Mass Effect 3’s Kinect integration “happened almost by accident”

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ME3Kinect

Given Mass Effect 3’s “better with Kinect” marketing push by Microsoft, you’d be forgiven for thinking that EA and Bioware were handed a fat wad of cash to make the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 3 the definitive one – by including voice-based squad commands and other miscellaneous speech gestures.

Bioware says that Kinect integration “happened almost by accident.” Next he’ll admit that the game’s controversial ending happened by mistake as well!

“We didn’t set out to make Mass Effect 3 a voice-controlled title,” said Casey Hudson, possibly one of the most hated men in gaming at the moment.  “But a programmer was working in the studio, had the Kinect hardware, and was just experimenting with it.

“He realized that with the software that comes with Kinect, it was very easy to connect something that you can do in the game with something you’ve said, almost as easy as that. No research required – it was all there, done for us. We started thinking about what we could actually achieve with that. So many things came to mind – you could tell a squad member to attack your target, you could tell a squad member to switch weapons. While you’re busy with the controller, you can tell him to do something that you’re not physically able to do, because your thumbs aren’t free.”

“It feels like the future of interactive storytelling. You’re just talking to a character, and you’re going deeper into their conversation, asking them questions and telling them things and after it’s over you pick up the controller, and it’s a cold piece of plastic, and you think ‘this is the old way, and what I was doing was the future’.”

Quite a coincidence, really – because whenever my Kinect picked up something and carried out a command it seemed to be by accident as well. I tried using Kinect in my Mass Effect 3 playthrough – and when it worked it really was quite cool – especially for controlling my squad members, or using powers that weren’t equipped – but often it would require that I repeat myself, and sometimes it would pick up random noise from the background or from the game itself and perform commands I didn’t want done – so in the end I stuck to the tried and tested, old-faithful controller.

Hudson believes Kinect integration works well enough that Bioware’s considering it for future titles.

“Part of the thing that makes it work is that it just works,” he said. “It’s reliable and fast. As other technologies get to the point where they’re not gimmicky, but reliable and fast, then we can start doing things with gesture.”

Did you play Mass Effect 3 using voice control? How’d that work out for you?

Last Updated: April 2, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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