The battle royale for motion control domination is about to get a bit more serious between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
E3 2010 may have been the first time that all three companies were in the same building with fully operational, possibly final versions, of motion control devices we could actually touch – or, as the case with Kinect, not touch – and give a try. By the end of the year (2010) we expect all three to be in gamers’ homes.
While Sony and Microsoft are playing a bit of catch-up with Nintendo, that doesn’t necessarily mean the WiiMote will rule the game room when it comes to the new wave in game control tech.
Here’s a competitive overview of each of the three motion control schemes based on time spent playing with each on the E3 2010 floor, noting benefits and faults of each.
Nintendo Wii Remote (aka WiiMote)
Its modular design, while not necessarily the most ergonomic (it’s more like an old-school TV remote than any modern remote control device), its blockiness is rather useful. The modular design makes it easy to fit into many shells, allowing a lot of companies to quickly come out with crazily-shaped peripherals. Tennis rackets, fishing rods, guns of many shapes and sizes. They all benefit from the relatively sleek and squared case.
Operating both with infrared and a three-axis accelerometer, the WiiMote (aka Wii Remote Controller), it’s a mixed experience of needing to face in one direction and limitless movement. You can point at the screen for relatively precise targeting or swing it around like a baton.
It also has all the buttons you need including a rounded trigger although a few buttons are pretty much impossible to press without looking and at least one – depending on which hand you use – can be accidentally pressed by an excited palm. The addition of the Wii MotionPlus adds precision to the motion, although it is an additional expense.
The WiiMote t is highly susceptible to bright lights and sometimes a little inaccurate. The modular design is also not the most comfortable or ergonomic and it requires a wrist trap to kept from being accidentally flung.
This black controller has a glowing ball at the end that looks rather like a, well, magic wand. The colored head is tracked by the PlayStation Eye camera attached to the PS3 and the wand includes a three-axis linear accelerometer and a three-axis angular rate sensor.
The hilt is rounded for a more comfortable ergonomic design. It’s relatively light and includes all the usual PlayStation controller buttons, without the analog sticks, of course. It also includes a rounded trigger on the “bottom.” It also has a wrist strap to keep it tethered to the gamer.
It does look a little silly with the large glowing ball on the end and only works when you are in direct view of the PlayStation Eye camera (which also means you need to buy a second accessory or a more expensive Move-Eye bundle). Like the Wii Remote, the gamer needs to face the camera for precise on-screen controls and can enjoy freedom of movement thanks to the internal sensors.
It is currently a bit inaccurate and lighting can have a serious effect on accuracy. Even so, the design makes it hard to accidentally press the wrong buttons.
At E3 2010, the Move was available to be played on several games (yet to be released, of course) but was very sensitive and sometimes difficult to maintain calibration.
Microsoft ditched the in-hand controller for a camera-based scheme that reads body and arm movements to control the game.
The concept is that, after a quick scan, some calibration and using a few natural movements in front of the Kinect sensor unit, you use your body to control in-game avatars and menus.
For many games there is no on-screen cursor meaning it can be a little tricky to know exactly what you are doing, although the games at E3 all had pretty simply menu systems to help alleviate that issue. You also need to learn a few key movements and motions to select and scroll through menu items so it’s not quite as intuitive as promised.
This is also very susceptible to people crossing behind the field of view of the Kinect device so, if you have big dogs, you might need to keep them caged while you game. (And you probably don’t want to have a large picture window to your back). Also, for gamers with serious physical impairments, the Kinect could prove to either be the easiest or the worst control scheme, depending on the game.
Unfortunately, it seems that all three are (or will be) susceptible to lighting issues (which may instigate a sub-industry of game lighting professionals). It’s simply the nature of using a device that requires visual feedback to operate.
If all the kinks are worked out, the Kinect might prove the all-round easiest and most innovative motion controller since a) most everyone can move their bodies and b) there’s no secondary controller with a battery to recharge. Sadly, it may prove to be the most expensive and the control is strictly limited by the viewing angle of the sensor system and, possibly, distance.
The WiiMote and the Move both have a wireless controller that interacts with a wired sensor device of sorts, which offers a lot freedom of movement (even out of the range of the camera or sensor) but it also means you’ll need to recharge or replace batteries for the hand unit.
The Move, as many E3 2010 attendees noted, seems a lot like the WiiMote in terms of ease of control but, as noted above, it is rounded and may prove to be slightly more comfortable for long-term gaming. Even so, the major issue between the two may become the price. The Move requires a not-so-cheap Playstation Eye camera while the Wii ships with a sensor bar (and replacements are relatively inexpensive).
Also keep in mind that if you own all three systems, you’re TV cabinet will begin to get a bit crowded with the Wii Sensor bar, PlayStation Eye and Kinect fighting for the center spot.
Site [Gamertell @ E3 2010]