Kinect Star Wars and Fable: The Journey further demonstrated the challenges of developing hardcore titles and traditional triple-A franchises that offer quality gaming experiences on the Microsoft’s hands-free motion controller device. Regardless of the lack of successful ‘core’ games, Kinect adds unique gameplay features and interactivity.
Double Fine Happy Action Theater is a shining example of a Kinect-based casual game, where Mass Effect 3 is a good example of added experiences available through voice commands. For Microsoft, there’s so much more the technology to do.
All Kinect owners should be on the lookout next week as the sequel to Happy Action Theater, titled Kinect Party releases for free. Kinect Party (trailer up top) will launch in Xbox Live on December 18th and will be free until the end of the year.
As for Microsoft’s bigger plans, it’s all but confirmed that when the Xbox 360 successor releases, potentially next fall, it’ll come packed with (or at least release alongside) Kinect 2, which will be able to capture motion movements at a vastly more accurate.
In the meantime, Microsoft is hiring to assemble a secretive team to develop risky and creative projects that utilize Kinect. An intriguing listing for Software Development Engineer includes the following so make of it what you will:
A new team is forming in Microsoft’s entertainment division with a specific purpose: to push the envelope of today’s and tomorrow’s technology as we explore new ideas from the ground floor. It begins with veterans from Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and Kinect. But we’re growing as quickly as our imaginations can be translated into code.
Joining this team comes with risks. Most of what we work on is top-secret; you may not know what your new project is until you’ve accepted an offer. Not all of our ideas will fly. We will fail, and fail fast, on some projects. We will celebrate those failures because they are vital to making sure the right ideas take off in a big way.
If you want a comfortable, standard-role job at Microsoft with no ambiguity or risk, please don’t apply. But if you’re passionate about the potential for Kinect to continue to revolutionize entertainment and are a seasoned software engineer with the skills to prototype and build the future of premium Kinect-powered experiences, we have a growing team of talented people who want to take entertainment into the future.
As for current-gen core games utilizing Kinect, Electronic Arts – who just introduced Kinect features to the Need for Speed franchise with Most Wanted – announced that they’re doing the same for Dead Space 3. Steve Papoutsis, Executive Producer on Dead Space 3 and VP, General Manager of Visceral Games:
“The voice commands in Dead Space 3 give players a unique way to take down the terror, whether they choose to face the Necromorphs alone in single-player, or alongside a friend with drop-in / drop-out co-op. Dead Space 3 delivers the action-horror experience our fans have come to know and love. And with the ability to survive the adventure alone, with a friend, or with Kinect, we’re excited about extending the spine-tingling Dead Space experience to a whole new audience of players.”
We don’t yet have details on the voice commands outside of the announcement specifying that Kinect will “make it easier for co-op partners to give each other health or ammo, find objectives, revive one another and more.” Of course, with a proper button layout this isn’t easier/better, so it’s sounding like this could be a NFS-esque gimmick to take the self-proclaimed label of “first co-op game with Kinect voice.”
We’ll find out when Dead Space 3 releases February 5, 2013 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.