Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima took to the stage at the Tokyo Game Show today to confirm his enthusiasm for Project Natal.
He was speaking during a creators' panel discussion along with Capcom's Keiji Inafune and Toshihiro Nagoshi, creator of Super Monkey Ball. Kojima began by explaining how he initially felt on seeing Natal in action, comparing it to the first time he saw a 3D game and played with a family computer. "It was that kind of shock," he said. "I was surprised how advanced Microsoft was... This is going to raise the bar. People and machines are going to be connected through Natal and complement each other."
Inafune then chimed in, telling the audience he doesn't reckon Natal will be a flash in the pan. "You don't have to do away with the technologies you have, you can build on them. So technology-wise, [Natal] surpasses anything that exists now. It treasures the current tradition and at the same time, builds for the future... I see the potential in Natal for not being a transitional fad."
According to Kojima, Natal doesn't just have potential for entertaining the casual gaming audience either. "Those who don't enjoy games now can probably join us, because it's intuition-based, and of course the casual base is going to be important. But I think the experience will be further improved for core gamers thanks to Natal. I think Natal will allow us to expand the gaming world for them."
Any plans, then? "I would like to come up with a completely innovative game no one has thought of in the past," Kojima said. "But I have core users who are my fans and I don't want to leave them behind - I want to cater to core users... Maybe I should, metaphorically speaking, come up with a car that can fly, so my users can follow me."
In fact, Kojima thinks Project Natal has potential even beyond games. "Natal is very innovative. 360 means very circular, but it's more spherical than circular... I believe games will deploy this technology at the outset, but it has the potential to change our lifestyles dramatically - the way you do shopping, the way you line up in a queue...
"And Natal is going to change situations in living rooms. Probably the way you move your muscles will change. Probably Johnny Depp, the way he moves, is also going to change," said Kojima. "It is impossible to do this translation," added the translator.
All three developers talked about the ways Natal could introduce emotions into gaming, which was also a theme during Sony boss Kaz Hirai's TGS speech. Inafune stated, "Films consist of excellent worlds of emotion. I can get excited and cry in films; they have such an impact on our hearts. Maybe that's what's missing in games. Of course there are some emotions, but because we have to use our fingers to interact sometimes it's not easy to have an immersive experience.
"With Natal the games world is probably going to become on a par with films, or games could surpass films," he continued, before suggesting that in future someone like Kojima could be just as respected as a major movie director. He probably didn't mean Uwe Boll.
"Violence, sex and gambling are the three basic themes of the gaming world," said Kojima. "I think we can go beyond that with Natal, which is based around emotions.
"I would like to have a computer game system which can truly understand who I am - movements, expressions, everything," he went on. "I wouldn't call it a robot, exactly, but I have had this dream since I was a kid: AI... Natal is the system which understands me best."
Lots of conjecture and verbose speculation but no clear ideas on what they will employ it for. Gaming is old enough now that we know not to raise hopes over some technological breakthrough. Best gaming invention in last 20 years? Wireless controllers. Before that: 4 controller ports on a console. Being able to converse with some emotional, jumped-up tamagotchi isn't going to entice me to stop shooting things.
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