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Natal launch details begin to surface

Natal launch details begin to surface

Natal is Microsoft's new gesture-based control system that uses a motion sensitive camera.

Microsoft have finally begun to trickle out a few details about Natal, the new gesture-based control system for the Xbox 360 that was announced earlier this year.

Natal is being billed by many as a re-launch of the Xbox 360 and uses a camera to detect player movement and recognise faces instead of a regular controller.

According to MCV, who got a private tour of Microsoft's Natal studios, MS is currently planning to manufacture five million Natal units for the official launch, which will be November 2010 across the globe.

Natal will only be available for the Xbox 360, though Sony is working on a competing motion-based controller that uses wands rather than a camera. Natal won't be compatible with all games either, though Microsoft hopes to have 14 launch titles ready for the game, including Lionhead's Milo - a life simulator that's been used as a tech demo for the system.

Price-wise, Natal looks like it'll be a lot cheaper than expected too and sources indicate Microsoft see the Natal controller as an impulse buy. It's set to cost around $80 USD in the states or £50 GBP in the UK - though some sources claim a £30 GBP price point isn't out of the question.

Activision, Bethesda, Capcom, Disney, EA, Konami, MTV, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, THQ and Ubisoft have all committed to make games for the device in an announcement earlier this year.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

10 Comments

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ChaosDefinesOrder 12th November 2009, 12:31 Quote
much rather have some sort of controller in my hand that pure gesture based.

example1: "light-gun" type games. Natal recognises you holding your fingers in a gun shape, but how does it detect trigger pulling? Sony's version has a trigger on the controller...
example2: Driving games. Natal recognises you holding a plate and interprets it as a steering wheel. How does it detect accelerate/brake events? tracking your feet? do you want to physically hold your feet at different angles/positions in the air? Sony's version uses two hand-held controls which have left finger and right finger triggers similar to current gen racing game controls...

call me cynical ('cos I am) but I don't quite see how Natal plans to get round the lack of buttons on it's object recognition stuff. Still having to use the regular Xbox controller for buttons kinda defeats the point of being able to use any old household objects for "controllers"

Also, Sony's version still uses a camera, but interprets the wand positions rather than any old object tracking.
mi1ez 12th November 2009, 12:58 Quote
I was thinking the exact thing about racing games.
shigllgetcha 12th November 2009, 13:05 Quote
atleast it shows they dont intend to replace the 360 anytime soon if this is coming out in november 2010

to me it seems gimickey and maybe just suited for a few games
NuTech 12th November 2009, 13:06 Quote
From the videos I've seen, I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft aren't planning on Natal being a forced control scheme for traditional games (*points at PS3's sixaxis*). They seem more focused on delivering new concepts similar to the demo's they had at E3 (e.g. hand painting and full-body dodgeball).

They're also giving major publishers quite a long time to get games ready for it, so hopefully there wont be any rushed crappy ports of existing games at launch. No doubt you will see the odd poorly controlled racing game or shooter but I think developers will learn quickly what does and does not work.

Anyway I'm pretty sure the average Bit-Tech reader isn't really the target demographic for Natal anyway but if Microsoft can get it out cheap enough, kids are going to absolutely love this. Add the fact it's something non-technical parents can understand, and I think they're on to a winner.
AshT 12th November 2009, 13:15 Quote
Gonna throw an idea into the ring for a use of Natal.

How about a VR headset projecting the same image from the TV screen as a 3D image on the visor, Natal recognising which direction you are facing and assuming you have a gun in your hand (in fact a controller with fire, reload, strafe, change weapon buttons). I'm thinking of an FPS of any sort. The game also inserts a simulated ring out square around the player so if the player attempts to actually walk through the glass in their patio doors then a warning signal goes off for the player to warn them to get back in safe zone.

Now imagine ducking in real life.

Jumping.

Punching ... kicking.

Takes me back to the days of the old chunky VR headsets and expensive setups that were too expensive for most arcades.

I would happily turn my living room into a padded cell for that experience.
War-Rasta 12th November 2009, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NuTech
From the videos I've seen, I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft aren't planning on Natal being a forced control scheme for traditional games (*points at PS3's sixaxis*). They seem more focused on delivering new concepts similar to the demo's they had at E3 (e.g. hand painting and full-body dodgeball).

They're also giving major publishers quite a long time to get games ready for it, so hopefully there wont be any rushed crappy ports of existing games at launch. No doubt you will see the odd poorly controlled racing game or shooter but I think developers will learn quickly what does and does not work.

Anyway I'm pretty sure the average Bit-Tech reader isn't really the target demographic for Natal anyway but if Microsoft can get it out cheap enough, kids are going to absolutely love this. Add the fact it's something non-technical parents can understand, and I think they're on to a winner.

My thoughts exactly.
perplekks45 13th November 2009, 08:31 Quote
Yep, I agree. It seems to be an alternative controlling mechanism not something devs HAVE TO use.

If this is actually the case, well done, MS! ;)
andrew8200m 13th November 2009, 09:40 Quote
I think this is brilliant... price point seems brilliant too :)

Andy
The_Beast 14th November 2009, 00:18 Quote
It's really sweet but I don't know how it would work in some games
M_D_K 16th November 2009, 08:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
It's really sweet but I don't know how it would work in some games

as mentioned above with the lack of buttons I would think they are not aiming at it replacing the controler more of an Add on, would be funny sitting there holding a plate for driveing etc...

Will see what previews and examples come out between now and next year, but for £30-50 its not bad impulse buy.
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