Our Buttonless Future

There was some sort of trend at E3 2009 towards getting gamers off their collective ass-flesh. Microsoft debuted it’s full body/no controller Project Natal while Sony offered their magic wand/raver glow stick hybrid dubbed the… well, nothing. They’re just calling it the PS3 motion controller. I’m sure by the time it’s released they’ll be calling it the “Cyber Lance” or “Excitement Bulb” or something.

Not being an active gamer, these products hold little promise for me for future entertainment, but I am quite intrigued by the technology involved. Microsoft has opted to do away with the controller completely (a ballsy yet foolish movie IMO) so that you can swipe furiously at menus, roundhouse kick your gamer tag to log in and scream movie preferences at your TV with all the fervor and zeal of someone who’s been on the phone with a Discover card voice-robot for 45 minutes (I think you said “Cock Shitting Fuck Mouthed Piece of Shit… If that is correct say “Yes” or Press 1). Their tech-demo was impressive but I really don’t see it translating well into an actual living room gaming experience. Although, finale getting to act out a “Hadouken” and having it actually accomplish something other than confused stares from the cats would be pretty sweet.

I think Sony actually came a lot closer to creating something people can actually use to play games. Their “web cam tracks the glowing orb in 3d space” tech makes a lot more sense to me than the Wii’s clumsier set up. Plus, you need buttons. That’s just how it is. Why would anyone think it’s easier to cartwheel across your living room than to hit A or X? Unfortunately, everyone already has an X-Box 360 (I don’t even have one and I HAVE ONE) so their arm flapping, high kicking back injury inducing system will probably prevail (if any of them do).

Oh, and Nintendo (Intenda to you Grandma’s in 1988) made a heart monitor that you ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO CLIP ON YOUR PENIS. Big deal.

Do any of these new control schemes excite you? Would you buy a system you didn’t already have to take adantage of one? Anything else from E3 that got your geek juices flowing? Why am I doing a gaming comic?

UPDATE: Lots of FB E3 09 talk on the Forum

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  1. Oh snap! A gaming comic? OMGWTFBBQ you're totally ripping off (insert gaming-centric webcomic of choice).

    For what it's worth I dig your insight to the new waggles. I think the PS3 thing looks like a neon dildo.

  2. I like how angry Eli is in the 2nd panel. Also, for the record, the thing for the Wii looks like a common piece of medical equipment that measures pulse and blood oxygen saturation. It's not gonna tell you how out of shape you are.

  3. I did some work on the Twitter-on-Xbox presentation, and after all the times we had to rejigger and re-encode the video until we had the right avatar for Felicia Day, it's been killing me all week to see those screenshots with the WRONG Feliciatar.

    Completely meaningless to everyone, I know, but I thought I'd share my private pain.

  4. I gotta say I was more impressed with PS3 motion controller. Natal looked pretty gimmicky and imprecise by comparison. If the PS3 gets a price drop by then I will be very tempted to buy one.

    Plus I likes mah buttons.

  5. The PS3 Motion Controller was what actually got me to make an actual, physical response to any of the keynotes. The tech seemed the most responsive, the most applicable to gaming, and really the one that I wanted to play with RIGHT NOW. It looked like Sony took every deficiency that the motion-sensing technology on the Wii had, and fixed it with some fairly basic hardware. I already own a PS3, so you can be sure I'll pick that sucker up the second they decide to release it.

    Natal didn't do too much for me, as it was all pre-recorded…I'm not saying that I don't trust the promotional material generated by Microsoft, it's more that I think that a product's true value can only be shown when you're comfortable showing it off in front of a live audience. (For the record, if there's a true live demo out there, could a kind soul put out a link? I couldn't find one for the life of me.)

    As for the the Vitality Sensor…well,I can't say that I'm too upset. While it's not that revolutionary of a peripheral, it's something that the Wii might have been lacking up until now. Think about it: the Wii fools some people into moving their bodies a lot, and the Wii Fit only keeps track of your physical status by via weight. It makes some sense that they'd create a heart monitor that would warn you of impending heart explosion, or would allow you to track your heart rate for Wii Fit workouts.

    • There was a live demo at the press conference:

      The initial avatar is really buggy but after that I was really impressed.

      As for the comic, I'm not suggesting you copied anything but Penny Arcade also had a comic about Natal that involved boners – my question is, what is it about gamers and penises? Especially when you take into account all the penis-monsters on Spore, penis-levels on Little Big Planet etc.

  6. You know, it's funny how this works out. Because haven't "serious gamers" spent the past however-long-it's-been-since-the-Wii-came-out mocking its "arm flailing" approach to control and lovingly petting their dual-analog-stick controllers? Not that I'm surprised Microsoft and Sony have decided to follow Nintendo's lead (this is, after all, the path to virtual reality, and damned if anyone can stop it); I'm just amused that they're doing it in spite of their userbase making it clear that they don't want it.

    • Yeah I wouldn't mind the whole motion control thing if it was just as precise as button pushing. Once the tech gets there I can see really liking it but for now the only thing the Wii controller is good for is like sword fighting games and mario cart.

    • MS and Sony see value in the $$$ flocking to the Wii and want to figure out how to capture that audience (gotta catch em all). The wii is a toy, not a game console. I dont know if the other two understand that.

  7. Oddly enough, I just sold my Wii in favor of an XBox 360. Once the novelty of the Wii's control scheme wore off, it just felt clumsy and annoying.

  8. I can only imagine the 360 sensor thing being used right.

    You playing the most recent Spy-Sneaking-Around-Other-People's-Offices game, and you're back to the wall, wanting to look around the corner in First Person. The right stick still lets you look left and right, but you have to actually lean to the side to see around the corner.

    Also in gunfights, if you subconciously lunge left or right to avoid an attack, you actually roll left or right.

    It's a great concept to go WITH (I cannot make WITH big enough) a standard controller setup, and I hope no real games use the motion controls only.

    And if the console can respond to facial recognition and my voice, I demand to be able to call it HAL, and have it respond properly. Short trying to suffocate me.

  9. I just think it's so adorable that Sony and Microsoft think that the reason Nintendo is kicking their ass in this round of the console wars is because Nintendo has "motion-sensitive controllers", and not because Nintendo's console clocks in at $150 less than the competition.

    Seriously, anyone who runs an electronics company and hasn't noticed that any system with a price point higher than about $300 tends to fail shouldn't be allowed to run an electronics company.

    • Nintendo has priced the Wii at a "casual" level for casual gaming customers. If it gets ignored after a few months they arent out that much money. $300 certainly gets you a better device but its more of an investment and will keep the casual gamers at bay.

  10. Thanks for the link!

    I just watched the demo, and I have to admit it wasn't too bad. I agree that the avatar handling was buggy, but the human breakout demo was quite nice. However, the "paint party" demo felt a little sloppy to me, but perhaps that was just a function of the tool being demonstrated at the time. (It didn't feel as razor-precise as I would have liked.) I'm not sure how I feel about waving at my TV to browse my games and movies, (how would play/pause/etc. work?), but I'm now definitely more interested in getting my hands in the air, and seeing what Natal can actually do.

  11. PS3 Motion controller looked cool. Wii could maybe do almost the same things right now, but I haven't seen anything I would like to play on it. It's all sports and everything is so freaking kawaii. If I was into sports I would be playing them for real instead of actively avoiding them in every form. I want to -virtually- beat something into bloody pulp while getting some much needed exercise.

    • I dont think the wii can do the forward and backward 3d tracking. The ps3 eye is measuring the relative size of the glowing ball to track it in 3d space. Thats a pretty big advantage tech-wise.

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