Kipman: Hybrid control games on the way to Xbox 360

Director of incubation says forthcoming titles will use both Kinect and traditional controller

Alex Kipman, the brain behind the development of Kinect, has told that there are games on the way to the Xbox 360 which will feature hybrid control methods, utilising aspects of Kinect and traditional controller technology.

Speaking in a two-part interview, the director of incubation spoke at length about the future for both Kinect and controller-based input, despite stating adamantly that he felt the controller to be the "greatest single barrier between the consumer and gaming."

"We'll continue to have controller-only games. We love controller-free games, we love Kinect experiences and we'll continue to grow our set of those as well. What we haven't really talked about, but exist, are hybrid games," offered Kipman.

"Games that are using the controller, which we know and love, and pieces, if not all, of the Kinect experiences to again make those experiences more immersive, more fun and more emotionally connected."

Earlier in the interview, Kipman said that he stood by the statement about controllers being a barrier to entry for new consumers.

"I couldn't stand behind that statement more strongly. As I look at technology I find people in my genre of work are busy putting more gadgets and more gizmos in your hand. In this world you're having to take more time to learn technology and you become essentially enslaved to it," claims Kipman.

"Our world is a world that's trying to turn that on its head. A world that starts to say, 'hey, I can make you the centre of this experience'. I can create technology which fundamentally understands you. I can switch from you having to understand technology to technology understanding all of us."

In the interview Kipman also admitted that some of the technology used to showcase Kinect when it was first unveiled has been scaled back or dropped - Lionhead's ambitious Project Milo "was never really a product" according to the technologist.

And the option of scanning in objects to be used in-game - as demonstrated in the initial E3 Project Natal reveal video - was one of his ideas that consumer feedback deemed pointless, leading him to conclude that sometimes "you have to admit that you're stupid."

The full interview with Kipman can be read here, and the first part published yesterday is available here.

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Latest comments (24)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
^ Actually, SOMETIMES, the consumer is the stupid one. Scanning objects could have been a fine innovation in some sort of Clue-like mystery game or some sort of casual family/kid game where ordinary household objects would be used as clues or solutions to puzzles.

Just because people make fun of something they don't quite "get" doesn't mean it's ALWAYS a BAD idea. Yet another problem with the industry (and others) is relying TOO much on negative feedback and taking knee-jerk responses to it rather than saying "You might not be able to grasp this yet, but why not see what we can do with this idea?"

And as to Milo NOT being a product, hell.. you could have fooled me after seeing that long presentation. Ah well. One more for the vaporware/hype generator pile.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
I read an interview with Peter M a month or two ago where I'm sure he talked about the Milo game still being in development. Is this perhaps a case of one guy in one part of a massive corporation not being 100% up on what another department is doing?
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University9 years ago
I think the object scan feature was probably left out because they just couldn't do it very well, rather than it being a feedback issue... same with Milo. The bold early claims about what Kinect would allow are slowly being whittled down to little more than what a Wiimote offers.

It'll be great one day, no doubt, but it'll be years and it won't be with the current hardware

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Cain on 4th November 2010 10:44am

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Antony, I agree with you. However, it could be VERY safely said that Microsoft rushed a "crippled" but functional Kinect out to get that market share of the motion control market just as they rushed the 360 to market to grab an early share of HD gaming. The big difference here is both Sony and Nintendo had motion-based gaming experiments before Kinect and instead of being first on the block, now Kinect trails in terms of hitting retail.

Of course, you wouldn't know this based on the HUGE amount of ads, giveaway and other hype-wheel grinding going on (or if you're a consumer who's not reading the trade mags or sites). My own polling sees a LOT of folks excited by Kinect just because of the ads popping up, the launch parties being held and the super-early holiday crunch coming (well, for those who still have money to spend on a new tech toy)...

My prediction is Kinect will do well enough amongst new users and some "core" gamers (who buy anything 360-related) that Microsoft will be trumpeting big numbers after about a month or two )if not sooner). Critics so far are being more "nice" than snarky in reviews, but I'll bet Microsoft is already tinkering away on either a redesign or most of those promised features that should have been in the launch units.

Hell, I'm just waiting for the day when a launch lineup actually has more than a handful of passable games and bunch of bad ones. It's less about figuring out the hardware than giving developers MORE time to make games that take advantage of it, I'd say. I'd much rather WAIT for that then deal with playing what's basically an undercooked set of "me-too" software with splashes of originality in spots.
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Jonny Pickton Studying Diploma in Games Design, Futureworks9 years ago
Greg, you`re right there my friend.

From what Ive seen of Kinect, if that was the product I opened up and started using on my 360, Id be sending it back to Microsoft with my warranty agreement thinking there was something broken in the hardware.

Both the Wii and Playstation Move update in real-time for the player, I think Kinect has a delay of a few seconds? Which, in "immersion gaming" is enough to draw you right out of the experience and remind you you`re playing a game.

