There’s no doubt that Microsoft has a fair amount riding on Project Natal, so when developers like Traveller’s Tales’ director Jon Burton starts to doubt it, we can’t help but begin to wonder. The hang up for Burton when it comes to Natal is rooted in the hardware’s lag issues and the lack of any physical buttons. Burton explains that “[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.”
Burton also praised the Sony alternative to Natal, “I was actually more impressed with Sony’s motion capture solution than Microsoft’s Natal,” adding, “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.” For the already skeptical gamers out there this might be the nail in the coffin as they might already be resistant to the idea of Natal. Even for the non-skeptics out there the idea of lag will mostly likely put some people off.
But it’s not all doom and gloom from Burton as he had high praise for the software that runs in conjunction with the Natal capture device, “The software behind Natal stunned me, 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.”
Needless to say, no one likes delayed input and eliminating or minimizing it is something we hope is a top priority at Microsoft. Not much kills the fun faster than having to deal with a vehicle that turns even half a second later than it should or shooting a weapon that acts similarly — gives new meaning to “spray and pray”.