Post-NATAL: Motion-Sensing PC Games

By Alec Meer on February 5th, 2010 at 12:42 pm.

Standard webcam + standard PC = full-body, real-time motion sensing browser game developed from military research. That’s the plan behind TrendyEntertainment’s VisionPlay, anyway. It claims to know where your heard, arms, legs and torso (AND NO MORE, filth-mongers) are, and maps them to in-game actions. So, in theory it’s like Microsoft’s Project Natal – the difference being it’s not supported by high-budget games in which you hold creepy conversations with a creepily real young boy. Though, if the tech behind it takes off, there’s no reason it couldn’t creep into major PC games. Take that, Mister Microsoft! Well, specifically, take a cartoony tennis game.

More games to come, apparently. Gimmick or super-toy: whaddaya think?

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52 Comments »

  1. The Diddler says:

    I’m all for new technology and stuff, but I will never “play” this crap. Standing in the middle of room and waving your arms looks dumb. And I’m not obese either, so they can shove their so called workout where the sun don’t shine.

    All I need is a mouse, a keyboard and a joy pad, thanks.

    • bill says:

      YOu could do both. Play with mouse and keyboard when you want a serious experience, and play with the webcam when you want to send pictures to kids have silly fun with friends, family or kids.

    • oceanclub says:

      I hope to god that this is only used for sports/family games (that is, Wii-like craptastic shovelware I don’t want) and that mainstream developers don’t have the bright idea to use it for other genres. I don’t want to jump around. I tend to play games late in the evenings after work, often when I’m back from lifting weights. Sometimes I’m too lazy to move the goddamn mouse around.

      P.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      @oceanclub

      Because picking up weights, putting them down, then picking them up again is much more fun than a game that makes you excercise?

    • Babs says:

      It is when there are lots of other men also lifting weights. In their tight vests. With their bulging… muscles

    • Maltose says:

      @SonicGoo
      Because lifting weights is a better workout than flailing your arms?

    • ulix says:

      There is only one thing I have to say to all the critics of this stuff.
      Head-tracking without any specialized hardware!

      Which in itself is so awesome it’ll warrant a purchase of their software.

  2. BooleanBob says:

    Top marks for punnage. I wonder how many PCs will actually be suitable for this sort of gaming given the common-or-garden PC cabinet/cramped study/office cubicle environ (although they might do well with a line in ‘corporate exercise programme’ licenses…)

  3. Baqueta says:

    Looks like a complete waste of space to me – at best it won’t be as responsive as a wii remote. If their tech worked better they’d be showing off tech demos rather than a glorified pong game.

    There’s a good reason Natal uses multiple cameras. There’s also a good reason it includes (last I heard anyway) an IR camera.

  4. Colthor says:

    Imagine living in a universe where you could get exercise by hitting a ball with a racquet. Man, that would be amazing!

    • goodgimp says:

      Stop dreaming, pal, I’m sure the technology required for that is nowhere near ready!!!

  5. Alistair says:

    For a PC gamer, it seems like a very good fit for a Gears-style cover system. You stay in one place, and lean out to make shots, or scrunch down or strain up etc. You’d be sitting down, like a normal person, but the movements you were making would actually matter in game… and be the same ones you make reflexively anyway :)

    • Babs says:

      What would you say when your girlfriend walks in to find you crouching under the desk and jumping out to make ashots eh? Gonna be hard to live that one down!

  6. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    The girl is über-cute in the end of the vid…ahem, what was the topic again?

  7. Tei says:

    video don’t show here (and there are not adblocking thing here).

  8. Taillefer says:

    I’d consider using it for presentations so I’m not anchored to a computer when I’m trying to communicate with clients. I could rotate models around with a wave of my hands, or my finger would act as a laser pointer. They’d be impressed by that alone.

    Games though, I probably play for too long a period to be moving all the time. So, a gimmick, yes.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Given heavy customisation options I would love to play an rts with a mixture of normal controls. Just stuff like deploying a nuke in world in conflict by making my hands into goggles on my face and singing dam busters, yunno subtle stuff.

