Project Natal's Lag, As Judged By Stopwatch

Microsoft's controller-free add-on Project Natal may be perfect for virtual painting and hyperactive ball-swatting, but is it responsive enough for something more intense? What does MTV's stopwatch tell us?

The MTV Multiplayer folks performed a little stopwatch-based survey of Project Natal's real-life movement to on-screen movement interpretation capabilities, deeming that the average lag time was about one-tenth of a second.

As MTV's Russ Frushtick points out, that not-so-scientific survey is not out of line with expectations set by the Wii's pre-MotionPlus remote and even high-end motion capture cameras. Still, that lag would make Project Natal certainly less useful in twitch-based games (like first-person shooters or fighting games), the kind of genre I'm hoping Natal developers will avoid anyway.

Still, that's one more concern for the pile about motion control's so-called "kinetic dissonance".

Project Natal: Timing The Delay [MTV Multiplayer]


    The delay should work in our favour really and not have natal used on games that it would probably suck at anyway.

    Sadly, I still think it will fail, it won't take off unless a huge portion of the install base have natal, or it is cheap enough to be bundled with a game that everyone will want. I can't see either happening.
    The Wii has motion controllers bundled with *every* wii sold... I've never seen an addon do well on a console, as not everyone has it so it isn't economical to develop for it long-term. The sega 3D glasses, the 32x, the JagCD etc etc. all flopped.

    Also, gaming with a motion controller in your hand, you get over the embarrassment factor pretty quickly, your body soon imagines the thing in yr hand is a tennis racket or a bowling ball or a sword. With an empty hand, it feels weird, you can even forget which hand is doing what when there is no tactile feedback. I'll wait till I see it, but I think fine tilt control will be hard without and actual controller in-hand. I think Sony is going to get this one right, their solution should be cheaper to manufacture and has the tactile advantage of a controller in your hand. Still, I like the natal technology, would like to be able to use it for motion capture and greenscreening and other activities.

    so at its slowest its response time was 1/10th of a second... on a device which probably isnt the final version.

    On top of that, it was a stopwatch used by a guy not something written into a program, so now we have the delay of a person hitting start and stop.

    this data is super "accurate", i must ask this guy for next weeks lottery numbers because he is definitely super human. you cannot accurately measure 1/10th of a second, with a handheld stop watch.

    spamming start-stop is anywhere from an 80-150ms time on my stopwatch and he is supposedly trying to time something that at its longest takes 120ms. Even if the delay was less than 80ms, he wouldnt be able to hit his handheld stopwatch fast enough to record it.

    This article has so many holes in it you can hardly call it accurate.

      sorry for the double post but mathematically, natal is said to try and guess what you are doing 30 times a second, so from that the longest LONGEST time it would take to figure out what you were doing is 1000ms/30actions = 33.3 recuring.

      Thats almost 1/4th the amount of time MTV claims.

        30 times a second is how often it's sending picture info back to the xbox; you need to compare adjacent frames (or rather, several of them to reduce error and non-intended variations), add in processing time, etc; it seems reasonable.

        I agree with your points about peripherals in general, though also be aware at how well the GH and RB accessories sold, even at the exorbitant prices of AUD$300 upwards for the bundles. It's possible for Natal to do well, but I think support from (good) games will come second to clever marketing.

          Whoops that second comment is in regards to Peter Richard's post.

            I think ultimately it will depend on what games are made for it. If they are real hardcore games, then it could take off, if the hardware is capable of it and designers find a way to make the motion control work well in a hardcore game.

            However if it just means lots of Wii style games on the 360, what's the point?

              On contrar I think it would fail with hardcore games.

              It is just too much effort to raise your arm higher than a few inches to perform casual functions. Before you say "fat lazy bastard",
              I meant to say that video games is an activity which require minimal movements or gestures, especially for long drawn out comprehensive games.

              The Wii survived because you can still play games with minimal movement.

              Natal requires too much movement to be of any use for hardcore games. I think they just want a share of nintendos huge casual market.

              This is also why I think monitor touch screen will fail. I'm talking about the big non-mobile monitors of course, because no one wants to hold their arms in the air to operate a computer for hours on end.

                You're not exactly wrong when it comes to the touch screen debacle, however, as the iPhone points out, it all depends on the applications. Typing out an e-mail, or doing most of your simple point and click things would be easier (and some what more practical) on your average PC, but there will always be applications where it'd simply be easier to use your hands.

                Most types of management tools (think hotel room bookings, emergency systems that can display a 3D map of a building, or even plans to move troops around on a battle field) for instance, would benefit users over a standard PC installation (especially in situations where multiple people would like to interact with the same thing without having to relay information).

                Trying to put things like this into your average person's house though, is not the best idea, since your average person will have very little use for it (unless it's used to adjust the climate control of their house or something stupid like that).

          doesnt change the fact you cant accurately measure time in the 10s of milliseconds.

    The device is final, as they have not only redesigned the device to run more on software, but kits have alreay been sent to devs.

      the article mentions the demo was identical to the one used at last years E3, so not the final version. Glad we made the distinction.

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