Konami's Kojima, Capcom's Inafune, Sega's Nagoshi discuss Project Natal's potential

Three Japanese game industry heavyweights discuss the possibilities of Microsoft's motion-sensing tech and how it will affect the future of games.

by

Who Was There: The Microsoft Creator's Panel at this year's Tokyo Game Show featured three of Japan's most celebrated game developers, who have never before been in the same room together. The panel consisted of Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi (Super Monkey Ball), Capcom's Keiji Inafune (Dead Rising 2), and Konami's Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid Rising). The panel discussion was moderated by Takashi Sensui, general manager of the Home and Entertainment division at Microsoft.

Konami's Hideo Kojima.

What They Talked About: It's hard to downplay the interest that Project Natal has generated both within and outside of the games industry. This morning, Microsoft announced an impressive list of publishers that are "actively working on games" using the technology, including Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Capcom, and Konami. During this mediated panel discussion, the publisher showed off three Japanese creators who have embraced Project Natal and have already begun to map out its future in video game development.

Starting the proceedings was a video message from Don Mattrick, senior vice president of Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, who praised the three men and their work, congratulating them on making video games more accessible and stating that the Xbox 360 is the best platform for Japanese game developers to work with. To back his statement, Mattrick told the audience that the top 20 Japanese titles to be released in the US over the past year have sold 20 percent better on the Xbox 360 than any other platform.

Sensui then kicked off the discussion by asking Nagoshi, Inafune, and Kojima about their first impressions of Project Natal. Nagoshi related his experience seeing Natal for the first time, admitting he was somewhat skeptical at first, unsure of why Microsoft was showing him a sensor. Things changed quickly: after the demonstration, Nagoshi immediately found himself asking when he could get his hands on the technology.

Inafune shared a similar experience, relating how his mind began to swarm with ideas the minute he realised what he was witnessing. For Kojima, seeing Natal for the first time was a shock. He likened the experience to the first time he witnessed the transition between 2D to 3D technology, saying he knew that a lot of different companies had tried to come up with similar things, but he was shocked to see that Microsoft had gotten there first.

"I had to restrain myself from telling everyone I met," Kojima told the audience.

The next question pertained to the potential of Project Natal, where Inafune explained how game developers are often reluctant to throw away the past. "But with Natal, we don't have to throw away the technoloies we've built on. We can add to them. This technology surpasses anything we have at the same time as treasuring the current tradition. I see the potential of Natal, and it's not just a traditional fad."

Capcom's Keiji Inafune.

Kojima responded that true innovation is not having a game controller to hold onto, and that's what Natal is. He believes Natal will not only change the future of video games, but whole lifestyles, from shopping to advertising to doing business.

The panel was then asked about the impact of Project Natal on the video game world. Inafune and Kojima both replied that Natal will raise the bar in all aspects of entertainment and allow people to be connected with their machines in a way that we've encountered only in science fiction. Even people who are not gamers can be a part of it because Natal is based on intuition, something that will take video games to a whole new level of interactivity.

The other key issue discussed by the panel was the capabilities of video games to elicit emotions. For Kojima, the excitement of something like Natal is in the idea that a machine can recognize and understand human emotions and interact with humans in ways never before seen. With the growth of networks, graphics, and peripherals in video games, Natal will allow gamers to express real emotions within a gameworld. Nagoshi then gave the example of caressing a character within a video game, or holding on to an item with both hands. It was agreed by all three panelists that current controllers limit the amount of emotion that gamers invest into a game experience.

The next question put to the panelists was about the reaction of gamers to a new technology like Natal. Kojima declared that gamers will soon become accustomed to not holding a controller in their hands, even if some gamers might at first feel alienated. However, he recognized that it was up to developers to try to bridge this gap with the software they developed. Inafune cut in, saying that while developers have to respond to the expectations of gamers, they cannot overdo it. If this were to happen, gamers may not understand the new direction and may feel left behind.

Nagoshi agreed, saying, "We have to nurture gamers, not just jump into something completely new. It has to be a smooth transition." Before wrapping the point, he joked that Natal signals the beginning of the gaming of tomorrow. "Remember the film Back to the Future? We're very close to that future right now," he said.

