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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Still no longer. The age of Motion is upon us.

stab Not long ago the majority of people were seemingly convinced that computer games were for children, geeks or psychopaths. A fact the game industry made little effort to change. Why bother? Psychopath money is money too right? In 2006 a dwindling corner stone of the once elitist games industry released the most widely used and heard of motion controller there is – that company was Nintendo and the motion control was the Wii Remote. Along with the control, the company also released a console (obviously!) but the console was nothing new, it was the GameCube in a much whiter box. According to a certain Shigeru Miyamoto (Game Designer and General Manager at Nintendo) the plans for said motion control were in the pipes as early as 2001. That’s five years to develop a control pad for those who are keeping score.

Lets fast forward a bit now to the present day where it is more likely that the chick on the bus to your left right now, has played games too, and her call sign is ‘TheCamelToe86’. Times have changed; the market has broadened. For that reason the big boys of the games industry are salivating, it’s not just for the psychos anymore. Now, it's not hard to see that Nintendo opened the door to rest of the population with it’s super ‘casual’ approach that it had been honing so well with its handheld console, the Nintendo DS (and friends, DSi and DS XL and the newly rumoured DS3D). Microsoft and Sony (the aforementioned big boys) are too comfortable to take that casual line too seriously right now so in the coming years they will seek to steal that audience directly from Nintendo. How? Motion controllers of their own of course!

2010 will see the release of these new motion controllers and you will no longer be restricted to Wii-ing – you will be able to Move and Natal too. Considering what we know it would be safe to assume that the big boys will at bare minimum copy Nintendo wouldn’t it? Then games could be ported with ease and players of the Wii would find the cross over less distressing. So let’s take the Wii remote as the master motion controller and Move from there.

Nintendo and The Wii Remote


The control detects movement in three dimensions, it is important to note though that this means the Wii can only ever know how the remote has travelled it has no clue where it started or ended said movement.

It also has some buttons and is expandable through a port at the bottom to accommodate more motion controlling power or even just more buttons. Last but not least and quite separate from the rest of it. The control also acts like a pointer with its infrared receiver on top, what is it receiving? The two infrared lights (the Wii Sensor Bar) that you have to fit a top (or bottom) of your TV in order to for the remote to function as a pointer.

Sony and The Move


The move works in much the same way as the Wii remote with a few subtle differences and one major one. That major one being that it works in conjunction with (and only in conjunction with) an EyeToy (Sony’s official webcam). This takes the two dimensional pointer aspect of the Wii to the next dimension with the camera acting as the receiver and a pretty glowing ball on the end of your control pad replacing the lights on the your TV. Sony have flipped ya Nintendo, they flipped ya real good.


Microsoft and Natal

project-natal2I lied I suppose. Strictly speaking Microsoft will not be releasing a controller, rather a new control method that requires an extra peripheral (Microsoft stock holders can breath a sigh of relief). It’s two cameras and the controller, if you like – is you. Like Sony, Microsoft have tried to stick with the ever popular 3D bandwagon and by having two cameras they have achieved just that. The Natal works much the same way as your eyes do and here in lies its biggest flaw. Just like your eyes, the images these cameras receive are raw and meaningless. it takes the processing power of the Xbox to interpret those images into gestures. Roughly 30% of it!

So the Move is a Wii remote with a camera and Natal is just a camera? A camera with a burden at that! Have Sony put too much effort in here and Microsoft too little? Or perhaps it is quite the reverse. What do you think?

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