Kinect Swords (2011 Version)

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2011 version of a new Kinect Peripheral.

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  • "The first commercial Full Motion UI" or "How we might get something leading towards  the holodeck if Microsoft stops berating us with the 'no controller ever' mantra." These speaker notes are to include clarification that just wouldn't fit on the slides. Bold red text in these notes quote the text in the current slide relevant to that section of the speaker notes. (advance to next slide to see more)
  • This slide is just here to tell readers to not expect a typical "Key Points" presentation where the points don't actually explain anything. Instead, I try to include all the absolutely necessary information in the slides themselves (because odds are they aren't going to bother reading these speaker notes).
  • Before I begin, there is something that I feel I need to address, and that is this idea of  mindless acceptance  of Kinect as it is now. "...no controller ever mantra." Kinect's marketing tagline used to be "no controller required" and has recently become "you are the controller". Both of these taglines try to push the idea that controllers ultimately have no value to the future of gaming. "...sacrifices all haptic..." Having a controller can give us haptic feedback, which allows us to physically feel what is happening in the virtual world we're playing in. Kinect's marketing would have us sacrifice haptic feedback in favor of a "blue ocean strategy" that's primary goal is to net as many people as possible. Microsoft could just as easily have both . The most popular haptic feedback in gaming technology, rumble, has been essentially trivial so far. We can make it non-trivial now with Kinect. We first need to accept that... "No piece of technology should be limited by its marketing tagline." Kinect is amazing. I should get that out of the way first. I do not hate Kinect. I do not hate what MS is trying to do with Kinect. What I am uncomfortable with however is MS trying to push on us the idea that this amazing piece of technology should never be anything more than what it is now. The potential for Kinect's technology to advance other fields is astounding. Everything from machine learning to robotics could benefit from learning from Kinect. And yet, despite this desire by many to crack open Kinect for science, many of us "core" gamers are willing to just blow Kinect off as a device only capable of "casual" gaming experiences. We don't want to look at the device and think about how we can use Kinect to advance  gaming itself  as a medium and "core" gaming in particular. "...one step closer to the holodeck..." What I hope to show is that Kinect has the potential to take us one step closer to the holodeck if we're willing to open our minds to the possibilities of what Kinect plus haptic feedback can give us.
  • "...simply isn't powerful enough..." This is referring to a number of things. Primarily, that the device does not have the resolution necessary to track fingers reliably at range. "...gamers were ignored..." This is referring to a number of things. Primarily, that had MS sufficiently (at the very least, more than they had) researched real "core" gamer living spaces, the "minimum distance" issue could have been minimized or possibly even eliminated from the get-go (the fact that third parties are selling snap-on correcting lens peripherals proves this). "...thought they wanted..." This is referring to the image on this slide. The customer ("core gamers") wanted something complex (in the image, numerous boards and two ropes) when all they actually needed was something simple (a tire swing).
  • "...surface functionalities..." Functionalities that are on the surface of the experience. The traditional 360 controller has many buttons on its surface which dictate 99% of what the experience feels like. "Instantaneous action control" You want something to happen, it happens instantly. "Instantaneous movement control" You want to go somewhere, you start moving instantly. "More dexterity than a teddy bear" As-is, Kinect can't distinguish fingers reliably at range (2m-3m). Additionally, your hands can't be seen by Kinect at all sometimes anyway because they might be blocked by your body or other obstructions. Effectively, as a result of this you have all the in-game dexterity of a teddy bear. "...controller that simply augments Kinect." There's nothing wrong with using the controller technology we've perfected over the years to enhance Kinect's gameplay abilities. The trick is to add a controller to Kinect-based gameplay rather than add Kinect to controller-based gameplay. The reverse of this line of thinking is what caused so many "waggle" games to be created for the Wii. We should augment Kinect experiences, not "kinectify" controller experiences
  • "...interpreter peripheral." The Kinect Sword is a theoretical peripheral. It does not exist... yet. The difference "controllers" and "interpreters": When you use a "controller", it essentially acts as a brain-to-game wire that relays a signal from your brain to your finger, then to a button, and subsequently to the game which always knows exactly what command that signal means and executes it. Traditional game controllers basically mind-control a character through a collection of electrodes on your body, only they're connected to your fingers instead of your forehead. For this reason, traditional game controllers are essentially on the same "technology path" as the Matrix. People who advocate technological advancement along this path are therefore called "Matrix Gamers". There is another path though: The path to the Holodeck. People who advocate technological advancement along this other path are called "Holodeck Gamers". The path to the Matrix and the path to the Holodeck are the two sometimes-intersecting but often-opposing paths that gaming technology can advance on. Just as "controllers" are on the Matrix path, "interpreters" are the equivalent on the Holodeck path. Interpreters and interpreter-like aspects of controllers instead of doing direct "mind control" have the player move their body in a way where the system must "interpret" what that movement means.  Many aspects of interpreters and controllers have mixed together over the years. Where the controller has digital pushbuttons, interpreters have analog triggers (and pressure-sensitive pushbuttons). Where controllers have a D-pad, interpreters have analog joysticks. Some aspects of interpreters are used to advance controllers just as some aspects of controllers are used to advance interpreters. With this "console generation 7.5", we are now at a point where the advancement of controller technology and the advancement of interpreter technology will start to split apart. About the name: The Wii nunchuck isn't literally a nunchuck. Likewise, the Kinect Sword isn't literally a sword. It's more like a sword handle. About the cost: The cost of each of these Sword devices might be only little more than the Wii nunchuck is now. It's nowhere near as complex inside as the PS Move. "You hold a Sword in each hand." Two wireless devices, one in each hand. Kinect is an interpreter of the player's body for a game. However, Kinect does not accurately interpret everything "core" games might need. To fix this, the Kinect Swords act as additional... "...interpreters of the player's hands." Kinect as-is cannot track fingers at range. It can't even discern your palm from the back of your hand. The Sword corrects this and solves several other issues.
