“Natural conversation” coming to Kinect?

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I can’t honestly say I’ve been impressed with Kinect. Its motion-tracking is erratic, the games are – barring a few notable exceptions – mindless casual fluff or cringeworthy sacrilege.

Its most useful application for real gamers to date has been voice recognition and control – as we’ve seen in Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim – but I can’t really say I’ve been impressed with those implementations either. though you could engage in “conversation,” spitting out the dialogue in Mass Effect’s conversation wheel – but that’s hardly what you’d call natural conversation. That could be coming.

Rare’s David Quinn has said they’re investigating adding support for natural conversation in games through Kinect. “We pushed speech pretty hard in [Kinect] Sports 2, but it was also a very say-what-you-see approach; in golf, you change clubs [by saying] ‘four iron’, kind of thing,” he said to Gamasutra. “What I’d like to see and what we’re investigating now is a more natural conversation way of talking to the Kinect, so you can say, ‘Hey, caddy, give me a five iron,’ or ‘Hey, caddy, what should I use now?’”

Quinn’s impressed with how Bioware implemented speech in Mass Effect 3. "I think is an excellent use of speech," he says. "You can use speech in Kinect in a more core title, and it really demonstrated that. I think from here on in you’ll see a lot of speech in core games."

It’s something I’d really like to see in, for example, an RPG – where NPC’s look directly in to, and follow your eyes whilst you engage in real conversation – but I’m not going to hold my breath. We’ve heard promises before about how Kinect’s going to improve – and the end results have always fallen far lower than the promises.

Last Updated: June 26, 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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