Blitz games' CTO Andrew Oliver and Nick Burton, Kinect development director at Rare, gave an insightful presentation on the joys and 'challenges' of developing for Kinect at the Develop conference this afternoon.
Along with solving the 'can you play sitting down' conundrum, we were also treated to the fact that there is in-game voice recognition, the Sports title was developed using the Banjo-Kazooie platform, Kinect could count the number of fingers you're holding up, if only someone would code that in.
For its (first-party) part, Rare set up a new team, of experts on Kinect to sit between the game team and the platform team having first seen the controller at E3 2009.
Blitz's Oliver explained that his team got one prototype last September.
What both received were software tools and basic dev kits, everything else was down to them. According to Burton, "With table tennis after a week of development we knew we'd got something."
A week? Well, according to Burton, "Sports was built effectively on the Banjo Engine." So, old engines plugged into the new controller and its Skeletal tracking, which apparently gives 20 points in 3D with absolute positions.
With both developers closely tied to the system, it also came as little surprise that the challenges to development were mostly set aside in favour of the pros. Oliver did point out that Kinect, " ...gives you the ability to do something very new. It's really easy to develop for. It's very, very natural" with the caveat that understanding that ease entailed, "a lot of programmers to work that out, more programmers than when we get a new console probably."
Burton addressed the seated play 'issue' as follows, "if you want to design a seated experience, you can go for a seated experience."
Oliver followed this with, "If I look at the raw feed I can count how many fingers you're holding up. No one has written the software for that but you can do it."
Apparently all this occurs in software, "You can map out the room, you can kind of tell how many people are in the room, you can kind of tell if a dogs walks into the room. It's your software it's up to you to work out what to do with it", said Oliver. To which Nick Burton interjected, "It's a depth camera, it knows if you've moved the sofa... It knows what's you."
So, what about hardcore games? According to Oliver, "for all us gamers who love shooters and racers, the controller still exists." This admission that possibly, just possibly hardcore games might not be the role of Kinect, lead Microsoft's Rare rep to jump in with, "you can use the controller with Kinect." This came complete with a laughs.
Finally, we were also told that if you've done too much leaping around and knock Kinect over, "it recalibrates itself."
More from Develop later in the week.