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Checking In On Project Natal

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the project-nascent dept.

Input Devices 186

itwbennett writes "A couple of interesting articles followed Robbie Bach's announcement at CES that Project Natal, Microsoft's controller-free Xbox 360 control system, will be shipping in time for the 2010 holiday season, writes blogger Peter Smith. First, Popular Science has a nice look at how Project Natal works, focusing mostly on the software and how 'Microsoft engineers are teaching the Natal 'brain' what various parts of the human body look like so that Natal can tell your ascot from your elbow.' Microsoft is staying mum on the hardware, although Smith notes that we know it involves an infrared camera. 'If you don't care about how the tech works but just want to know if it'll be worth buying,' writes Smith, 'you might be interested in an interview with Robbie Bach in the Financial Post. In the interview Bach claims that 70%-80% of Xbox 360 developers are working on some kind of Natal-enabled gaming software, and he assures us that first-party studios are also hard at work.'"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30768980)

Bitchaz.

Re:FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769286)

Bitchaz.

That is so difficult when you're get to see stories in advance by being a subscriber (asterisk after your UID). Well done sir, how do you manage to be so awesome? Does it hurt? Does it hurt to be that awesome?

Re:FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769498)

You look like a fool with your pants on the ground.

Re:FP (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769844)

You look like a fool with your pants on the ground.

You're also going to look like a fool buying the latest gimmicky add on. This tech is utterly irrelevant without good software.

Sport (3, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769004)

If I want to use my whole body to play, I'll go outside. Don't take my keyboard/mouse/controller away from me.

Re:Sport (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769186)

I'll go outside. And have fun with my Natal as well. Double fun.

Re:Sport (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769396)

I'll go outside. And have fun with my Natal as well. Double fun.

Right. I'll have fun with my Natal while having sex outside. There! Triple fun!

Re:Sport (1)

shabtai87 (1715592) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769566)

Stop giving microsoft ideas for "hardcore games". Now that I think about it, I wonder if Natal is good enough at human anatomy for that use....

Re:Sport (2, Funny)

Polumna (1141165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769640)

I can't wait to see the achievement lists.

Re:Sport (2, Funny)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770044)

An earlier article said that Natal was accurate down to 3 centimeters... As long as they're accurate within 10 inches, it would work for me! =P

Re:Sport (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770474)

As long as they're accurate within 10 inches, it would work for me! =P

Oh, you're into fantasy games.

Re:Sport (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769778)

Unfortunately for you, Natal is unable to track the movement of body parts smaller than 3" in profile.

Re:Sport (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769580)

Amen. The modern game controller is the product of thirty years of continuous research, development and feedback. It has evolved in tandem with the control schemes of games in a natural way. The result is that millions of game players now routinely control the movement of characters in a 3D enviornment, while simultaneously and independently controlling the camera, and controlling several other functions such as jumping, firing, item management, etc.

If you told a geek 30 years ago that millions of ordinary people would be able to do these things using complicated devices, he would have laughed at you. Yet here we are.

The level of control needed in modern games cannot be supplied by a Natal or Wii-Mote or whichever new fangled motion controller these companies come up with. If you make the device simple, then only simple actions can be performed. We need the complexity of the modern controller to play modern games.

Re:Sport (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769694)

. The modern game controller is the product of thirty years of continuous research, development and feedback.

So am I to understand after 30 years we should stop development on anything new in a particular field? The Wii alone proves that there at least is a market for motion-sensitive games. Similarly, do you believe the popularity of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero franchises has nothing to do with their controllers?

Don't get me wrong, based on what I've seen of Natal, I don't plan on owning / using it. But I definitely see there is a potential market for it. Microsoft would be stupid not to attempt to get a piece of that market.

If you make the device simple, then only simple actions can be performed. We need the complexity of the modern controller to play modern games.

A mouse and keyboard are simple. Of course there are no complex games on the PC.

Re:Sport (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770008)

They seem to be suggesting that we shouldn't throw away 30 years of research for shitty toys. The Wii is the perfect example in fact. It's a nice control scheme if your game is incredibly simple (like Wii sports), but even for something as complicated as Zelda, it becomes a huge pain. Want to spin? Shake the nunchuck. Want to do a shield bash? Punch with the nunchuck. The fact that those are pretty much the same movement so the result will be random (if it detects it at all)? FUCK YOU THE WII IS AWESOME!! Not to mention how bringing up the map involves hitting a button around where your thumb connects to the rest of your hand.. Luckily you can get through Twilight Princess without ever using the spin or shield bash, and you can get to the map by using your other hand to hit the button, but none of these problems exist on other controllers.

