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RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Fable The Journey, Kinect, Lionhead Studios, Microsoft, Motion Control, Xbox 360 games

RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

Can we please finally admit that Kinect is only really good for party games, fitness buffs, and small children? Could Microsoft please stop throwing money at that damn camera and maybe invest instead in some developers and acquiring something approaching a stable of talent? Pretty please with sugar on top?

Fable: The Journey came out this week, and largely flopped. Admittedly, it only had a day or two to make an impact, but even so, it's still a rather disappointing drop. Of course, it's entirely possible that no one outside of the vocal minority of core gamers online actually knows it even exists, and they're hardly the target demographic, are they?

RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

The fact is that this was supposed to be the game to change an awful lot. Maybe. Microsoft had been shoving Kinect into every dark corner of the Xbox 360 that they could find, and yet still it was seen as a novelty at best, and a broken indictment of everything that is wrong with the industry at worst. But Fable: The Journey was supposed to change that. Every single time a title that focused on motion control emerged on the Xbox 360, it was met with a caveat. "It's pretty good...for a Kinect game," reviewers would say, the implication being that the bar was set so very low for the hilariously inaccurate and volatile camera that any release which encouraged laughter rather than intensive swearing could be deemed a success...for Kinect.

It was hoped that Lionhead's latest might do away with that need for that caveat, and provide an experience good enough to warrant the Kinect requirement being a secondary afterthought. Of course, the exclusive nature of making something a Kinect game means that such a outcome was never likely, but it could well have been a system seller. Just because I might consider Albion to be a mishmash of pantomime cameos and half-baked concepts that don't create a cohesive and engrossing world doesn't mean that the Fable brand (and, by extension, Albion) can't shift units. It's a flagship franchise for Microsoft, and they don't have very many; the only bigger risk Microsoft could have arguably taken would have been to have 343 make a Kinect-only Halo game.

Just typing that makes me feel a bit ill.

RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

But, as Jon mentioned in his review, the most galling thing about Fable: The Journey is that it actually comes close to presenting Albion as a lived in world that you actually want to inhabit for a bit. It's a personal gripe of mine that the first-person perspective doesn't get used for more games outside of shooters, as it really does allow for a sense of immersion you can't get when the camera is constantly pointed at a central protagonist's bum. Fable: The Journey brings that in spades, and it's only enhanced by stepping into the role of a character who actually has a place in this world.

Of course, it then ruins that all by constantly reminding you that you're playing a motion control game with unskippable tutorial pop-ups, constant reminders that you're allowed to relax your arms (just in case you didn't realise), and some truly hideous design choices that never allow you to enjoy the world you're in.

You see, I'd posit that Fable: The Journey was doomed from day one. We never want to see a game fail, and so when it comes to previews there often has to be a certain amount  of positive thinking; you can't make grand, sweeping critical value judgements without seeing the final product. But Kinect is not built for long periods of play. Even if the mechanics in Fable: The Journey had all worked seamlessly, it would still have been a tiring, solitary experience. Ergonomic research is imperative for new consoles and their controllers, and huge amounts of time and money are spent in attempting to deliver input methods that operate with a minimum of fuss and allow for easy access to all buttons without overextension, fitting in the hands comfortably and so allowing for long periods of play.

RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

That has never been a key consideration for Kinect. Yes, we can sit down in Fable: The Journey, but it demands that we sit in the manner of a Victorian finishing school pupil: straight-backed, no crossing of the legs, with the posture of a soldier and the patience of a saint.

Motion control was supposed to make things easier, and Kinect was marketed on the notion that controllers are fiddly things that are offputting to some, providing a barrier of entry to games by being overly complex, requiring practice to master, and ultimately proving frustrating for those with little patience or able manual dexterity. Those ad-people were right: controllers are a barrier. They are the middle men between physical thought and virtual execution, but that execution is nearly always absolute.

