Thursday, May 6, 2010

The difference between Microsoft's Natal and Nintendo's Wii for game designers

Please post here in the comments (bullet points are fine, but be precise!) what the difference is for you as game designers between the technology behind Microsoft's Natal and Nintendo's Wiimote.
What can you do with one that you cannot do with the other?

I challenge you that there is only a handful of points, but that they are much more important than 'more limbs'.


  1. Well it's kinda hard to say considering the public hasn't been able to try Natal. But judging from the E3 preview the most obvious one for me is tangibility; just like Natal the Wii is able to convey player controlled movement (although limited) through the use of a screen, but it's also able to do this through audio and 'vibration' thanks to the built in speaker and rumble in the Wiimote.

    As a 'designer' you can use these to add depth, I've never played guitar hero on the wii, but they can use the built in speaker to emulate the 'ambient' sound of other band members instruments to make it feel like your actually in stage with a band. Whereas the vibration feedback could be used during the 'star power' session, a subtle vibration could imply many things to the player; the crowd rocking out so hard they're shaking the floorboards or the vibartion cause by maximum overdrive and the amp being put to 11. It could also be used during a guitar hero competitive matches, the speaker can produce off-key squeals to 'fake' the player out, play the song at a different tempo whereas heavy vibration can represent 'Keith Richards Rheumatism'. I can just imagine a first person western game akin Marrowind, the sound of a smoking gun barrel coming out of the wii speaker after a shot is fired which caused varying degrees of vibration depending on the bullet.

    Natal's goals on the other hand seems to be to blend the line between gaming and movement even further. But would mimicking the movement of the gun with just your two hands, to me is like eating just the pastry of the pie, there's no 'weight' or 'tangibility' which are provided by a mouse and sometimes a wiimote.

  2. Kane Edwin WrayMay 7, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    Hardcore Swimming Vid one, sorry it took me so long to post these haha

  3. Kane Edwin WrayMay 7, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    Hardcore Swimming Vid two

  4. Kane Edwin WrayMay 7, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    the flash/wii game

  5. Updated link on flash game.. so you can work out how to play.

  6. Because natal can track your entire body, it gives natal the ability to put the player into the game with every movement being tracked.
    This gives designers much more options and variety in the ways you could have players interact with your game this allows for a higher movement variety.
    With natal, it require for you to move fully to achieve a goal unlike the wiimote, where you can "cheat" and just waggle the wiimote to the same effect as a full swing. This gives the natal the ability to potentially have games that are much more exertive.
    Natal is lacking in tangibility with nothing to hold onto like the wiimote, natal will probably make you feel and look even more silly than the wiimote and without having something bringing the game out of the virtual and into the real world with something solid to hold onto might detract from the experience. Although it also might, to some degree increase the level that we creatively and imaginatively interact with the game.

  7. Hey, my post went over the character limit a bit, so it's been queued to appear tomorrow on my blog
    It should appear between 12:30 and 1:30 on Monday.

  8. As for project natal; in aim of combining movement into gaming in a more advanced way than the previous concepts of Sony’s eye toy, it has both beneficial and negative features about the concept in comparison to Nintendo’s wii remote.
    As natal creates the ability to capture as well as pleasingly track the player’s entire body; this would allow the user to be much more involved physically in the game played and eliminate users simply flicking their wrists to achieve the same result as seen in various examples of Nintendo’s wii remote.
    However, I will criticise Natal having no physical solid form to hold whilst playing. I have a seen a variety of videos displaying concepts of games and how they would work... some seem they would be pretty sweet and its features seem much more advanced than Nintendo’s. Hell; it looks like it will be heaps of fun, but I will not have a final opinion until I interact with the real thing. I agree completely with what Chester said about mimicking a gun with your hands, or for that matter, even playing sport games. I know many of my friends would much prefer to play Fifa with a controller and not exert themselves jumping all over the joint being the actual player... Some concepts though such as fighting games I believe will be INSANEEEEE!!! =D lol I think it needs to be released to the public as it appears to be the future of gaming and I do like it; just need to sample it first.
    Oh and here is a video that has a few examples of games including a fighting one which I mentioned would be extremely cool; as it is much more interactive for the user’s whole body usage, but I am not certain whether I would like to play sport games such as soccer more preferably on a physical controller or being completely interactive.
    Can’t wait to sample it as soon as it is released!  Laters Floyd.