Fortunately, the Wii is mostly for gimmicky games anyway so I don't usually use it, but I seriously hope Xbox developers don't start expecting to stand up and dance like an idiot to play Gears of War 3.

Re:Sport (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770434)

A mouse and keyboard are simple. Of course there are no complex games on the PC.

The mouse and keyboard are fine if you're alone. But if you have friends over, a multiplayer game that uses the mouse and keyboard won't run on a PC. It needs a network of PCs, which can get expensive outside the college dorm environment.

Re:Sport (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769890)

he level of control needed in modern games cannot be supplied by a Natal or Wii-Mote or whichever new fangled motion controller these companies come up with. If you make the device simple, then only simple actions can be performed. We need the complexity of the modern controller to play modern games.

Maybe not the Wii but I read that Natal has 1.5 inch resolution. Not bad... I could see people getting good with motion controllers much like people get good at playing guitar. I'm not saying that's how it should be but it seems to be a nice counter to the Wii controller jiggle people are doing now.

Re:Sport (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770086)

Fast-forward to 30 years from now.

If you told a geek 30 years ago that millions of ordinary people would be able to do these things without using complicated devices, he would have laughed at you. Yet here we are.

See what I did there?

Other innovations (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769822)

If I wanted a joystick, I'd buy a joystick, don't put a thumbstick on my controller

If I wanted more than two buttons on my controller, I'd tape two NES controllers together.

If I wanted wireless controllers, I'd just yell instructions at my little brother as he plays using the wired controller.

If I wanted online gaming, I'd call a friend on the telephone while playing Super Mario Bros 3

If I wanted 64 bits, I'd wire 8 NESes together

If I wanted to go duck hunting, I'd get my shotgun and some ducks and my dog who laughs at me when I miss.

If I wanted to commit grand theft auto, I'd be on strike three.

If I wanted halo, I'd go to church.

If I wanted to roll things up to make new stars, I'd be working at the Large Hadron Collider.

Re:Other innovations (1)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770348)

Tech Grouch [mevio.com] , is that you?

Re:Sport (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770404)

I'm having a hard time figuring out what types of games you could actually play with this... With the Wii, the controller isn't just something for the machine to track, the buttons on the controller are still used to send some input.

How will you play bowling with Natal? How wil it know that you've let go of the ball? The same applies for football, frisbee, baseball, etc.

How will you shoot something? Is it precise enough to track your trigger finger? Precise enough to calculate where you're aiming?

Maybe I lack vision, but except for dancing or music games, I don't see much practical application of a 100% controller free system.

Although I'll admit that this would bring us one step closer to a Holodeck.

Re:Sport (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770464)

Think holodeck. Or at least 2D lightsaber battles with friends online.

Huh? (-1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769022)

'Microsoft engineers are teaching the Natal 'brain' what various parts of the human body look like so that Natal can tell your ascot from your elbow.'

Maybe MS ought to learn body parts. I don't recall having an "ascot".

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769118)

'Microsoft engineers are teaching the Natal 'brain' what various parts of the human body look like so that Natal can tell your ascot from your elbow.'

Maybe MS ought to learn body parts. I don't recall having an "ascot".

It's a joke, don't be so pedantic all the time. Try relaxing a bit, you might even laugh in spite of yourself.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769156)

I believe Microsoft is anticipating you wearing clothes while you are playing with Natal. An ascot is a garment worn around the neck and was simply a humorous remark by the author.

Ascot [ig.com.br] in action:

Natal Brain? (2, Interesting)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769024)

Gimmie a break. I'm all for innovative UIs and input, but calling it a brain is a joke and insulting to those who actually work in fields that contribute to AI research. Natal seems really cool, but lets not get out of hand.

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769236)

Gimmie a break. I'm all for innovative UIs and input, but calling it a brain is a joke and insulting to those who actually work in fields that contribute to AI research. Natal seems really cool, but lets not get out of hand.

