No video allowed at Natal E3 showcase

"Technology-free" event takes place two days before Sony's rival press event

Microsoft has said that it will not allow video or photography at its "technology-free" pre-E3 Project Natal showcase, taking place on the Sunday before the big event.

The move is likely to raise eyebrows of those questioning the motion control technology and its reaction time – Lionhead's Peter Molyneux recently told that he was frustrated that the tech has gone through so many iterations but Microsoft has still only shown last year's E3 demos to press and various taste-makers.

The Sunday night event is separate from Microsoft's E3 show on Monday June 14, and is intended to showcase the universal appeal of Project Natal at the 10,000 capacity Galen Centre in Los Angeles.

It's expected the platform holder will reveal new software from first and third-party partners, as it looks to get the upper hand ahead of Sony's conference on Tuesday 15, where the rival Move controller is likely to take centre stage

Impressions of Project Natal from last year's Gamescom event can be seen over on Eurogamer's Digital Foundry blog.

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Latest comments (27)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
I'm sorry but this is absolutely ridiculous.
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University10 years ago
there will be people with spy cams or somthing.
has not stop them before.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Naturally we'll still get vid....

......the ESA and MS have members here, right?

Oh no. Of course we wouldn't do anything like that.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 5th May 2010 11:20am

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Show all comments (27)
Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global10 years ago
I think it's quite understandable. Microsoft doesn't want the whole world to see a hic-up like the one on E3 last year: "Do you want to have a look at the bottom of your Avatar's shoe? BAM!" :)

So even if anything happens, just a limited amount of people will see it. Moreover, after the event they can put up any footage on any website without any glitch. They just want to have all the control they can have.

The other thing. I don't want to say anything bad about anyone but Sony's Move controller... It's VERY similar to the one that Nintendo has (called Wii, have you guys heard of it?). I'm 200% sure that Nintendo would be able to upgrade their remotes to do the EXACT same thing as the Sony ones (lets say within 2-3 months).

It could happen that the problem is with me and I just can't see how extremely awesome this Move thing is, but for me, a leap forward is the NO CONTROLLER and YOU ARE THE CONTROLLER concept! Sony's 'just' a step forward. We've seen it before (Wii), it just has some extra features.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Bognar on 5th May 2010 11:24am

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Benjamin Dixon Studying Computer Games Design and Programming, Staffordshire University10 years ago
I kind of have to disagree with Joe about your views of Playstation Move compared to others. Yes, it is just another step, but as awkward as the video with Kevin Butler was when he portrayed all 3 motion controllers. The main point stuck with me and the people I have spoken to about it. Unless natal really impresses me, its not something I am greatly interested in. myself and the others that I have spoken to prefer being able to use buttons even through basic controls on the wii. I can see the family appeal of all, but believe that Microsoft's approach may be a little too abstract and instead of involving the player within the game could be seen as taking them away from it.

These are just my views obviously. Feel free to discuss yours with me
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Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global10 years ago
True. It might happen as well. But I think it will have a huge positive effect on the industry as a whole. The negative perception that the industry - and videogames in general - got was unfair but strong. To be more clear: Videogames = fat, unhealthy, aggressive, massive murderer kids. Well, Nintendo started the idea of lets say 'Active Gaming'. (not considering handheld consoles like the Nintendo DS, PSP or any other before these)

Now Microsoft is taking it to the next level with Natal. With the Wii and the new PS Move, you still have to press buttons. I know that for some people it may sound appealing but just imagine that you'll do a certain interaction by pressing the button. With Natal, you won't have buttons, therefore everything you do, you have to do it with your body. (Obviously even I have doubts that Natal will be able to recognise slight finger movements.) But anyway. It just puts the activities like gaming and exercising together and sort of 'forces' people to see that videogames are NOT evil. :)

So to sum it up: Good luck for Sony but I feel that Natal will have a big, positive impact. Like... BAM! :)
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Josef Brett Animator 10 years ago
As a long time gamer, I don't care about what the outside perception of gaming is (people will always judge what they don't understand - and let them the idiots)!