  9. I also believe it will make the user much more emotionally attached into most of the games too. :)

  10. The most obvious key differences between the Wiimote and Natal are the tangibility of the Wiimote and the full-body immersion of Natal, however these are mainly to do with the experience of the person playing the game. The biggest differences for game designers are the limitations they must impose on themselves when using this technology in games.

    For example, with Natal, designers have the option of stopping players 'cheating' like they can with the Wiimote (by shaking it back and forth slightly instead of moving it in wide swings). However creating a game like this has the potential to ironically restrict immersion as well as enhance it: while a player may be required to move their whole body around with arms outstretched to perfom an action with Natal, they might lack the physical space or risk hitting something while doing so. Thinking about this, or smacking their arms into walls, would pull a player out of the game instantly and ruin their experience - possibly making certain games difficult or impossible to play. As game designers, it's important to think about these types of scenarios while exploring the new ways of interacting that Natal offers us.

    Similarly, the speaker in the Wiimote has the potential to distract or confuse players if used carelessly. While it also provides feedback through weight and vibration to the player, sometimes the simulated action (such as hand-to-hand combat or flapping arms to fly) doesn't need these things and might be detracted from by requiring the player to constantly hold the Wiimote, which they wouldn't need to with Natal.

    Just as there are many new opportunities offered to us as game designers by Natal and the Wii, it's important to recognise which system better fits the desired end experience for each game and remember that strengths they offer to one game may be weaknesses for another, and vice versa.

  11. Question to Mikey...
    Could you please expand on how it will make the user more emotionally attatched to the game?

  12. while the wii mote was the first sucessful step towards in involving the player within their own space more so then the generated 3d space within the screen, it strayed away from the whole story telling aspects and focoused more on the action the players performed.

    While credit is given to the wii for this inovation and it has not taken out the story element all together but generaly most wii games has moved on from telling a story and emersing the audiences.

    the natal does the same thing but on a higher scale. The wii mote acdted as a link between the player and the game while the natal removed it all together, this would involve the player alot more but this would be all the player would focous on, they would be to caught up in their movments and their movements on screen other game aspects would just drown out.

    with both the wii and natal unless the player is playing with another it would make the player feel foolish for giving a physical input and all you gain is a score that is show on a screen seems to lose its value but if their were 2 or more players were involved the experiences would be shared as the reward.
    That bing said wii and natal would be best played with a second player.

  13. Like Chester, I too feel as though it is- at this stage- difficult to comprehend and distinguish any outstanding differences between the two systems- with it still to be released and with exposure to public being minimal. However, from what I have been able to dig up, I have discovered that, despite Natal’s unique ability to convert a bump map of a person into a fully articulated skeleton, it is said to encompass an inbuilt lag. Seeing as it still early days, such allegation could be nothing more than an individual trying to think up a reason to hate the yet-to-be- released- system. However if such is the case then it is definitely going to problematic for Microsoft as such will not only cause much frustration- with it resembling a video in which the commentary doesn’t match imagery- but at the same time result in aloofness between gamer and game. The lack of physical buttons can further adds to the detachment between the individual and the game, as individuals become far more conscious of they way they appear and, as a result, lose the enthusiasm that they once had for the game. This is even more apparent in a situation , in which, there is only one individual playing the game, as they find that such either destroys the repute- by making them look complete fools or, even not worth the effort. Although, I feel the same with the Wii, I know that- unlike the natal- it only requires me to move certain body parts and look like a tad geeky. Moreover- in a developmental sense- the lack of controls is also going to result in natal having no implications on core games. For, even though Wii is lacking in the high tech glamour of the natal, it nonetheless is a functioning controller and though different in make , one is still able to make a connection with it and with other known, and loved, consoles.


    ps. sorry for taking soo long to blog, had problems with my pc.

