Monday, June 1, 2009

E3 2009: Project Natal, My Thoughts

So, just moments ago at Microsoft's press conference, they unveiled the latest peice of hardware they've been working on. A lot of people were speculating about it being a motion controller, and I suppose you can call it that... Except, there's no controller. Project Natal takes your body movements, tracks them in 3D space, and uses them in-game. There's also voice commands, and various camera tricks used to really make you feel like you're in another world, and immerse yourself in the game.

When they started to show it, I admit, I was VERY skeptical. At first, I thought Natal was just another kind of Eye-toy or Vision Camera. I thought it'd be a gimmicky little add-on that wouldn't provide any sort of substance. At one point during the conference, I even said aloud "oh, this looks sooo gimmicky". It wasn't until they demoed the girl on stage playing Ricochet (a sort of 3D kind of Super Breakout game using your body as a paddle) that I got really excited about Natal.

They demoed more than a pretty cool Breakout clone, they demoed a paint program where you use iPhone-esque gestures to paint a simple picture. They showed how you can navigate menus with motion control, and move your avatar around in real-time. They even got a program with a boy named Milo, created by Peter Molyneux and his team, who actually responded to your emotions and what you were saying to him. I was totally blown away!

The whole thing looks like it actually WORKS. I've tried other camera-controlled games, I've played Totemball with my Vision Camera, I've played You're in the Movies. NONE of that stuff really works, it's completely clunky, and you look like an idiot trying to do something that should be simple.

If Natal delivers on what it's promising (and it looks like it will), then this will be a giant leap in not only the Xbox's increased market, not only Video Game History, but it will be a giant technological advancement, and an achievement in modern technology.


  1. I was totally side swiped by how well it worked. I knew this announcement was coming but had no clue it would go this far. Very excited and ready to talk about Natal on tonight's podcast.

  2. And it will kill the Nintendo Wii's winning factor.