  • "Rumble...sense of touch" In the past, rumble was used mostly as an inactive immersion enhancer. A controller would rumble whenever something in the game world was shaking. It's about time rumble does something meaningful. Unlike the use of rumble in the past, the Sword's rumble gives the player the ability to directly "feel" and "touch" the game world. "A circle-pad..." That gray circle you see on top is an analog stick. It allows the player to control lateral movement in the way that they've always been used to. The other hand's circle-pad is free for developer use. "Three new buttons" The shape of the Sword was modeled largely off of the Gamecube controller. The 'I' button and 'G' trigger are directly influenced by and shaped like the 'A' button and 'R' trigger on the Gamecube controller, respectively. The 'G' trigger, like the Gamecube controller's 'R' trigger, is both an analog trigger and a digital button (where you squeeze the trigger so much and then there's a digital "button" beyond that you "click" to tap). The "Xbox" button is on the underside of the Sword interpreter, sunken slightly, and is adjacent to the "grab" button. It's out of the way there, but still easily accessible. "...absolute orientation" It is fully possible for the 360 to determine the exact 3D location of the Kinect sensor relative to your TV. It's just a matter of you telling it that location . Once the system has the location of the Kinect sensor relative to the TV, it's trivial to know the exact location of the player's body relative to the TV because that's precisely what Kinect does. If you have a motion sensor that can determine its 3D orientation relative to North-and-level (such as the Kinect Sword), you can simply ask the player to point a Sword straight-on at the TV screen to give the 360 the orientation of the TV screen relative to magnetic North. Once you have all that, you know both the exact location of each Sword (in the player's hands, the locations of which are acquired with the Kinect sensor) as well as the orientation of each Sword relative to the TV. Why does all this matter? Because unlike the PS Move and the Wii Remote, Kinect is capable of a depth map of the player's body. That means that the system can know when a blaster shot in a game just grazes you. It means that if you want to deflect (or reflect) that blaster with a light saber, thanks to the Kinect Swords, now you can. Without the Swords, the best guess it can make as to where your light saber is would depend on the locations of BOTH your arms (by drawing a 3D line between where it thinks your "hands" are). The PS Move can only guess where your body is based on the RGB image it acquires. That's really really hard to do, and the process is prone to tons of errors. The likelihood for those errors is amplified depending on factors such as: the color contrast between the player's clothes and their wallpaper, or the lighting in the room. (To be fair, Kinect has similar issues with lighting, but only during facial recognition --which uses the RGB camera partially -- not normal play which almost exclusively uses the depth camera) The Wii Remote Plus (WiiMot+) is even worse off, since it has no idea whatsoever where your body is in 3D space. It can only make a wild guess as to where the Wiimot+ is in 3D space based on (and the PS Move does this too sometimes) a 3D position tracking method called "dead reckoning". Long story short, the best tech out there right now for advancement towards the holodeck (which is why I run FullMotion.org and created this PPT in the first place) is Kinect, but only if they don't abandon haptic (touch) feedback!
  • "...manual dexterity of a teddy bear." We've seen Kinect games where moving your hands does something, but it's almost never to do something with precision. "...moves the character's hands" We've seen this in several games now. The player's movements are translated onto a character avatar. "...socks were covering them" Kinect has less and less resolution the farther away from the sensor you are. Because of this, at a typical playing distance it can only see blobs where your hands are (I call this the "at-range-resolution" issue). Additionally, even if Kinect had the power to see your hands at-range as more than blobs, it has to be able to constantly see those hands clearly and unambiguously to be able to use finger tracking in a meaningful way, which happens very rarely in active gameplay (I call this the " line-of-sight " issue). "...an object can do different things" Because Kinect as-is gives the player all the dexterity of a teddy bear, we're incapable of interacting with game objects as if they were real objects. For example, a ballpoint pen has a single button that in one context means "enable pen tip" and in the other context means "disable pen tip". Kinect as-is doesn't give us the dexterity needed to trigger those functions, so we need something extra that can give us that ability. "human-like manual dexterity" Even if we assume the pen tip is always enabled, Kinect as-is can't interpret fine movement of the pen tip in midair. The Swords tell the system what directions your hands are pointing, thus allowing it to correctly interpret your fine hand motions as writing with the pen. "...high-fidelity melee strikes" Once we know what direction a hand is pointing, we can control  the movement and angle of a sword swinging through the air with all the precision we'd have in real life with a real sword "Allows you to aim..." Knowing at the same time the position of a hand and its orientation allows you to know where in real space (and summarily where in the game space) the player's hand is pointing a gun or any other weapon or tool. "...aiming at the screen" Unlike the PS Move, the Kinect Swords allows the player to aim offscreen or even over his shoulder with reliable accuracy. This is made possible because Kinect doesn't have to use dead reckoning  techniques to determine where your hands are. It inherently knows where your hands are, so the Swords only have to bother reporting spatial orientation.
