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I've never been particularly impressed with motion sensing technology, though I could easily see how it could work for certain kinds of games. I think it's just easier using a controller from the comfort of your couch than gesticulating and gyrating in front of a sensor (or waving your arms around, even).
As you know, as part of my collection, I have a vast array of "yesterday's" technology, some of which appeared or was discussed in our Vintage Games book in the Dance Dance Revolution chapter. The big problem with a lot of that technology was always some time of fudging to make it work or cost cutting to keep the price reasonable. The first really functional technology at a reasonable price was Sony's original Eye Toy, though even that had its limits. The original Nintendo Wii Remote is pretty good when used right, but without the addition of the aforementioned soon-to-be-released Wii Motion Plus add-on, it's nowhere near 1:1 tracking, which is really necessary for that sort of thing.
I agree with you about comfort. I prefer using a regular wireless controller from my couch. I do other physical things - I don't necessarily need them from my videogames. Again, though, we're not talking a replacement, we're talking a complement to existing technology. Just like touch screens, multi-touch, etc., have revolutionized interfaces by finally becoming reasonably ubiquitous, I believe that this new motion stuff will have a profound influence and be incorporated more and more into everything.
I do love the special seats that give you a more visceral feedback. I didn't like the vibrating controllers very much, but moving that tech to the chair does make a noticeable difference. Of course, the costs are much too high for consumers, but who knows what may happen in the future.
The reality is, most controllers today are just rumble controllers, though they're often misnamed as force feedback. I have a true force feedback controller, one from Microsoft that makes use of the old game port and required its own power supply. This is the type of joystick that actually fight you back. You're pulling g's in a virtual aircraft and you need to fight to move the stick in the opposite direction. This tech is not cheap and can have potential reliability problems which is why it's not used more, but that's the kind of stuff that I would have actually really wanted to see supported. Rumble as-is is fine and can have its place - for instance, in Hasbro's family game night on Xbox Live Arcade when its your turn your controller shakes to indicate its time for you to go - it's a concession technology more than anything.
Frankly, we'll see integrated motion tracking long before any type of motion chairs or other similar devices, which have been planned for the home since the mid 80's. The costs are just prohibitive for the latter, not to mention storage space needs and all of the other issues. Again, once profound motion tracking is successfully paired with sonic projection to make us feel the virtual stuff we're interacting with, then we'll have the end-all, be-all technology.
I just watched Top Gun for the first time last night (gasp, I know) and now watching the special features. One thing that struck me was how much they talked about how flying a fighter jet is a physical, athletic experience. People have no idea how it actually feels to fly in one of those (the g's, the stomach leaps, etc.) Obviously, no matter how good the graphics get, this a realm of realism that's only possible with some kind of special hardware.
True, but again, it's just a matter of time for a combination of holography, sonic projection and this motion/technology we're talking about - where in theory it could all come from a projector bar - for this to become a reality. It's about removal of physical barriers - the physical is always where the cost is at - and doing as much as you can virtually.
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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