I posit there is no such thing and never will be such a thing as artificial intelligence. Someone either has intelligence or they don't. Computers do not. Not even the most sophisticated ones can defeat human opponents unless customized to defeat that one specific opponent. Everyone always forgets that Kasparov defeated Deep Blue, and puts a twist on the unfairness of Deep Blue's win against him.

Perhaps someday in the future computers will advance to such levels of sophistication that they will acquire intelligence. When that day comes, hopefully those of us around will have the sense to know that it's intelligence is not artificial.

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769434)

I'll submit that calling the central controlling unit a "brain" in any gizmo or device isn't new, nor any sort of sleight against those that "contribute to AI research".

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769548)

I had a Yo-Yo with a "brain" because it knew when to come back to me (if it began to slow down too much). Nothing new.

The brand was Omega.

Yes, I was probably 10.

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770068)

Yomega to be precise, and I still have a bunch of them... they went from the simple, that eventually got distributed with kid's Happy Meals, all the way up to titanium with special super bearings.

But any serious yo-yo'er of the time really didn't use the Yomega branded yos. Thanks for the nostalgia though. :-)

Re:Natal Brain? (2)

shabtai87 (1715592) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769482)

By your reasoning, artificial limbs are also incorrect, they are either limbs or they are not. The point here is that artificial in these cases means 'constructed by human beings using tools, not grown from some natural phenomenon'. It's just the naming. Now if you wanna get all philosophical about the concept of intelligence, there's a whole other can of worms. I just refuse to let philosophers have a say in the naming of technical advancements. (unless the philosophers know were involved in the design...)

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770102)

By your reasoning, artificial limbs are also incorrect, they are either limbs or they are not. The point here is that artificial in these cases means 'constructed by human beings using tools, not grown from some natural phenomenon'. It's just the naming. Now if you wanna get all philosophical about the concept of intelligence, there's a whole other can of worms. I just refuse to let philosophers have a say in the naming of technical advancements. (unless the philosophers know were involved in the design...)

Humans have intelligence. Computers process information. It may be discovered that information processing is key to having intelligence, but we currently lack the knowledge of what fully comprises intelligence. The most interesting debates on the subject suggest that intelligence is an emergent quality, but again we currently lack the knowledge to design emergent qualities.

You incorrectly infer flawed logic in my reasoning. By your logic, humans are natural, so everything humans do/create is also natural. That logic is flawed.

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770134)

Mod up! Damn the ismisms!

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770110)

If you don't believe artificial intelligence can be produced then what would you call our intelligence? "Real" intelligence?

Our brains are merely a bunch of grey matter that works together to solve problems, whether that problem is putting the square peg in the right hole, or remembering where you put that tool.

It is naive to assume that an artificial reproduction of the human brain, or any brain for that matter, can't be made.

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

Enki X (1315689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770180)

Used in this way, the word "artificial" refers to the origin of the intelligence, not the intelligence itself. In essence, generally speaking, if something sounds silly by one interpretation, you should probably consider another one...

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770472)

Used in this way, the word "artificial" refers to the origin of the intelligence, not the intelligence itself. In essence, generally speaking, if something sounds silly by one interpretation, you should probably consider another one...

You missed my point, or didn't see my other reply. We don't know the what the origin of intelligence is. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that mimicking a human brain will indeed create intelligence.

Re:Natal Brain? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769242)

Much like the "ascot" bit not being a part of the human anatomy, calling the software running behind Natal the 'brain' is what is called 'artistic license', and this is not a technical reference, but rather it's written as this thing called 'prose'. I understand you look at English majors with disdain as a big important AI researcher, but perhaps you should at least understand the language if you wish to communicate?

Re:Natal Brain? (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769628)

Who issues these 'artistic licenses' and who is his or her superior? For s/he surely needs to be fired for considering an ascot a piece of anatomy and printing licenses declaring it so.

Your point being? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769732)

I am neither a scientist nor an AI focused one, and even still calling everything under the sun a "brain" is perplexing and disturbing to me. My point isn't personal, but it is reasonable. Way to play into the tactics of the marketdroids.

Re:Your point being? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770122)

My point is... the entire article is LITTERED with idioms, things which if taken literally are wrong. But they're not wrong, they're a form of cultural shorthand. They convey ideas. Calling the software behind the Natal a 'brain' is one of them. The fact that you took issue with one, and only one, idiom, for being... well, an idiom... is perplexing and disturbing to me.

