Natal may be gaming’s future

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By juan aguilar, asst. inscape editor

By juan aguilar, asst. inscape editor

Imagine fighting a villain in a game by using your own bare hands. Code name, Project Natal, from Microsoft is a revolutionary gaming experience that will set new standards for all gaming platforms alike. If you have seen the movie “Gamer,” you know the player controlled the movements of his avatar, Kable, with his own body movements. Project Natal will allow users to do just this, minus using real humans. It will be a new way to play games by creating an interaction unlike anything you have ever seen. Fortunately for Xbox 360 owners, Project Natal is 100 percent compatible with the platform, making it an add-on feature rather than an entirely new gaming system. What’s new about this project is the concept it will introduce: a virtual interaction between player and game in real time and full body movement. In other words, if the bad guy is about to punch you in the face, you block and then punch him back in the same way you would act towards a real person. Still, there is much more to Project Natal than you can even begin to imagine. The device itself is a horizontal bar that measures at 23 centimeters wide. This bar could be placed near the Xbox 360 and a high definition television in any room of any size. The device then scans everything within its vicinity, using a depth sensor which overlooks the room, including you, in 3D as opposed to the usual 2D video game image. An amazing and never before seen interaction begins once the first scan is complete. The scan is how the device gets to know you, and after the scan it’s capable of body, facial, and voice recognition. The system also has a multiarray microphone which helps for voice recognition and extracts unwanted ambient noises, enabling Project Natal to be used without a headset. This system is first on the list for discussion as it will no doubt bring about a revolution that will change gaming for many years to come. Kick your foot forward, dodge an approaching ball, or grip an invisible wheel as you race downhill with a fast car, it’s all possible with the technology put into Project Natal. Any motion you make with your body will be immediately reflected onto your television screen; it’s every one of your movements applied to any action in a game. Villains will even have artificial intelligence, making it possible to create a monologue with no script, just live improvisation and wits for character. Another game featuring artificial intelligence is Lionhead Studio’s virtual kid, Milo. Milo is a kid who will answer any of your questions, converse with you, respond to your tone and even gives emotions like that of a real person. In comparison, the games have similarities but along with gaming, Project Natal will revolutionize online game play and interaction. As you step into the realm of the sensor, it immediately logs into Xbox LIVE. This will allow users to connect with friends online and chat in real time. It truly is the perfect apparatus for family use as well. Games will be featured that require family members of any age to participate, such as answering trivia questions and changing the wheels of a race car while stationed at a pit stop. It is just that cool. Do not expect to lie back on your bed and play the games because this requires full on physical activity to the best of your ability in order to perform any action. This could be a new and attractive way to help society become more active by introducing the next generation of interactive game play. This is only the beginning as Project Natal is another step closer to the future we imagined, but this is definitely a big step. The device will be sold separately from the Xbox 360, and in a bundle pack. Although there is no official price yet for Project Natal, the device itself is expected to cost about $80. Microsoft will release Project Natal for consumers somewhere around the holiday season of 2010. Project Natal has made this futuristic gaming experience a reality and it will soon be available to any individual who is willing to gain insight on the technology of the future.

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