  • "You hold a Sword in each hand." Two Sword controllers means two sets of buttons. "...universal grab function" Interprets how hard your hand is squeezing an object. "...universal interact function" Interprets when you want to do something special with the object in that hand. "...auxiliary button" Game developers can use these two buttons any way they like. "...six buttons..." Suddenly it doesn't sound like too few does it?
  • "...grabbed and thrown." One of the major aspects of this system is that absolutely everything that isn't nailed down can be picked up and thrown. This also means that almost anything can be used as a weapon. "...universal grab function..." We want to be able to both fine-control grip and be able to instantly turn grip on/off. The universal "grab" function puts both of those abilities in a neat little package. "Analog G triggers..." You have physical hands controlling virtual hands, and the Sword interpreter is both a means for the player to communicate to the game what each hand is doing and a means for the game to feedback to each physical hand what that virtual hand is feeling. "GCN-Style triggers..." The "grab" trigger is a Gamecube-style analog/digital trigger. When you squeeze it, the trigger is analog up to a certain point, then there's some resistance you can push past to "tap" a digital button within the trigger. "Rumble indicates objects..." When a hand is empty, the Sword interpreter uses rumble to feedback that the character's hand is near something that can be grabbed. "Variably grips object" Squeezing the "grab" trigger while not "tapping" it will put a nearby object into your hand, but only as long as you are squeezing the "grab" trigger. Completely releasing the "grab" trigger will let go of the object (such as you might want to do with a live grenade. How much you squeeze the trigger controls how hard you're gripping the object. "Locks/Unlocks Grip" If you want to effortlessly keep holding onto an object (such as a weapon), you can squeeze the grab trigger all the way (into a "tap") to "lock" your grip on the object. At this point, you can completely release the trigger and your character will continue to hold the object in their hand. If you want to drop, throw, or temporarily loosen your grip on an object you've locked your grip on, you must unlock your grip by squeezing the trigger into a tap again . After unlocking your grip, how much you are squeezing the trigger once again controls how loose your grip is. To re-lock your grip without dropping the object (such as you might want to do with a rope you're rappelling with), simply squeeze into a tap again while being careful not to release the trigger completely.
  • "...one non-contextual interaction" For most common objects in a game, once they're in your hand, they only have one  obvious  thing you do with them. Guns are fired, pens switch the pen tip on/off, etc. For many game objects, the one non-contextual function isn't activated at all. Using these objects strictly involves moving of the object in space. Swords and most other melee weapons fit this category. A sword that shoots lasers is an example that fits both categories. "...universal interact function" For objects that do have an obvious non-contextual interaction, the "interact" function triggers it. "Digital I buttons..." Each of our hands can typically only do one task at a time. All that really matters is when we want to do that task, so the 'I' button interprets for the game character when the player wants to trigger a task. "Interacts with held object" This is another instant reaction to a button-press. In our pistol example, the "interact" button will normally fire the pistol. When the clip is empty however, tapping "interact" might instead drop the clip and wait for you to insert another clip before firing again (or in the case of futuristic weaponry, the gun might simply reload itself). "Interacts with nearby object..." Some items need not be grabbed to be interacted with. A desktop computer obviously doesn't need to go anywhere with you before you're allowed to interact with it. In this case, tapping "interact" with an empty virtual hand near the computer will trigger interaction with the computer. "Other interactions are contextual" Of course, there are many objects that have more than one  obvious  way to interact with them. These functions might be contextual, such as a pistol only needing reloading when the clip is empty, or a computer having deep functions that are only accessible after interacting with the computer itself. "Rumble can indicate..." When a hand is empty, it's free to interact with objects which can't be grabbed but can be interacted with, such as a desktop computer. A unique rumble can be used to indicate this. When a hand is holding an object that interacts with another object, rumble can be used to indicate when that hand is close enough to trigger that interaction. "Some objects only need..." Some objects do not even need to be specifically interacted with to be used. Objects such as a car horn or a giant red panic button only need to be whacked with your hand to trigger.
  • "...not everything..." There's more to a game than its in-game objects. "Digital X buttons..." There's an additional digital button on the Sword. This button does not control a universal function, and is free for the game developer to use as they wish. "...two game-specific functions..." There are two Sword interpreters, so there's two game-specific functions available. Those functions can be anything the developer wants. "Pausing menus" Any menu which happens to pause the game is a "pausing" menu. "Inherent character abilities" Characters might have one or more inherent abilities that are not controlled by holding and interacting with an object. For example, your character might be capable of a double-jump or an fire-burst centered on their body. If there's multiple inherent abilities, perhaps the button could be held down to cycle through them or open a pausing "ability selection" menu. "Jumping/Crouching..." Standing up constantly is tiring. Think about it like it were reality. You don't jump and crouch all the time in real life, so why would you need to use motion controls to handle those all the time? More to the point, you don't have to stand all the time in real life, so why should a game force you to stand constantly while playing? There's no reason you shouldn't be allowed to move your character around laterally with the circle-pad while sitting down in real life. Admittedly, once action starts to happen in-game, it'd be a good idea to stand up for that part (if for no other reason than to allow your character's arms their full range of motion). "I and X buttons can swap..." By popular demand, the roles of the universal "interact" button and the extra button can be swapped for the sake of player comfort. (Some Wii games allow you to swap the roles of the 'A' and 'B' buttons.)