Re:Your point being? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770172)

Way to play into the tactics of the marketdroids.

Way to play into the tactics of the marketdroids.

Re:Natal Brain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770228)

I'll agree that brain is a stretch, but in the interests of keeping an attention span (a limited resource in this day and age), calling it a "brain" will confuse fewer people than it would if they called it a "discrete rules engine"

Am I the only one (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769052)

Am I the only one who thinks all these motion controllers are a passing fad that we will one day look back on and laugh about? All the console makers seem to be jumping onboard, but it just makes my arms tired.

Re:Am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769138)

Maybe you just need a little more exercise.

Re:Am I the only one (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769544)

Maybe you just need a little more exercise.

and that folks, is why Nintendo rakes in the big bucks. cutting itself a slice of the health and fitness market.

Re:Am I the only one (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770058)

Don't try to change me, woman!

Re:Am I the only one (1)

Splintercat (1703448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769208)

Motion controllers won't be that great until we have some good feedback in the system.

I've thought it would be cool to have an fps where you have something like the wiimote except you can point off screen. If your point comes over an enemy the controller could vibrate and you could shoot. Feeling like a badass for shooting without looking.

Some people wrote off the mouse too (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769262)

and many wrote off the GUI in general.

It is how we use the technology that will be important. It might be a fad in games but this has so many other uses and might present a cheaper method for many people to enter into this field (motion control portion not the game portion). This will probably reduce the costs of some groups immensely.

There are still lots of applications today that require hands on manipulation, even waldos, that could benefit from applications of this. Let alone all those stories many us read as kids that can come to life with this technology. Hell, look at Hollywood computer interfaces we all smirked at because they were "wrong". From Blade Runner to Minority Report, I'll take it any step, small or big we can get.

Re:Some people wrote off the mouse too (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770078)

It is how we use the technology that will be important. It might be a fad in games but this has so many other uses and might present a cheaper method for many people to enter into this field (motion control portion not the game portion).

An interesting potential use is like TrackIR [naturalpoint.com] for head tracking and controlling the game camera. Especially for flight or driving games where it's inconvenient to use the right thumb stick to look around. I can envision other, similar uses to augment standard control schemes.

Re:Some people wrote off the mouse too (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770100)

Some people wrote off the mouse too

Uhmm... did they?

and many wrote off the GUI in general.

Who?

Re:Am I the only one (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769280)

Am I the only one who thinks all these motion controllers are a passing fad that we will one day look back on and laugh about? All the console makers seem to be jumping onboard, but it just makes my arms tired.

Obligatory Back to the Future 2 quote:

Kid A: You mean you have to use your hands?
Kid B: That's like a baby's toy!

Re:Am I the only one (1)

adbge (1693228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769474)

Developers need to realize that they're crossing more and more into a realm where their primary goal is making exercise enjoyable, rather than building a gaming console. The cynic in me wonders if the xbox will soon become simply a high end treadmill.

No (2, Insightful)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769506)

No. Some of us have been looking at them and laughing since day one. I would say the gimmick has, to some extent, already been exposed to most: after all, you can only keep claiming to have a brilliant new innovative technology that will revolutionize gaming for so many years before people realize you haven't actually made any innovative new games and nothing has been revolutionized. And all the AAA games are still using the "old" technology. And waggling a control may amuse your grandma for a time, but once the shiny factor has worn off, you're back to wanting actual gameplay. And that dodgy, inaccurate controls hinder rather than help gameplay.

Motion sensing is only going to work when there's feedback---not just vibration, but full motion resistance. We're a long way from having that technology. Additionally, it doesn't really make sense either when you're watching TV and you have a tiny FOV, rather than complete immersion.

Developers have had years to show otherwise. Maybe someone will come up with a magically awesome use of motion sensing, but until it stops getting in the way and actually lives up to the claims of "intuitive" and "revolutionary," it's nothing but a gimmick for marketing. Natal adds nothing.

Re:No (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770018)

Bah, next you'll be telling me that the Segway didn't revolutionize the way we walk around.

Re:Am I the only one (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769632)

Am I the only one who thinks all these motion controllers are a passing fad that we will one day
look back on and laugh about?