I don't have high hopes for either the Move or Kinect and personally dislike them as products, just like I hated the Eye Toy when its first incarnation was brought our way. However I think technologically wise, the Playstation Move will always one up Kinect, probably making it the champion overall.

Im just wondering how long it takes Microsoft and Sony to work out Nintendo have given up on the Wii and its all about the Nintendo 3DS now.

I cant wait to see what lies Peter Molyneux throws at us about a 3D Milo.....oh god.....
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Josef Brett Animator 9 years ago
Not sure we'll ever know the truth about Project Milo. Peter Molyneux was talking about it being in development in the same week (near enough) that the project was shut down.

The 'Project Milo' that was demonstrated on was very different to the one shown at the 'Project natal' E3 reveal.
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David Rider Publisher, Hustler UK9 years ago
"director of incubation"? Seriously?
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Private Industry 9 years ago
The scan feature was one of the more promising features, but at the same point I was thinking I believe it when I can use actually use it and not only see it in a video and same goes for Milo.
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Guys... the Scan of Kinect WORKS, but there are any games that use this feature YET.
Just because you have a feature in a console, doesnt mean you need to use it. Kudo said it months ago and he said too that Kinect Adventures could use it... but it could hurt the experience too so they just excluded it.

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 9 years ago
Does Kinect's scanning still work? I thought it was one of the features which had been removed.

Either way, it'll no doubt be nothing like as was shown in the initial Kate & Milo reveal footage, where she basically moved a sheet of paper past the camera in about a second and the game was able to scan that and immediately reproduce it in-game to create the impression she'd 'handed' the paper to him.

I'm pretty sure MS said Milo has been shelved, but the tech developed in making it will be incorporated into future Kinect games - most widely thought to be a Fable instalment or spin-off.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
I believe it when I actually see it and never trust what a guy says who is wearing sunglasses indoors even when it`s dark :)

Given the reviews no additional feature could have hurt the experience of Kinect Adventures. Saying it would have hurt the experience that`s why it was excluded means more something like "we couldn`t make it work proper so we had to cut it". As for the current scanning that is in some games as Kipman said in his interview is like using something as texture i.e. t-shirt colors in Joy Ride and well that`s not new I could take pictures and use them as a textures in Little Big Planet.
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Jordan Lund Columnist 9 years ago
@ Greg - Microsoft didn't rush the 360 to market in order to grab a quick share. They rushed it to market because NVidia quit making the GPU for the original Xbox. They couldn't have kept selling the Xbox if they had wanted to.

This is why Microsoft ended up doing a couple of different things with the 360: 1) going with ATI for the GPU and 2) owning the rights to the Xbox 360 CPU and GPU.

I'm not saying that you're wrong when it comes to Kinect, but you're definitely wrong as to why the 360 started so quickly.
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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek9 years ago
Taking everything out of the equation and looking at both Kinect and Move as hardware products I don't see Kinect as having a future by itself.

Taking into consideration both Microsoft's and Sony's venture as tests and market identity for the next generation of consoles, I don't see Kinect as working. if you took the Move and gave the camera the same technology as Kinect. Then I could see that as a stable next gen console product, both packed in the same box and not as much confusion around what the hell you need to buy. If that's the future... then future is bright.

I think the biggest test I see for Kinect is how Steel Battalion turns out, it will very much be the point of realisation of "does this or doesn't this work for traditional core market games". Honestly, I would just prefer them to offer a very expensive controller that I could lock myself away with and live a dream for a few nights of the week.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
@Jordan - Oh, I know that NVDIA story, but I had to wonder back then if Microsoft knew NVIDIA were going to stop GPU production or if they asked them to stop so they could get a new console out. You can't tell me one day the entire Xbox division woke up, yawned, scratched itself, rolled over and found a note on the pillow. Dumped before they had their morning coffee? I doubt it.

But that's just my skeptical side (which feels justified after playing through some of those 360 launch titles, ha ha)...

There was still plenty of life in the original Xbox if you look at the amount of canceled titles or releases that never made it out past their original territories for whatever reason. Granted, there was a LOT of crap in there (Muzzle Flash or Conspiracy: Weapons of Mass Destruction, anyone?).

As for MOve vs. Kinect... well, both are more geared toward "casual" gamers at first glace, but I like the fact that Move-enabled titles work pretty well and stuff coming down the pike (Playstation Move Heroes and Sorcery, for example) actually make good use of the controller in third-person action experiences. You're not pretend jogging in place or jumping up and down risking a ceiling fan decapitation with those. I'm looking forward to next year's Kinect lineup just to see how devs who have more time to get into the hardware come up with stuff.

As I noted in another topic, once we see some sort of "feedback" glove for games like Steel Battalion or other games where that input would make for a better experience, things could get a lot better.
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Thomas Würgler Staff writer, Geek Culture9 years ago
I am mostly looking forward to seeing VR headtracking in action. It amazes me that MS haven't made a big deal out of it yet.