  • "Without Swords" We're looking at a theoretical FPS control scheme using Kinect's technology alone. "No lateral movement control" Lateral controls are controls which give the ability to move around in a virtual environment in a compass direction. "...iPad or DDR pad controls..." We have no instant-response lateral movement controls with Kinect alone unless we use on-screen "iPad" controls (position of hands in midair control it) or on-floor "DDR pad" controls (position of feet on the floor control it). "No firing control" Firing controls are controls that allow us to trigger something. "...iPad controls or shouting bang" We have no instant-response firing controls with Kinect alone unless we use on-screen "iPad" controls (position of hands in midair control it) or special voice commands. "Gaze-based camera controls" Admittedly, Kinect cannot determine where your eyes are looking (which is typically what is meant by "gaze"). However, it can track (as proven by Avatar Kinect ) what the angle of your head is relative to the rest of your body. It can use this as a low-bounds joystick for controlling camera panning. "Locked-wrist aiming" Kinect only sees your hand as if it were a clenched fist. It cannot discern the rotation of your wrists. Thus, I call trying to point with Kinect alone "locked-wrist pointing" and trying to aim with Kinect alone "locked-wrist-aiming". To imagine the effect of this, imagine that you had a sock over your forearm. Kinect is only be able to tell where you're really "pointing" by tracing the line of your forearm. A popular pointing alternative with Kinect as it is now is to check the X-Y location in the sensor's field of view of the end of your forearm and use that as the pointer, which won't quite cut it for an FPS (but would probably work decent enough in an RTS). "Generic...control via gesture or mime..." With Kinect alone, you have no non-vocal weapon selection control. An alternative is if you're holding up one hand, you're using a pistol, and if you're holding up both hands, you're using a pump-action shotgun (with one hand on the pump). "With Swords..." Again, using Sword interpreters in no way diminishes Kinect's inherent abilities. Every feature described above for a "non-swords" system is just as possible to implement in a "swords" system. "Instant lateral movement control..." An analog joystick has been the time-tested ideal for controlling lateral movement. "Instant firing control..." Buttons have been the time-tested ideal for controlling instant actions. "Free-wrist aiming" Once the system knows the orientation of the Sword interpreters, ultimately it's the same thing as knowing the same orientation as your wrists. Thus, your wrists are no longer "locked", but "free". "Specific...control via gesture or mime." Say I have a grenade launcher that has several different types of grenades loaded and you rotate a dial to switch the current grenade type (IIRC, they did this in Unreal 2). With Swords, I can now actually rotate that dial (whereas without Swords all I can do is whack the dial to spin it).
  • "take pistol" You have a holster on your body where you store your pistol when it's not needed. One common place for a holster is on your belt. When you move your empty hand to where the pistol holster is, that Sword will rumble indicating that something (the pistol) can be grabbed. "fire pistol" The number one thing you do with a pistol when it's out of its holster is shoot with it. Reloading happens automatically when you "interact" with the pistol while it's empty. Alternatively, you can reload at any time by grabbing a pistol magazine from your belt with your other hand and jamming it into the butt of the pistol. "put away pistol" Putting the pistol away is as simple as taking it out. When you move your pistol hand to where the pistol holster is, that Sword will rumble indicating that the pistol has to do something related to the object it's near (the holster). "Dropping" the pistol at that time will holster it. "take grenade" You have a grenade attached to a clip on your vest. Just like your pistol, you "grab" it to... well, grab it. "pull grenade pin" There are two ways you can do this. Either: Pull the pin out with your other hand, or Pull the pin out with your teeth. Alternatively, you might be capable of pulling the pin out with the hand holding the grenade by "interacting" with that hand, but this might take a second or two to pull off. "drop/throw grenade" The nature of an analog trigger allows you to lock and unlock your grip on something like a grenade at will while also not dropping it by accident. Alternatively, it would also make sense for the interact button in this case to drop the grenade because the number one thing you do with a ticking grenade is GET RID OF IT! "take AR" Unlike your pistol, your assult rifle was attached to your back. It's the same action to grab it as when grabbing your pistol from its holster or the grenade from its vest clip. "enable AR grenade" Setting aside the primary fire of the assault rifle (because how to do that should be obvious by now), the assault rifle's alt-fire could be a grenade launcher. On this particular assault rifle, the trigger for the alt-fire is farther up the rifle, so you have to use your other hand to reach it. "fire AR grenade" You're using the interact button on your OTHER hand for this one.
