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Bethesda dev: MS should open up Natal API

Tech is "wasted on games"; killer app could have nothing to do with gaming, says developer

Bethesda developer Ashley Cheng has suggested that Microsoft opens the Natal API for anyone to use and said that doing so could result in a "killer app that has nothing to do with gaming" being created.

Speaking on his blog, the Fallout 3 production director said that he had been blown away when he first saw Natal, but that the technology seemed wasted on games.

"Seeing it in action, I was totally blown away by it. It seems wasted on games, really," he wrote.

"Microsoft should open the Natal API up like Apple does with the iphone/ipad. Let anyone make a Natal 'app'. I bet someone makes a killer app that has nothing to do with gaming," he said.

Earlier this month, Microsoft Saudi marketing manager Syed Bilal Tariq confirmed that Natal would launch at some point in October with an exact date being announced by Microsoft at this year's E3.

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Latest comments (16)

Josef Brett Animator 6 years ago
Microsoft have hinted at this haven't they? I know some of the execs have made comments that it could and should be used for non-gaming functions.

Lets see what happens come October!
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Ade Gbenjo Freelance Games Journalist 6 years ago
Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me if indeed, MS had caught onto expanding Natal outside of it's initial userbase.
At its early stages Natal will be limited to the 'type' of gaming experiences you can get from it, no doubt that if it's successful it will expand, but expanding its uses and possibly its demographic, could prove fruitful.
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Joseph Marlow Blogger http://gamesburp.com 6 years ago
It'd make a great contemporary Theramin.
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Show all comments (16)
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
Microsoft have been doing R&D work on interfaces for years. They did how off the "surface" a while back so I would not be surprised if they are going to use games and gamers as a way to introduce the technology to people and then expand the scope of the project from there.
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Thaadd Powell Sales Rep, ACD Game Distribution6 years ago
Heh - the first time I saw the video the first thing I thought of was a Theramin. I wonder if the designers used that as inspiration?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Non-gaming applications are the only thing about Natal that has my interest so far.

That might change if they'd show more than 1 demo with perceptible input lag outside of a paid media event.
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Johan Ekblom6 years ago
Microsoft has not shown a single functioning game yet.Lagg. I think that Natal is a joke:)
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It would be great to see an XNA interface for Natal - one that works on PC too (Natal connected via USB).
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Simon Arnet6 years ago
@Johan, What? You think those tech demos at E3 last year were a joke? Seemed pretty real to me, and a buddy of mine is going this year to experience the fun. Natal is going to be HUGE. I honestly don't think it will be a flop, though Ashley Cheng is right. They need to promote it outside the game market as well, which I'm sure they will. The 360 in a way is the perfect marketing platform to other industry leaders. Imagine being at a clothes store, seeing a nice suit you want to try on and Natal matches it to your body perfectly letting you change it up with different colors ect. Natal is much more than just for gaming I think, and the real world applications it could hold are huge.
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Private Industry 6 years ago
Still unsure about Natal, especially since MS imposed a no filming on the Natal presentation for the event at E3, that's kind of strange given the fact it seems to be a bigger presentation and not just only for a handful of people. What was shown last year at the stage was nothing impressive it`s EyeToy 2.0 and Move looks like Wii remote 2.0. Not counting the marketing Videos including Milo into account for last year since videos are always, let`s say easy to make.

In general even 4 years after the Wii I just can`t warm up to motion controlled gaming. Didn`t see any of those two so far live in action, but for me as a gamer if I want to play a game want to do that sitting lazy on the couch and relax without having to jump, wave my hands around or move otherwise, for sports I go outside. At the moment there is only one game would consider to try with motion controlls and that's Heavy Rain.


Natal is probably made available for many people trough the XNA.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 21st May 2010 1:15am

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Simon Arnet6 years ago
@Werner, I love the concept of Project Natal, it could revolutionize RTS for the consul among many things and the consul's have been sorely missed on RTS. ESP with the voice activation.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
Natal does have unbelievable potential both as a gaming and general media application, but looking at the Wii I think developers are going to struggle to find a way to really utilise the hardware effectively. In the short term I think it will have a few party-type games and will include features in some of MS's big first-party games (such as Fable III, obviously), but I think its future as a breakout success will depend on at least one really impressive fully exclusive bit of software.

I do have issues with some parts such as the lack of a controller (making fine movements or actions very difficult), and I think this is going to be a sizeable barrier for developers and consumers to get over. Of course, there's nothing to stop the combination of both the control pad and Natal itself, but then would such an action not be admitting to some of Natal's shortcomings or difficulties when playing certain genres? I guess we'll all have to wait until E3, but if Microsoft is keeping its cards so close to its chest, I suppose everything we see and read up until launch should be taken with a liberal pinch of salt.

I'm interested to see how both Natal and Move turn out, but I'm not especially hopeful about either until developers have had a few more years with the tech.
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Josef Brett Animator 6 years ago
I hope these things (Natal and Move) won't be judged on thier first year of sales or software, but I fear in such a fast moving industry, they will.

It's such a forward looking culture, that if something doesn't make a big first impact, it sinks without trace. I hope there is at least one piece of software for each that truly justifies their existance, but I'm not sure if either will have a killer app to start with.
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Craig Sadler6 years ago
@ Johan your comments belong on G4 not here, every mention of Natal you say the same thing with no constructive argument to back it up, please be quiet and let people who know what they are talking about comment. This site is not for fanboys.
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Johan Ekblom6 years ago
I myself am very curious as to camera functions. I've been looking and looking for movies or evidence that would impress me, in Natal. But there is nothing at all. Microsoft talk and talk, but it just air. I get a little easily upset over Microsoft's bullshit, rather deliver. They want well-to three-party manufacturers to do the job. What I have seen so far is an updated Eye Toy has not worked. It is not so odd that I do not believe in Natal, or.
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Simon Arnet6 years ago
@John, you can't even make those assumptions, there baseless. First of all, cut the swearing. Secondly what hasn't worked? The tech demos last year were just that, tech demos. They haven't shown you anything yet. E3 2010 is going to be the year.
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