Honestly, there’s been so much hate going around about Natal, Microsoft’s 3D motion capturing system. Gamers are dismissing it as being gimmicky again, calling the Milo demonstration fake, etc. Before I go on to why I actually really love Natal, let me first discuss some of the criticism levelled against Natal.
Gamers complain it’ll be too gimmicky. Fine, don’t use it then. It’s not like anyone’s forcing you to drop your controllers and get off your lazy ass to move about. But besides that, let me throw this question at you: Which motion controller isn’t going to seem “gimmicky”? The Wii’s been viewed as a gimmick since… forever, but it’s still pwning the other 2 consoles in terms of number of units moved. The kinds of stuff possible with Natal (at least the kind of stuff Mircosoft promises in its promo video) completely changes the landscape of games development.
Yes I know it isn’t true 1-to-1 motion capture as compared to the Playstation’s Blue Ball thingy, but come on, this thing hasn’t even hit the market yet. It’s still very much in development, and as technology improves we’ll (hopefully) one day see Natal have true 1-to-1 motion capture without you having to hold a single thing in your hand.
Also, let’s face it. Microsoft can throw a controller in if ever necessary for a particular game to have buttons, it’s not like Microsoft is going to restrict the gamer to ONLY using their body. The difference is that a controller won’t be compulsory for gaming like it always has been since… forever.
Now for the biggest argument against Project Natal: IT’S FAKE.
First, we’ve got an article claiming that the Milo demonstration video was fake because of the awkward positioning of “Claire’s” hands on screen as well as the fact that a ripple started in the virtual water before Claire started moving her hands. I’ve honestly re-watched that same exact few seconds at least 10 times over and honestly can’t notice that fact. To me, that article was just trying to diss Natal for the sake of it.
But besides that, has anyone bothered to consider WHY IN THE WORLD MICROSOFT WOULD BOTHER TO FAKE THE MILO DEMONSTRATION VIDEO? Here’re a few rebuttals:
- The part of the Milo video that was supposedly fake had to do with the motion capture. But there was NO other point in the “playing with water” scene where there were problems. But oh no, that split second couldn’t have been a glitch or a slight bug seeing as how the entire thing’s still a prototype, the entire video HAD to be fake.
- Besides, Microsoft demo-ed the motion capturing part of Natal live on stage with Ricochet, so why would they fake it in a video?!
- The most important point: THEY DEMO-ED IT TO A SELECT NUMBER OF PEOPLE. Why would they want to fake something, then open it up to others to come try it out?!
Not to mention Natal has actually received really positive feedback from some reputable gaming sites like IGN which simply said that Natal “works”. IGN even praised the build of Burnout that was developed to work with Natal and how it actually worked pretty smoothly. Oh and Milo isn’t fake at all according to them, he actually managed to make Milo laugh after telling him a joke. The only really negative feedback I’ve read about was from a PS3 site… need I say more?
RPG full of Milo-like NPCs
Now let me sidetrack here and fantasise for a moment. If we can have a character as realistic as Milo now whom you can interact with simply by talking. Imagine, less than 10 years down the road we could actually have an entire RPG game full of millions of characters as interactive as Milo whom you could walk around and talk to instead of simply going up to them and hitting “A”.
But let’s all assume Natal actually sucks for games, there’s a whole area people aren’t thinking about:
What if Natal was implemented as a system.
There’re 3 parts in the Natal promo video I’m referring to:
- the part where 2 girls have a video conference over a dress
- the part where the dude scans in his skateboard
- the final part where a girl waves her hands in the air to choose the movie to watch.
- facial recognition, video conferencing, selecting the dress and being able to try it on a virtual model of yourself?
- That not enough? How about scanning virtually anything in and having it become an interactive object?
- The last part is so simple in itself yet so mind blowing that I don’t even know what to say about it… you control your TV by waving your hands. That’s like having magical powers for crying out loud.
Virtual butler at your service
We are THIS close to having Tony Stark’s computer “butler” Jarvis in our homes with such technology. All you gotta do is install speakers and sensors all around your home and make use of Natal accordingly and there you go. Jarvis can recognise each and every person in the house, for example by using cameras to judge the outline of your body and the silhouette it casts depending on the angle of the camera.
You can ask him practically anything with Milo’s “AI”. For example simple stuff like “What time is it?” or “Lock the door please”. You could even go “Help pass the message to Mom that I’m doing my school project up here please.” and Jarvis could search through the entire house with the cameras to find where Mom is and play back the message only using the speakers in that vicinity. Oh and Natal also has voice recognition (not just the words, but who the voice belongs to) so Jarvis will know who’s saying what at all times.
If you’re alone at home, you could make a phone call while walking around the entire house since there’ll be microphones everywhere and the opposite party’s voice will just play out of the speakers in the vicinity of wherever you’re walking since Jarvis can keep track of your movements.
Oh if you’re too lazy to open your mouth to switch on the lights, how bout just waving your hands in a certain gesture or something? Switching TV channels or radio stations by flicking your wrist. Maybe adjusting your fan speed by raising or lowering your hand? In fact, if you bother to install motors around your house, you could wave your hand and have ANYTHING happen. Close your door, draw the curtains, open drawers, etc. The possibilities are pretty much endless.
Of course, all this Jarvis stuff is pretty far off. It all depends on whether Microsoft actually delivers everything it has promised in the promo video for Natal. Some of the stuff probably isn’t even possible just with Natal’s technology. There’s also the problem of security of course, that someone could somehow hack into Jarvis and track your every movement. But as long as Jarvis is not connected to the internet at all times it helps quite a bit, then someone would have to hack into the internal network of Jarvis (eg. the signals a camera sends to the CPU), but IF everything was completely hardwired this probably wouldn’t be a problem at all.
As you can see, right now everything is an IF. But let me just say that I never expected to see a system like this in place in my lifetime, and I’m only 17. Now, with Natal, this might just be possible within the next 10 years.
Here’s hoping for a Jarvis system in my house.