Molyneux questions sensors

Molyneux questions sensors.

Speaking at the Leipzig GCDC, Lionhead's Peter Molyneux has warned that motion-sensing controllers such as the Wii remote could leave gamers exhausted unless developers think creatively.

Molyneux's speech, titled 'Combat - Time to Evolve?', focused on the problems with traditional combat games, and suggestions for how to improve them - such as getting rid of hit points, allowing for one-hit kills, and letting characters use items in the environment around them.

When asked by an audience member how he thought these ideas might work with the Wii remote, Molyneux replied: "If you wanted to make a big difference, where's the best place to make that difference? I think the controller is definitely it. There's no doubt in my mind that controllers are changing, and they're changing really fast."

However, Molyneux continued, "I've realised I'm an incredibly lazy person when I play games, and actually slouching back on the sofa, playing on my beer belly, is my most comfortable position. When I have to get up, it's painful. I make noises and start grunting."

When Molyneux first realised that players might be able to swing a motion-sensing controller just like they would a sword, he thought the concept was "brilliant! But then I realised, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I actually looked really stupid.

"And if I do that," Molyneux continued, waving an imaginary sword in a much less expansive way, "Even with nothing in my hand, I get tired very, very quickly."

"It became a real problem. I think motion-sensitivity is very, very useful, but I think the obvious way of doing it - unless you're dealing with a 15 to 20 minute experience at most of actually being hugely physical - is not where the opportunity lies here," Molyneux continued.

"I think it's a more creative medium. It's not turning a controller into a sword... You cannot do it for 20 hours."

Molyneux went on to recount how "one of the hardware manufacturers" approached Lionhead during the development of Black & White with a glove-shaped peripheral that could sense the movement of the users' fingers.

Lionhead decided to see how it worked with the game, and one tester was giving the task of trying it out for a month. According to Molyneux, the tester became "greyer and more pale" with every day that went by.

"It was like some sort of Japanese torture that we'd put him through, and it took three months after that to actually get his hand back to normal use," Molyneux added.

But that doesn't mean he sees no place for motion-sensing technology in gaming - simply that he believes developers must think creatively when working out "How we are going to change games - it's not the obvious solution, it's clearly more subtle.

"I think the DS proves that. What I've found really fascinating is not using [the DS stylus] to scribble with, but using it in a very clever, innovational way," Molyneux concluded.

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