Friday, January 12, 2018

In Memoriam: The Kinect

The Kinect was not perfect. From the initial E3 pitch to the idea of gaming without a controller, many brushed it off from the start and once it launched it had its fair share of issues. It misheard what you said most of the time, misread your actions, it failed to provide many games that truly captivated you, and ultimately failed to compete with the juggernaut that was the Wii.

I want the rifle that does the Assaulting!

But do not be fooled, Kinect ultimately had success. Over 35 million units were sold from its initial run in 2010. [1] Aside from gaming, the technology has also been a popular tool for research and development in the medical field. Surgeons have used it to help in hands free navigation of imaging [2], and its sensors have been implemented in various other hardware dealing with security or tracking. [3]

As the door closes on the Kinect, dare I say...I had fun with the device. 

The Kinect was what you made it. I never expected it to provide a twenty hour epic or competitive multiplayer. It was a game to play with friends and family who rarely played games and were intimidated by the controller. It was a time not to take things too serious, and let loose as you flailed to deflect objects or chop fruit. It got you up and moving off the couch, something I sometimes enjoyed doing after sitting at a desk all day at work.

Never...skip...leg day

Kinect: Adventures provided the best showcase of what the technology could provide. Tracking arm and leg movements as you navigated a conveyor of obstacles, plugged holes in a leaking submarine tank, and played goalkeeper in a dodgeball-esque sport. Short segments were quick to play, easy to join in on, and ultimately made for the perfect party game as you laughed at your friends and family jumping and squatting around on-screen animations.

Dance Central delved further into the motion control tracking, offering a DDR type game utilizing the camera to track all arms and legs in coordinated efforts to flashcards on screen. The tracks were catchy, the dance moves were choreographed by a professional, and once you got the hang of it you got a solid experience altogether.

Before High Noon was cool

But the game that ruled them all for me was Gunstringer. A narrative that was a western Kill Bill meets cheesy puppetry, gameplay that was engaging but simple, and an art style that complimented the zany character design. It was short, simple, and ultimately, fun. Sure it had some accuracy issues on occasion, but overall the general feeling of having one hand control the puppet movement and the other a literal finger gun was just too funny to ignore. Out of all the games I purchased for the Kinect, this was the one that gave me hope for the technology.

Sadly, nothing else of substantial work ever came about for the hardware. Fable: The Journey and Star Wars: Kinect, while enjoyable in their own right, never made the impact it could or should have made. Tons of fitness games and Just Dance titles fizzled out the lineup near the end of things.

I still have a Kinect for my Xbox One and to be honest, the only use it has is voice control for pausing and playing Netflix or launching an app. But while the tech has seen its end, the mark it made in hardware and the fun it provided with new ways to play is hard to ignore. While it makes its final wave goodbye, I can say I never regretted my purchase and dare I say, hope to revisit a few of the games on a rainy day.

...Also, never forget:


[1] - Fortune - Microsoft Has Finally Killed the Kinect Xbox Sensor - Don Reisenger October 25th 2017 -

[2] Rad Rounds - Xbox Kincet-based radiology & medical image exploration - December 2nd, 2011 -

[3] EPFL - Connecting Kinects for Group Surveillance - Didier Bonvin - December 2010 -

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My 2018 Gaming Resolutions

I set practical goals throughout the year for life in general; eat healthier, cut out sodas, run more, etc. I never think of applying them to the activity I enjoy most of all; gaming. This year I decided to change a few habits and set a few goals for my year in gaming for 2018.

Keep Track of All Games Played

I have never kept a list of games completed, explored, purchased, etc; So this year, I have decided to see how much this hobby impacts the year in both quantity and cost. I plan to not only track games purchased and completed, but the ones I loved, the ones I hated, and the ones I wished I had gotten to experience. Shadow of War, Hollow Knight, and Dead Cells showcase a backlog to kick off the year and with so many new titles to go through, I can already tell this list will expand as more is unveiled.

Complete 10 Total Games

The old me would scoff at this as attainable in a mere month. However the busy life of a married adult makes this a challenge. Between looking after and improving the house, tending to the family (yes, dog is included), and the grind at work; gaming takes a backseat most days. Ten seems a reasonable amount, given the short run time of most side scrolling platformers and indie titles I have to get to this year, this seems like a healthy, attainable goal.

One does not simply turn down the difficulty

Keep it Difficult

I am currently going through Shadow of War and had to notch it down to Normal mode just to see if I was playing as intended. Turns out Normal mode is not an option for me anymore. The simplicity and ease of taking out enemies with no real concern for health is just not my way to play. I want challenge; I want that dire thought process of what to do next, that prayer that no bullet hits me as I rush toward a health pack, and that feeling of satisfaction of completing a checkpoint after dozens of attempts. No normal mode for me this year. 

Lose that Anger

Sometimes you just need to walk away or play a simpler mission. I will admit, it gets the best of me on occasion, primarily in multiplayer games. In those times, I need to learn to play something easier or more soothing and come back later if it is making me that frustrated. This is especially true with harder difficulty modes and online multiplayer games where sometimes things are just out of your control. Sometimes you are matchmade with a bad team, sometimes you are dealt a bad hand, sometimes you just need to practice. There is always a formula for success without getting overly upset.

No mission marker needed

Take Your Time

I try to breeze through games too often. A bad habit indeed. Some games are best when you are just messing around, mindlessly throwing a box at an NPC to see their reaction or going out of your way for that collectible on the hillside. It is when you see how far you can push a game that you can have the most fun and truly see what the developer tucked away. This includes reading those logs you pick up, listening to those audio conversations between characters, and interacting with world around you. Many developers put a lot of care into games, you may notice things you never noticed before if you just stop and look around. 

Blog More

I have since abandoned this blog last year. The busy season of life catches up with you. It did not mean I did not play as much or did not have anything to say. I just completely lost touch in writing those impressions or reviews out. This year I hope to upkeep the blog better. Reviews, updates, video blogs; I want to improve but also share the excitement and energy I have for gaming's memorable titles and experiences.

Ori 2 tugging at emotions before even playing...

Whatever your own goal this year, write them out. Put them in front of you. Make small efforts. Resolutions are tough, but doing a little at a time can make them possible. The list above may seem trivial in regards to video games, but they reflect personal changes too. Challenge yourself, keeping track of personal progress more often, and stopping to smell the roses every now and then. Resolutions in general are made to break a bad cycle or habit and to be better than you were before, so make your list, even if it's something small or just one thing. Here is to your 2018. Now get out there, Guardian/Hero/Ranger/Chosen One. You have work to do.