I, however, am interested in great gaming experiences. I was initially very excited about natal, but as time wears on I really don't think it can live up to the hype (and all reports so far suggest that the tech isn't as good as the initial promo videos would suggest).

Move may be a second hand idea, but it appears to work brilliantly (and has the potential for more 'gamer' experiences). Until I see Natal first hand, I will reserve judgement. Maybe it will be amazing, and maybe someone will find a way around it's limitations (no finger detection) to integrate it into more 'gamey' experiences, but I'm not so sure anymore...

Fingers crossed (which of course, natal won't recognise) :(

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Josef Brett on 5th May 2010 12:43pm

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Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global10 years ago
"Fingers crossed (which of course, natal won't recognise) :(" lol

Well, that's what I would say too... I maybe just want to believe that Natal will work properly. Because I like the idea of 'no controller needed'. I don't know whether it will recognise finger movements or not. It's just something that if it will, then hats off because it means that the system is really sensitive and accurate.

Anyway, as I said it in my first comment: I'm not judging anyone. (not just yet) :P
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Pierre Vandenbroucke Assistant de production, Gorgone Productions10 years ago
Natal might not be the only way to control a game.
Small example: Yesterday I decided to remove the dust on the Tenchu Z box and have a little ninja-style infiltration (basically, katana mass murder, but don't get caught before you kill!)
Tension is at its climax, I'm just behind a guy, waiting for him to pass the open door I'm standing behind. My character is hiding, I have the camera right on the guard, and I, the physical "I", me, am leaning on the side just as if I would get a better view on the guard.
When I realised that, I was like "that's what Natal needs to be for the gamers"
I control actions with my gamepad, but the fact I'm moving is doing something on the game.

EDIT: spelling.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pierre Vandenbroucke on 5th May 2010 1:16pm

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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam10 years ago
"I don't want to say anything bad about anyone but Sony's Move controller... It's VERY similar to the one that Nintendo has"

You could say the same about Natal - it's very similar to the old PlayStation EyeToy, just higher resolution and with better depth perception. It's what developers do with these new controllers that is going to make the difference, and until E3 we're not going to have a clear picture of which (if either) company is making any headway in that department.
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Luke Allman Character Artist / Level Designer 10 years ago
Honestly I don't think the tech is quite there for Natal. (Which I belive is why there will be no video allowed at this presentation) Yes it may be able to recognize some full body movement, but I dobt that it will provide a cohesive enough gameplay experiance for CORE gamers, and let's face it if you can't grab the core market with your product then evntually your sales will dwindle. Look at all the casual shovel-ware that bloats the Wii's catalouge. Most core gamers wouldn't touch those games. Natal could be plauged with the same problem, because the "controls" are not as accurate as a core game would require. The move has a 1:1 ratio that is currently unmatched even by the Wii motion plus. I don't really play FPS's, but I could see my self getting into a Modern Warfare or Call of Duty because of the Move. I however don't see natal providing the same kind of accurate gamply experiance, leading to frustration and disinterest. I guess the good thing about natal is that if you do get frustrated there is no contoller to pitch across the room in anger.
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Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo10 years ago
Is there any doubt left in your mind that this device was never meant to be a real system seller, but instead was meant to deter or slow people from buying up Wii consoles?

Why is it still called by its codename? Why have there been no "ambassador" style parties at people's homes, a la the way Nintendo sold the Wii (word of mouth marketing)? Why is this device only being shown in controlled, enthusiast pres-only secret rooms? Why is it not in the hands of the people being demo'd? Why is Microsoft all of a sudden changing their messaging about the true purpose of this device? Is it a controller? Or a way to control media? Or a family gaming device? When is the freaking release date?! Does Microsoft even know? Do they even care?

Naturally, these are all rhetorical questions.

In all seriousness, I actually hope Natal really is just a FUD device meant to try and slow Wii's dominance. Otherwise, the alternative just sad: Microsoft is about to unleash the most under prepared, ill-advise flop the gaming world has seen since the Virtual Boy.