  9. Muzman says:

    More standee up arm waving biz. Can’t say I’m really a fan. Show me the system where I can play just by it tracking my eye movement and head tilt and shooting by pointing at the screen. Then I’m interested

  10. jarvoll says:

    …and just like the Wii, it`s about as reponsive and attuned to minutiae of the players’ movements as a limbless bear covered in treacle. There is absolutely no point in playing a game in which one input produces the same response every time (of the ctrl = crouch variety). It took me about two minutes to realize that I was doing nothing wrong in Wii Tennis, that it was simply the shoddy motion detection that couldn`t decide whether it wanted to register my swings or not, and whether to do so at the start, middle, or end of my arm`s movement. This does not make for a game, it makes for watching dice roll and being made to feel personally responsible for the outcome.

    • jarvoll says:

      …”no point in playing a game in which one input does *NOT* produce the same response every time,” obviously.

  11. TheSombreroKid says:

    i suspect microsoft will release natal drivers for windows at somepoint, they don’t want poeple doing this with web cams they want them doing it with natal, they can artificially hold back pc development in ways that make the 360 stronger, platform exclusives usually.

    remember microsofts play with 360 controllers?

  12. Collic says:

    I can’t see this working for PC, except in a few fringe cases. Ignoring the fact I doubt these games appeal to most of the people reading this site, how many of us have room to do this by our desktop PC’s? Probably less than your average Console setup.

    I’m sick of this obsession with motion controllers. It’s the future of gaming in the same way virtual reality was the future of gaming in the early nineties. Peter Molyneu has even got involved in advancing the tech, so you know it’s doomed to failure or irrelevance!

  13. mandrill says:

    I’m more interested in the way it can be used to interact with the operating system rather than games. Minority report anyone?

  14. PC Monster says:

    lol

    “Use it to keep fit and improve your basic tennis skills”

    Basic tennis skills? What, like the ability to move my arms and step from side to side? I can really see people sharpening their game to Federer standards on THIS little beauty!

  15. Chaz says:

    It can’t detect where your thingy is, well there go my dreams of being a virtual flasher.

  16. Richeh says:

    AND NO MORE, filth-mongers

    Thank christ for that. I felt insecure enough when games told me I had to upgrade my RAM. If they told me they can’t find my penis it’d kill me.

  17. Caiman says:

    Both this and NATAL are clearly aimed at a certain audience. But that certainly isn’t me.

  18. Ian says:

    We already know NATAL is going to be a let-down because Peter Molyneux is very excited about it.

  19. El Stevo says:

    This kind of technology might work on PCs, but not with exactly the same games that are on the consoles, because they’d need to account for limited space. Like Collic said, how many people have room in front of their computers? We’re in cluttered studies, not living rooms.

    • bookwormat says:

      We’re in cluttered studies, not living rooms.

      Well, my PC is in my living room,. and at my mothers house the PC is also in the living room. And my sister has one of these huge ugly 17′ notebooks that she can move from one room to another. And every second student’s flat is more or less one single room.

      The Couch PC is not yet very common, but the PC in the living room is very popular.

  20. shinygerbil says:

    Not viable. All these things work best when you move as if you’re trying to fake a moon landing; the body-language equivalent of SPEAKING ENGLISH SLOWLY AND LOUDLY TO FOREIGNERS. We are years away from anything reliable. If this sort of technology were presented seriously for any other purpose than games, it’d be laughed at.

    Imagine…

    ‘Welcome to your Motion-Controlled Internet Banking service. Flail wildly to view your account details.’

    *flails wildly*

    ‘You have selected Make a Payment. To continue, wave your right arm. To cancel, shake your head.’

    *shakes head*

    ‘You have selected Pay All Available Balance Directly to the RPS Hive. To confirm, wave your right arm. To cancel, shake your head.’

    *shakes head vigorously*

    ‘Thank you for your payment.’

    *flails wildly in exasperation*

    ‘You have selected View Account details. Your balance today is: £0.00.’

    • Chaz says:

      I thought the speech recognition on Tom Clancy’s EndWar was very good. You could just speak the key words normally and it picked them up first straight away with no fuss.

