Monday Musings: Do You Welcome Our New Waggle Overlords?

Forget Mario versus Sonic. Forget Marcus Fenix versus Nathan Drake. The real battlefield of this console generation - and perhaps all future generations - is motion control.

Nintendo are the clear leaders in this space and in this generation. Their motto at E3 was "Everyone's Game", a riff on how they've managed to expand the gaming audience to, well, everyone by enabling a console and input device that everyone can understand.

Wii Sports is on its way to becoming the most successful game of all time. Sure, it's packed in with the console. But Wii Sports is the reason why tens of millions of people are buying that console.

The Wiimote looks like a simplified TV remote, something that everyone is familiar with and knows how to use. You can swing it in a vague approximation of the swing you'd make when playing tennis, golf or baseball and your on-screen avatar reproduces the action. The result is easy, uncomplicated play that allows everyone to participate.

But at E3 that play just got more complicated.

Nintendo has just released the Wii MotionPlus, an add-on that increases the motion sensing fidelity of the Wiimote. Due to launch in a few weeks, Wii Sports Resort delivers swordfighting, archery, jetskiing and other activities that all require more from the player, more sophisticated, deliberate and subtle movements than the vague approximations of before.

Sony announced an as-yet-unnamed motion control device for the PS3 featuring a camera that detects the position of a handheld wand in three-dimensional space. At their E3 press conference, Sony engineers demonstrated how the device can translate the wand's movements onto a TV screen at an almost 1:1 level. With two wands in hand during one tech demo, the player's motion seemed in perfect synch with his avatar wielding a sword and shield.

Microsoft's Project Natal uses a camera, but does away with the need for any kind of wand or remote. Instead, its camera detects your entire body. They demonstrated a 3D version of Breakout where the player can deflect the ball with any part of their body. They had a test version of Burnout Paradise where the player simply moves his hands as if gripping an actual steering wheel, while moving his foot forward or back to accelerate or brake.

Of course, Natal is much more than a motion control device. It expands the interactive palette to include facial and voice recognition, but at heart it is, like the Wii before it, a proposed solution to the problem of creating an input device for everyone.

Admirable goal that may be - and Nintendo has certainly proved it to be a financially rewarding goal too - but is greater fidelity really the answer?

Do we really want to be in the position where to enjoy a tennis game, we're going to have to be just as adept at tennis in real life?

Do we really want to be pretending to throw a grenade in Halo 4 when we could simply press a button under our finger?

Do we really want games that wear us out after just a few minutes of jumping around in our living rooms?

I just can't see these more sophisticated motion control devices taking off to anything like the extent Wii Sports has over the past two-and-a-half years.

What do you think? What are your views on where Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are heading? And what do you want from motion control gaming?


    I've been saying this for ages but MOTION CONTROL is FUCKING STUPID!

    David summed it up in one sentence: Do we really want games that wear us out after just a few minutes of jumping around in our living rooms?

    No we dont. That why me, and millions of others out there sucked into buy a Wii, dont play our Wiis anymore, yet we are glad to play our PS3's and X360's more and more.

    Look at sales charts. When Wii Sports is one of the top selling games, and its because it bundled with the machine, and seemingly no other game on the Wii (other than Fit and Mario Kart) makes the Top 10, I think the answer is pretty clear... Once we get the machine, we dont use it.

      Yes, we want the *option* of motion controls, with a full range of sensitivity. Some people and some games are most suited for a dual-analogue controller, some are better with a waggle or a gentle lean, some people & games really need the jumping about - and some will go best with a combination of the above.

      Two points: First, there will always be the option of playing the same type of games with the same controller as you currently do, so there's simply no need to get upset when new options are announced. Second, don't dismiss the future possibilities based on the current crop of motion shovelware. As motion controls mature, you'll find that they get a lot more palatable (again, for certain types of games).

      Disclosure: I too bought a Wii at launch, played it for a couple months, let it gather dust for a few more, then sold it for a PS3.

        So where's the controller option for tony hawks new shindig? As far as I heard on Kotaku, it will be a skateboard only controller.
        Anything thats extra work for programmers these days just gets left out. The sloppy release quality of games these days is awful. I'm just wishing something other than Unreal would include mouse support on the ps3! A perfectly usable, accurate control method 'option' is left out of games, its controller and thats it. I can certainly see games becoming 'get up and boogie only'.

        There's many other skating games that don't require a special controller. I don't think we can expect that *every* game of a given genre must be playable according to our own personal preference, especially if special-purpose controllers enhance the game for enough people that they become popular.

        As for Unreal - why not just play it (or other FPSs) on a PC? There's no shortage of those, and they all use mouse & keyboard. If you don't like playing a game that requires the "wrong" controller, then leave it for those that do, and play a game that doesn't - you have your choice of platforms.

    I selfishly say boo. I grabbed a wii, mainly for my kids (in the hope of reclaiming my pc) but found them bored with it after 1 day. I remained a sweaty tennis fantic for all of three days, then the wii has collected dust ever since. All this is well and good, but I really despise Natal. I can swing a wiimote acceptibly in my wheelchair, but how the fudge am I supposed to control natal? Screw all you walky jumpy types, thats what the damn outdoors was invented for, go and hop skip and trip over twigs or pull a hammie or whatever you uprights do. But for the love of buttons, get ya damn wiggly waggly, hoppy boppy controls out of my lounge. Pack of good for nothing dlc exclusive teabaggers. I'd prefer a life size monument of Michall Atkinson dangling sexily above my bed giving me the fonzie sign, ayyyyyyyyyyeeeee.

