Mass Effect 3 is not the first game to carry the "Better With Kinect" tagline, nor is it the first game aimed at a mature audience to feature Kinect support. While Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition's Kinect controls felt tacked-on, and neither Child of Eden nor The Gunstringer broke through to mainstream audiences, Mass Effect 3 managed to get Kinect integration just right, and to become a mosterous hit.
Kinect head honcho Kudo Tsunoda has high praise for what BioWare accomplished with Mass Effect 3, and envisions a future in which Kinect can detect not just motion and voice commands, but read body language and tone of voice.
Tsunoda has been the public face of Kinect from day one, appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to demonstrate the device shortly after its premiere at E3 2010. Before his tenure with Microsoft, Tsunoda had been General Manager at the now-shuttered EA Chicago, where he was responsible for such left-of-center titles as Def Jam: Icon, a licensed, hip-hop infused fighter in which the stages themselves bounced to the beat of the soundtrack -- the point being, this is not a man who shies away from big, outlandish ideas.
As Kinect Creative Director, Tsunoda is responsible for the future of the device. Naturally, he has a vision of where he'd like to take things next. Speaking to MCV, Tsunoda discusses how he'd like to see the motion controller evolve.
"We’re also looking at how we can make people more like actors within a narrative. I think the work done in Mass Effect 3 has been awesome. We want to get to the stage where not only can Kinect detect what you’re saying but also tone of voice and body stance, and work that into the narrative. There are some really compelling experiences to be gained from that."
The question, though, is whether those "compelling experiences" will be realized on the current Kinect hardware, or on its successor. Kinect 2 is rumored to be powerful enough to read lips and recognize emotions, though it won't release until Xbox 720 does -- and maybe not even then, depending on which rumor you believe.
Nevertheless, if Kinect could "get to the stage" Tsunoda envisions, the gameplay benefits aren't hard imagine. What if, for instance, you could choose to go Paragon or Renegade in Mass Effect 3 based not upon what you say, but how you say it? How about a heated verbal exchange in which the other party backs down, not because you've chosen an intimidating response, but because of your intimidating posture? That could be really, really cool.
Ranters, what do you think of the Kinect integration in Mass Effect 3? Would the ability to detect a player's tone of voice and body language make the device even better? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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