Kotaku vs Gizmodo: Kinect

Both myself and Nick Broughall, from our sister site Gizmodo, managed to get hold of Kinect early this week, and we've been messing around with it for the past couple of days. So we thought we'd do a quick little convo, just to let you know our early impressions from both a tech and a gaming perspective. Let us know what you think below - has anyone picked up Kinect yet? Impressed? Disappointed?

MARK: So, have you busted out your Kinect yet? After setting the thing up, and getting thoroughly creeped out by the HALesque red light emanating from one of the cameras, I chucked in Dance Central and had a blast.

I must admit, I had some serious doubts about the viability of Kinect - as a piece of tech and as a gaming device – but having gone hands-on in my own home, I’m quite excited by the possibilities.

NICK: I was weirdly excited by the thought of unboxing the Kinect. I'd seen the demos and reviews from the US and a part of me was desperate to tear it from the cardboard packaging, strap on the fluoro sweat bands and dance like I've never danced before with Dance Central. So that's what I did. Minus the fluoro, of course…

I spent about two and a half hours playing around with Dance Central and Kinect Adventures with my wife. We had heaps of fun, but there was an element of deja vu to the experience. It was the same type of fun I had playing Wii Sports when that came out, and now Nintendo's box sits dusty and unloved in a cabinet below my TV, the unloved stepchild of a passionate gaming parent. I fear the Kinect could suffer the same fate…

MARK: Totally agree. Unboxing the thing and, curiously, setting the whole thing up, had that ‘ooh, I’m doing something new’ feeling, but that sense of elation was instantly deflated when I looked at the pile of games beside the box. Dance Central was a given, since I’m such a huge Harmonix fanboy, but besides that I was looking at Wii Sports (Kinect Sports), Wii Play (Kinect Adventures), Nintendogs (Kinectimals) and Wii Fit (Your Shape). The potential of the tech is being hampered by Microsoft’s need to have an alternative to every top selling Nintendo series on the market.

The major reason the Wii sold so rapidly in the beginning was through strong word of mouth, so I find it strange that Microsoft don’t have an in-house developed title that really shows off the Kinect’s point of difference. There’s literally nothing here that we haven’t seen before.

Ironically, I reckon that it’s a third party title that may just work as Microsoft’s Trojan Horse. Dance Central does a better job than all the other games combined of being a) awesome, b) tactile, and c) appealing to a non-gamer demographic. I got caught in the Dance Central act by my wife and her friend and, quite frankly, they lost their freakin’ minds over Dance Central. My wife’s friend, who had never played a game in her life, left the house sold on the Kinect concept and that’s the kind of tight knit marketing it needs to succeed.

NICK: Definitely! The guys at Harmonix are "The Beatles" of game development – they keep reinventing genres and bringing out products on a whole new level. Growing up, my wife used to be a bit of a dancer, and she absolutely loved tearing up the virtual dancefloor in our loungeroom to an inanimate object with an evil red eye. Despite not being a gamer, she was humiliating me with her high scores, too.

But I actually don't think something like Dance Central will be enough for Microsoft. The Xbox is not the Wii, regardless of the Kinect's launch lineup. Trying to sell the Kinect to the fans whose consoles may as well be labelled HaloBox is a tough ask. Microsoft need to spend a lot of energy (and cash) creating gaming experiences that take advantage of the Kinect's amazing technology for more engaging experiences. Social party games are not going to move large amounts of units, especially now that pretty much everybody already owns a Wii and knows how good it is at gathering dust.

MARK: Yeah – maybe that $500 million dollars they spent on advertising will ease the burden a bit!

I think another thing Microsoft have to make a big deal of is just the social nature of Kinect and how it allows you to interact with others. Case in point – I was playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood last night and a little message popped up inviting me to a Kinect chat. I accepted and, after a niggly amount of updating and downloading, I was transposed into a video chat with Darren Wells, editor of the Official Xbox Magazine, who is on my Xbox friends list. So far so pedestrian I thought, but then I moved my head... and the camera panned to follow my head.

Instantly I freaked out a bit, so I started moving around. I discovered that the camera was actually tracking my movements, basically following me around the room! Darren had never seen my apartment before, so gave him a quick tour by basically walking around and having the camera follow me. It was a liberating, yet simutaneously terrifying, experience.

In this respect I think Microsoft are really onto something. All of my family live overseas, and I would really love to use Kinect to keep in touch with them – to actually see and interact with them instead of just talking on the phone. Kinect has added functionality over Skype, and the ease of use, using a television in the living room space, makes this sort of communication feel less clinical than, say, Skype.

I was actually quite blown away.

NICK: There's no doubt that the technology inside the Kinect is amazing. And the really exciting thing is that it's the kind of tech that can drive forward computing in general, not just video games. We've both seen some of the amazing ways people are hacking the device for Minority Report like UIs, and the rumours are already flying around about the next version of Windows using Kinect technology to allow users to control their PCs by pointing and waving. Given technology's history of making things smaller, Kinected PCs (see what I did there?) could be a real possibility in a few years time.

That said, the road of history is littered with examples of technology that promised much and delivered little. It's still too early to say whether Kinect is going to follow that path, but I hope it doesn't. So long as Microsoft put enough time and effort into creating experiences that everyone can enjoy, not just trying to copy Nintendo's approach with the Wii, I think they can succeed.

