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Braben: Kinect as accurate as control pad

Thinks Kinectimals can win over core.

Kinect is every bit as accurate as a traditional controller, if not more so, claims Kinectimal's David Braben.

The Frontier Developments boss and Elite creator told Eurogamer, "People imagine that the analogue stick or D-pad on the controller is extremely accurate as we have got used to the way shooters control aiming with a gun, but that is only because the aiming is incremental. In other words, you are controlling the speed of movement of the gun sight, not the position directly.

"If you were to control the position directly with a controller, then it would be impossible to hit anything - with a D-pad there would only be nine positions - but Kinect is accurate enough to do that without having to drive a cursor around."

Braben went on to explain that correctly calibrating Kinect's controls for Kinectimals was a challenge.

"We had to deal with a lot of brand new issues not even to do with the technology.

"With a controller, a button press is a button press, but with body control, there is a huge range of body proportions and sizes you have to cope with, and some things scale in strange ways, but the up-side is the great range of subtlety that can be extracted from people's movements.

"In the earlier areas of Kinectimals we use some of the traditional gamer mechanics, like gentle auto-aim, to avoid frustration, but this is completely removed by the later areas – you are seeing the raw technology in action, and the accuracy is amazing."

Kinectimals was first announced at E3 in June. Its cutesy reveal - see below - was the subject of much derision from certain corners of the gaming community, but the finished product has turned out rather well, scoring a very respectable 7/10 from Eurogamer's Keza MacDonald.

"It's true that within the hardened gamer press the reception was mixed at first," recalls Braben, "largely because we revealed a very limited taster of part of the experience at E3, when in fact the game is a story-based adventure that encompasses some great Kinect experiences.

"At E3, there was a great deal of positivity too, especially in the wider world. I remember at the show seeing the coverage on the front page of the CNN website showing our tiger - I thought it was great!"

Braben was keen to stress that he doesn't see the game as a kids-only proposition. He believes core gamers should approach Kinectimals with an open mind.

"It wasn't all that long ago - at least that's what it feels like to me - that there were the howls of protest moving from keyboard-and-mouse to controller for shooters – and some have still not accepted it! So, apart from these truly dyed-in-the-wool naysayers who find it hard to accept anything new, I think most will gradually be won over.

"With Kinectimals we have a game with a learning curve that allows a wide range of ages and abilities to share the experience of bonding with and adventuring with a wild animal. There is a relaxed, feel-good ambience to the game that is very accessible and inclusive.

"I hope it will appeal to a lot of people, core gamers included – but no game is truly for everyone; none of LostWinds, RollerCoaster Tycoon, even Elite, appealed to everyone. If your thing is first person shooters and nothing else, then perhaps Kinectimals is not for you.

Whether it's your scene or not, Braben believes Frontier's new game deserves your respect.

"It is truly heart-warming to see children's reaction when playing the game, and to see those who were previously negative or aloof about games in general, whether it is my parent's generation, or partners that haven't yet engaged with them, getting drawn in to play.

"It is the sort of game we can be proud of as gamers."

Find out for yourself when the game launches for Xbox 360 on 10th November.

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Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.