David Braben - Kinect More Accurate Than Mouse or Analogue Input

Legendary game developer David Braben, creator of the hugely influential Elite back in the early 80's as well as Kinect titles Kinectimals and the upcoming Disneyland Adventures, has argued that Kinect is the most accurate input device ever made available to gamers.

"There's a lot we can do with the tech that's subtler. The great thing about Kinect is it's probably the most accurate analogue input device we've ever had" he told Eurogamer.

"If you think of the analogue stick for example, if you just show the position of the analogue stick on the screen as a blob, it jitters around all over the place. When we first got analogue controls we thought, oh yes, you can use it like a mouse. But actually, you can't. It's not precise enough. The mouse is pretty precise, but that's only because that's also a relative device" the Frontier developer continued.

"So the way we tend to use analogue sticks is you're doing it as the direction of movement you're controlling. You're not controlling position. Similarly with the mouse, the wheel underneath has got the phase counter on that tracks the relative position. It's just incremental. So it feels accurate. But actually it's not that accurate. Same with the analogue stick. There's a perception of accuracy.

If you use Kinect as a relative control, you've got unbelievable accuracy. It's one of the first things where you can actually use the position directly as a position, not just as a relative movement. That is a change. We haven't come to terms with how best to use that. We're getting better with each stage." he added.

Braben also argued the case for more experimentation with Kinect used in combination with a controller for example, for head tracking in a shooter. "We're barely scraping the surface", he said. "What I would love to see is a version of Call of Duty where the controls are exactly as they are today, but you add to it the ability to move my head to look around corners and duck. It's an extra channel of communication. It's an extra analogue stick, if you like. That's very easy. We'll do it if they don't."

Braben also reiterated the evolution of Kinect in terms of its accurate software tracking, and how developers are constantly getting better at using it. He argues that using Kinect is like starting with a blank sheet of paper which is great but daunting at the same time. In its current early stages, Kinect is all about building a vocabulary and figuring out standards. How do we pause the game? How do you get a menu option up? How do you move? Developers similarly struggled to grasp the mouse and analogue sticks early on too.

"Most machines when I started were keyboard only. The mouse was seen as a terrible abomination, an imprecise thing. It wasn't used in games for quite a while. When we first got analogue controls, some games had the most abysmal control systems. It's a really hard thing to do."

Of course even in these early stages, Kinects major advantage is accessibility. Even now that analogue controls have been perfected in todays third and first person shooters, for example, "give a controller to my dad and he ends up looking at his feet because it's not that natural". Brabens upcoming Disneyland Adventures, however, should allow anyone to wander around the huge 86 acre park naturally in just 5 minutes.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures will be available this November.

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