E3 2011: Kinect Sports: Season Two Preview Impressions

We get our first look at a couple of new sports in this motion-controlled sequel.

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Sports are a great way to showcase motion-control devices. When the Kinect debuted last fall, Kinect Sports was the most popular game for the camera. Developer Rare brought outdoor favorites, such as soccer and track racing into people's homes, and it did a good job of showing off the new peripheral's capabilities. A year later, Rare has teamed up with Big Park, but the tradition of being able to control sporting events with your entire body marches onward. Kinect Sports: Season Two will be released later this year.

Six sports are included this time (golf, skiing, darts, tennis, football, and baseball), though only football and golf were shown off today. Like last year, these games make full use of body tracking, but voice commands now work as well.

Voice commands were shown off in golf first. The on-stage demonstrator said, "Change club, pitching wedge, ready" and her onscreen avatar responded in kind. There are some clever motions also included. For instance, when you put your hand to your forehead like a military salute, you get a fly-by shot of the entire hole. Other than that, things played out as you might expect. You swing your arms like you're holding a golf club, and it seems as if the actions translate well in game.

The other event demonstrated was football. This paired two players together; one assumed the role of quarterback while the other was a receiver. Voice commands allow you to call plays just by shouting out what you want to do. The person playing QB shouted out "Slant 25," and the players lined up to run the play.

Everything was running smoothly at this point, but things got a little crazy afterward. Once we snapped the ball (again, by yelling out a specific phrase), the person playing QB dropped back like a professional tosser. He moved his legs to get a better stance and swayed his body as if he were looking for a receiver, but his avatar didn't mimic these moves all. Rather, his digital representation stood stock still and got sacked by a defender.

The second play ("Streak") went very much the same. The person playing QB moved around like he was in the NFL, but the avatar stood still. It's unclear at this point if the game will eventually mirror your movements or not, but it was strange seeing the demonstrator move around so much without any reaction in game. Eventually, he tossed the ball by exhibiting the corresponding motion, though the ball wasn't released until well after he completed his movement. It's uncertain if such a noticeable delay was the result of technical problems or not, but it was a shaky showing for the debut.

Stay tuned for more information on this upcoming game. Check out our live show on Thursday to see Kinect Sports: Season Two for yourself.

Discussion

5 comments
thorpemark
thorpemark

The box the kinect sees is not that large. A QB's 3 step drops (the shortest and quickest) might fit into what kinect can see. But if you go do a 5 step drop or, gulp, 7 step drop you will move too far away for kinect to handle it. All kinect games require you to stay in the box or the unit thinks you left the game, paused the game, etc. It could be the early stage of this game has not added in the feedback mechanism for the user moving outside the box that Kinect can see. The track sprint in the earlier sports kinect game had you run in place. My guess would be football will be the same. Also, whether you place the Kinect BELOW the TV or ABOVE the TV (screen centered).. this could help or hurt in recognizing bigger boxes and tall people etc. The camera sees in a cone-shape... narrow up close and wider farther from it. And at some point you are too far for Kinect to know where you are, what you are doing. Microsoft, Xbox360 and Kinect should be careful.. people may like sports so much after the Kinect.. they might actually unplug, go outside and play sports.

Supremity1
Supremity1

One last note, kicking will probably be annoying. It needs to see your foot when it reaches the floor and will it know what direction the ball should go by how the foot looks? I bet it has a delay just like throwing the football and assumes the direction and power based upon the entire kicking motion and the ending position of the movement (and once the ending position happens is probably when the kick in the game starts. I apologize for the multiple posts. Just had to get all of that off my chest.

Supremity1
Supremity1

Heck in my opinion the guy jumping around as a typical quarterback after a snap should have been a guaranteed thing by now with Kinect. Obviously there is something missing. Maybe (as I mentioned several sentences before) the 360 just doesn't have the power to deal with this. Maybe there needs to be more cameras in more locations. And I do hope the speech recognition uses not only the microphone but also the camera since the current research in this field has already proven that the only way to have perfect speech recognition is through both (or have everyone take diction classes).

Supremity1
Supremity1

Microsoft is very brave to try motion detection using a camera. The Wii used a controller and and infrared sensor for a reason. The Wii simplified digital movement capture. It is far more difficult to translate movements in real life to the digital world using a camera (or multiple cameras in a box rather). The very fact that it can recognize a person is very impressive. Sadly a camera may see you throwing a football, but the xbox probably does not have the power to decipher whether or not you really are throwing the ball. What determines if you really are throwing the ball or not is your hand, not your arm. For a person, we know what to look for, what it should look like (even recognize that even though what we're seeing might be awkward is what are looking for and adjust what we are looking for accordingly). So in the case of throwing the ball we are looking for the hand to release the ball. I doubt we will see technology figuring out how to do this seeing as how Microsoft has to program every instance of what Kinect should be looking for just like EA has to program every possible tackle. I admit that it is possible but I think it is still a long time from now.

hhap52
hhap52

oh wow, I can't believe I missed this in the press conference.