Remember when the Natal was announced? Man, those were exciting times. The endless possibilities we were promised with this new technology (whatever happened to Milo and Kate anyway? Hope their well.) Then it was released, and there was much rejoicing. For a while anyway, then all that hype (at least for me) started to slowly die away as we watched more and more sports or dance simulations populate the console, the Kinect essentially bringing the same catalogue of titles the Wii had been boasting for a good few years previously. So what happened? Is it that gestures can only ever fit into that fitness and sports paradigm? Or was it something darker? Was it…dare I say…a lack of imagination on the developers part? (dum dum duuuum.)

Seeing as how it’s well established that big developers aren’t willing to take risks these days and would much rather play by what everyone else is doing and selling, the latter argument is indeed possible… perhaps maybe not a lack of imagination, perhaps more courage and cojones is what’s missing here.

So, enough blathering. What am I going to do about it? The struggling student designer with time on his hands and nothing better to do with himself- obviously, start digging a little deeper. So, I began looking for what was missing and stumbled across Rise of Nightmares. If you haven’t played it, it’s a horror survival where you cruise the environment bashing things with lead pipes and it was pretty good, albeit for one fatal flaw – getting the character to move in a straight line…neigh, FORWARDS was half of the games difficulty. A segment which saw you simply crossing a room became a deadly challenge as you stepped forwards to move yet your avatar decides reversing would be far more preferable. Where was the sense in creating the cumbersome movement mechanics which didn’t work half the time when a standard controller has proven successful at this for many a year? With this, Rise of Nightmares gave me my mission. I was to recreate a similar styled game but throw in a pad so you could actually move around, maybe even letting the player sit down for once whilst using the sensor. Boom.

So here we are now, my dissertation piece for my final year focussing on defining a system comprising of both gestures AND traditional control devices, comparing controllerless systems with its ‘archaic’ joystick based rivals and hedging my bets on the latter. Linked below you’ll find the first update for my project. Here’s to the next one!