Kinect at E3 - A Preview

So, that time of the year is fast approaching. E3, arguably the biggest event in the video game industry, kicks off in less than a month on Monday June 6th with Microsoft's conference at 9am PST. Aside from a handful of releases like Carnival Games, Yoostar 2 and Michael Jackson The Experience, Microsoft has been particularly quiet about their upcoming line-up. With an expected unveiling of Nintendo's follow-up to the Wii, and Sony hosting a strong list of first party titles such as Uncharted 3 and The Last Guardian as well as fully unveiling their new portable console the NGP, what can we expect from Microsoft on the Kinect front?

The only internally developed game currently announced by Microsoft supporting Kinect is Forza 4, which we expect will have a big presence at the conference. They're publishing Crytek's Codename: Kingdoms, which is said to be a first person melee game and gameplay will likely be shown this E3.

Microsoft are also publishing some of the Japanese developed Kinect games announced at last years Tokyo Game Show. Project Draco, the dragon riding action game from the creators of cult hit Panzer Dragoon. Codename D, Suda51's upcoming Kinect exclusive title. Haunt, from the creator of Parappa The Rapper. SEGA's horror survival game, Rise of Nightmares. And Capcom's Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, the mech action sequel to the original Steel Battalion. Some of these games could be saved for this years Tokyo Game Show, but there is certainly a chance that we'll see something new at E3; particularly for games closer to release -- Rise of Nightmares was recently rated by the ESRB and is rumored to be released this August.

We had confirmation earlier this year that pre-production of Harmonix's Dance Central 2 was well under way, and a list of proposed features leaked, so we can expect to see that as well Kinect Sports 2 from Rare. We'll also see a full unveiling of LucasArts Star Wars game for Kinect, with rumored gameplay features recently leaking.

Expect a range of Xbox Live Arcade titles featuring Kinect to be shown. Twisted Pixel's The Gunstringer was the first to be announced earlier this year, and it'll hopefully be close to release once E3 arrives. Alongside The Gunstringer, Doodle Jump, Hole In The Wall and Fruit Ninja Kinect could possibly show, and the XBLA port of Angry Birds is rumored to feature Kinect Support.

You can see a full list of announced upcoming Kinect games here. Many of them will likely be playable on the show floor at E3

The more exciting prospect of E3 is what we don't know -- the conference will likely be full of surprises and new games. Microsoft recently announced that by the end of 2011 there will be over 80 Kinect games available, which leaves 20-30 games currently unannounced and, according to Microsoft, they're "going to show a lot of them at E3. We're saving a lot of our cards until then." Sources at Eurogamer claim that 10 brand new Kinect games will be shown that "serve the hardcore" and are not sequels.

Rare, as well as working on Kinect Sports 2, are rumored to be working on a secret new project which we could see at E3. We may finally see the fruits of Lionhead's Milo project, though it may be Milo in tech only. Big Park last released Kinect Joy Ride, and they are hard at work on a new story-driven game as well as Microsoft's new Zipline Studios in Vancouver who are working on a core shooter that uses Kinect, which will possibly be unveiled at E3.

Microsoft have two other new studios, MGS Soho and MGS Family, said to be working on "high quality, highly experimental gameplay for Xbox 360 and Kinect". It is unknown whether the studios have been working on projects long enough to have something to show. Good Science Studio will likely be ready to show off their new project which may or may not be a sequel to Kinect Adventures, with their lead developer, Shannon Loftis, confirming her appearance on stage via Twitter. And both "Kinect Fun Lab" and "Kinect Me" have appeared online as rumored announcements and on Australia's Ratings Board. New Kinect games or new services?

Naturally, there will be new third party Kinect titles too. Frontier Developments are working on at least one new Kinect game, possibly a sequel to Kinectimals (a title which is ripe for franchising given, well, the number of cute animal species that exist). Remedy, having hired staff with experience in motion controls and Kinect, are set to unveil an Alan Wake project that isn't a direct sequel, nor DLC for the first game. Alan Wake: Kinect? We'll have to wait and see. And will Epic finally unveil Gears of War for Kinect?

The rumor of a Sims Kinect game looks like it'll be coming true this E3, as well as a Kinect shooter from Zombie Studios and a Microsoft published title from Virtual Toys. Ubisoft's upcoming tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will also utilize Kinect in some way and will be shown at the event. We can expect more Kinect titles from Ubisoft including Kinect versions of Raving Rabbids and Just Dance, plus sequels to Kinect hit fitness game Your Shape and MotionSports.

Kinect, of course, isn't only used for games, and the tracking software itself has far from reached its full potential. Kinect is an evolving platform, and already since launch we have seen additional support for Netflix and Hulu Plus, albeit with mixed reception, and Avatar Kinect is set to launch in a couple of weeks. Recently Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda hyped E3 as having "Big announcements about not just new types of products, but also new technology features".

We recently posted the rumor that Kinect was finally going to get object scanning, as well as automatic character creation from a body scan. The rumor was recently given even more credence from this patent filed by Microsoft, which details the body tracking process for a Kinect-like device, and how it can be used to scan a person, automatically creating a 3D representation in the game.

Kinect can also run at a higher resolution, and Microsoft have talked about improving upon compression and response time (under 5 milliseconds) to ultimately improve the whole Kinect experience. Does the above patent detail the new tracking process and will we see it at E3? We'll have to wait and see.

We may also see more of the interaction between Kinect games and Windows Phone 7, as well as a possible Kinect app store which could also be available on Windows Phone 7 and the PC, allowing developers to scale software for use on Microsoft's 3 screen devices. A slew of Microsoft-published titles were revealed via the Australian Classifications Board recently including Build a Buddy, Bobble Head, Kinect Fun Lab and Kinect Googly Eyes. We're speculating that these aren't retail games, and perhaps not even Xbox Live Arcade titles, but the first apps for a Kinect app store. If not, then some other new service or feature.

We'll keep you up to date with the latest announcements, as well as exclusive info and footage directly from the show itself. What would you like to see from Microsoft at E3? Leave us a comment below.

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