Having tried both technologies I think Kinect is exciting and feels different (and no, there's not a lot of lag - no more than on Move. Perhaps even less), while Move feels like a more complicated Wii Motion+. Move works well enough, but there's a massive amount of buttons on there and nothing about it felt fresh. In fact it felt extremely Wii launch without the benefit of being new.
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Daniel Dixon Studying BA Hons in Games Development, Futureworks9 years ago
Certainly the way forward is to create more immersive games by making the consumer the center of the experience, but I don't believe forcing the controller into the bargain bin of the technology of yesteryear is the way forward. Forcing a player to use Kinect, Move or any future motion based product will throw a lot of their target away, albeit creating a more casual and family friendly environment, but the way forward is not to turn the Xbox and Playstation into formats such as the Wii, but to create three unique and seperate experiences and for that reason alone I can see either Kinect and Move dying out within the next several years. It's really just a waiting game for the next big thing.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
(plants tongue in cheek, starts typing)...

I think all three companies should have looked at how the XaviXPORT fared at retail before this motion gaming phase kicked off. Then again, that company's ambitions seemed to be much smaller in that they were targeting a certain market where word of mouth recommendations were more important than spending billions of dollars on R&D, hype and freebies hitting talk shows as a saturation method.

Of course, we have more first and third-party support on the big three and more money spent on whipping up assorted game experiences that try to cater to as many users as possible (in some cases overlooking certain genres until they can be done well). The actual problem here is this "arms race" pissing contest it turns into as everyone takes sides and claims stuff that's not quite the reality of the product.

That said, it'll be fun to see which developers make the MOST out of the Move or Kinect. We've already seen that the Wii has a number of fine games (a bunch of underrated ones as well). Sony and Microsoft need to not fall into the trap of casting the net so wide that they end up with too many titles that are basically the same thing with different (albeit HD graphics). Or the word DANCE in the title (Harmonix' game and possibly any upcoming DDR games aside). Too many dancing games will end up killing a quarter of the casual gamers out there who don't move off the couch unless the dog catches fire, and where do you go once your casual core has burned to death?

FPS finger shooters will be the next BIG thing on Kinect, I predict (pew! pew, pew!). Then, tragedy: during a heated online match, some overworked gamers will dodge too realistically (despite the manual they didn't read telling them NOT to do so), do a William Holden on the coffee tables they shoved out of the way to play Kinect Paintball Deluxe and well, there's another segment of the audience down.

Kinectimals II, anyone?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 4th November 2010 7:23pm

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Andrew Wilson 3D Artist 9 years ago
I don't get why MS didn't push Kinect as their answer to Wii fit. It seems to be much better suited to slow paced but accurate position recognition than frantic waving and flailing...
Also since all the games seem to show lag I'm betting that's hardware and that's a deal-breaker for me.
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Robbie Kazandjian Director, SoundBoy Ltd9 years ago
"I think the biggest test I see for Kinect is how Steel Battalion turns out, it will very much be the point of realisation of "does this or doesn't this work for traditional core market games". "

I second that Richard. This could be the hardcore game that makes people get up and go "ooooh I get it!" about Kinect.

Or it could be total fail, and make people say "I knew it would be rubbish". As a masssive Steel Battalion fan (who had a massive controller) I hope its the former.

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Andrew Wilson:
"I don't get why MS didn't push Kinect as their answer to Wii fit. It seems to be much better suited to slow paced but accurate position recognition than frantic waving and flailing... "

Might have something to do with Kinect having difficulty calculating how much you weigh. That and waving and flailing don't work too well with Wii Fit either.....that whole balance thing is pretty important.
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Sergio Santos Freelance 3D Artist 9 years ago
those are great news, but they should split the controller in two halves, one for each hand
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Johan H. W. Basberg CEO / Lead Designer, Gatada Games9 years ago
We have access to the camera on the Kinect, and the low level 3D-data, so I can't see how object scanning can be stripped from the device. At the very least, we can cook up our own object scanning features.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
I still don`t see a big future for it when it comes to core games. You got the lag (there is no denial that kinect has lag and it is noticeable and higher than any other control device) that comes in to be more of a trouble when you combine normal controllers with kinect in conjunction since normal controllers have a lot less noticeable lag, you got the imprecision and the failing of recognizing motions voice commands. It`s more precise than what EyeToy did, but still not perfect and the fact remains that not always your motions and voice is picked up correct. Even if that happens only 10 out of a 100 times that means to 10% the game does not do what you want it to do and you get away with that with games like Kinectimals, but you don`t get away with that with core games that are faster paced where your in-game live depends on the game doing what you tell it.
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Otakar Schon Technology editor, Economia9 years ago
and here we go, everone grab your Xmove360... :)
No tto be snarky, I am just glad that the reservations towards Kinect were wel justified. Anyone playing Killzone 3 with Move (and SharpShooter) asks - how can Microsoft do Gears of War Kinect? And I dont believe adding a regular X360 controller is the answer
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