      Now if they could do for motion recognition what they’ve done with speech recognition, then it could shape up to be a very cool tech. I suspect that to start with there will be some delay or lag and trouble with the systems picking up certain movements, but as with speech recognition I think the tech will mature quite nicely.

  21. Brumisator says:

    ARGH!

    I’m so tired of hearing the word “revolutionary”.

  22. SirKicksalot says:

    Oh no, an alternative control method! Diversity! Potential for amusing games! What is this crap? Our master race doesn’t need this, we’ll stick to mouse/kb ’till the end of days.

  23. oceanclub says:

    @Sonic Goo – We actually have a Wii at home, and one of those exercise games with a rather flimsy rubber resistance band. It’s OK if you’ve absolutely no other outlet for exercise, but squats, deadlifts and benches to failure are far more effective at the end of the day.

  24. cjlr says:

    Let’s not be too dismissive.

    If you strap weights to your extremities, it’s actually not bad exercise.

  25. AngryInternetman says:

    Hopefully someone will add somekind of face recognition there, so I can use my head to look around in Armed Assault.

  26. Cvnk says:

    At the risk of sounding sexist I’m all for game peripherals that encourage cute female gamers to gyrate and shimmy around the room while they play.

    Also, that game they were playing looked pretty frustrating. The turtle-like pace of the ball and the fact that the court needed walls to keep the ball in bounds tells me that you probably can’t expect much in the way of precision control with the Natal.

  27. Gnoupi says:

    I love how none of the people in the promotional video manage to play correctly. I mean, the Wii was advertised showing people who actually had fun, making things with Wiimotes. But in this case, none seem to be able to actually do a thing, they have to anticipate the movement like 1-2sec before, and of course none of them actually manages to play correctly.

    How is that giving people a will to buy this, if even the advertisement doubts that it’s actually working?

  28. Sobric says:

    I’d like to see this work in a game that requires you NOT to move. A Thief-like game that involves you desperately not breathing as a guard walks past your hiding spot in the shadows.

  29. Jugglenaut says:

    I’m so glad this can detect where my heard is. I always have so much time finding it.

  30. reginald says:

    I only watched the video for the girl. I am shame.

  31. Zerai says:

    I really can’t believe this is the extent people can think, so, if you have a camera, full body recognition, only full body

    It can’t be much more difficult to make that it searches for a hand, or head (didn’t ARMA2 have this?) then it can be used as a secondary controller, specially for notebooks, you get your cam looking at your hand, outside of the keyboard, any small movements are tracked and this is used to scroll around the screen

    I don’t know, maybe it’s more difficult, but it sounds much more useful than moving around the room like a caffeine-high monkey

  32. augi says:

    awesome!!! I want to play!!

  33. MDevonB says:

    That would be sick. If they do that though, they should add rudimentary head tracking for FPS games as well.

    Then I won’t feel so weird when someone comes in and points out me moving along with the game character… getting to into it and looking left when you turn left and all that jazz…

    • MDevonB says:

      Aaaaaand woops… that was supposed to be a reply to Alistair

  34. M.P. says:

    Project Nadal anyone?

    /gets coat

  35. Gutter says:

    I have a game like this already, for the kids. This technology has nothing to do with Natal. It’s just plain old motion detection, nothing more.

    Ironically, the game they show int hat video seems more boring that what my kids play on that bargain basement piece of hardware : http://www.amazon.com/GoGo-Video-Vision-Main-Console/dp/B00083HI9A

  36. Free Microsoft Points says:

    That looks like a lot of fun.

  37. JD shooter says:

    I think this is AWSOME!!!! I can’t wait for this to be incorparated with first person shooters. The only thing that could make this any better is if they mount a 50 calibur Desert Eagle to the top of my monitor next to the webcam so if someones packets reached the server before mine it would actually shoot back at me. What a GREAT way to end all the pain of these stupid conversations!!

  38. Runes of Magic DIamond Generator says:

    While Natal is cool and all, I think table tennis on the PlayStation Move will take the cake. The PlayStation Move is what the Wii-Mote wishes it could be. The precision that can be had will be legendary, too bad it was not first in the game to do it.