So I was driving home today, stuck in traffic listening to Daft Punk (this is how all inspiration happens) and I got thinking about gaming and where it's headed. More specifically, the notion of motion control as the next big step towards gaming perfection. Turns out, I don't think it is. At all.
Pictured: Not the future
The way I see it, pure motion controls will never be able to substitute a controller. This is simply because of the sheer complexity of said controllers. Think about it. I look at my Dualshock3 and there are 8 buttons, two "triggers", a d-pad, and 2 analog sticks which also count as buttons when depressed. And when you consider all the possible combination's of these inputs (L1 + R1 to shoot, L stick to move + R stick to look around, all the button combinations in fighting games, etc) and the speed that is sometimes required, mapping all of this to body motions you start to see that it won't be an apt substitute.
This is our current setup:
And this is the alleged future:
To set an example of why I think this won't work. Imagine your playing a Grand Theft Auto. Your walking along, and see a car you like. You walk up to it and jack it. A cop spots you. Wanted level 1. You gun it, speeding away towards safety. A cop car T-bones you out of nowhere. You spray some uzi fire from your car. The car starts smoking. Time to leg it. You sprint to an alley. Take cover behind a column. Switch to assault rifle. Rain hell down on the fuzz. Toss a grenade, in the confusion you dart towards a bike you saw. Get on it, ride towards the subway station, you'll lose 'em in the tunnels.
Now, can you really imagine all of this going as fluid as it does now with no controller in hand? Cause I don't. I see it more going like something like this.
Now in time the cameras will be advanced enough to track every minuscule movement we do, but we are still part of the problem. To perform all possible actions in a game we are gonna need room for it, which some people don't have. We are gonna have to be fit, cause that will get very tiring after a while. And we are gonna have to memorize possible non-intuitive movements for certain things (using the above example, how would you carjack? Point at it? Where's the fun in that?)
So do I think motion is complete trash? No. For certain games it could work, for example racing games I can see it happening. It can add on to existing control schemes for other genres, such as FPS/TPS (Head-tracking maybe? Leaning out of cover by leaning yourself?) . But that's the thing, it will add on to most controller schemes, not replace them. So where do I think gaming will go controller wise? Mind control.
Like this, but less painful
That to me is the future. What we do right now is that our brain tells a middle man (our hands) to do certain actions with the controller to get the desired result in a game. Motion is trying to replace that middle man with our bodies. The solution, in my mind, is to cut out the middle man all together, and give our brain direct access to the game.
That way, we could do exactly what we want to do in a game, untethered by such mundane things as sticks/buttons/flailing. That is when we will be able to say "this is the next big thing, the future is now". No more accidental button presses, no need to move around the room to get something done, think it and it will happen. This is where I believe the real future for controlling games lies. Far off in the future? Maybe, but it will happen, and when it does it will be glorious.
Also, as a congratulations for reading this whole thing, here is a result for google image search for "natal"
Sorry ladies, I'm doing it for the ratings.