Kinect's execution is anything but. The limitations of the tech itself, and the inability of developers to improve things from a software standpoint, make for frustratingly inaccurate, and wildly inconsistent results, and that's a recipe for disaster. After this latest failure, and Fable: The Journey is a failure, it's time to hammer the nail into the coffin of Kinect's hopes and dreams. That's not to say Fable: The Journey would have been better with controller support; it wouldn't. It was designed from the ground up to be a motion-control game, and the on-rails nature of things would be horribly shallow and unrewarding with the precision  of two sticks at one's disposal. The point is that the whole concept and its execution were fundamentally flawed.

RANT: Can We Finally Kick Kinect To The Curb?

Motion control has never, and will never, be the future of gaming and cannot provide the deeper experiences that some would suggest it needs. Of course, that's not a bad thing, so long as it's realised and accepted, and investiture gets ploughed back into making worthwhile games - be they engrossing controller-based experiences, or insanely enjoyable party titles. But you can't fashion Kinect into something that it's not, desperate though Microsoft may be to justify the ludicrous amounts of money they've spent trying to convince people otherwise.

VR actively fools two of your senses - sight and sound - into believing that you're experiencing a new world. Motion control does the exact opposite, forcing  you to acknowledge that you're playing something, forcing you to compensate for technological inadequacies, and forcing you into situation where it's impossible to suspend your disbelief. Children embrace the novelty far more easily, and with greater patience, because they're able to meet the technology halfway. But even then, as with the poor kid playing Star Wars Kinect at Gamescom last year, sometimes even the most imaginative folks reach a threshold where they stamp their little feet and wander off to play with something that won't impede their imagination with broken mechanics.

As a supplemental device, Kinect might have merit. But again, its usually quicker to press a button. I'm still yet to find a game where the "Better with Kinect" slogan actually bears true. I'll try the novelty once, maybe twice out of appreciation and think "that's pretty cool", and then I'll get on with my life and go back to playing games the way I always have as if those features weren't there. Why? Because they go beyond being superfluous and become distractions, because they break my flow and extend the distance between thought and execution. Controllers give me goals, assuring me that if I can improve, the gap between thought and execution will draw ever smaller. I can do something about that - I can learn, I can practice, I can progress. I can't do anything about Kinect.

Add a comment11 comments
JonLester  Oct. 15, 2012 at 12:48

I'd like to see more developers approaching Kinect titles with AAA production values and, more importantly, a keener understanding of how to educate players about how to use it. Forced front-loaded tutorials are horrible (see Fable: The Journey), and we should be able to learn through experimentation and gameplay.

Also, it should work and not make my arms fall off. While I like The Gunstringer and Fruit Ninja Kinect - not to mention Skyrim's Kinect patch - I fear we'll need to wait for the next generation for Microsoft to iron out the accuracy issues. And even then, will developers actually bother to make consistently decent games for it?

Last edited by JonLester, Oct. 15, 2012 at 12:48
bungles85  Oct. 15, 2012 at 13:00

Why aren't more games using the voice control? So many times i find myself shouting at the TV frag out or grenade when in the middle of a heated battle, why does it not throw when I shout it. This could add a nice extra bit or immersion, especially if it came to PC (why is it not on PC) when your desperately trying to remember which button you mapped grenade to and you end up crouching or stabbing your mate in the back.

Not so fussed about the camera, had a few good laughs with it but I really think there's so much potential with voice commands

Korma  Oct. 15, 2012 at 13:58

Criterion seem to be using it sensibly in Most Wanted where you can change car mods (tyre type etc) on the fly using voice commands. There's an additional layer you can benefit from with the voice recognition but replacing existing gamepad functions makes it less useful.

Lemming  Oct. 15, 2012 at 14:04

I've found the most use for the Kinect comes from the voice commands. Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 made them really useful, I found myself using the dragon shouts and team commands all the time. I also use it a lot for controlling the video on Sky player and lovefilm, being able to shout pause as you run out the room to answer the door is great!

