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Why precision isn't everything in motion-based gaming

As part of Gamasutra's latest feature, Blitz Games Studios' Nick Adams argues that motion controls don't need to be precise, as long as they make the player feel connected to their avatar.
As part of Gamasutra's latest feature, Blitz Games Studios' Nick Adams argues that motion controlled games don't need to strive for one-to-one precision. Rather, he says that denying players total control can prove much more effective. Drawing examples from his studio's Kinect-based Puss in Boots, Adams explains that precise motion control can create an awkward disconnect between a player and their avatar. He particularly notes that Puss in Boots's motion controlled sword fighting just didn't work well when players knew exactly what they looked like. When using one-to-one control, Adams explained that "Puss would do exactly what the player did, but this simply highlighted the gulf between the two. It felt underwhelming rather than heroic (not to mention the fact that the on-screen character ceased to look and behave like Puss at all)." To solve this problem, Adams and his team set out to appeal to players' inherent egocentric bias -- "the perception that they look considerably cooler than they actually do." Eventually, the team replaced the one-to-one sword fighting with a system that triggered specific animations based on a player's gestures. While this new system was decidedly less precise, Adams said it helped players feel a stronger connection to the character. "We found that players didn't have a problem with the lack of exact correlation, as long as they felt like they were driving the on-screen action. In addition, we were making players look better than they were, which made them far more willing to buy into the illusion." The full feature, which offers even more insight on working with the Kinect hardware, is live now on Gamasutra.

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