Dis-Kinected

I turn on my Xbox 360, and on the top of my entertainment center a cylon’s red-eye device sparks to life, raises it’s hammerhead shark gaze to the room and considers its surroundings. It’s almost a hopeful gaze I sense through its binocular vision as the system rolls through its start-up procedure, but it is only setting itself up for disappointment, because today is not a Kinect kind of day for me.

Just like yesterday. And the day before, and most of the days before that.

It seems kind of long ago now that I was all enthusiasm and hopeful hyperbole about Microsoft’s arguably revolutionary device. I never imagined that I would be playing every game to come down the pipe with grand, often exhausting gestures, but even though the initial offering of games tended toward the anemic side, I felt like I could sense the breadth of possibilities that creative game developers could explore. And, there was just no arguing that occasionally kicking imaginary soccer balls or throwing air javelins was anything but energetic fun.

That was something like six months ago, and the all seeing eye above my TV is just another forgotten peripheral that I probably spent too much money on, and I’m increasingly concerned that there will never be the “killer app” that finally makes the Kinect anything more than a curiosity of modern technology and a plaything for the high-functioning tinkerer.

And so, it is becoming an emblem for its generation of short-term, high-concept gaming gadgetry.

I’m beginning to think there’s another bubble we need to begin talking about and of which we need to see the inevitable burst: the gimmicky hardware bubble. It feels to me like at some point about a decade ago we moved from an age of aggressive upgrades in sheer processing power to an era where new experiences were delivered through improvements to interface and input. The results of this era include the DS, the 3DS, plastic instruments, traditional 3D gaming, the Kinect, the Wii-mote, the iPhone, the Move, and more. Even the way we integrate media and social experiences through game communities are tangentially related to the changing philosophies of this grand new age in technology.

It’s been an era not of how fast our games play, but of how many different ways we can experience a game, and as a result it’s little surprise that PCs and games systems that should be lumbering dinosaurs remain largely functional and satisfying delivery systems for most current games. That’s good, it makes gaming as a whole more accessible and less the play area of only people with large piles of discretionary cash or very little money sense.

But I feel like we’re on the brink of the next philosophical shift. With an underperforming 3DS, the crash of the music game genre and lackluster support for devices like the Kinect, I can’t help but feel like we as consumers are reaching critical mass on hardware add-ons. I have a closet full of clunky peripherals to support one game, and I can tell you that while I’ve loved my Rock Band life entirely so far, it’s a road I never want to go down again.

If anything, I am looking to condense and reduce. Give me the one-console future that I know is never going to happen, make it deliver everything (movies, television, on-demand, social media, games, internet), make it operate from the cloud, make it secure and make it portable. Give me a device the size of a current tablet that I can hot swap into any environment, where I can as easily play Gears of War 5 in the airport as I can on a 60” Natural Vision 3D monitor. Make it so that I can consistently watch high-definition streaming episodes of my favorite show in the passenger seat of my hover car, even if I’m in the middle of virtually nowhere. And, if you want to provide a new experience for your game, make sure it’s something that can happen within the software—even if I have to pay a premium—and not require me to run around attaching new devices.

These are, perhaps, unreasonable expectations for the future of technology, but I also recall that it wasn’t so long ago the people mocked openly the idea that even ISDN internet speeds would be common in homes. I don’t feel like the newest smart phones and tablets are anything but a first glance at this kind of future.

I for one am ready to let the age of boxes, wires and sad, red eyes on top of the entertainment center come to a final and irrevocable close.

Comments

Give me the one-console future that I know is never going to happen, make it deliver everything (movies, television, on-demand, social media, games, internet), make it operate from the cloud, make it secure and make it portable.

Isn't that called a laptop?

Good article and I heartily agree that I'm gettiing of an age where less is more.

You are far nicer to your Cylon than we are to ours.

It wasn't long before we viewed that hopeful gaze of our Kinect as an intrusion into our living room. I started out by actually just moving it behind the TV and facing the wall, so that I could bring it out to play at a moment's notice, but not be bothered by its sad eyes (nor the creepy feeling that it was watching me play NCAA 11 in my underwear). then it was wrapped up and placed in the toy box that holds all of the games we never play anymore.

It did get a brief reprieve when my brother-in-law and family came for a visit. We busted it out to let my 16-month old niece watch my daughter play the Kinectimals demo. While my daughter pumped for Kinectimals from the moment it was demo'd at E3, we never picked it up. And as much fun as she had playing the demo with her cousin, she has not mentioned wanting the full game a single time since that day more than month ago.

So Dance Central, Your Life Fitness, and Kinect adventures collect dust. A $20 Xbox remote runs ESPN and and the rest of the video apps far better than the voice and gesture controls. And I am also skeptical that there is some great Kinect game coming down the pike.

