For the unaware, Microsoft’s 2009 E3 conference ended not half an hour ago.  Major announcements included more sequels, such as: Left 4 Dead 2, Crackdown 2, and a new Halo…thing called Halo: Reach.  Of course, the show-stealer was a confirmation of Microsoft’s working with the “zcam” technology in the form of “Project Natal.”

Basically a camera that can read full body movements and also read on the Z-axis (meaning it detects movements in 3D space,) it was shown being used for a full-body Breakout-style game, and a painting program.  Most curious was a tech-demo video from Lionhead Studios, featuring a Seaman-like idea wherein the demonstrator interacted with a virtual boy by talking and showing him…stuff.

It looks really interesting, to be honest.  It’s obviously a more complex device, but the comparisons with the Playstation EyeToy and the Wii are inevitable.  My own thoughts, hopes, and grievances?

It does look unique, but if it’s simply an optional peripheral ala the EyeToy, I don’t think I can imagine it selling that well without just the right angle.  How many existing 360 owners will want to spend the dough on a Wii Sports-like set up?  How many non-gamers will swoon and buy a new system AND accessory, especially if they already have a Wii?  It’d have to be awfully well proven.

I do hope it proves to be interesting and lives up to the hype about the quality of the hardware.  Whether it’s successful or not, I’d love to see some explorative works with it.

Of course, there are the technical issues: It seems to take a pretty large area.  What about visually noisy backgrounds?  If I have a bunch of crap behind me will it get confused?  My own personal issues with the presentation?  The fantasy universe Microsoft emerged from wherein Natal is the first motion control system ever and a reinventing of the wheel was expected, but annoying.

But then Kudo, the project lead of Natal, went on to say something along the lines of “There won’t be any waggle motions here,” dropping the “wag”-word like it was the F-bomb.  It’s one thing to sell your “me-too” idea like it’s original and pure gold, it’s another to be absolutely unprofessional and slam the risk takers who paved the very road you currently tread.

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