  • "Without Swords" Now we're looking at a theoretical RTS control scheme using Kinect's technology alone. "Gaze-based scrolling" Like gaze-based camera control, but for scrolling around the map. "Locked-wrist pointing" Like locked-wrist aiming, but instead you're pointing at things on the flat screen of a war room holo-table. "Voice commands for tool selection" As you may of seen for the "Kinect Hub" in order to select an option by hand you have to wait a moment for the system to pick the selected option. That just won't do in the fast-paced nature of an RTS. Voice commands are much faster (but have their own problems). "Select lassoed units..." Dip your hand in and draw a lasso around the units or building you want to mess with (the lasso tool automatically ends whenever it crosses its own line, which works okay since you don't have a "stop selecting" button). Unfortunately, this selection method is really slow. "Voice commands for labeling..." Labeling units and buildings with voice command keywords greatly increases the speed at which you can select commonly-selected units and buildings (and thus give them tasks). "Generic unit commands" Most units in modern RTSs have unique abilities you can trigger. However, outside of using very specific voice commands, it's difficult to select a specific command quickly. You can however give units generic orders common to all units, such as pointing somewhere and saying "move here". "With Swords..." Again, using Sword interpreters in no way diminishes Kinect's inherent abilities. Every feature described above for a "non-swords" system is just as possible to implement in a "swords" system. "Free-wrist pointing" Like free-wrist aiming, but pointing at a flat surface instead of aiming in a 3D environment. "Instant unit selection..." Since with the Sword you have an interact button, it's easy to select a specific unit or building. Just point and grab. "Select boxed units..." Likewise, since with the Sword you have a grab button, you can grab and drag corner-to-corner to select all the units in a box. "Specific unit commands" Since with a Sword you can select a specific unit or building with ease, you can also easily select special abilities from the unit's abilities menu.
  • "select boxed units" Grab, drag, make war. "set selected units as team 1" Assigns a verbal shortcut to select that specific set of units. "select units in team 1" Uses the team 1 verbal shortcut. "set spot as point A" Assigns a verbal shortcut to a specific location on the map. "selected units move to point A" All units currently selected move (ignoring all else) to the specified location. "units attack spot pointed at" All units currently selected attack towards the location being pointed at. "units hold position" All units currently selected hold their current position. "units cancel orders" All units currently selected cancel their current orders and defend themselves if necessary. "units return to safety" All units currently selected ignore all else except to get away from everything that might be a real danger as fast as possible (obstacles that in the way but are considered minor are dealt with). If all other options for a safe retreat are deemed not worth it, they'll try to beeline back to your base. "launch building and move" Some buildings can be ordered to move as well. This is a manual move since you're dragging it around yourself. "move building there" The building attempts to move to the location specified, but does not land. "land building there" The building attempts to move to the location specified AND land there.
  • "Without Swords" Finally, we'll look at a theoretical racing control scheme that uses Kinect's technology alone. "Foot controls..." The foot-based gas-brake pedal idea has been part of Kinect since the early public tech demos. "Loose gear shift controls" Without any buttons, the system may incorrectly interpret an arm accidentally waving near the location of the virtual gear shift as an intention to shift gears. "Hands on wheel" You hold your hands out as if holding an imaginary steering wheel. "...bang on steering wheel..." Just like you hold an imaginary steering wheel to steer, you can bang on that wheel to honk the horn. "Voice commands..." With no buttons, it's impossible to trigger weapons, items, and powerups except by using gestures or voice commands. Even then, there's no fine control over those items, just a trigger. "With Swords" Once again, using Sword interpreters in no way diminishes Kinect's inherent abilities. Every feature described above for a "non-swords" system is just as possible to implement in a "swords" system. "Tight gear shift controls" With a button for grabbing, you can deliberately grab the gear shift and move it without any ambiguity about what you're doing. "Manually control items..." With a button dedicated to interacting, you can instantly trigger any weapon, item, or powerup within reach of that hand, including triggers built into the steering wheel and dashboard. The dashboard itself could feature a wide array of items to trigger, and offer the player deep control of those items. For example, you could have a roof-mounted laser turret that using a video screen live feed built into the dashboard you can rotate and lock onto targets with. "Shoot...with a sidearm" Any aspect of an FPS can be imported into a racer. For example, if you have a pistol you particularly like, there's no reason you can't bring it in the car with you for "emergencies". "Use...radio to...spy" Races, arena matches, and even highway attacks often involve teams of drivers. To communicate between eachother teammates would use CB radio. Teams would keep the communication frequency of their team secret... for obvious reasons.
  • "nitro" Temporarily boosts top speed or acceleration, depending on the game. "jump-jets" Allows the car to jump over obstacles or onto unusual terrain. "change gears" Shift gears in the car (usually includes reverse gear). "access dashboard" Use one hand to access the functions on the dashboard. "select on dashboard" Navigate through the functions on the dashboard. "use powerup" Activate the selected powerup on the dashboard. "cycle radio" Rotate the radio frequency. "fire weapon" Activate the selected weapon on the dashboard. "take pistol" Pick up your trusty sidearm . It could be stored anywhere, not just on the inside of the door (the door is just the closest spot to the window you'd shoot out of). "fire pistol" Take a wild guess what this does.
  • "someone doing something" Everything we do in real life we see in first-person. Likewise, anything we do in a game that involves "someone doing something" could technically be re-imagined as being seen from the first-person perspective of the person doing it. For some games however, this is not the case, such as Bejeweled or Peggle, as there's no character in those games which is "doing" something as the gameplay (unless you abstract that character as a game player, which would be redundant). Metroid Prime Pinball for example would be impossible to describe as "someone doing something" even considering the original source game was an FPS. "...any game that uses a virtual environment extends from an FPS..." A far simpler case is to abstract a game that uses a third-person camera (including side-scrolling platformers) into a first-person equivalent, since the primary difference then is literally just a matter of camera angles. If there's a virtual environment a character navigates, that game can be expressed as an FPS. That said, some genres (such as 2D platformers) don't translate as easily as others, and as a result can potentially not be worth the effort to translate to this Swords system.