Oddly enough, my Rock Band odyssey is still ongoing, but I'm far from typical in that regard I think. I'm what you might call an addict when it comes to Rock Band. My wife on the other hand uses our Kinect on a regular basis for one reason: Dance Central. I guess we're a Harmonix household.

The last "peripheral" I bought was the Menacer for my Sega Genesis. There was one game that was worth while, and that was Terminator 2. Nary a plastic guitar has ever crossed my threshold since then. I think the vast majority of gamers have never crossed to hardware divide. If there is a bubble, it is the Wii bubble and I feel like that burst about 2 years ago. These things, the EyeToys and the Moves and such... they're a sideshow.

My name is Momgamer, and I'm a hardware junkie.

I just acquired my own Steel Battalion controller.

Long live the desktop pc heathen!
I spent like a 1000 bucks, it better not be going anywhere for a while.

I'm coming at this from the other angle.

I have only just bought a Kinect, and seeing my wife, and two little ones standing up infront of the TV, playing as a family, was kind of cool.

My wife hasn't touched a videogame since Mario3, the SNES had too many buttons and the 360 is just a foreign object that she refuses to even hold (she hit the guide button once by mistake, and freaked out, not knowing what she'd done).

We fired up Kinectimals, and for the first time in a long time, she was playing a game, but, and here's the cool bit, she had a grin from ear to ear as she started stroking, grooming, and mimicking the little furry bugger.

I can't wait for the Kinectasutra to be released, I'LL BE IN HEAVEN!

momgamer wrote:

My name is Momgamer, and I'm a hardware junkie.

I just acquired my own Steel Battalion controller. ;)

ENVIOUS. But what I truly desire, is the money and space to build a Steel Battalion room fielding two complete squads. Whoee!

It's my problem with the whole motion control "revolution": There simply aren't good games to support them. Sure, some were fun for a bit, great party games. But they simply lack the depth of traditional titles. The Wii, for example? The best games it had were ones that didn't use the motion controls - SMB, etc.

I couldn't be bothered buying a bunch of extra controllers to play simplistic, shallow games.

I've considered, though, buying a kinect anyways, to play with PC based hacks. Outside of the horrible limits of a game console, there's a lot of very interesting potential for the kinect.

Wintersdark:

It's not a prerequisite for a game to be shallow just because it's motion-controlled. Red Steel 2 has an impressive number of moves, for instance. Given an iteration or three, it could easily out-hardcore nearly every shooter on the market. The only reason it hasn't is because the AI's tweaked to be forgiving.

While Elysium celebrates the end of an era, I'm mourning the loss of an era that never was. Very few companies even bothered to make something serious on the Wii, and those that did failed to explore it more than they should have.

For reference, the best game of this generation was Wii Sports. It's a $200 game that sold tens of millions of units. It sold the entire Wii unit almost singlehandedly.

Rock band, AIR GUITAR EDITION...

EDIT:
Actually, in all seriousness, I would like to see something like the combination of martial arts and gun play that you find in a movie like Equilibrium.

How cool would an FPS be with that kind of skill set and moves?

I agree with LarryC, development time, and investment are needed. Unfortunately, with a motion control device, it involves the same from the end user and maybe that is the biggest hurdle that needs to be overcome.

aren't Steel Batallion and Child of Eden coming for Kinect soon?

LarryC wrote:

Wintersdark:

It's not a prerequisite for a game to be shallow just because it's motion-controlled. Red Steel 2 has an impressive number of moves, for instance. Given an iteration or three, it could easily out-hardcore nearly every shooter on the market. The only reason it hasn't is because the AI's tweaked to be forgiving.

While Elysium celebrates the end of an era, I'm mourning the loss of an era that never was. Very few companies even bothered to make something serious on the Wii, and those that did failed to explore it more than they should have.

For reference, the best game of this generation was Wii Sports. It's a $200 game that sold tens of millions of units. It sold the entire Wii unit almost singlehandedly.

Yeah that is very true. I softmodded my Wii and haven't turned it one in months. I have very little disposable income and would rather shell out 60 bucks for a game then play games on the Wii for free. Why? because most of the games on the Wii suck, and I hate to waggle.

interstate78 wrote:

aren't Steel Batallion and Child of Eden coming for Kinect soon?

Child of Eden will support controllers too and from what I've heard on podcasts, playing in Kinect mode reduced the number of enemies in the game to accommodate the less precise controls. It's apparently a great game to buy if you have a Kinect already but not worth buying a Kinect for. I have Child of Eden pre-ordered but won't buy a Kinect for it. Steel Battalion could be pretty awesome if it retains the sim-like personality of the original and isn't just a dumbed down Mech Assault type thing. If it is playing a mech sim with Kinect controls, that could push me into buying one.

I can't wait for Child of Eden. I think the Kinect has yet to find its legs, but there is a lot of potential there.

