Xbox One. PS4. What effect will the poster children of E3 2013 have on the future of PC Gaming? Will new hardware architecture mean more high-profile PC ports or—dare we say it—PC-led titles that are ported for consoles afterwards? Are Microsoft's touted 15 exclusive launch titles going to be anything we'd even want in the first place? Will the pull of the indie scene be enough to turn gamers away from hardware manufacturers that shun them? We chew on this, and feed you our analysis like a mother bird to her chicks.
While the internet took cover from the barrage of Xbox One announcement news yesterday, some pertinent details for us PC gamers slowly rose to the surface of the TV-TV-Sports-Dog news conference. Among them were the release date for Battlefield 4, what the Xbox One might mean for PC gamers, and the hint that the Kinect 2.0 will eventually be available for Windows.
Here's a spot of news tracking strongly on the intrigue-o-meter: Microsoft has released sample code for its Kinect for Windows peripheral under the Apache 2.0 license. In other words, the tech giant is giving PC developers a partially open source Kinect to play around with, opening up interesting possibilities for utilizing Microsoft's motion control device in games and other software.
All I wanted from the Kinect when it was first announced was the ability to flying kick my telly and have an in-game avatar kick a demon in the face. As time passed, it became clear that the Kinect didn't have the latency or precision to quite deliver on that dream. Kung-Fu Superstar may well be the closest we'll come before someone invents the holodeck, or just a slightly better version of the Kinect. It casts you as a martial arts stuntman who must prove himself in ever more ambitious action scenes by pretending to kick stuntmen to death with moves lifted from real martial arts.
As spotted on Edge, Microsoft has revealed a wrist-mounted bracelet that can be used to control games, smartphones, TVs, and eventually an army of killer robots, via infra-red sensors that create an accurate 3D model of the user's hand. Dubbed Digits, the technology uses infra-red sensors to build a "fully articulated hand skeleton", which can then be represented in-game as your very own digital limb. When using it on smartphones, tablets or a TV, it's more of an invisible, phantom limb, but it will obey your commands nonetheless.
The Leap is a new motion controller that tracks the movements of your hands and fingers to a super-fine degree of accuracy. It takes the form of a USB dongle that sits in front of your keyboard, looking up at your hands and doing techno-magic to pinpoint their position in 3D space.
CVG have highlighted a trailer showing the tech in action, and it's pretty impressive. It shows a number of quick demo clips including one that involves playing Angry Birds with a pair of chopsticks, and another showing the player taking out some Combine soldiers in Half-Life 2 with a finger gun. On the Leap site its creators claim that it'll be "more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen." Watch and judge for yourself with this video.
Microsoft unveiled a PC version of their motion-sensing, voice activated, mind-reading Kinect camera at CES recently. It'll be out on February 1, which is exciting. The price tag is a bit problematic, however. It'll retail for $250, $100 more than it does on Xbox.
The main differences between PC Kinect and Xbox Kinect is a close-up mode that'll let it recognise nearby gestures, and an SDK kit to let programmers create applications to actually use the camera. The SDK, however, is already freely available on the Microsoft site. Why, then, is the PC version so expensive? And why should we think about buying one?
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Members of the PC Gamer team have been known to shout FUS RO DAH when activating dragon shouts out of instinct alone, making for a noisy office at lunch times. This man's suite of Kinect controls actually use the dragontongue shout as a vocal cue, letting you blow enemies away with the power of your voice. You also get to attack by flinging your arms at the screen and draw your sword by shouting "LONGSWORD!" See all of this in action in the impressive demonstration video above, spotted by Destructoid. It's easier to see how Kinect interprets his movements and turns them into game actions in KinectFAAST's Morrowind video. If you want to mess with Skyrim's inner workings yourself, check out CVG's Skyrim guide and tips.
You might think the man in this video is playing World of Warcraft on Kinect because it looks hilarious, but you would be wrong. He is a scientist and he is doing it for science. Dr Skip Rizzo, of the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, has created FAAST (Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit), a piece of free middleware that allows off the shelf PC games to use motion sensing technology.
More details inside.
As PC gamers, we had a great time watching this year's E3, but while we were watching new Battlefield 3 footage and the FarCry 3 announcement console gamers were busy watching awkward performers waggle their limbs at motion sensing cameras. CVG have a video guide to E3 2011's most cringe-worthy moments, which unsurprisingly, heavily feature Microsoft's Kinect. Watch it and perhaps allow yourself to feel sorry for/laugh at Xbox 360 players. You can check out our compilation of E3 2011's best bits here. What's your favourite fail of E3 2011?
Rumour has it that the Kinect software development kit beta will be launched during a developer presentation that kicks off in less than an hour. Microsoft promised the SDK kit earlier this year, now Winrumours say the beta version of the tools will be announced shortly in a presentation to be broadcast live on the web.
Microsoft announced Kinect fun labs at E3 this year, a service designed to host the most promising community creations as downloadable games on Xbox Live Arcade. News of a Kinect SDK beta will be particularly important to budding game makers, but it also means the rest of us can likely look forward to some more weird and wonderful Kinect creations on the PC, too. Check out our pick of the ten best Kinect hacks for a taste of what's in store.
Kudo just announced Fun Labs, a selection of games and applications taken from creations built using the Kinect Development Kit, made free earlier this year on PC. Several demos were shown on stage during the show, including an avatar scanning application that would build an accurate avatar from a photograph. An art tool was also shown, which allows the player to move an image in 3D space, adding effects by tracing their fingers across the screen. Kinect Fun Labs "goes live today." More coming soon.
Microsoft have just announced that Minecraft will be coming to the Xbox 360 this winter, and it will have Kinect support. More coming soon.
Freeman's Mind is one of the best gaming series on YouTube. The premise is simple: creator Ross Scott plays though the original Half-Life, narrating with the thoughts of mute protagonist Gordon. It's frequently funny, but episodes have been a little thin on the ground recently. Thankfully, episode 32 has been uploaded this week. Take a look, and if this is your first journey into the mind of a theoretical physicist, ensure you take a look at the back-catalogue of Gordon's adventures in Black Mesa.
You've probably read Tom's preview of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and wondered at the possibilities the latest game in the series will offer you. Now you can behold such choice in the above video, in which protagonist Jenson tackles the same objective three times in three very different manners. Take a look at the game's combat (with those incredible blade-arms and a very cool rifle reload animation) and its exploration avenues, and start getting excited. You've only got until August to wait, so get planning on how you'll tackle this segment.
Kinect hacks are pretty cool. Mixing Kinect with the Source engine is a completely different deal. Check out coder John Boiles as he kicks many Dr. Kleiners across a map with DOG in Gary's Mod. There's also much box hurling, and a whole lot of ragdoll creepiness going on.
Microsoft have announced that they will be releasing a non-commercial version of the software development kit for their motion sensing peripheral Kinect. The pack is designed to let academics and enthusiasts play with the technology ahead of the release of a full commercial version in future. The official SDK will give programmers more advanced control over Kinect, and should give rise to some even more incredible Kinect hacks.
All those incredible PC Kinect hacks seem to have made Sony jealous. According to a panel entitled 'Update on PlayStation Move Development' at this year's Game Developers Conference, we might see Sony's glowing motion controller supported on the PC.
The Consumer Electronics Show 2011 has just wrapped up, showing off hundreds of hot new gadgets to the world. CES always provides a great insight into the technology of the future, and that includes the chips, processors and controllers we can expect to be using with our PCs later this year. Below you'll find an overview of five of the most interesting bits of new tech shown at this year's convention.