I agree the sensitivity needs a lot of work to make gaming more fun. I just think it needs a developer to produce something a bit clever rather than on rails games with a few hand waves thrown in.

Dafzy1212  Oct. 15, 2012 at 14:47

Any reason why you haven't also included Sony's Move in that heading ?

Take a look at their latest offering "PlayStation Move Heroes"
and look at just how bad the reviews are yet again for a move game.

Fifa 13 works better with Kinect

As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..

gmdlogan  Oct. 15, 2012 at 17:21

Fanboy alert. Sony ftw!

Korma  Oct. 15, 2012 at 17:27

As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..


If you're including XBLA then the PSN has a lot of exclusives. Journey would probably be the most prominent this year with over 90% on metacritic. There's been DUST the MMO tie in, Closure, Tokyo Jungle and more.

I have a 360, so if I owned a PS3 I'd probably have more to hand. I've been very underwhelmed by the '1 month early ability to buy DLC for games' exclusives and I'm more bothered by the individual store specific DLC exclusives for the same game, never mind the same platform. Who needs exclusives any more?

Kopite211  Oct. 15, 2012 at 18:32

As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..


If you're including XBLA then the PSN has a lot of exclusives. Journey would probably be the most prominent this year with over 90% on metacritic. There's been DUST the MMO tie in, Closure, Tokyo Jungle and more.

I have a 360, so if I owned a PS3 I'd probably have more to hand. I've been very underwhelmed by the '1 month early ability to buy DLC for games' exclusives and I'm more bothered by the individual store specific DLC exclusives for the same game, never mind the same platform. Who needs exclusives any more?


I have a pc, and with it makes the 360 exclusives list very sparse indeed. Had the Witcher 2 for much longer, Minecraft has been around for donkeys years and dead light was rubbish. I'll give you Halo 4 and Forza though but it's hardly a shining list.

Dapzy1212  Oct. 16, 2012 at 10:25

[quote]As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..



I have a pc, and with it makes the 360 exclusives list very sparse indeed. Had the Witcher 2 for much longer, Minecraft has been around for donkeys years and dead light was rubbish. I'll give you Halo 4 and Forza though but it's hardly a shining list.


Your missing the point here and that is that MS are investing in titles that enables them cater for non Kinect owners (be they also on the pc makes no difference at all)whilst also developing for Kinect and as previously mentioned they have released more titles this year (and more still to come) than Sony whilst also releasing new titles for Kinect.

If a game is also on the PC that is irrelevant, if I wanted to play games on the PC I would not have invested in an Xbox in the first place no more than I would have of invested in a PS3 if I wanted it for use as a Blu ray player when I could also do that on the PC.

wquach  Oct. 16, 2012 at 15:47

Any reason why you haven't also included Sony's Move in that heading ?

Take a look at their latest offering "PlayStation Move Heroes"
and look at just how bad the reviews are yet again for a move game.

Fifa 13 works better with Kinect

As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..


Wow, way to bring in the fanboy warz into this. If you want to go by the latest Move game, perhaps read up on some more current games (like ones released THIS year) like Sorcery, which has a 70 on Metacritic, which is still better than the Kinect's Fable The Journey (63), and Star Wars Kinect (55). Or maybe I should talk about The Unfinished Swan, which has an 81 on Metacritic and will be released next week.

As for exclusives, where were you last year when Gears of War 3 seemed to be the only flagship title for the 360 in comparison to the likes of the massive onslaught of PS3 exclusives (Uncharted 3, Killzone 3, Resistance 3, Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, on and on we go).

This year already had Twisted Metal, Starhawk, Yakuza: Dead Souls, and will have LBP Karting and Playstation All Stars Battle Royale. And if you're going to list XBLA titles in that list, I could just as easily list Journey, Closure, and Papa and Yo.