No. You'll be happy to know you're one of a million-strong army of internet nerds that 'predicts' that anything popular will not be in the unspecified future. Your breed is not rare, although noone is quite sure how they continue to thrive from generation to generation.

Re:Am I the only one (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769684)

Like those fools who said Virtual Reality gaming was just a 90's fad?

Re:Am I the only one (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770054)

More like those fools that said two screens was a gimmick, touch screens aren't innovative, nobody would play a game like Doom with the mouse instead of a keyboard, a music player without wirelss is lame, nobody wants a phone with a camera built in, etc.

Oh, and if you want to try an interesting academic excercise, go watch what Hollywood thought Virtual Reality would be back in 1993 then look at the games we play today. When you shake your head and go 'so?' think about what 16-bit games were like and the fact that Wolfenstein had not been main-stream yet.

You guys don't know the future and you don't appear 'smarter' because you're making a bet on it.

Re:Am I the only one (2, Informative)

Doghouse Riley (1072336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770176)

Two words: CmdrTaco. Ipod.

Re:Am I the only one (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770272)

No, but a lot of us think it's more fun to swing a controller when swinging a tennis racket in-game and move more than just our fingers and thumbs when playing other games (within reason; no one wants to run in place for the duration of a Sonic game). I think it all goes back to how kids play, how we played when we were little. We didn't just sit there, imagining having adventures like the characters in our favorite shows or books--we ran around, imitating their moves, acting out our adventures. And it was fun. And I think it's still more fun to act out part of the adventure you're having instead of only tapping away at buttons and pushing joysticks. I don't know about you, but if I was playing a Naruto game, I'd love to perform hand seals to use a jutsu instead of hitting A, X+Y, Z, right joystick forward.

Does everything in a game need to be done with motion control? No, of course not. But I think motion controls aren't the least bit laughable and can make a game much more fun when used properly.

Re:Am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770278)

I don't know if we'll laugh about it, but it certainly seems to be a fad to me. My one hesitation is that up until now all of these items have been separate peripherals; Nintendo changed that by making the Wiimote controller standard. It seems to have worked for them, though most of us consider the Wii to be more of a toy than a "serious" platform. Motion works for a small subset of games, but currently it just isn't suitable for many games without sacrificing some elements of gameplay. Maybe this will improve with future technology, but at the end of the day I just don't think I'm going to want to move around a lot when playing a video game.

Desperation Move By Microsoft (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770402)

Motion controls have been around for a long time and there is no reason for them to ever go away. Nintendo goes all the way back to the PowerGlove and Sony goes back to the early PS2 days with motion controls.

Microsoft finally jumping on the motion control bandwagon is the exception. They need something to try to salvage the 8 billion dollars they've wasted on the Xbox fiasco. Trying a Hail Mary Wii strategy(motion controls bolted on old hardware) with Sony type(Eye/EyeToy) motion technology is pretty much the only option left for them in the console market.

The Xbox 360 is dead in Japan and Europe outside of the UK just like the first Xbox marketplace failure. After the billions wasted on their failed attempts at consoles with the Xbox and Xbox 360, Microsoft really has no other option than just giving up on the who mess and going back to focusing on Windows PC gaming.

The absolutely disastrous reaction to Microsoft's motion controls so far is an amazing contrast to the incredible hype and excitement Nintendo had with the Wii. Nintendo had games everyone wanted to play with a controller that actually worked and could be used by the general public. So far Microsoft has everyone who seen tech coming away with the question why would anyone want to use this poorly implemented tech.

Maybe Microsoft can finally get their act together and avoid the humiliation of last year's E3 where they were caught by the gaming media faking their motion control demos. But so far Microsoft only has laggy tech that can't seem to find a single game that anyone would want to play with it.

Natal (1)

Splintercat (1703448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769064)

The more I hear about project Natal the less I want to see the actual product. It could just be that I've reached my hype threshold.

"holidays" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769074)

in time for the 2010 holiday season
It's okay to call it Christmas.

Re:"holidays" (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769216)

Festivus, you heretic!

Well, alright, and for large group of people I know it's Saturnalia / Sol Invictus / Pagan mating holiday.

Re:"holidays" (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769416)

Something wrong with "holidays"?

Re:"holidays" (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769592)

It makes the jesushumpers feel oppressed.

