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Visikord Challenge
InDaViz  [developer] Apr 28, 2013 @ 12:13pm
Why Kinect
Let us explain here why we chose Kinect. We know the device is not very popular on Steam. But we think this is in part of the kind of games made for it, and in our opinion that was the consequence of how Kinect was marketed -- with the "You are the controller" slogan that defined what the user's experience must look like. That approach requires skeleton tracking which is hard and frequently misses.

But the other way to use Kinect is to look at it as what it really is: an excellent space sensor -- a device that accurately detects solid points in space, specifically the user's hands. It can't detect fingers, but if they are in front of you, it can tell if they moved just 1cm forward or backward, and as precisely as 3mm for movements on the side. Gabe Newell said about Kinect, "Your hands, and your wrist muscles, and your fingers are actually your highest bandwidth — so to trying to talk to a game with your arms is essentially saying 'oh we’re going to stop using ethernet and go back to 300 baud dial-up.'" That's true when it comes to skeleton tracking, but with space tracking you're at the wrist level of bandwidth, and with the wrists you can accurately make about 4 hits a second to a trigger point in the air, while opening a lot of other possibilities.

We're not saying that Kinect can ever replace a controller, only that it's very natural for the kinds of play that involve moving hands in the air. (Eg. casting spells, moving fingers through a reactive field etc.) In our case, it is used to express the energy of the music in a controlled and visually stimulating way. Some people, who are very much into the music they like, enjoy that and there is no other controller that would provide the same feeling.

So our approach is to use Kinect to make space around the user react to the location of the the tips of his hands -- or, "the space is the controller."

A good question is whether a webcam can we used for our game. We tried but couldn't find good results. Many webcams produce images at less than 30fps. Detecting objects with webcams is hard (harder than skeleton tracking). It is also very difficult and error prone to extract the person well. This was important for our game as showing a different world around the player, instead of the everyday living room or the kitchen, was key to the experience. (In fact the 1st version of the engine was written for an RGB camera and a black background a year before the Kinect.) The 3D scene seen by Kinect allows for changing the appearance of the user so he doesn't look like a paper cutout, even if the webcam could extract it. And so on. Kinect produces 30fps raw depth images at VGA resolution and with only 30ms more delay than a webcam.

If you have an opinion on this, we would very much appreciate to hear it. Thank you.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 comments
Lazario Apr 29, 2013 @ 8:05am 
Gamers on Steam are very, if not EXTREMELY critical critics and not very open-minded. Which is funny because PC Gaming is all about openess,innovaton and the variety of games.

You have a very promising product here that pushes music and rythm based innovation in games even further. Although the presentaion and graphics does need alot more work in my opinion.

Have you heard of a device called 'Leap Motion'?
It's like Kinect but focusing on your fingers. Maybe supporting that will help build up the games popularity.

If your looking for other Store fronts to sell your game have you considered the Windows 8 Store?

Hopefully more users will give their opinions after this post.
Last edited by Lazario; Apr 29, 2013 @ 8:06am
InDaViz  [developer] Apr 29, 2013 @ 3:15pm 
Hi, thanks for the comment. Yes it's a tough audience but the upside is people here have seen a lot of games and patterns of what works so we're getting great feedback. The downside is that Kinect has a stigma because of the kind of games it was targeted for. But we've already made improvements and got some new ideas as well as encouragement from the upvoters after only four days here so it's well worth it.

I've seen Leap Motion... in theory it seems like the space where you can move your hands is too limited for this purpose ie. music expression. But I'm realizing saying that is the same as saying Kinect is only for dance games so I'm going to reserve one.

Windows 8 store -- we'd need to rework the UI but it's doable, in a few months' frame. Our target audience for the game are people who already have a Kinect and have a PC (probably majority of Kinect owners), and have interest in music and rhythm. We'll look at other stores too but Steam has the most weight.

Thanks for the support. We'll keep working on those graphics!
[MM] WMan22 Jan 21, 2014 @ 7:31am 
Have you done anything for this game to address the latency issues Kinect has? I'd imagine it's hard to play a music game when your actions on screen are delayed by about a half second to .75 seconds.
InDaViz  [developer] Jan 23, 2014 @ 9:56pm 
Hi, great question, the latency issues with Kinect are primarily in the software stack (and the game pipeline) that is not used here, we have our own image processing algs. Kinect hardware latency is only additional 33ms compared to a good 30FPS webcam. In Visikord, on a core3 with Intel HD4000 the total latency with Visikord is roughly 100ms -- from movement to the rendered result on the screen.

And here's the thing: even that latency -- lowest that we know of -- is just barely OK. More than that would be too noticable because essentially this form of interaction is such that you need the screen to be as fast as a mirror. So it's no wonder that Kinect games have such reception (this and the lack of accuracy that comes from skeleton tracking), but I think the problem is the way the Kinect hardware is used, not in the hardware itself.
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