  • "...the genre problem..." The Genre Problem is the confusion that has resulted from the increasingly ambiguous ways a game can be described using existing genre terms. "...genre terms..." Genre terms are used to describe gameplay that's already been seen in several other games deemed similar. We use genre terms so that people new to a game know what kind of gameplay to expect It can be said that ultimately, the practical purpose of genre terms is so the person hearing the term in describing a new game will know before playing what the control schema of the game will be similar to. A trend that has only expanded in the last decade though is that a very large number of genre terms exist, and most of them (some would say "all") tend to be greatly ambiguous. Additionally, people new to games don't want to learn terms (definitions are not fun ), so they'll typically become disinterested if you try and explain one. This becomes problematic the more terms you have to explain. "...uses this universal genre..." The idea of a "universal" genre is that the basic controls of this genre are always literally identical (for ~95% of the controls) to any other game in this universal genre, regardless of the other genres the game might also be described as. The advantage is that a new player only has to learn the controls of one game to understand how to pick up and play any other game in the genre, period.
  • "...how real life works..." Up to a limit, you can use the real world properties of an object (or the real world properties of a similar object) for every object in a game world without the player becoming bogged down with this realism. "...as infants..." Everything we learned how to do we started learning how to do as infants, so it's appropriate to examine the first most basic things we learned how to do as infants in order to abstract the rudiments of how we interact with the real world.
  • "...simple..." Externally, there are only three buttons and a joystick on the Kinect Sword (excluding the "Xbox" button). This simplicity makes the interpreter more approachable to those new to "core" games. "...consistent..." Those buttons and joysticks will always mean the same thing for all games that use this universal genre. This consistency is attractive to new players since they'll only ever have to learn one set of controls. It is worth noting that a major part of the "casual" appeal of motion controls is their attempted consistency with real world motions. Interesting Possibility: It's possible that the Swords could be used as a "bridge" to make it easier for "casual" gamers to approach "core" gaming. If that's viable, then it could be used to reinvigorate the core game market. Imagine what would happen if Portal was not only a darling of the core gamer, but of the casual gamer as well...
  • (This slide explains itself pretty effectively.)
  • "...may simply not be powerful enough." There's a lag for every Kinect game. Depending on how much you want from it, that lag can result in a 2-second difference between you doing an action and it appearing on-screen. This Swords system asks for a LOT from Kinect, so we can be certain the lag will be enormous. "...inside the device..." Microsoft had the option to put additional processing power inside Kinect itself. "...insanely expensive at launch." Putting the necessary processors in to have a low-lag Kinect experience from launch would make it cost too much in stores for anyone to consider buying it. I feel they made the right call. A small step on a new path so that people can get used to it is better than taking a big step long before people are ready for it. "...next Kinect..." Technology is constantly improving in both ability and cost. I have no doubt that the next Kinect will be able to shove those extra processors in while keeping the consumer price low enough to be viable.
  • Thanks for listening.
  • Kinect Swords (2011 Version)

    1. 1. Kinect Swords The first commercial "Full Motion" UI All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson Contact: [email_address]
    2. 2. A quick note... <ul><li>This presentation has been optimized for reading on the internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Many &quot;key points&quot; have been replaced with complete sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, nitty-gritty details of how everything works can be found in the “notes” embedded in this PPT document. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    3. 3. Kinect: Current State <ul><li>Microsoft is trying to enforce a &quot;no controller ever&quot; mantra. </li></ul><ul><li>Kinect's current mantra sacrifices all haptic (touch) feedback for the sake of &quot;blue ocean strategy&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>No piece of technology should be limited by its marketing tagline. </li></ul><ul><li>We can get one step closer to the holodeck if we're willing to keep an open mind. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    4. 4. Kinect: &quot;Core&quot; Problems <ul><li>Kinect as-is has a couple of flaws. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The device simply isn't powerful enough, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Core gamers&quot; were ignored when they could have been instrumental to creating Kinect. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>That said, what &quot;core gamers&quot; thought they wanted wasn't actually what they needed. </li></ul>Slide © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson Images © 2006 ProjectCartoon.com
    5. 5. Kinect: &quot;Core&quot; Solutions <ul><li>What &quot;core gamers&quot; thought they wanted was all the &quot;surface&quot; functionalities of their existing 13-button 2-joystick controller to be built into the Kinect experience. </li></ul><ul><li>What they actually needed however was far less complex: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instantaneous action control, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instantaneous movement control, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More dexterity than a teddy bear. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They wanted the controller they already had, but what they really needed was a peripheral that simply  augments  Kinect. </li></ul><ul><li>The solution, as I see it, is the &quot;Kinect Sword&quot;. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    6. 6. Kinect Sword: What is it? All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson The Kinect Sword is a Kinect-augmenting &quot;interpreter&quot; peripheral . You hold a Sword in each hand. It completes Kinect's interpretation of the player's body by acting as interpreters of the player's hands .