  14. First of all, i must say that the games are becoming more and more real-life imitative. Before investigating for differences, Project Natal and Nintendo Wii shares the same objective which is movement involved gameplay. And so they succeeded? Nintendo primitively employed a controller that is capable of reading hand motions, and Natal attempts to utilise 3 dimensional motion-tracking system that comes with their special camera which is able to read the entire body movement. The most superficial as well as apparent difference between them is perhaps the extension of body tracking system. Yet, the difference is so ambiguous that we can not decide upon which product is better or not. If Natal merely extended the range of the already existing motion tracking system, it will only draw the public's attention for brief time, subsequently fade into the air as the customers realise it is nothing special but causes over-exhuation just for playing games. Would people really want to pay for that kind of product when there already is Wii which is just like that except it is far less exerting? The answer will be 'no'. Even i would rather choose to go to gym to have better experience of exerting myself.

    Essentially, the distinction between the two product is very subtle in terms of superficial aspect. Nevertheless, professionals such as Robbie Bach from Microsoft expect Project Natal poses more potential than Wii insisting that "Natal is about third-party publishers making money. [Nintendo makes] most of their money from first-party games. It is a great business model, but it makes it hard for third-party publishers."
    Microsoft also pointed out that "Nintendo are doing well as a business, but are hindering outside-developers in the process.". I presume this implies Natal is at least more advanced than Wii and simultaneously, the developers are better motivated since Natal tracks full body movement which means more potential of enhancement as compared to Wii. I personally concur with this argument although i do not think Natal at this stage is any better than Wii. It will develop as the time goes and who knows if Natal games will involve the five senses, the ultimate form of gaming in the future? Since Natal is so called the most advanced game in the present time.., i will have to give more credit to it.

    My apologies if the prose often doesn't make sense. I'm dead tired as i wrote this so.. i tried my best,, sob :.[
    Great lecture once again Floyd btw :D

  15. Letting you all know that I really don't know a lot about Natal, please keep that in mind as you read this.

    When I look at Natal, I see just a more advance version of the EyeToy for the PS2. Yes you can move your body around to play the game, but I've seen this done with the EyeToy before. Yes they have probably fix some things up that the eye toy had problems with before, but I really see no originality to it. The Wii, what can I say about that one, it is original in my point of view because it's the first console to use physical movement, unlike the Natal is just an add on to the X-Box 360. I believe Nintendo will still have it's casual gamers for the Wii, especially towards families because it's looks more 'child friendly'. I believe that Natal will bring in more older audiences because X-Box is such a Hardcore gamer's console, besides, most childish games end up on the Wii. Yet I do find that what Microsoft is doing is actually quite smart by coping Nintendo's idea by making it look better.

    I do agree with what others have said, Natal will allow audiences to to us more exertion than the Wii, and probably will be more enjoyable. Instead of using a Wii remote to hit a ball easily, Natal probably gives more of a realistic feel to tennis. I also agree with Manolya, Natal can stop players from cheating like they do with the Wii remote, but, since I find the similarities with Natal and the EyeToy, the player could probably cheat if they move up close towards the camera or use two people in a one player game. Unless Microsoft have fix this problem and won't allow players to do so, cheating could occur with the Natal as well. As for the Wii, yes you could like that but you can't have two players in a one player game (meaning that there is only one wii remote, you can't use two because the game won't allow it).

    Also there is one other thing that Natal would probably get points for, and that would be no batteries (i hope no batteries). I'm guessing Natal will be connected to the X-Box 360 (in the images it looks like it) and our bodies will only run out of energy when we need food or sleep. The one thing that annoys me about the Wii is the constant use of batteries, yes you can buy rechargeable ones, but it's still annoys me how long the wii remotes last for. On a normal battery a couple of days or week but rechargeable ones only give you a certain about of hours. The amount of times I played Zelda Twilight Princess and in the middle of a boss fight my wii remote stop functioning because the batteries have dies has annoyed me so much. To me, batteries are a no, so I will give thumbs up to Natal for no batteries.