The discussion then turned to other uses for Project Natal besides gaming, where Kojima spoke up about the benefits of the technology in the field of medicine and assistance to the elderly and sick. Inafune also pointed out that with Natal, those with disabilities will be able to enjoy the experience of gaming in the same way that they could not before, since Natal relies on things like vocal intonation and face recognition.

Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi.

It was agreed that game developers would have to show the rest of the world the way forward. "We have to be role models with Natal and act responsibly," said Inafune. "We can lead people and show them the potential of Natal. We [game developers] are serious people, and we can lead the rest of the world to this new technology."

The panel closed with each of the creators talking about their vision for the future with Project Natal. For Inafune, the dream is to one day create emotionally complex video games that have a "big impact on the heart" in the same vein as films. Nagoshi wants to use Natal to create a "sense of life." Kojima replied that for him, coming face-to-face with a technology that can understand who he truly is was his childhood dream, and now that he has it he will use it to make the best video games he can. "Natal is the person who understands me best," he summarized.

Quote: Hideo Kojima: "Using Natal, I'd like to come up with a completely new game that no one has seen before. I know I have lots of fans that are loyal to me, and I don't want to leave them behind. So maybe I can come up with a car that can fly, so my fans can follow me...metaphorically speaking, of course."

Takeaway: The panel was unanimous that the possibilities of Project Natal seem endless and varied. Whether the public feels the same way when the technology hits the market next year remains to be seen.

Discussion

81 comments
cyclonebw
cyclonebw

Did anyone else find it hilarious that Kojima wants to go back PS3 exclusives after seeing MW2? lol? I can find the like to the article if anyone messages me wanting it.

Jonny_Tanna
Jonny_Tanna

*Yawwwwwwn* I breezed through the article, saw Kojima talking non-sense and being sycophantic as usual, raving about how great something is, because he cannot seem to string together a sentence to really say what he wants, since he used up all of his imagination in creating Policenauts. (Either that or he's too busy counting the dough microsoft gave him for that shallow endorsement). I just really hope they don't make natal obligatory when playing Dead Rising 2. I mean Dead Rising Wii is proof that games like that should stay on the pad.

itBit
itBit

not very excited ... remember, this is Microsoft (the king of MARKETING)

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

People said the same about the wii before it came out.

target_037
target_037

i hope mgs rising uses project natal. ohh what would that be like?? :))

Spider-Jim
Spider-Jim

Good to see Hideo is on board, I'm suprised he didn't do more Wii or DS games. The things he did with my PSX (i'm thinking Psycho Mantis mostly) really opened my eyes!

fatpumba3
fatpumba3

Looks promising this will own any of Sony's desperate attempts at getting back at Microsoft's sales.

bennae66
bennae66

here i will even stab a bit of fun at my beloved xbox: imagine if you will, you get the red rings of death, natal recognises your frustration and says 'im so sorry, dont worry, we have already dispatced a new one via courier.' to others it may say 'cheer up emo kid'

bennae66
bennae66

alot of people forget there can be full cooperation with a traditional controller. imagine speech paths in mass effect where you scowl at the screen to garner an aggressive response, or smile for a posiutive one. imagine if an npc in a role playing game (or even action game) in a cutscene said something that was serious and you genuinely laughed, and the npc asked: 'do you think this is funny?' or 'why the hell are you laughing at a time like this??' its not just about 'how can i play killzone 2 without a controller? its impossible!' its about yelling 'medic!' at the screen when your health bar flashes (without headset) theres more than what people have been directly told. im not excited about a racing game that doesnt have a wheel, but i AM excited about games reacting to the way i think and act myself. thats a true magic that cinema will never replicate. and its the first step to a computer that you talk to. back in the 80's people used to watch sci fi tv shows where main characters communicated with the computer aboard thier ships. it blows me away that people cant see this. they only see a "stupid first person game that you make 'pow' noises at the screen while pointing your finger" and that, good sirs and maams, is a right joke. -end rant

bboysleepy32
bboysleepy32

As a PS3 owner, I hope this does work. This is breakthrough technology, I hope they make a dancing game out of this

Agelu
Agelu

Extremely interesting tech. But at the end, it'll be not about the tech... it'll be about if enough people are willing to accept, and embrace it. So many interesting techs have been lost, or been "ahead of its time" for not generating enough "interest" on people...