Re:"holidays" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769888)

Partially true, but I'd say it's more of a backlash of the idea that we need to coddle everyone and suddenly start renaming a centuries old traditional holiday as something more generic so we don't offend people.

I'm as agnostic as they come and generally find any kind of spiritual belief laughably silly, but I also think the whole "oooh, don't call it Christmas!" is dumb.

Re:"holidays" (1)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770370)

I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "Don't call it Christmas!".

The only reason I say "Happy Holidays" is because I don't want to assume the religion of the person I'm saying it to. If someone said Happy Chanuka to me, I wouldn't be offended, but it just doesn't apply to me. I'm wishing someone well and I want it to apply to them without having to find out anything about their faith.

I think that anyone offended by someone saying "Happy Holidays" is actually offended that there are other people who may be of a different faith than they are.

Re:"holidays" (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770420)

The backlash is just as ridiculous.

Re:"holidays" (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769794)

Perhaps retail and marketing solely based on Christmas [wikipedia.org] would be more effective than targeting a "holiday season" that includes the Thanksgiving [wikipedia.org] , the New Year's Day [wikipedia.org] , Christmas, Hanukkah [wikipedia.org] , Kwanzaa [wikipedia.org] (not to be confused with The currency of Angola [wikipedia.org] ) Festivus [wikipedia.org] and any other year-end holidays.

Yup, sounds like a stroke of genius.

Re:"holidays" (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769900)

This is sarcasm?

Parts of the body? Oh no. No, you did-uhnt. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769094)

You know that's just going to result in an ObPennyArcade [penny-arcade.com] [potentially NSFW], right?

Re:Parts of the body? Oh no. No, you did-uhnt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770264)

You know, people can infer the vernacular if you actually spell the proclamation CORRECTLY.

reason why it took so long (4, Funny)

bigmaddog (184845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769152)

They had to develop techniques to counter certain types of misuse [penny-arcade.com] ...

Not simply "infrared" (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769162)

It seems it's a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-of-flight_camera [wikipedia.org] , made with the tech MS acquired from 3DV Systems.

In the form of Natal, certainly cheap. Mighty fun stuff; somebody will finally make, using also this thing, robotic overlords good enough to doom us all.

Assuming there will be free Windows SDK at the least, of course... (or, even better, the protocol will be clear enough to figure out easily into lib usable across platforms)

Re:Not simply "infrared" (2, Informative)

daenris (892027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770314)

Actually, according to one article, the developer has specifically said it's not a time of flight camera. In the comments for http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527426.800-microsofts-bodysensing-buttonbusting-controller.html [newscientist.com] the author quotes Kipman (the lead Natal developer) as saying: ""Our IR does not pulse and it is not based on a TOF system (which usually pulses). Our light source is constant much like you would expect a projection system to work in a conference room."

What kind of games will actually use it? (4, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769340)

With word coming out that they removed Natal's processor and it'll now use anywhere from 10% to 33% of the 360's own processing power, just how good will the games be? There's going to be a price in what developers can you do when you chop that much CPU time out of the system compared to a standard game.

I dunno, I like the idea, but it seems like something Microsoft should bundle with their next system and not tack on to the 360.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (2, Insightful)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769444)

Why wouldn't they just do both? Use the 360 as a launching platform into the next generation model.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769722)

I didn't think of that. If they stick with it long enough, that makes sense. Peripherals often don't do very well on consoles though, so what if it doesn't sell well on the 360 and MS just gives up on it?

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770212)

Would be ideal to have it fail in one place, on the legacy system, then with the launch of a new system. The worst case would be if it did marginal and they decided to slip it into the next generation to then only have it falter.

Because There Is No 'Next Gen' Xbox (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770540)

This is it.

Slapping motion controls on the junk old Xbox 360 hardware is the only option for Microsoft other than just pulling the plug on the whole mess. Search is Ballmer's new baby and it is looking like it is on track to rack up Xbox style billions in losses.

Giving Robbie Bach the green light to spend the billions it would take to design and manufacture new Xbox hardware is about as likely as Microsoft switching Windows and Office to the GPL. The Xbox 360 was supposed to be the console that E&D finally got right after the first Xbox disaster. All sorts of promises were made that a repeat of the first Xbox marketplace flop and losses wouldn't happen again with the Xbox 360.