What's ironic is the Xbox 360 division is finally showing some signs of life on the profitability front. If Microsoft had just circled their wagons and focused on the consumers that are actually buying their consoles, instead of creating family-friendly IKEA living room marketing materials with a completely out-of-place Xbox 360 at the center, they could have continued on that profitable path. Now I fear the message and their strategy are about to get a whole lot more murky, muddled and less profitable. I'd say it's an opportunity for Sony to shine, but Sony Move, while actually named and somewhat demo'd, is following pretty much the same aloof route.

When it comes to Sony and MS at the moment, I picture two huge oil tankers trying to pull a hair pin turn to catch a Wii cigarette boat at the last possible second. It will not end well, but don't worry about averting your eyes, because you can bet the result of this illy maneuver won't be filmed or photographed.
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Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global10 years ago
"I guess the good thing about natal is that if you do get frustrated there is no contoller to pitch across the room in anger." lol

I think that this problem about the core gamers had already been solved. For example lets talk about a hardcore gamer, like me. I wouldn't cash out £180 for a Nintendo Wii because for me, it's not good value for money as I wouldn't like the games that much. If you already have an Xbox 360, however then that means those hardcore gamers can tap into that market and try those sort of games for a way lower price. The thing that I'm saying is that I would like to try the Nintendo Wii and have one, but not for £180 (or £150). I'd rather have Natal for £50 and use it to its full potential until I get bored of it (if that happens, I still didn't lose that much). Same thing applies to Move.

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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 10 years ago
Motion controllers are fine for some games, but adding motion controller just because for the sake of it, isn't my idea of good game-concepts.. Personally when I game, I just want to sit on the couch and have fun, not having to move half of my furniture just to be able to play a game (especially Natal and Eyetoy games require much space)..
Natal/wiimote/move are great concepts (although all have been done before in some incarnation), but the concept are limited. Just look at how many games there are on the Wii that aren't possible with a regular controller, most are just regular games with the motion controller 'stiched' to it, you can count the amount of games that actually really use the motioncontroller on one hand (and that's not a lot after about 4? years on the market).
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James Knight QA Manager/Game Design 10 years ago
The Wii was a disappointment when it finally came out and nobody did anything with the controls and style of games that could have been done and I was hoping for. Move is an upmarket version of Wii with better graphics and more precise controls. But will they do anything different?

Natal, I think will work, they probably don't want to show it until it's 100% pitch perfect - first impressions count.

Now I'm in the 'I like pressing buttons' and 'hardcore' camp to some degree, BUT there's an unprecedented opportunity for different styles of games when this releases, games that have never been done or possible before and I'm really really hoping there's a bright spark who can work this out and will be given the opportunity to do so. I DON'T want a repeat of the Wii. That was successful for different reason, selling to a different market and maybe that's all the money men care about but I want an evolution of games. Don't drag things out, step up.

Some thoughts:
There are some good points here, for instance combining traditional controller games with lean around effects - that would work.

Think of the other applications (non- gaming) - health: yoga, martial arts forms, a training aid. Anything where you have to copy a perfect form; (golf, ballet, correct form for lifting weights).

Interactive drama series; combing tv with interactive drama, so participants at home say their lines and interact with the story.

This ones for free, how great would natal be for spell casting games? Thinking of sorcerers apprentice and Harry Potter - can you imagine duelling? It would be huge.

There's more.
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Josef Brett Animator 10 years ago
@ Joe Bogner
I wasn't having a dig - I hope the tech is good. i'd love to have some experiences without a controller (but I don't think it's the way forward). I believe the 'No controller' experience will be quite limited eventually.

I agree with 'Pierre' that it could be integrated into games with the traditional controller still present.

Here's hoping something works out!
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Stefan Herzog10 years ago
Those are some nice thoughts you have there, James. As I don't like the 1on1 fighting in martial arts, the martial arts form would be perfect.