Admittedly, the holiday season will no doubt be overshadowed by the monster known as Halo 4, but to say Sony isn't investing in titles that appeal to the hardcore, that make the PS3 more than "just a blu-ray player" is a joke.

Both Microsoft and Sony have hardcore games. And last I checked, Sony seems to be the one taking other gaming studios under its wing (Naughty Dog, Media Molecule, Sucker Punch, Guerrilla Games, etc.) or contracting indie studios to make exclusives (see Giant Sparrow with 3 game contract deal).

Take a look at the PS3's upcoming 2013 lineup with God of War Ascension, Ni No Kuni, Sly 4, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, etc.

So please, stop bringing up the fanboy crap and leave it out of the article and realize that Matt's right, motion control gaming (which includes BOTH the Move and Kinect, hell even the Wii), is NOT the future of gaming, and has been poorly and disappointingly implemented this entire console generation from all sides.

Why you would bring up the 360's exclusive lineup this year in an article about the Kinect's failure is beyond me, except to of course, prove what's wrong with this console generation of gamers: fanboys who will disregard the problems inherent in their supported console/company and hate on the other for the sake of justifying their purchase of an electronic box.

Last edited by wquach, Oct. 16, 2012 at 16:13
gmdlogan  Oct. 16, 2012 at 17:32

Any reason why you haven't also included Sony's Move in that heading ?

Take a look at their latest offering "PlayStation Move Heroes"
and look at just how bad the reviews are yet again for a move game.

Fifa 13 works better with Kinect

As for games What games exactly have been released that you can not play on any other console other than PS3 this year?, ONE I believe!!! and how many have been released for the 360 this year that can't be played on any other console -

Trials evolution
The witcher 2
Deadlight
Minecraft
Alan wake American tales
also in the next 2 months Forza Horizons and Halo 4

I think MS have done far better whilst also showing full support for their motion control..


Wow, way to bring in the fanboy warz into this. If you want to go by the latest Move game, perhaps read up on some more current games (like ones released THIS year) like Sorcery, which has a 70 on Metacritic, which is still better than the Kinect's Fable The Journey (63), and Star Wars Kinect (55). Or maybe I should talk about The Unfinished Swan, which has an 81 on Metacritic and will be released next week.

As for exclusives, where were you last year when Gears of War 3 seemed to be the only flagship title for the 360 in comparison to the likes of the massive onslaught of PS3 exclusives (Uncharted 3, Killzone 3, Resistance 3, Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, on and on we go).

This year already had Twisted Metal, Starhawk, Yakuza: Dead Souls, and will have LBP Karting and Playstation All Stars Battle Royale. And if you're going to list XBLA titles in that list, I could just as easily list Journey, Closure, and Papa and Yo.

Admittedly, the holiday season will no doubt be overshadowed by the monster known as Halo 4, but to say Sony isn't investing in titles that appeal to the hardcore, that make the PS3 more than "just a blu-ray player" is a joke.

Both Microsoft and Sony have hardcore games. And last I checked, Sony seems to be the one taking other gaming studios under its wing (Naughty Dog, Media Molecule, Sucker Punch, Guerrilla Games, etc.) or contracting indie studios to make exclusives (see Giant Sparrow with 3 game contract deal).

Take a look at the PS3's upcoming 2013 lineup with God of War Ascension, Ni No Kuni, Sly 4, The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, etc.

So please, stop bringing up the fanboy crap and leave it out of the article and realize that Matt's right, motion control gaming (which includes BOTH the Move and Kinect, hell even the Wii), is NOT the future of gaming, and has been poorly and disappointingly implemented this entire console generation from all sides.

Why you would bring up the 360's exclusive lineup this year in an article about the Kinect's failure is beyond me, except to of course, prove what's wrong with this console generation of gamers: fanboys who will disregard the problems inherent in their supported console/company and hate on the other for the sake of justifying their purchase of an electronic box.


And to quote Howard on big bang theory "grab a napkin homie, you just got served!"

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