    7. 7. Kinect Sword: Features <ul><li>Rumble (simulates sense of touch ) </li></ul><ul><li>A circle-pad (like on the 3DS) </li></ul><ul><li>Three new buttons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GCN-Style &quot;grab&quot; trigger/button </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital &quot;interact&quot; button </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra digital button free for other uses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NOTE: The &quot;Xbox&quot; button is below &quot;grab&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Internal sensors report absolute orientation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lateral orientation (yaw) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vertical orientation (pitch) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rotational orientation (roll) </li></ul></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    8. 8. Kinect Sword: Sensors <ul><li>Kinect as-is interprets the player's body, but with all the manual dexterity of a teddy bear. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moving your hands in space moves the character's hands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kinect as-is sees your hands as if socks were covering them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Depending on context, an object can do different things </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We want more human-like manual dexterity , so the Kinect Swords tell the system what directions your hands are pointing. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows for high-fidelity melee strikes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows you to aim merely by turning and twisting your wrist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Doesn't require aiming at the screen </li></ul></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    9. 9. Kinect Sword: Buttons <ul><li>You hold a Sword in each hand. </li></ul><ul><li>Analog G  (grab) trigger controls a universal &quot;grab&quot; function </li></ul><ul><li>Digital I  (interact) button controls a universal &quot;interact&quot; function </li></ul><ul><li>Digital X  (auxiliary) button is free for other uses or can even swap roles with the interact button. </li></ul><ul><li>Between both hands, that's six buttons that do everything . </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    10. 10. Kinect Sword: Grab <ul><li>All objects can be grabbed and thrown. </li></ul><ul><li>A universal &quot;grab&quot; function controls how tight your grip is. </li></ul><ul><li>Analog G triggers control each hand's &quot;grab&quot; function. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GCN-Style triggers have a digital button inside that can be &quot;tapped&quot;. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumble indicates objects which can be grabbed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Variably grips object (by  squeezing and releasing ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Locks/Unlocks Grip (by  squeezing into a &quot;tap&quot; ) </li></ul></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    11. 11. Kinect Sword: Interact <ul><li>Most game objects have only one non-contextual interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>A univeral &quot;interact&quot; function triggers that interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital I buttons control each hand's &quot;interact&quot; function. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interacts with held object </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interacts with nearby object when that &quot;hand&quot; is empty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other interactions are  contextual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumble can indicate when you should interact </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NOTE: Some objects only need to be touched to use them. </li></ul><ul><li>     Examples: car horn, panic button, doorbell, handprint-scanner, etc. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    12. 12. Kinect Sword: Auxiliary <ul><li>Of course, not everything in a game directly involves an object. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital X buttons trigger game-specific functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Two hands, so the two functions can be anything: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pausing menus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inherent character abilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jumping/Crouching (you don't always have to stand to play) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The I and X buttons can swap roles as a player preference. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    13. 13. Example Genre: FPS <ul><li>Kinect without Swords : </li></ul><ul><li>No lateral movement control... </li></ul><ul><li>...unless using &quot;iPad&quot; or &quot;DDR pad&quot; controls </li></ul><ul><li>No firing control... </li></ul><ul><li>...unless using &quot;iPad&quot; controls or shouting &quot;bang&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Gaze-based camera controls </li></ul><ul><li>Locked-wrist aiming </li></ul><ul><li>Generic contextual firing control via gesture or mime </li></ul><ul><li>With Swords (everything above is possible plus): </li></ul><ul><li>Instant lateral movement control via circle-pad </li></ul><ul><li>Instant firing control via buttons </li></ul><ul><li>Free-wrist aiming </li></ul><ul><li>Specific contextual firing control via gesture or mime </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    14. 14. Example Genre: FPS Controls <ul><li>&quot;Hand to pistol holster, grab&quot; = take pistol </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;With pistol hand, interact&quot; = fire pistol </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Held pistol to holster, drop&quot; = put away pistol </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Hand to grenade clip, grab&quot; = take grenade </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Other hand to held grenade, grab&quot; = pull grenade pin </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Grenade hand to mouth, interact&quot; = pull grenade pin </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;With ticking grenade, drop&quot; = drop/throw grenade </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Hand to assault rifle on back, grab&quot; = take AR </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Other hand to AR, grab&quot; = enable AR grenade </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Other hand grabbing AR, interact&quot; = fire AR grenade </li></ul><ul><li>...and more! </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    15. 15. Example Genre: RTS <ul><li>Kinect without Swords : </li></ul><ul><li>Gaze-based scrolling Locked-wrist pointing </li></ul><ul><li>Voice commands for tool selection </li></ul><ul><li>Select lassoed units (slow) </li></ul><ul><li>Voice commands for labeling locations and unit sets </li></ul><ul><li>Generic unit commands via &quot;point and shout&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>With Swords (everything above is possible plus): </li></ul><ul><li>Free-wrist pointing </li></ul><ul><li>Instant unit selection via &quot;point and interact&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Select boxed units (fast) </li></ul><ul><li>Specific unit commands via the unit's special menu </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    16. 