      Oh and while I'm at it, screw you Tony Hawk, I hope some 15 year old kick-flips your skatebored controller into his little sister, horribly disfiguring her for life. Then takes you for all your money.
      Oh and way to go wiifit, wheres my 4 wheel version scales??

      Yeah, I'm bitter.....

      With Natal, you keep playing your FPSs/fighters/whatever with your dual-analogue controller, ignoring the jumping games, while Natal logs you in via facial recognition and lets you easily control media playback via simple handwaves and voice commands. And if that's not value enough, you let someone else buy it instead. It's not a threat to you.

    It's all about the games, if they follow the Wii in shovel ware as well as motion control then they will suck, as long as they make games with depth that make non-gimmicky use of the technology then it might succeed.

    I think this is a good point, especially when you consider the physique of the average gamer (This is me too guys so back off).
    I loved Skate 2 and I played it for hours, after watchiong that kid on the rug jumping around etc, I can't help to think what that would be like. Also I have a bad knee now (football injury) so does this mean i can't play some games? I heard it said a number of time over the past few weeks, the controller is NOT dead!

    Im all for motion control stuff but i think Natal is going too far by removing a controller all together.

    Dont get me wrong, the technical achievement is amazing and for applications outside of gaming (computer interfaces such as Minority Report) are one step closer.

    The main issue i have is controlling a character movement-for-movement creates the problem of when you want to turn (and you do so IRL) you arent facing a screen anymore, which means games for Natal are restricted to no movement or atleast no turning unless you have gestures to do so. Until we have 360* screens Natal will simply be a more constricted version of the Wii Waggle remote.

    I would LOVE to be proved wrong by this, but i just dont see how this can be used for games other than the token "Wii Sports" kind of games where you dont need to do anything but pull a bow, throw a rock, or row a boat.

      Have you considered using an ordinary controller *at the same time* as Natal? Or even games that don't require turning around?

      It's not going to take your current options away, just add some new ones.

    I don't mind this whole motion-sensing business, but I think they should exercise a bit of discretion when applying it to games. Some games will be better and more fun with it, some will be better without it. It definitely has its place in gaming; it's just up to developers to figure out which game mechanics will work best and do what's in the best interest of the game.

    And btw, I would love to throw a hand grenade in Halo by swinging my arm.

    Perhaps much like Guitar Hero added the guitar controller, the motion controller is just going to add another dimension to gaming, not change it altogether.

    Microsoft would be shooting themselves in both feet if they honestly tried to do away with the controller altogether. I don't think this, or Sony's, plan at all.

    There are going to a number of games which will be greatly enhanced by adding motion control, then an even larger number that use them purely as gimmicks, but there will still be the same great library of games which (thankfully) don't use them at all.

    With Project Natal, if they bundle it cheap and developers are smart and approach it like the DS it will be good. Most the good DS games don't actually use the touch screen excusivley. It's just now and again.
    So you can still play with your controller but the camera could pick up on small things like if you jump in your seat in scary games or you can do small things like adjust your mirror in driving games by reaching up.

    I only own a Wii and the only games to tire me out are Wii Fit and Wii Sports Boxing. I don't get all this whinging. Gaming is basically a sport and I love the idea of fatigue and fitness playing a part in victory. Bring on Red Steel 2!!!
    "Do we really want to be in the position where to enjoy a tennis game, we’re going to have to be just as adept at tennis in real life?" I do for sure, games are meant to be dynamic and fresh. We want immersion, but only in some areas like graphics and story telling.
    Motion is saving sports games, which are otherwise all the same bar a graphical update.
    I'm tired of gamepads and I love the meatier feel of a waggle over a button press in say Okami.
    And yes I'm a gamer of 15 years and a launch Wii owner.

    In short, I've never played a game where motion-control made the experience more fun or engaging. Even games such as de Blob, which I adore, could easily be played using a standard control system, and with more precise controls.

    @DansDans - A valid point about reasons for Wii Sports being a top Wii game, though I disagree that motion-control is unnecessary.

    Obviously a deal of games will have maneuvers that require traditional controls - I would hate to play a motion-focused platformer - but it is painfully obvious that dual thumbsticks are not an accurate control method for all game types (first person aiming based on acceleration is just plain stupid) and though a PC gamer will claim the mouse and keyboard are the answer, the keyboard is obviously the weaker of the two devices.

    Motion control may not provide the answers here - but it certainly asks the right questions.

    Maybe motion isn't the answer to game input,

    Im not sure about Natal. No controller makes it hard to make indepth games. Even wii games still rely heavily on buttons. I think Wii has it down pat, The wiimotion plus is 1:1, and it still has a joystick and button combo. The Sony Wand, yeah looks good, but how much is it going to cost? I know it was protoype but the wand was ugly.

    natal, the girl was knackered on stage after deflecting the balls. I dont think we will see core games using the camera without a controller.

    I think Metroid Prime is a good example.

    As much as I enjoyed the whole motion sensing thing in MP3, and it did work really well considering the game was much 'shootier' than its previous incarnations, I simply couldn't play for more than an hour at a time as my shoulders were KILLING ME.

    Compare this to MP1 on the Cube, where not only does the pad control scheme better suit Metroid Prime at it's best (as a first person adventure, not a FPS like MP3 tended to be), but you don't get massive arm strain after a while. The Cube pad also has a lot more buttons than the Wiimote/Nunchuck combo, so developers have to work around a streamlined interface as well.

    It was such a relief when I got Super Smash Brawl to finally play a game on the Wii with a gamepad. Motion control is alright in short bursts, but longer more involved games simply don't work with it.

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