New Xbox hardware isn't going to happen. Ever.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769588)

Well, I guess the optimisation of 360 games has improved over time so the graphics quality won't necessarily drop (much) relative to the baseline of the early current-generation titles. Really though, I think the tech looks useful even if the games are less graphically good. I've played on the Wii before and for serious games (Resident Evil 4) their motion technology really did make things more exciting and scary even though that platform had very little CPU power available. For casual games, the Wii is also in the lead. If Natal gave me fun casual games without having to buy a Wii, plus maybe some serious games that trade graphical detail for a different kind of immersive experience that would make me happy. It just wouldn't be as good as having the full power of the Xbox *plus* motion sensing.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769742)

I guess the issue here is how big is the "casual" market on the 360? The Wii does pretty good in that space, how many of those people are going to buy a 360 and the Natal addon?

I mean in theory Natal should be able to do anything the Wii can, only do it with most of the power of the 360 behind it, which could be pretty awesome for some types of games. I'm just not that convinced the actual market of 360 customers is all that interested, or that the "casual" market of Wii users is going to pick up a 360.

Hopefully MS is commited a serious advertising budget to reach those people.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770232)

Good questions. The 360 Arcade is pretty cheap nowadays though, I think, so perhaps that should make it competitive price-wise with the Wii for casual games. I'd probably invest in a few casual games for the 360 given I have one already, so maybe there'll be some uptake that way too.

But agreed the Wii has significant "man on the street" mindshare - plenty of non-gamers think of it as "the fun console for normal people" and it would be fairly tricky for Microsoft to unseat them. But if they stump up the marketing dollars perhaps it can be done - some of the things proposed for Natal look really good for a family / party gaming context.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (2, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769704)

I would like it to control some kind of slapping device linked to Xbox Live Chat...

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769856)

It seems to me that input options with Natal are fairly limited; I don't think you're going to see the traditional titles that push the limits of the hardware using this. Are people really going to play run-and-gun games with this? I don't think so. I personally feel that Natal is going to be a huge flop, but then again the Wii has done pretty well for itself.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770246)

With word coming out that they removed Natal's processor and it'll now use anywhere from 10% to 33% of the 360's own processing power, just how good will the games be? There's going to be a price in what developers can you do when you chop that much CPU time out of the system compared to a standard game.

I don't think it will be a problem for games designed from the get-go to take advantage of the system, but it will limit adding the feature to already released games.

Re:What kind of games will actually use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30770536)

An Amiga with a video toaster could do this 20 years ago, so I can't imagine it being *that* CPU intensive.

No feedback? Not as much fun... (1)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769402)

I don't know if it is just me, but I'm not sure if it'll be that much fun.. The first thing that comes to my mind when I see the preview movies on how the Natal will be controlled with no joysticks is: Great, but no feedback from the controller as well... I think the "feel" of the game is an important part that was left out of the project...

70-80 of the PUBLISHERS (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769512)

There is a big difference between a publisher and a developer. There aren't that many publishers out there, less than 20, so that could mean as little as 14-16 games. By contrast, if he said developers, there are lots of those...

Re:70-80 of the PUBLISHERS (2, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769994)

Don't underestimate those numbers. 15 third party games at launch would be astounding.

From Natal and Back, How I Made It !! This is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30769570)

Tactility is emerging as this year's major tech trend. For some reason, everyone seems preoccupied with touching. Touch screens, touch phones, touch tablets--touch everything. The trend was unmistakable at this year's CES, including the re-emergence of 3D entertainment, wherein you can almost "touch" the objects in the movie.

Touch has appeared before too, but it has always failed because the touch mechanism was just too dissociated from the user. The mouse itself was a touch item that wiggles as an icon on the screen. Eliminate the mouse from the equation, and you have today's touch standard.

While touch screens are hardly new, it was the iPhone that added the straw that broke that camel's back. The whole screen is a tableau, which can be moved as a whole. You make a gesture and the entire screen moves up, revealing more stuff underneath. You can flip though photos, pages, etc.

If this trend continues to play out as it is now, the mouse is dead. The mouse itself will have become just a flash in the pan. A fad. (For those readers who enjoy derisively quoting my 1984 column where I said the mouse was a sketchy new device, good luck staying on that track. How's that for irony?)

