Deus Ex's Warren Spector Warns Against Going Overboard with Motion Controls

By Chris Faylor, Mar 11, 2010 1:00pm PST As hardware makers rush to embrace motion-controlled gaming--Sony with the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Move, Microsoft with the Xbox 360's Project Natal, Razer and Sixense with the "Ultra-Precise Motion [PC] Controller"--industry old-timer Warren Spector has warned "we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater."

"I think it's kind of weird...that we've sort of said, 'We've got 20, 30 years of people learning how to do this--sitting on their couch and having a good time, and knowing where the buttons are--and we're saying 'You've got to stand up and wave around and gesture,'" the Deus Ex veteran warned during a GDC 2010 luncheon attended by Gamasutra.

The PlayStation 3's PlayStation Move and the Xbox 360's Project Natal

It's not that he's against motion-based controls--"I'm working on a Wii title and I'm loving it," Spector said of Juncture Point's upcoming Epic Mickey--but rather that he's cautious of what will happen if more traditional games and control schemes are abandoned.

"We're in the process of throwing away people--kids, adults--who know this stuff," said Spector. "I don't know if we want to throw away our entire history because we want to use gestural controls...I hope we keep our perspective a little more rational."

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  • As someone who worked intimately with features tied to projects like Natal, I've always felt that concepts like Natal should *enhance* existing control mechanisms for some and for others, become the primary input for game interaction.

    Let me explain...

    As I've seen it in the past, the self defined Hardcore gamer, or even and informed one, has the ability and power to sway the opinion and vote of say, you're average joe non-gamer type. I'm sure we've all had our fair share of experiences swaying parents or acquaintances into buying a particular game or console for a friend or loved one.

    Being that, it is very obvious that these newer control schemes tend to be more of a curiosity with most seasoned gamers and developers than a must have replacement for an old and familiar friend, the controller.

    For these to succeed they need to reward the hardcore gamer with enhanced options to new aqnd existing game titles while capturing the attention of the casual semi-non gamer with games designed specifically for this kind of interaction.

    We most certainly would not want to play Halo:Reach using a Rockband drum kit, that simply doesnt make sense...

    For the seasoned hardcore gamer...

    I would like to see enhancements to existing game or at least enhanced play concepts added to newer titles coming down the pipe. For instance say in Modern Warfare 3 (if it happens...) imagine you are in a stealth mission where you need to direct 5 team mates without alerting opposing forces. With the controller in hand and as the primary method of input, you could turn to a team mate and use one hand to give simply recognizable hand commands informing him of your plan for cover and attack.

    I could definitely see this as a major possibility that doesn't necessarily replace the existing mechanism but enhances gameplay and breaks that "4th wall" so to speak/

    As for the casual gamers...

    I can really see this taking off for the casual crowd. My wife who isn't much of a gamer per say is really excited for these new forms of interacting with games because she has the difficulty of adopting to existing proven mechanisms. She doesn't have the patience or the will to care to learn. This isnt a can be frustrating...even if I watch her change channels or check out whats on on-demand without so much of a glance at the remote in her hand.

    I just hope Sony and Microsoft are listening. For this to work in the way they want to they need to keep both parties (hardcore and casual) somewhat separated, or at least provide the option...and NOT give us something we didn't think we needed until we had it.

    just my opinion.