16. Example Genre: RTS Controls <ul><li>&quot;Hold grab, drag diagonally&quot; = select boxed units </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'set team 1'&quot; = set selected units as team 1 </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'team 1' = select units in team 1 </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Point at spot, shout 'set point A'&quot; = set spot as point A </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'move to point A' = selected units move to point A </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Point, shout 'attack here'&quot; = units attack spot pointed at </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'hold'&quot; = units hold position </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'stop'&quot; = units cancel orders </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Shout 'run'&quot; = units return to safety </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Grab movable building, drag&quot; = launch building and move </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Drag building, release&quot; = move building there </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Drag building, interact&quot; = land building there </li></ul><ul><li>...and more! </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    17. 17. Example Genre: Racer <ul><li>Kinect without Swords : </li></ul><ul><li>Foot controls gas/brake/reverse </li></ul><ul><li>Loose gear shift controls </li></ul><ul><li>Hands on wheel control steering </li></ul><ul><li>Can bang on steering wheel to honk horn </li></ul><ul><li>Voice commands control automated items </li></ul><ul><li>With Swords (everything above is possible plus): </li></ul><ul><li>Tight gear shift controls </li></ul><ul><li>Manually control items on steering wheel or dashboard </li></ul><ul><li>Shoot out of the car window with a sidearm </li></ul><ul><li>Use CB radio to voicechat or spy on other teams </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    18. 18. Example Genre: Racer Controls <ul><li>&quot;Hand to steering wheel, interact&quot; = nitro </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Other hand to steering wheel, interact&quot; = jump-jets </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Hand to gear shift, grab&quot; = change gears </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Hand to dashboard, interact&quot; = access dashboard </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Access dashboard, use joystick&quot; = select on dashboard </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Select powerup on dashboard, interact&quot; = use powerup </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Select radio on dashboard, grab, rotate&quot; = cycle radio </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Select weapon on dashboard, interact&quot; = fire weapon </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Other hand to door pocket, grab&quot; = take pistol </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Pistol hand out of window, interact&quot; = fire pistol </li></ul><ul><li>...and more! </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    19. 19. Merging Genres: FPS is Universal <ul><li>Any genre can be expressed as an extension of an FPS (or an Action-RPG) if you can describe the gameplay as </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;   someone   doing   something   &quot;. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In a racing game, a racer is driving a car. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In an RTS, a general is commanding troops. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ultimately, any game that uses a third-person camera can be said to extend from a first-person equivalent. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the only two options for camera perspective are &quot;first-person&quot; and &quot;third-person&quot;, it can be said that any game that uses a virtual environment extends from an FPS. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    20. 20. Merging Genres: The Genre Problem  <ul><li>As gamers, we've been stuck with &quot;the genre problem&quot; for over a decade. </li></ul><ul><li>What if instead of describing a game in genre terms that also have to be explained , we were able to describe a game in terms of what the player character does ? </li></ul><ul><li>i.e. &quot; A futuristic soldier shoots aliens.&quot; (Halo... among others) </li></ul><ul><li>To the uninitiated, such a description is far easier to absorb than &quot;Futuristic FPS&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>When describing in this way a game that uses this universal genre, so long as the player knows what the universal genre is, he'll know what the gameplay and controls are like. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    21. 21. Merging Genres: The Universal Genre <ul><li>Knowing how to describe a game in terms of a universal genre is only half the solution. The other half is creating a universal genre that essentially need not be explained. </li></ul><ul><li>One way we can do this is by making the game controls as close to how real life works as possible. The more rudimentary the controls, the better. </li></ul><ul><li>The most rudimentary actions we learn as infants are </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;grab&quot;, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;interact&quot;. </li></ul></ul></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    22. 22. Universal Genre: &quot;Casual&quot; Appeal <ul><li>People don't like to learn new things. </li></ul><ul><li>However, if you can tell them &quot;this is the only thing you'll ever need to learn&quot; they'll likely be more willing to try it. </li></ul><ul><li>The simple design of the Sword peripheral and its consistent control scheme greatly aid this effect. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    23. 23. Universal Genre: &quot;Core&quot; Appeal <ul><li>The Universal Genre is a framework on which most any &quot;core&quot; genre can be implemented. </li></ul><ul><li>It's also one where many &quot;core&quot; genres can be implemented simultaneously. Imagine this gameplay: As a general (RTS), you could get fed up with your soldiers' incompetence, pick up a &quot;Mobile Ops Pad&quot; and a gun (FPS), go outside, get in a war machine (racer), and take care of business yourself, all while still being able to issue commands to the troops remotely (RTS again) with the M.O.P. (basically, like Battlezone 2, but anyone can pick it up and play) </li></ul><ul><li>It's not your genre plus Kinect, it's Kinect plus your genre. </li></ul><ul><li>Think about that. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    24. 24. But here's the rub... <ul><li>None of this completely eliminates the fact that Kinect may simply not be powerful enough. </li></ul><ul><li>In order for it to be powerful enough, it probably would have to do most or all of its tracking processing inside the device (Kinect as-is doesn't, it has the Xbox 360 do most of it). </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft were on the fence about this when designing Kinect, but went with the option that made it  not insanely expensive at launch . </li></ul><ul><li>The next Kinect will very likely be capable of this new kind of experience for cheap. </li></ul><ul><li>All that said, for all I know, Kinect as-is might become capable of this through a software update. It's just unlikely. </li></ul>All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson
    25. 25. Thank you for your time. I can be contacted directly at [email_address] All © 2010-2011 Jonathan Williamson

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