Kenrocc
Kenrocc

the technology is very interesting this will change things wether people like it or not but the people producing the technology.... very skeptical

zbugja
zbugja

gorgeous man! now we can play a fighting game and have a real workout at the same time! it's healthy! practice your ryu combos! shoryuken!!!! haaaddoken!! dokken kills them chickens! hahahahaha

krytorii
krytorii

theres going to be a problem with physical feedback. Its all very well being able to do all these things but if you cant feel it its not quite the same plus it will have the same problm as touchscreen phones, its hard to tell if u pressed the button right

DjTIEST0
DjTIEST0

1 they are not saying they will remove the controller so chill out guys and 2 if capom is on it dam can wait to play street fighter on natal cos it will be awesome

anzelm
anzelm

I'll believe it when I see it. I'm somewhat skeptical at the moment. If they could make it work it would be a huge effort but I guess they have a lot to work on.

scarface_dm
scarface_dm

Anybody else think a Snatcher game using Natal would be a perfect fit!!

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

so Kojima making cqc natal, interesting.

surrealme
surrealme

"those with disabilities will be able to enjoy the experience of gaming in the same way that they could not before" Yes, exactly the same way as never before! Does Gamespot even have editors anymore?

Skreechd
Skreechd

well...the demo looked great....but do I realy want to trow away my controller?...nope!

mark_unix
mark_unix

Microsoft demo's look horrible.. who's gonna hold up their entire hand to move trough a menu? while i can do it all with the press of a single finger...

elbeasto1
elbeasto1

I'm not sure how well Natal will work with actual gameplay, but I am very excited about the potential for interacting with in-game characters. Imagine playing catch or giving a character a high-five. The facial recognition could also be great for cutscenes and interaction. Picture being at a character's funeral. All the characters are sad, but one of them looks at your character while you have a big smile on your face and the game recognizes that you are smiling! Then all the characters think you're a jerk for a while. That would be amazing!!

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Well Natal is the only reason that I will be picking up a 360 at some point so it has done something right.

XenoNative
XenoNative

@sco-fisticated i couldnt of said it better myself.

sco-fisticated
sco-fisticated

i agree that Natal has great potential. but i think what is making me apprehensive about it is the air surrounding it of "this will be the 100% end of the controller." i might be being a fuddy duddy of the controler era (which i guess is what we might end up being called), but i really do like having a physical object in my hands. to pull a real trigger, and to have the rumble make a recoil. it's like wen playing swords when ur little. one CAN make believe without the something in ur hands, but if a stick is available, it just might get used. but i definitly think can add much to video gaming. and that it doesnt NEED replace the controller completely. Natal most probably will change gaming, but i hope it doesnt get so overconfident as to think it will kill the controller dead.

wahyudil
wahyudil

Natal will become a great interface ... good for things unrelated to games ... things like casual game will be fit too ... but for real hard core game, I think windows surface is better fit than Natal ... yes Natal is great, but not for hard core gaming ....

tbs76
tbs76

Project Natal will not replace traditional videogames but will act as an add on device that will bring new "experiences" into the consumers home. The 360 will still be used for traditional style games but I expect to see some games offering Natal integration for those who own one. I really believe this is Microsofts attempt to really deliver something new and it will certainly steal some of the attention the Wii has been getting. Take a look at the demo of Milo by Lionhead Studios and Peter Molyneux and if yo cant see the obvious potential of this technology you must truely be a moron. I commend Microsofts decision to extend the life of the 360 market and I hope Natal can truely succeed. I dont think we will see alot of great software for Natal in its first year on the market, most likely tech demo games that show the potential (much like Wii Sports did for Wii). I think by year two and three the programs will be so unique and intriguing that people will be lining up for 360's just so they can get there hands on Natal. Oh..one last point to Microsoft, please make Natal affordable. I think if you go over $299 you will be dooming this great device right out of the gate. Oh...before I forget,make sure this device is reliable and wont any rrod type failures. Thanks.

