Does this Harry Potter Demo Show the Perils of Kinect?

Motion control. I know, we’re all tired of debating the subject to death, but it’s here to stay and we’ll just have to live with the bonuses and negatives it brings. This will be especially true when both Move and Kinect launch this Fall, bringing a whole slew of new talking points to the conversation.

And while I hate to sound like a broken record here: the motion control trend concerns me, but most notably with Kinect. I think the technology that they’ve put together is fantastic and innovative, but the software we’ve seen so far, not so much. Take for example the new Kinect Harry Potter demo shown off this week at Gamescom. What might seem like a perfect fit for motion controls (who wouldn’t want to blast Death Eaters with wands), looks to be a downright mess. I’ll let you check it out.

I think the easiest thing to take note of is something I’ve wondered about Kinect for awhile now. With no buttons or controller at all (like Move or the Wii), how does one, you know… move through a game environment? The Forza demo shown at E3 had no way of accelerating or braking. Likewise, the Harry Potter demo displays no discernible way of moving the wizards through the, erm, wizarding world. Watch as the Weasley twins stop moving—that’s when the characters on screen run.

Basically, when you want to progress—stop moving. The gameplay then stops, Death Eaters appear, and then you engage in completely imprecise looking attacks. The Move equivalent of this game is Sorcery, and it seems to be light years ahead in comparison.

Honestly, I’m shocked at the way all of this is unfolding. Every new demonstration I’ve seen of Kinect leaves me more and more underwhelmed. What do you guys think? Too soon to judge, even though this thing debuts in just a few short months?

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

11 thoughts on “Does this Harry Potter Demo Show the Perils of Kinect?”

  1. Eddy, I think this really illustrates your point about why motion controls can be so problematic.

    I’m continually baffled by Microsoft’s strategy with Kinect. It makes no sense to me at all.

  2. did parts of the video black out for you? they did that because they wanted to block the crapiness. They definitely need to figure out some control to move through the universe, that harry potter game seemed to be a rail shooter with no dodging but really dodgy controls. I find it funny too that alot of their attacks just seem to fizzle.

  3. I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t own an Xbox, and in all likelihood never will, so Kinect means little or nothing to me. That said, parts of this video worry me.

    As you said Eddy, Kinect is only a few months away from release, and this game in particular is not functioning correctly. However, from this video we don’t know if that is a problem with the Kinect camera and its tracking system or simply issue with the coding of the game. It could be that the developers simply haven’t got the game right in its recognition of gestures/hand movements etc.

    Part of me suspects that it is more to do with the developers than the Kinect tech itself. Most Kinect games shown at E3 worked well enough, granted none were particularly interesting to the general Xbox owner, but they still worked. Hell, Dance Central was nominated by many people as Game of Show.

    Also, this is a movie tie-in, which as we know have a history of being terrible 🙂

  4. Anthony, I’m right there with you. It’s really baffling to watch something like this and to think that MS is hitching so many horses to it. Seriously, I’ve been reading about how Kinect is the future not only for the MS games division, but for all of MS as a whole. They view Kinect as the future to controller-less interfaces for Windows and all of their other technology.

    Also, supernovaforce, you do have a point about it being on the developers more than MS. However, I think it demonstrates the problem that I’ve been having: developers can’t figure out how to make players move and control things like simply walking forward without a controller. The games seem like they’re mostly going to play themselves…

  5. Has there been a lot of turnover in Microsoft’s xbox division in the last couple years or something?

    It seems so odd that they’re putting all their eggs into the kinect basket.

    I sort of credit the creation of our concept of the “hardcore” gamer to Microsoft, since the xbox was really the first console to exclusively target that demographic. A whole lot has to have changed about that company in the last five years for them to be taking the path they’re on now.

    1. Actually Zayven, there HAS been a lot of turnover in the MS Games Division lately. Over the last year or two, several key people have left. There has been some speculation that it has happened because of these new Kinect changes. Remember, some of the original dudes behind MS Games Division were the cats that built the Dreamcast, which makes a lot of sense seeing as how the Dreamcast was a bit ahead of its time in terms of the console experience and its online capabilities. Seems like there’s been a changing of the guard. It happened with Sony too, and for the better. Weird how the two switched places in the last couple of years, eh?

  6. Zayven:

    Yeah, they conquered Sony only to have Nintendo kick their ass, which had to come as a shock to everyone.

    Clearly, they want to beat Nintendo at their own game, but run the risk of losing some of their hardcore fans to Sony.

    I think the industry has changed enough that there doesn’t need to be one console to rule them all. Perhaps a segmented console demographic, where you buy the console that best suits you is the future, rather than each one just being slightly different and having a few exclusives.

  7. I think Anthony’s right in that the industry has been moving in this direction for a while now. The market has supported at least 2 consoles since the 16 bit generation (SNES and Genesis, PS1 and N64, PS2 and Xbox/Gamecube), so the coexistence of the PS3 and the 360 shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

    The anomaly of this generation is obviously the Wii, but that’s largely because it sells to people that haven’t bought consoles before. The real test of Nintendo’s new market will be whether or not those people will buy the next generation of Nintendo console.

    So given that the whole “one console to rule them all” concept is a bit outdated, why is Microsoft so hell bent on trying to do it?

    (Insert monopoly related joke about Microsoft’s traditional business model here)

  8. I didn’t know that the original Xbox crew had Dreamcast designers on it. That makes sense because the Xbox was sort of the evolutionary Dreamcast in terms of tech and concept.

    Remember back with the Xbox was building up to launch and MS made such a big deal about how it was going to be an actual console and not just a mini household computer? I remember reading all these interviews with the designers saying that the Xbox would never have something like a keyboard peripheral. They made it very clear that the console was made for games that would appeal to 20 something gamers who wanted a more mature gaming experience.

    And now that same company is making a Harry Potter rail shooter that forces you to wave your arms like a spastic fool?

    Something has gone terribly wrong somewhere…

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