But take a look at traditional computer programs (i.e., spreadsheets, word processing, browsers, and DBMS systems), there are too many products that require the mouse. Microsoft Word is one of them. While I manage to use a Trackpoint keyboard rather than a mouse (so I can back away from the screen), most people will continue to use a mouse with the program for a long time to come. Spreadsheets can go either way, however, and can probably even incorporate voice commands.

As for the browser, nearly everyone with an iPhone or similar device will tell you that they can browse the Web easily, using their fingers as navigation tools. A lot of people are doing everything on their phone this way. So the question remains: will the PC itself become a touch device?

There are a number of things that the industry needs to overcome, if that's going to happen. The first is the grime factor. Touch screens need a grime-free surface that doesn't interface with visibility or sensitivity. I'm using a Nexus One Google phone. I caught a glimpse of the smudges in the right light, and it took a long time to wipe off all of those fingerprint smears. Big displays are already bad enough. They're magnets for dust and grime. Add human fingerprints, and all sorts of cleaning issues surface.

The other problem with the touch screen is pinpoint accuracy. You want to do all of your Photoshop editing with a Wacom or other tablet, but you can get by with a mouse in a pinch. But a finger? You can't edit photos with a finger as the pointing device. It's impractical. And while software can indeed "guess" what you're trying to do with a finger on a phone screen, this isn't the same as the accuracy required to edit photos.

So, before we all get carried away talking about touch on the desktop computer, let's be realistic--the fact is, touch has been re-introduced to take its rightful place as a useful mechanism for I/O, but all it has supplanted is the touchpad pen. When someone invents a surface that can withstand the scratching of a ballpoint pen, then and only then will I like the idea of idea of pen-based touch-sensitive displays.

In fact, I'm certain in hindsight that the little pen, which you had with the Palm Pilot and other devices, was the problem. I have blamed the dead smartphone business on Microsoft in the past, but the easily lost pen must have had as much to do with it. Whatever the case, the pen, thankfully, is dead.

The upcoming Apple tablet may give us more insight into the touch phenomenon by adding a new paradigm or two--though I think the thing will just be a giant iPod touch and not much more (what more can you really do?). That said, when Apple enters a moribund market category, it tends to show us some insightful new angle on the product, which ushers in new-found excitement. They'll probably do it again. Be prepared to be excited.

The big differential (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769576)

I'm not sure about the sucess of the Natal Project. The big differential from Wii is the Nintendo games.

Re:The big differential (1)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769612)

...and that's exactly why I'm looking forward to it :)

"Enabled" (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769806)

In the interview Bach claims that 70%-80% of Xbox 360 developers are working on some kind of Natal-enabled gaming software.

This means:
A) Shovelware to keep in MS's good graces
B) Otherwise normal games that have a special achievement for "waving your hands at the camera" or something similar
C) both?

While Natal is interesting, the problem with it is the same with basically every "official" peripheral ever. Unless they pack it in with the system (and I haven't seen anything to suggest such), it will have a very low market penetration save for a HUGE game (such as Guitar Hero and the guitar). This means that most games will have some sort of Natal-enhancement that is not really required (and, if some Wii games are any indication, may often be completely worthless or worse than a traditional controller), and we'll see few, if any, games that take full advantage of what Natal has to offer.

On the other hand, if you thought that the plastic pieces put out by peripheral companies were bad, just wait until MadCatz or something releases a plastic version of everything under the sun. Should make LARP players happy.

Other uses (2, Interesting)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30769820)

After it has learned how to predict our movements, couldn't this be used to kill us with guns? There was a 60 minutes piece on the virtual fence--most interesting part for nerds was the AI system to recognize what to show to people. Apparently rolling sagebrush and various fauna were triggering too many false positives.

Good stuff.

Controller free? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770036)

Microsoft is staying mum on the hardware, although Smith notes that we know it involves an infrared camera.

How is it "controller free" if it involves hardware? Isn't that infrared camera the controller?

Combined with 3D (2, Interesting)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770208)

Just think of Natal combined with three dimensional televisions. Now there is an interface that I can get behind.

Looks cool but... (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30770218)

The technology behind this is interesting, unfortunatly I have a bad feeling the only games for this will be silly "casual" (there's that word!) games. Maybe with just one killer app this will be worthwhile...
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