TripSe7en
TripSe7en

I really do not understand how so many can be so quick to pass judgement on something this revolutionary. It is inventions and adaptations of different technology like this that allow us to get deeper into games. As a gamer since the Colecovision, I am anxiously anticipating Natal and Sony's new tech and even more so, what developers like Kojima will do with the tech and where they will take US... I have sat on my couch and played video games for the last 25 years. For me, I cant wait to get more submerged into the games and feel like I am actually there and not just sitting back and watching the game unfold.

nate1222
nate1222

While I'm a huge fan of Kojima and Inafune, I'm still not sold on Natal. The issue of "cost-to-consumer" hasn't been addressed and I'm content with standard controllers (i.e. 2 analog sticks, d-pad, 4 face buttons, 4 triggers).

alexkn64
alexkn64

I'm still not that sold on it. I really dislike motion control in general, regardless of the implementation of it. I can't see myself straying from the traditional controllers that I've come to love so dear ANYTIME in the near future. So long as we're given a choice though...I'll play along. I'm still skeptical about NATAL, but the level of excitement they were using was quite impressive. More than just the civil "it looks promising" line you'd get from pretty much anyone else in the industry; just so feathers aren't ruffled. But these people seem genuinely enthused by it. Awe-struck even. It certainly does make me a little less skeptical seeing how excited these three men are, but I'll wait till I see some actual games for it first before I render an opinion on it.

itameq
itameq

I think natal's going to go the way of the wiimote for hardcore gamers. Im sure for most games there will be an option to use a controler, so the developer dose not lose anyone put off by natal. And like the wii, if one person is using a wiimote and the other is using a gamecube controler, Mr. wiimote's going to get his ass handed to him. I could be suprised by natal, but i doubt it.

stalent
stalent

I don't think this is going to be very popular. There's a very limited set of enjoyable simulations that can take place in the limited space around a television set: catch, ping pong, driving, paddy-cake, etc. Where Project Natal may succeed is not in the motion capture aspects, but in voice and facial recognition. These two things are software based applications, though, and could be duplicated on multiple systems. We'll just have to see what developers come up with.

Mc_Trickz
Mc_Trickz

This is not that simple but ok...

dysonlu
dysonlu

@BladedNuiasnce: Well, it may surprise you but yes, it is more fun manipulating a controller with your thumbs to make your game character do stuff than actually having to do it yourself. That's because it take VERY LITTLE EFFORT. I think the "effort required" factor is the most important thing that people involved in developing motion tech gaming must not overlook. Unless a given game is of the exercise and fitness genre, it must not force the gamer to spend physical effort above a certain threshold. Playing a fighting or shooting game, you shoot or punch hundreds of times, but are you willing to move your hands/arms in the air hundreds of times to simulate the action? I don't think so -- it just gets too tiresome after a while. That's why I believe most Natal-enabled games will use the tech as a complementary interface to the controller.

greatcarbuncle
greatcarbuncle

" those with disabilities will be able to enjoy the experience of gaming in the same way that they could not before" wha? if anything making gaming a more physical exercise will HINDER disabled people's enjoyment of videogames... and i am still not convinced that natal will be good. all this hype just for what looks like 'anotehr motion sensor' i will wait before judging...

mpeg3s
mpeg3s

I've already thought of a way to PROFIT from NATAL. Somebody is going to have to sell NATAL device and furniture INSURANCE. I can see gamers paying a monthly fee to protect their stuff!

BladedNuiasnce
BladedNuiasnce

@ dysonlu It will be no less fun than moving your thumb left or right to dive or pressing youre thumb down over the X button to kick. as far as flipping through catalouges- the video demo they showed with the ladie operating NetFlix, using big long arm swoops would indeed suck, but what if it is more sensitive... What if I can leave my hand on my lap and with the flip of a finger, navigate? Then there would be no learning curve you dont have to remember the function of each button, or where that button is located, furthermore you wouldnt have to learn new button configs for each app/game available, as we do now. Its a much more natural expieriance, plus, have you ever accidently hit the wrong button, or two buttons at once, and had the result screw you, Im sure you have, I know I have! This would no longer be an issue. as long as they dont over use it, its all pros, no cons! I just hope for a nice balance of traditional controllers, and Natal. Having a controller for certain actions, and motion sensor for others, would be ideal. consider a fighting game, use the controller for the basics, punch, kick, movement, and so on, then use motion gestures for evading, power up activation, and special moves! SICK!

