BioWare’s Casey Hudson Peers Into Crystal Ball, Sees Kinect In Storytelling’s Future

BioWare’s Casey Hudson Peers Into Crystal Ball, Sees Kinect In Storytelling’s Future

How will gamers of the distant future interact with their entertainment poison? Before we get to direct neural interfaces or holodecks, voice control is definitely high on the list. Mass Effect 3, despite how you may feel about its ending, already allows players to select dialogue options through voice alone using Kinect on 360. While the technology behind this feature might not be staggering in its complexity, BioWare’s Casey Hudson believes we’ll see more of it in the years to come.

Speaking to the UK’s Official Xbox Magazine (where there’s nary a mention of a certain heated topic), Hudson talks broadly about the Kinect-based controls of Mass Effect 3. Apparently, Kinect found its way into the game by “accident” — it started out with a programmer simply experimenting with the hardware — but as they spent more time with, the developer found that it was extremely straightforward to use and implement.

Hudson also feels that voice control in general could be the “future of interactive storytelling”, if only for the fact that it’s a more natural way to hold a conversation than pressing buttons on a controller. From the OXM article:

You’re just talking to a character, and you’re going deeper into their conversation, asking them questions and telling them things and after it’s over you pick up the controller, and it’s a cold piece of plastic, and you think ‘this is the old way, and what I was doing was the future’.”

While uttering single phrases to execute dialogue options is still a ways off from holding a fluent back-and-forth with a virtual character, I guess it’s a step closer. Me? I’m going to hang onto my controller / mouse / keyboard until holodecks roll up. And yes, I know I’ll probably be long dead by then.

Image: Sam Spratt.


  • Why kinect though? I have a headset with a microphone, shouldn’t I be able to use that? Does kinect itself do voice recognition rather than the console processor?

    • I seem to remember hear that was how it works. Pretty sure at the very least the Kinect SDK only recognises the Kinect Microphone and not the headset, so you’d have to write your own voice recognition code ala End War or Rainbow Six: Vagas.

  • This sounds like the whole ‘no no, it’s much better to swipe the controller across the room than it is to press attack, because that’s sort of closer to how an actual sword would work’ argument again. Without the ability for the Wii to block your swipe and provide feedback 1:1 movement is just not close enough to be any good. Likewise until you get the conversations and encounters to actually work like real conversations and not just menus then this is going to feel horribly disconnected and rather pointless.
    Without an AI that’s able to process what you say well enough that you don’t have to stick to the script it’s never going to feel like a two way street. I can’t speak for everyone but the current sytem just feels like a waste of time when I’ve got the controller in my hand and the XBOX isn’t listening anyway.

  • Why would anyone be interested in what Casey Hudson has to say about storytelling, that’s like asking me about the future of economics in Iceland.
    (Hint: I have no clue)

  • Remember when Bioware were good? It’s getting foggier the more they release games and open their mouth.

  • Just when you think you know the extent to which nerds can be malistic, whiny, bitches they come out and set the bar even higher … or is it lower?

    Grow up kids.

  • I think Casey Hudson needs to take his rose coloured glasses off when peering into his crystal ball to avoid repeat disappointments and fan dissatisfaction…

  • Sorry Casey, i dont trust your judgement anymore, so i see “red flags” with your endorsement of Kinect.

  • All I can think is ‘We’re also going to bind more things to one button in future to make life easier on consoles.”

  • Kinect found its way into Mass Effect 3 by accident? Really? You know, with the poorly performing voice recognition and the immersion breaking dialogue choosing mechanic, I never would have guessed! What another wonderful gem of insight from Casey Hudson. Next he’ll be telling people the ending was rushed!

    More seriously, I’m just not buying this. He might think the Mass Effect 3 style of “kinect dialogue integration” was great, but it was downright awful. So, I have to utter a paraphrase, and then hear my hero voice the “real” line of dialogue? I’m sorry, but there’s no universe in which that is a good idea that helps the player get immersed. Sometimes pushing a button is actually better. Designers need to realise when it is good to use voice control and when not, just like they’re starting to do with motion control.

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