d say not. So third party replicas would have to come out, and that could just flood the market with crappy bullshit that doesn’t even work half the time.

Also, doesn’t this make it harder on developers? Having to learn a whole new system, and keeping each peripheral separate enough so a game can boast exclusivity making it cost ineffective for studios to make games for multiple platforms. And that means the gamer suffers, particularly with our wallets but quality could also take a dip, I’m not saying it will, but it might. Sony and Microsoft are just getting started, the wii has a nearly 4 year head start: sure the Wii games still aren’t all perfect but after 4 years developers have learned a lot of tricks and have been able to not only stretch the wii system to its limits now but have found ways to actually use the motion controllers to the top of there ability. PS3 and Xbox have some catching up to do. The Move seems to be selling well, and the Kinect is selling out of pre orders already, obviously the market exists for these peripherals.

I guess it’s all about the timing.