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Project Natal's Critical Flaw Is Lag?

Illustration for article titled Project Natals Critical Flaw Is Lag?

When Matt and I demoed Project Natal at E3, we were both pretty impressed. But there was one tiny quirk that we both noticed: lag.

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I say "quirk" because it wasn't some sort of painful, game-ending problem. But when steering with a virtual wheel during the Burnout demo, both of us noted that the controls weren't quite laser-responsive. Yes, the system was accurate, but an ever-so-slight delay to the movement caused us to question whether it could be used for hardcore gaming apps.

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Now, Jon Burton, director of Traveller's Tales (makers of all those LEGO titles), has confirmed that "Lag on the input and lack of physical buttons is really going to restrict the kind of games that can be done [for Project Natal]."

Burton believes that Sony's very different motion controller (which blew us away in terms of response and sub-millimeter accuracy) holds more promise.

From what I can tell at this stage, not having used Sony's controller yet, I do think that Sony will succeed where Microsoft fails—aiming in an FPS will probably work better on the motion-controlled PS3 than it will a 360 with Natal. But I still think Natal has a lot of promise beyond motion control alone, namely that you could use a standard 360 controller AND Natal to have a camera track your head while an analog stick aims the gun.

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Burton's comment is just more confirmation that Sony is making the ultimate Wiimote and Microsoft, for better or worse, is banking on the ultimate EyeToy. Meanwhile, I can only expect Nintendo to complete this ouroboros by licensing the current 360 controller along with Halo franchise rights. [Play via Maxconsole]

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DISCUSSION

Motion controllers are somewhat of a gimick. From a game developers standpoint I cannot see any of these pieces of hardware completely replacing a controller. Natal is bold in attempting a montion control interface without using something physical, but the application for such a thing will be limited to a "motion control" genre of game.

Imagine trying to play an FPS with no controller and using hand gestures and motions instead. Not exactly the most intuitive process. There are far too many button commands to handle simultaniously with no physical interface. I'm not intrigued by the PS3's motion controller as it's gone more the way of the Wii with incorporating the technology into a controller.

They need to focus more on using the montion controllers to enhance gameplay elements, even if it's subtle, rather then just incorportating motion control just for hell of it.