I think that my daughter is going to absolutely freak out when we play the sesame street Kinect game, and I am really looking forward to it.

Also - Monkey made me laugh with the Kinectesutra.

Wasn't it Justn McElroy who said on the podcast how awesome Child of Eden is with Kinect? And how lame it is with a controller?

Number of enemies? Meh. Killing dudes with a wave of your hand? Awesome. Although I may need a nap after 30 minutes.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Wasn't it Justn McElroy who said on the podcast how awesome Child of Eden is with Kinect? And how lame it is with a controller?

Number of enemies? Meh. Killing dudes with a wave of your hand? Awesome. Although I may need a nap after 30 minutes.

I have to admit, McElroy sold that game to me. It will get a rent, at least. And I will even go through the trouble of getting the ol' cylon out of storage.

But I will also not be surprised if a eek later I have lost my interest, and can't find another Kinect game to get me off my butt.

SallyNasty wrote:

Also - Monkey made me laugh with the Kinectesutra.

There's a Penny Arcade strip about this.

wordsmythe wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:

Also - Monkey made me laugh with the Kinectesutra.

There's a Penny Arcade strip about this.

"You fail at sexing."

I hope this isn't true, Sean. I just bought a Kinect system.

I wonder if much of the problem with these peripherals is that they often come out rather late in a console's life cycle, then cease with the end of that console's support. The Wii si so interesting precisely because it was, from the get-go, integrated into the machine. Will we see Kinect built into the XBOX 720 (or whatever)? I think that adds more legitimacy to the development of games for it.

I had fun playing with the Kinect at Best Buy the other day but I know that it's not a purchase for me. I need to see more games on the shelves and I certainly need to hear about more games on the horizon.

That said, the tech was a lot of fun and the gal I was in Best Buy with was really impressed with how it worked, even if she wouldn't actually subject herself to the public display of gaming (lame).

For me, the best part of it was that I'll almost never demo a game in a store because I hate the thought of touching the public controller -- this coming from an Arcade Kid -- but with the Kinect I almost didn't want to stop playing.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Wasn't it Justn McElroy who said on the podcast how awesome Child of Eden is with Kinect? And how lame it is with a controller?

Yes, but he also hated Heavy Rain, so how much can we really trust him?

Kinect still isn't even a real option for me until I move somewhere with a larger entertainment area, but I am eager to try out Child of Eden on it at a buddy's house. It seems kind of unfortunate that you need good lighting to play it on Kinect. The experiential nature of the game would seemingly lend itself much better to cranking the music and playing in the dark.

Dyni wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Wasn't it Justn McElroy who said on the podcast how awesome Child of Eden is with Kinect? And how lame it is with a controller?

Yes, but he also hated Heavy Rain, so how much can we really trust him? :)

He is a blight on the industry.

Didn't most people hate Heavy Rain?

Only the masses.

I've also only recently gotten a Kinect. Kinect Sports is excellent. Much more like playing an actual sport than the Wii. I think that may be an issue for some people. I'm very active and my wife is as well and we love it. I haven't been able to get into Dance Central, though. Just not my thing.

I really wanted to get into the Kinect. For the first month, we were all about it. Jumping around like idiots, laughing at the still shots of us with our arms flailing. Then we got busy due to overtime at work and her increased class schedule. That was several months ago and the thing just sits. When I do occasionally turn on the Xbox, the little Johnny Five head whirs for a few seconds, then just kind of stares at me.

Sorry little buddy.

RolandofGilead wrote:

Long live the desktop pc master gaming race! I spent like a 1000 bucks, it better not be going anywhere for a while.

FTFY.

But on console hardware, I'm a pretty big hardware junkie as well. Two RB guitars, a GH2 guitar, 2 sets of RB drums(RB1 and RB3), plus the RB3 keyboard and I'll be adding the Strat + midi adapter to that pile when I get home.

As for gimmicky hardware, out of all the peripherals that have launched with this generation, the only one I can really call gimmicky is Move. Yes, my dislike of Sony plays into that. But even so, Kinect has the potential to be TrackIR for the 360 and the Wii was designed around the remote and its' attachments with the added bonus of having brought gaming to the masses; my *parents* own the Wii for crying out loud, and my Mom constantly rails about my gaming habits, despite me being 30 and having moved out 8 years ago.

But with all that said, I really do agree that what you want is probably a many-thousand dollar laptop.

AnimeJ wrote:
RolandofGilead wrote:

Long live the desktop pc master gaming race! I spent like a 1000 bucks, it better not be going anywhere for a while.

FTFY.

Thanks, it was supposed to read more like..

RolandofGilead wrote:

Long live the desktop pc! Heathen!

Love this pic
http://www.gametech.ru/userpics/7574...

Although really I also have a Wii, DS Lite, PS2, GBA SP, 3DS, and PS3.