â??Natal lag issues will hurt game developmentâ??

â??Natal lag issues will hurt game developmentâ??

By Rob Crossley

December 17th 2009 at 6:00PM

Travellerâ??s Talesâ?? director Jon Burton fears that a controllerless UI will limit its flexibility for different genres and games

Microsoft has invested significant money and time to ensure its upcoming motion controller Natal is as accomplished as its host console, yet suspected “lag issues” may curb the peripheral’s chances of success.

That was the view offered by Traveller’s Tales company director Jon Burton, who told Develop that his own experience with the hands-free controller raised doubts.

“I was actually more impressed with Sony’s motion capture solution than Microsoft’s Natal,” he said as part of this week’s Develop Jury Service.

“[Natal is] exceedingly clever, but the lag on the input and lack of physical buttons is really going to restrict the kind of games that can be done with it,” he added, before going on to praise Sony’s (currently nameless) alternative.

“Sony’s solution will be cheap, accurate and will put buttons at your fingertips, meaning everything from action adventures to FPSes can be handled with the same input.”

Burton’s fear is that any controllerless device will struggle to achieve the level of immediacy and precision that’s found analogue sticks, buttons and mice. And, as such accuracy and fluidity is demanded by a vast number of games and genres, questions have been raised on which kind of games Natal will fit best with.
 
It has been suggested previously that the flexibility of Natal’s camera could allow for games where a controller and the Natal camera can be used together – a solution that could somewhat defeat the purpose of Natal itself.

However, Burton has not seen a final version of Natal, as Microsoft looks to tweak the device before its ‘November’ launch.

“The software behind Natal stunned me,” added Burton. “To be able to take effectively a bump-map of a person and turn that into a fully articulated and rigged polygonal skeleton is an incredible feat. We run a mo-cap studio and to get anything resembling mo-cap, live in real-time, from effectively a single camera is nothing short of amazing.”

Microsoft recently confirmed it will reveal more details about Natal to developers at its Gamefest conferences in February.

The revelation followed reports that the company is agressively ramping up recruitment for Natal-tied software, and is touring studios to encourage development deals.