    I have so many other things to say, but i will go on forever. please correct me if I am wrong.

  16. I find it amusing imagining the Natal ever being considered hardcore in any form. I can't see anyone inviting their bros over to frag some noobs in MW2, using the Natal. I guess regular 360's will have to suffice for that.

    In terms of its niche, it seems to me that Natal will do WiiFit's job better than it did itself. Where Wii only required movement from a single remote, Natal demands it from significantly more; read, the entire body, or near all of it. I'm not sure how this will play out but it seems that it will allow for more intensive games. Whole-body intensive, rather than just 'wagglan' some remotes around until ones wrist gets sore. Reading about games that attempt to emulate devices such as steering wheels or 2-handed weapons, it seems that if Natal senses less what is expected; someone deciding to be badass driving with one hand on the steering wheel, then it flips out and either refuses to register the one-handed input as the steering, or decides to 'find' another source of input, causing all sorts of glitches and amusing moments.

    The Wii was innovative, but sometimes for the true potential of something to be unleashed, the concept has to be created, then refined by a third party. Nintendo and Wii may have pioneered the field of motion-based gaming, making it mainstream, but it may be the Natal that takes it to the next level.

    Slightly offtopic, I wonder how Natal will cope with variations in body size. Imaginations running wild imagining a group of munchkins playing Natal games all together. Poor Sony, PS3 has no gems and PSMove looks like a bit of a joke...

    End of poorly presented and unreliable thoughts.

  17. At first glance, I too - like Peter - find it interesting that some would consider Natal a 'hardcore' platform, as it seems rather similar to its Wii/EyeToy predecessors (both 'casual' platforms) with Natal merely possessing a different method of controlling the virtual world: the player's entire body.

    I won't repeat what has already been well-said about the implications of full body movement vs the Wii's 'waggle commands' or the lack of a tangible control in Natal, however I am very interested in Natal's 'scanning' system that I've read about that allows the player to scan objects, messages and a variety of other things into the virtual world. This is obviously to heighten the sense of immersion and also as Floyd has said 'to make the player feel cool' and this holds quite large implications for game designers, with the freedom to transfer visual information into the game, expanding the playing environment.

    Scott Stein (
    "The most captivating moment of the demo was Lionhead Studios and Fable designer Peter Molyneux's creation of Milo, an avatar in a game world who interacted with the player by looking in his or her direction, responding to live conversation, and even accepting hand-drawn messages, scanned into the game and "transferred" in real time across the virtual looking glass."

    [This has probably been seen/posted a million times but just incase you haven't seen it..]

    Milo demo

  18. Thinking of Floyd's design dimensions I remembered that dimension called Secondary movement. While the Wii promotes the use of Secondary movement relying on a controller some what limits its ability to track broader body movements, it only tracks the actual controller. As such many of the movements can be done in a less realistic manner and still get the same results in the virtual world. Ie in bowling you can make the correct motion without even standing up. there is no need to stand, bend down to role the ball smoothly from ground level or even more get a walk/run up before you play. People still do the motions sometimes but the game doesn't care if you do or not. For designers the natal can make it much easier to encourage secondary movements as they can make the game actually measure it and track all the parts of the body involved. A music game for natal where you play guitar can actually tell if you slide on you knees across the ground, if you head bang while you play guitar and tell how much you dance around in your 'performance'. However guitar hero games would still loose something if the guitar controller was completely removed (as we discussed with the air guitar game last week).
    Even DDR can be improved with natal because it could then incorporate hand movements and a general broader spectrum of body movements. future technology developed from natal could even become an aid for actual dancers in the same way that Floyd's gym game allows users to see how to correctly use the machine.