I couldn't trick the eye-tracking tech in Assassin's Creed Rogue


Say 'trick the eye-tracking tech' five times fast

Whenever I get my hands on new technology, my first inclination is to try to break it. Well, not the way Fred Durst likes to break stuff, but to see if I can expose any hiccups in the design. Going into a demo for the SteelSeries Sentry, an eye-tracking device, I was confident it wouldn't take long. After all, I can make some pretty minute eye movements that would surely throw it off.

I was dead wrong. No matter where I focused my gaze, the SteelSeries Sentry followed right along. The first (and mandatory) example of this is during the introductory calibration. While it was significantly inaccurate before calibrating, the process cleared that right up. Suddenly, there was a tightly-packed cluster of flickering dots on the screen wherever I looked.

Those dots were indicative of a finer degree of tuning than the human eye can perceive. Each time they wiggled about, which was constant, it represented a vibration or movement of the eye -- something that was completely impossible to actually notice no matter how steady you might think you're staring.

After seeing a graphic depiction of the tech at use, it was time to test it out as it was meant to be experienced: in a videogame. Assassin's Creed Rogue is the first major title to get on-board with Tobii Technology's creation. According to a Tobii representative, it won't be the last; several companies are reaching out to implement the feature into their games.

Surprisingly, there's a learning curve to using the peripheral. You wouldn't think there would be, given how innate of a reaction looking about is. Still, there's the urge to try to swipe the camera with exaggerated head movements like you're flipping through pages on a tablet. And, playing Rogue on an Xbox 360 controller, there's also the tendency to keep control with the right stick.

It's a lot to compete with, but once you train your body, it all starts to make sense. Simple glances swung the camera around; it didn't require the laser-focused ones I was trying to shoot. That's about the time during the learning process when you lightly chuckle and think "Yeah, this is neat."

In the case of Rogue, the technology worked best in open spaces. Running Shay across the vast wilderness, the SteelSeries nicely made slight movements with pinpoint precision. I didn't have a chance to sail the game's seas, but it's easy to assume that this technology would make that aspect quite enjoyable.

However, combat was another story. The eye-tracking felt like it was turned off during these sections. I tried looking around, but couldn't get the camera to follow suit. Likewise, for anyone playing with a mouse, mouse control always takes precedence over the SteelSeries Sentry, which essentially turns it off temporarily. If something requires clicking, the only workaround is to remap the action to somewhere on the keyboard.

While Rogue worked mostly fine, it was a second demo that actually impressed most. In it, I was asked to look at a box in order to pick it up, and to look at another place to throw it there. The presenter told me three times in a row how to perform the action, assuming that I was doing something incorrectly.

I was. Intentionally, I was looking elsewhere to see if I could trick the SteelSeries Sentry. First, it was the other side of the screen. Then, in the general area of the box. Finally, directly next to the box. It wasn't until I actually looked at the box that I was able to pick it up.

Admittedly, eye-tracking is a very optional technology. Games function quite fine without it. But it seems as if developers will support this anyway. That's possibly because it's easier to implement than you'd think. According to Ubisoft, it only took two to three days to fully add to Assassin's Creed Rogue (and then some additional time to fine-tune after that).

Still, it remains to be seen how interested a general user base would be. Of course, Tobii would like everyone to adopt the SteelSeries Sentry. "Our eyes are a crucial part of most of our existences, so why wouldn't we take full advantage of them in games?" is their reasoning. It makes sense, even if it's likely that only a niche audience will end up investing. But, those users are the ones who will get to experience well-functioning new technology -- even if it is only complementary to the games themselves.

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Brett Makedonski
Brett MakedonskiManaging Editor   gamer profile

While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby... ... more + disclosures



Filed under... #Assassins Creed #PC #Technology



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