Well E3 certainly showed that Nintendo’s direction of developing a new way to play was the way to go. Playstation demonstrated their motion/pointer controller that implements the Playstation Eye, along with Microsoft demonstrating their development of Project Natal. Within this blog update I want to look at all 3 of these motion schemes and determine who has won so far in the development and implementation of these.
I intend to look at 3 aspects to determine the overall winner, this is technology, usability and how far along they are in development.

Technology

Well first off I will say that each of the console manufacturers have whole heartedly invested in technology that can achieve a vision and do it well.

Project Natal, it’s a great method of controlling the NXE, can you just imagine the whole Minority Report finger tracking control used for the computer! Though throughout the demonstration there were times in which the avatar seemed to be jittering all about and its limbs doing some crazy actions! Now i do expect this to be an implication of turning around and the software cannot determine the full augmentation and orientation of limbs, it could possibly be worked out between now and launch but it will be very difficult. The demonstration of done by the female staffer of hitting and kicking the balls back and forth pong/breakout style, while being impressive leaves some other thought that will be discussed within the usability section. I am however excited by this tech and cannot wait to see where it goes, as well as the most important factor, Pricing.
project-natal
Playstation Motion with Playstation Eye, well I dont think anyone will hold it against me if I did say that Sony haven’t used much imagination here. What they have done is 90% similar to the design and function of Nintendo and the Wii Remote. The Playstation Eye with the glowing orb at the front of their wand design seems to be very precise, I do think it is more precise than that of the IR sensor of the Wii Remote while its motion seems to be on par with the Wii Remote with the Motion+ addon. What is actually very apparent is that their features seem to work in conjunction with each other, the motion is backed up by the pointer and vice versa, it became apparent how well these can work in conjunction during the sword and dummy demonstration. Though I leave very unimpressed by a lack of Sony having their own vision and direction, and I don’t have as much anticipation for it like I do with Natal.
Wii Motion+, seems as though it should have been included within the Wii Remote design from the beginning. But after reading the Motion+ development section of Iwata Asks on the NoA website (now removed) I can clearly determine that it wasn’t applicable to include this feature at the time. Though what does it do for motion on the Wii, well from demonstrations it does a LOT. From the archery demonstration that doesn’t use the IR sensor for pointing control but rather the movement of the remote, to the skydiving which has you control your Mii real time with 1-1 motion. It brings to the Wii remote everything that it was missing to be complete. Though this is only a small addition to the already existing Wii Remote and the grading will be on the accessory alone.

Grading

1st Project Natal

2nd Wii Motion+

3rd Playstation Motion

Usability

Project Natal seemed to have a wide area of usability, but really how much is there in application. People like to have a tactile response along with a tactile interaction element. The demonstration on stage showed the female staffer flailing about to aimlessly hit a ball bouncing about the room. The biggest criticism of the Wii and its motion control by the hardcore audience was it’s seemingly lack of precision, I don’t see how without any tactile element that it can be more precise than the Wii or anywhere as close. The footage reel also showed a woman racing a car holding her hands in the air, this may be impressive but who wants to control Forza like that? So far the usability is very unimpressive, even the art demo had the presenter splashing paint on a canvas with zero accuracy. There seems to also be a problem for the hardware to define the user as while demonstrating the hardware on his show, Jimmy Fallon and guests had to adorn red jump suits to stand out from the crowd/background in which the Natal camera could pickup.
Playstation motion, is by far more usable than Natal in its current form albeit seemingly further back in development. Playstation obviously seen the benefit of a tactile experience and precision of having a reference point within the hands of the user thus is why they allow for the use of 2 wands per user. With the drop in and drop out of number of wands and applications shown during the tech demo it shows a high usability factor within many games. Although expect to see many of them already in use on the Wii platform. I cannot see a higher usability factor for this than that of the Wii and the Wii remote, other than having the system work with higher definition graphics.
Playstation-motion
Wii Motion+, this is the easiest section to actually fill out as the usability of the Motion+ accessory is to enhance those experiences already available on the Wii. New games being developed can chose to enhance the experience as an optional extra for those that have it, allowing for more precise control and a better experience overall.
Wii-motion-plus

Grading

1st Wii Motion+
2nd Playstation Motion
3rd Project Natal

How far is development?

Project Natal, well it seems to be very far into development, fully implementing the 3DV technology through the acquisition of their company last year. They still have a few teething problems as discussed above with the flying limbs and red jumpsuits, they still had usable applications including controlling the avatar, controlling the menu, painting and jumping about to hit them damn balls! The most impressive feature actually came from Lionhead Studios and Peter Molyneux. Milo being an interactive AI that can recognise users through the camera, recognise motions/emotions and can scan objects and bring them into the AI world. I do believe this could have been done with a normal camera rather than Natal but the AI interaction is VERY impressive and if I do say so, watching the Milo demonstration video, brought a slight tear to my eye!
Playstation Motion, well it seemed to be very early in development, so much so id be surprised if it did come out with games holiday 2010. The tech demo was very basic and did not have any game related gameplay that would be in production at this very moment. The demonstration overall was very unimpressive as they seem to be trying to enhance upon what the Wii has already done, but they have very little to show for it. It harkins back to how they quickly and unashamedly added in the Sixaxis accelerometer onto the PS3 controller weeks before E3 to show they were also doing motion controls.
Wii Motion+, well as one would expect this is the most advanced technology as it has launched around the world this very week. It is completed with several pieces of software on the market that take full advantage of its abilities. Not only from Nintendo, but also from EA which launched the device as WiiSports Resort is to release at the end of the month. There are several games in development that add Motion+ as an extra control advantage if you have it but also the likes of Red Steel 2 from Ubisoft which is Wii Motion Plus exclusive.
motion+boxarts

Grading

1st Wii Motion+
2nd Project Natal
3rd Playstation Motion

Overall

My overall grading is below;

Grading

1st Wii Motion+
2nd Project Natal
3rd Playstation Motion

Wii Motion+ wins for the fact that it is furthest along and has games ready and available to play. We will not truly know the potential of the other 2 devices until they release more information and gameplay examples that are being developed. Natal has more potential over Playstataion motion as there is less known about what it can end up doing. Motion+ is just part of a spanning 10 year experience of motion control’s that Nintendo have been doing, from the prototype motion Gamecube controller up until the recent day, we can see this taking a giant leap forward when the next console cycle comes around. But I believe Playstation Motion and Natal wont have as much impact upon gaming as the Wii has, because the Wii Remote is the primary control option, Natal and Playstation motion is an optional extra, an expensive one at that I can guess compared to the optional extra that is Motion+.

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