MARK: Personally, for me, it has to be about the games and new experiences, and so far I’m not really seeing it. I sat in a presentation at the Tokyo Game Show listening to Hideo Kojima rattle on about all the insane stuff he wanted to try with the technology. I remember looking at the Microsoft guys and chuckling as they adjusted their collars nervously – but I think Kinect really needs a visionary creator like Kojima to grab this tech by the balls and do something unique. That sort of software will get Kinect over the line for me.


    Two problems:

    1) I'm out of Gil
    2) I live in a shoebox - no room

    But the more I read the more I WANT!!

    That Darren Wells is a bold one, he is, requesting a Kinect chat with you at home. Gathered statistics indicate that the chances of you being pantsless at home at about 99.84%.

    Pre-ordered, still waiting for delivery...

    After saying I'd wait, I caved and picked up the Big W deal, then sold the Sonic game for $45, so it made the Kinect be a $154 purchase. Going to set it up at home tonight, I really bought it because I want to get over my dance-phobia to be honest, and my daughter seriously wants kinectimals. Outside of that, I may buy a fitness title, but I can't see anything else coming down the line that I am excited about.
    I mainly justified the purchase as I wanted one to play with on the PC via the hacked drivers. I have done a lot of messing around with the wiimote whiteboard type apps, and I figure even if I don't end up gaming, I'll get $150 worth of fun out of the hacking.

      If you find anything good please share. I justified it the same way as you... so if you get anything up and running, let me know. I want to start playing around with this on the weekend also... Cheers,

    "NICK: Definitely! The guys at Harmonix are “The Beatles” of game development – they keep reinventing genres and bringing out products on a whole new level."

    That's an insult to the Beatles.

      Who's the Yoko Ono of games development?

        Bobby Kotick!

        Given that they're selling HMX, that would have to be Viacom at the moment.

    So THATS what the Matte finish 4GB Xbox 360 looks like in RL! I prefer my shiny :)

    Would have been nice to mention the fact there is no support for Voice Control in Australia...
    I actually asked a Microsoft rep demoing a Kinect in Brisbane 2 weeks ago and he replied that it wasn't the case and they had heard of no such thing...
    #$%#@$%#@$ weak as @#$%@#$

    I'm cancelling my order

      Very good point.
      KOTAKU: How did two of you fail to notice this and not mention it!!!????

      Im not buying it for the following reasons:
      1. They failed to make games for us gamers, instead aiming for soccer mums who aint going to buy a new console anyway.
      2. Price should be similar to the US pricing, but it's not, of course.
      But most of all;
      3. It needs a large room to work.
      4. They released it without voice controls here in oz!!!!!! wow!!!

      F#$k off Microsoft, i'm done with you. Show me contempt and i'll show it back -im selling my 360 collection and will keep buying wii & ps3 games.

    I agree with the conclusion you guys came to. It sounds promising but it's still missing that something. I'll probably buy one anyway just for the family fun.

    I just have a couple of comments:
    1) Ok, before I say this I fully understand that some people will see them on a different level but "Dance Central" == "Just Dance". To the casual consumer this is still not really a selling point.
    2) Since the majority of people still do not have their consoles online (moreso for the mass market) then the video chat is not quite so much of a selling point as far as I can tell.

    Since that's your two big maybe selling points it's still not looking good in my opinion. Of course there's still good odds that something else cool will come out, but I can't see these two things being the "must have" feature of the device.

      I demoed dance central and I've played just dance as well. While Dance central is far superior in accuracy, I can't justify the $270 price tag for kinect when Just dance is just $70.
      It's $200 more for a casual game.
      The harry potter kinect game seems promising, but it still doesn't sell kinect to me.

    Would be considering it, but two big problems.

    1) I live in a cupboard. My 'gaming' rig is just a crappy 51 cm TV sitting on top of a bar fridge with all 3 consoles stacked haphazardly on top of each other. The foot of my bed is around.... 1m away from said bar fridge.

    2) Too expensive for me now. Considering the Wii is now cheap as chips, it's a hell of an order to pay that much for a platform add-on.

    3) Very few intriguing games currently.

    I work in a games department, and I had to set one up today to help push some sales. Here's my thoughts:
    - Unfortunately I couldn't try out the voice commands due to our store being too loud!
    - I had a play around with Kinect Adventures, and although it was mildly amusing, it just gave me flashbacks of Eye Toy. I agree in the fact that they've got the tech here, they're just not using it to it's potential.
    - I was a little surprised with how far back I had to be to get the thing to work well. I have access to 2 tvs in my home, neither of which is in a big enough room to use Kinect.
    - We only sold a hand full of them, which was interesting, because we had a very successful Move launch.
    - Overall, I wasn't sold. I didn't get to try out (what seems to be) the more impressive features, but at this point in time, video chat is not enough to make me pick one up. I want to see some revolutionary implementations!

    Picked up Kinect today along with Fighters Uncaged, Dance Evolution, Dance Central and Dance Paradise. Dance Central is definitely the most fun. Fighters Uncaged can be frustrating at times, but still enjoyable.

    Setting up the Kinect is a lot of hassle - since I live in an apartment, I have to re-arrange my lounge room to make space. And while it says it needs 1.8 metres, you'd need almost double that to be able to play without any hassles.

    It also makes me nervous how many photos there now are of me without a shirt on striking dance poses :S

    And now after playing Kinect for a few hours it's to play Assassins Creed Brotherhood :P

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