I think it’s fair to say that the mainstream gaming community isn’t exactly sold on Microsoft’s Kinect just yet. Button-free gaming certainly has it’s sceptics and the specialist press have been quick to criticise Microsoft for the lack of focus on core gameplay experiences with the system. Retailing at £130, the price point also continues to be a sticking point for many consumers, who still harbour concerns over what is essentially still untried and untested hardware.
So how do the company who brought you the not at all annoying “Windows 7 was my idea” adverts plan to stem this tide of ill feeling? Unveil another press release telling you what you can’t do with Kinect. Woops.
Having previously (and rather unconvincingly) denied that wearing baggy clothes, skirts, playing in the dark or sitting down will effect Kinect’s performance, Microsoft have decided to also set the record straight with regards to the environment in which Kinect can be played. To be honest, it’d probably be easier and more space efficient to keep and care for a wild Panda or some endangered lizard eggs in your front room.
According to director of Kinect development Tian Lim, users will need to stand at least 6 feet away from the sensor and allow for “three to four feet on either side of you” to allow for maximum movement. See all that furniture you have? Get rid of it. There’s no space. Also, those with particularly small rooms (or even just standard sized ones) may wish to grab a quote from their local builder to knock the walls through to the next room.
Once you’ve cleared enough floor space and possibly rebuilt your entire downstairs, you’ll need to lovingly place the Kinect sensor in a central position to your TV. Sounds quite straight forward, unless you want to place the sensor above your TV, which “tends to put an extra foot between you and the sensor”. Right. You might also want to be careful if you position Kinect below your TV, as “noisy environments” such as speakers, subwoofers or even your Xbox can cause audio interference. It’s no longer just fanboy fodder, folks. Your old Xbox model is now officially so loud that it causes audio interference with other Xbox hardware. Can’t they just bundle in some overpriced ear muffs for the poor thing?
Mark Plagge, Kinect senior project manager, has also warned about messy floors. “Titles use the floor plane as a point of reference for the skeletons as they’re moving throughout the title”, said Plagge. “The floor plane becomes very important, so if you have a very cluttered floor with clothes all over the place and we can’t get a good look at the floor – it’s a great thing if people can clean that up and move things out of the way”.
You might also want to be conscious of the lighting in your room. Kareem Choudhry, principal development manager for Kinect, went on to say “To have really bright lighting in one spot and really dark lighting in another spot, as you move between the two you might actually look abit different to the sensor”. It’s claimed those with halogen spotlights could be amongst those affected, but Choudhry’s words could also allude to problems with floor standing or desk lamps in darker conditions.
Once you’ve finished your purpose built, evenly lit, clean, soundproof, 7ft by 8ft games chamber, presumably at this point you can climb into your skin tight body suit (remember, no baggy clothes or skirts) and enjoy some Kinect Adventures with your smiley and cringeworthingly happy family, just like in the commercials. So long as you don’t intend on playing games with any more than 2 people at a time, that is, as Kinect doesn’t support this and will presumably implode if you try.
On a serious point, this makes my blood boil in all honesty. I mean seriously Microsoft, are you taking the piss? What infuriates me the most about this is that the people who watch those commercials, who walk into a game store to buy little Freddie’s Christmas presents and bow to marketing ploys and overpowering sales techniques before placing a £130 pre-order, are exactly the same people who don’t read games websites and who don’t pay any attention to what people like Mark Plagge, Tian Lim and Kareem Choudhry have to say about it’s technical performance. Nobody is going to tell Margaret that she needs to re-arrange her living room for the damn thing to work, or provide her with a check list of conditions that are unfeasible to anyone who doesn’t live in a make believe, Sex in the City spawned New York apartment.
Reading what Kinect reportedly doesn’t do is becoming such a regular occurrence across the internet that it’s soon going to become more relevant to ask not how it works, but if it works at all. Never mind though, it only costs £130 to try. Give it a rest, Microsoft. This joke isn’t funny any more.
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