Designing Cleverly for Motion Control Hardware of Today (and Tomorrow)
We've had quite a few people ask us about our approach to the motion control component of the game. Will it be accurate? Will it be fast? How much freedom does it allow players? Will I be able to do any move I like? Am I constrained to particular moves?
One of our backers, Tim, was one of the people who phrased these concerns particularly eloquently so I thought I'd share our conversation in this update and hopefully answer these questions for everyone else too. Do read on...
I love the idea behind this game and I really hope you guys can pull it off. I practice Wing Chun myself and was pretty damn happy to see GM William Cheung on your pitch video.
I was also immediately drawn to the game when I saw Wing Chun techniques in the game and also the technique names pop up on the screen, very cool guys.
My main concern is with the Kinect. The Kinect isn't quite there yet as a motion capture device. It's slow, a bit clunky and I think it has A.D.D. Sometimes, it just day dreams and doesn't track you well.
What would really spoil this for me is that due to the Kinect's slowness to capture fast movements accurately, you will have to slow the game down (slow motion scenes) to force the player to make slower movements. As someone who is an avid Martial Art's fan, I'm sure you can agree that nothing about Martial Art's is slow.
Watching your pitch, I notice the guy controlling the game performs a few moves slowly. Will the Kinect accurately capture fast movements in the game?
One thing I would LOVE to see in your next pitch video or demo is an actual Martial Artist playing the game, performing the moves at their speed. I guess even if it's not at their own speed (may be way too fast) having an actual MA practitioner play the game would add some weight to the game.
And please, don't think a 7 minute video is too long! You guys are awesome for doing a lengthy video pitch. More information, the better!
Thank you so much for your kind words and support! It's great to see fellow martial artists get excited about the project!
About your questions:
So, with the motion control aspects of the game we're not taking an approach whereby we mimic your moves in a 1 to 1 fashion. With current motion control technologies there is a bit of lag, there's no two ways about it. You can do things to minimise it (which we're doing) but you can't make it disappear.
Now, once you accept that fact you can either:
A) pretend the lag is not there and end up creating a mediocre game that's frustrating and unresponsive or
B) account for the lag in your design and make a super fun game despite of it
There's of course also C) which is not make a game like this at all, which I don't really like as an option - I strongly believe that as developers and as fans of fighting games we need to be doing everything in our power to foster innovation and evolution if we ever want to see games like this happen. To say we shouldn't be trying until the perfect technology is available is to say that we shouldn't have invented photography unless we invented television first - that is silly, evolution happens in steps, and it's up to us to choose the direction of those steps.
So in KFS we're doing B) which is we're taking a different approach towards the combat. While with our tech you can certainly pull of techniques at great speeds and you will be detected correctly, we're not necessarily putting the emphasis on the speed and twichy reflexes of it all, but rather on the tacticality of it and the strategy.
You've got 3 guys attacking you, all in different manners, posing a different kind of threat. What do you do? Think back to your training! How can you approach the situation so you don't get hit? Your Sifu has taught you this stuff! Can you remember in time? And how can you approach it so that you can achieve maximum combat efficiency? What about drama?? The cameras are rolling after all!
We give you a little bit of time to think about this stuff. And that makes the game awesome fun to play! That time also gives the hardware the chance to process what's going on properly and not spaz out as it does with games that don't follow this approach and basically try to pretend the lag is not there.
So there you go, I hope that helps. I don't want to lie to you and tell you we have found a magical way to make the inherent hardware lag disappear. What we HAVE found is a way to make the most accurate, most fun and most versatile "martial arts combat simulator" on current motion control hardware and also build it in such a way that it will scale nicely to next gen motion control hardware so that when that technology becomes available Kung Fu Superstar will be already optimised to make the best use of it.
In just a few days we'll be releasing our first major video update which will be going in a lot more detail on the gameplay and various controls options in the game in exactly the way you requested (show a side by side gameplay demo of me playing the game), so stay tuned for that as that will probably clear any further concerns you might have on this matter.
Thank-you very much for the lengthy email. I really didn't expect such a reply.
I'm glad to see you are under no illusions about the Kinect. You do make some great points though. One of them being about tactics. I think this was a great point to make and one that I really didn't think much about. It's a game after all and not a simulation. You have to work with what you have and make it as good as you can. Turning that from what is perhaps, a negative (Kinect lag) into something more positive and exciting (tactical/strategy) is a great spin to put on it.
It's all about the feedback that the player receives and how it makes them feel. I'd rather slower paced combat knowing I have a few options on how to deal with something rather than flailing my arms and legs about, knocking over vase's and bookcases and generally looking like a crazy person.
I'm really looking forward to the next major video update. Good luck with the editing!
Tim makes an excellent point I think in his last response and hits the nail right on the head. He says "it's all about the feedback that the player receives and how it makes them feel". This is exactly the mantra we are building the experience around.
We are going to make you feel awesome playing this game. And the details of how we do it will be an inconsequential distant memory when you're punching and kicking bad guys using the actual Kung Fu skills that you learned playing this game and feeling like the next Bruce Lee.
Till next time!