As I really enjoyed playing Heavy Rain, I think it would be awesome to somehow participate in such a kind of game with Natal. I wonder if Milo will ever be a full game.
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Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global10 years ago
@Josef: We agree on this issue. I think at some point all of us do. Or we might be just naive people with big expectations and hopes... Time will tell. This year apparently it will come out so we'll see.
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Philip Wilson Project Manager/QA 10 years ago
Understandable? Hardly...they've had quite a bit of time to work on the development & iron out the kinks in Natal. *IF* their plan is to release it late this year then this year's E3 would be *THE* best time for them to get some real-world feedback from the general E3 audience as opposed to a controlled environment at MSHQ or at a small media gathering.
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Luke Allman Character Artist / Level Designer 10 years ago
I agree there is great opportunity for ingenuity with both of these new motion controls. What my main concern is that when "you are the controller" with Natal and are playing a game where you must make a split second action that is "life or death" for your character, like a magic duel let's say, Natal may not recognize your movement due to perhaps your cat/dog/toddler/wife walking through the room behind you, and oops you're dead, time to start over. = frustration. Also I'm with the contingent that are partial to being able to sit on the couch and play my games. This could be because I'm a little lazy, or it could be the almost 2 decades of playing games with a controller.
Only time, and possibly leaked footage from this blatant attempt to undercut Sony's Official Press conference. Speaking of which, why does Microsoft need to do this no video allowed limited pre-screening anyway? Are they going to try to work some kind of mind control over this limited audience? I'm kidding of course but it does make one ponder what is going through Microsoft's corporate brain.
One more note: Peter Molyneux has gone on record saying that he thinks the move is more for core gamers as it's "quite precise." Now before you all jump at me I know he also said that he's not surprised by it and he doesn't think that it's as far a step forward as Natal. Still, I have a feeling that in the end, the move will have the precision that core gamers are looking for.
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Johan Ekblom10 years ago
Natal is a Joke...
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Bruno BrÝsted Incident Manager 10 years ago
Some of the motion control ideas are just silly.

For example the Natal video showing that girl playing a driving game. I challenge you to hold your arms out like that in just five minutes - you shall find they get VERY heavy. Now imagine how it will be really playing a game like that. Of course you can hold you upper arms close to the body and that problem goes away, but that is not what Microsoft showed us and to me that just tells how the focus is on looking clever rather than really being clever.
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David Hernandez QA Tester, Animation Avidity10 years ago
The sad truth about Natal:

It purposefully excludes handicapped gamers. If I wanted to play a Natal based game with someone confined to a wheel chair or otherwise, I'd be forced to avoid playing it with them.

I see the potential (and lack thereof) that Natal poses. But I hope Microsoft has a working solution for handicapped gamers playing Natal games. Unfortunately, they probably won't.

Let's hope this works out better than the 360's HD DVD drive. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Hernandez on 6th May 2010 1:10am

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Josef Brett Animator 10 years ago
@David H

Why does it actively exclude handicapped gamers? It will apparently work if you're still sat down in an armchair etc, so what is the difference with a wheelchair?
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Xupa Xupa Games Analyst 10 years ago
Why does Joe Bognar sounds like he is being paid by Microsoft?
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David Hernandez QA Tester, Animation Avidity10 years ago
@Josef Brett

In terms of handicapped gamers, there are games that require full use of limbs and mobility. For instance, Microsoft demoed a game where players are blocking pucks (or was it balls?) using their hands and feet. I have a couple friends, one of whom is confined to a wheel chair and another of whom has half an arm.

How could we enjoy these games when they lack the "controls" to play them? Thankfully my latter friend made a homemade-style one-handed controller for his 360 (it ain't pretty but it works) but he could never fully enjoy a game because of the control schemes that are being employed by Microsoft's Natal game designers.

Do you honestly feel Natal developers will be considerate of handicapped gamers?
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University10 years ago
"Do you honestly feel Natal developers will be considerate of handicapped gamers?"

Equality is great and everything... but you can't halt progress just because it excludes some people. A full body gaming experience would be fun for those who can participate but it's impossible to develop for everyone all the time.

It's a shame some products don't include everyone but game development can't be restricted by that or it'll never progress. Imagine how different games would be if blind or deaf people had to be able to access all the content!
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