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

I'm extremely skeptical about Natal, and I certainly hope that it won't be implemented extensively in the future. One of my major gripes with the Wiimote that kept me from buying the console was the lack of precision (not to mention the fact that it often requires more room than i have available in my gaming area). Natal looks to have the same problem if not more severe, not to mention that it could prove exhausting to get even a little play time in. The PS3's motion controller looks more precise, but in the end I'd still want to use it sparingly and stick to the controller for most normal gameplay.

snakes3425
snakes3425

Thinking outside the box and taking risks is how technology advances.

y2guru
y2guru

Be it Wii, Natal or Sonys new Motion Controller, its how the motion interface is incorporated into the Games or should I say how a Game is designed up front to use the interface. In the case of the Wii you have no choice as the motion interface is its primary interface and obviously its whole appeal, with Eye Toy or even Sony's Sixaxis the games that utilized this technology was an after thought or at least thats how it felt. Im not skeptical about Natal and I'm intrigued to see how it plays out, but unless the Star Trek Next Generation Holo deck is available unfortunately I still feel the need to have a controller in hand (with Rumble) as its my physical interaction to whats going on in the game world. I personally like the direction Sony is taking, but with both Microsoft and Sony now investing heavily in this arena I would hate to see good games screwed up because the interface was simply added on after the fact. Like i said above, the Holo Deck or the impression of touching objects in a virtual space is definately the way to go, but unfortunately not any time soon.

Lionhart_basic
Lionhart_basic

The problem people are having is thinking outside the box. Many complaints are thinking of the controller as the game instead of what we can use to control the game. Games using Natal will be different. The interaction will be different. As game makers mentioned above that a big change like that can scare gamers away that the game makers should comfortablely bridge the gap between controller and Natal. I'm very interested in how Natal will make games evovle to another level. As far as walking or running in a game that can easily be remedied just like controller custumization instead of walking in place you can just point it the direction you want to walk in. All those worried about the controllers era ending shouldn't be worried they will still be a big part of gaming...for now.

StanleyL
StanleyL

I don't care if it's Natal, Wii, or Eye Pet. Watching videos of actors playing on conceptual game systems always makes me cringe.

dysonlu
dysonlu

So pretending to hold a racing wheel in driving games and pretending to fight a bad guy by kicking thin air is fun??? OK, technologically speaking, Natal, if it actually works as advertised, is pretty cool. But I don't think pushing the motion control gimmick to the extreme is practical or fun. I mean, will people really prefer flipping through a catalogue by waving their hand in the air instead of using a simple remote control or controller? I don't think so. This thing will, at best, complement a game that people play with a controller (for example, for dodging bullets in a shooting game). I don't think there will be lots of games that will use this tech alone, without controllers -- it can get tiresome after half an hour of "play".

kejigoto
kejigoto

Seems like more hype is building around Natal and that it is actually going to deliver, especially now that some big names are getting behind it and are saying they are impressed with not only the demos, but actually spending time with Natal and getting to use it. Wonder how Sony fanboys will downplay Natal now that their beloved Kojima has openly said he wants to develop games for it.

watchuwa
watchuwa

this is so stupid. i play games because i'm lazy so i just sit on the couch and move my fingers. now, i gotta move my arms and legs to play games too?!?!?! what a stupid idea

HerbalVideogame
HerbalVideogame

I really can't stand Microsoft, but this technology, if it's as trite and true as it looks, could be totally sweet! This really is amazing! Cheers to us, the gamers of the world, for giving humanity something to really measure itself. Technology, medical science, and space exploration are really what we should be focused on instead of dead people, and killing each other for quality consumption... Cheers to what looks like a HUGE step forward.