"Assassin's Creed" Creator: "Controllers too Complex to be Mainstream"

Jade Raymond believes that making a full move to Kinect-style controller-less gaming is the future

Maybe I'm just weird, but I like the idea of motion controls (just not always the execution). It's a step in the right direction--realistically, we're not going to get Holodeck-like full 3D and motion/voice control for a very, very long time.


I mean, video games started out looking like this:




and it took fifty years to evolve to this:




So it's only natural to expect that motion controls will take a similarly long time to evolve. Assassin's Creed creator Jade Raymond is taking this a step further, and believes that motion control is the real key to getting more people to play games. According to her:


"I still think one of the huge barriers is the controller, and even people who played games when it used to be just one big red button and a D-pad can't play games now. You have to master face buttons, triggers and they all do different things. So obviously we're never going to get to that really mass-market place where we're touching a really broad audience with our messages with controllers, so Kinect and other more natural ways to interact with games are incredibly important. I think we can go further."


She's right and wrong about this. With my gaming history, I'm kind of used to convoluted controls, but the important thing is that no matter what kind of game or what kind of controller, you'll work with it and get used to it if you care enough. I've already talked about how crazy fighting game inputs can get, and you can see what happens when people master those controls--but not every player is like that, and not every player should be like that.

Then again, we are talking about somebody who turned a basic, skill-based game concept like "platforming" into "hold a trigger and a button and run forward."

"As more of a hardcore gamer I want to see that stuff integrated into hardcore games in a way that makes them better because as fun as all those games are, I don't really play exercise games -- I can't picture myself doing that. I'd love to be able to lean and look round the corner and just integrate more natural motions. The tech for those things isn't quite there, but I hope it will be soon."

So here's where I'm really taking issue with this: tracking head motion via a sensor in games is much, much harder than it sounds.


This is Police 911, an arcade game where you stood on a yellow floor mat and the sensor bar around the monitor tracked your movement so you could dodge gunfire by leaning left and right--you could use the lower part of the cabinet as "cover" to duck behind. It's probably the most fun light-gun game I've ever played, but believe me when I say that this game was a bitch to control. If you had long hair (like me) or wore a hat, it would throw off the sensors. If you moved too quickly (like if you were trying to dodge gunfire), it would throw off the sensors. The almost too-ambitious control scheme hasn't been copied since.

The tech is here, it's just that nobody's implementing it to the degree Raymond wants. Even Kinect games like Dance Central still work in more general movements and can be frustrating to people expecting more precision.

Really, my problem is that Raymond is underestimating gamers in general. I have a friend who never played video games before she met me, and now she regularly plays Gears of War and King of Fighters with me. If they care enough, people will learn seemingly unintuitive controls because the games are fun. Dumbing things down to try and broaden your audience isn't always the best policy.

What do you think? Do you agree with Jade Raymond, and think that fully heading toward motion control is the best thing to increase gaming's audience? Or will there always be a place for standard controllers and control schemes?

via OXM

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