Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

History of Motion Detection in Gaming 47

kukyfrope writes "In the spirit of the Revolution controller, GameDaily takes a look at the history of motion detection in console games, including U-Force and the infamous NES Power Glove, to name a few." From the article: "When the Sega Genesis came around a few years later, Sega decided to try their hand- and legs and feet- in the motion-sensor game with the release of a device called the Activator. This was a grid-like octagon that laid on the ground and allowed the user to stand in the middle of it, and then use a number of motions to convey actions in a series of games that worked with it, including Sega's brawling titles Streets of Rage 2 and Eternal Champions. But, again, it took too much effort to really figure out how to make it work in a comprehensive manner, and many folks just ended up taking a pass on it."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

History of Motion Detection in Gaming

Comments Filter:
  • by Zorplex ( 800305 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:40AM (#15163049)
    There is going to be more and more speculation on the Big N's new toy as E3. I, for one, can't wait to see what comes of this, whether Nintendo succeeds or not. Something new is needed whether it consists of new hardware or not isn't really important. What we need is for someone to push the boundaries of conventional game development.
    • Did anybody notice that the author didn't mention the most successful "Motion Detector" in gaming, namely the DanceDanceRevolution pad? Or the Guitar Hero axe?
      • Maybe now someone will build a game that looks like a game but it's actually a workout pad for the big boned people that sit infront of consoles all day?
      • Those don't use motion detection. They're just standard buttons and switches used in new ways.
        • "Those don't use motion detection. They're just standard buttons and switches used in new ways."

          It's still a motion device. Watch a good DDR player, you'll get the idea.
          • If a DDR pad is a motion device - then so is a standard game controller.
            • "If a DDR pad is a motion device - then so is a standard game controller."

              Seeing as how I've never seen anybody with a controller dancing around, I cannot say I agree. Besides, if you really get down to it, motion tracking devices are a little more than a set of switches. If you step on the DDR pad, your motion has been 'detected'. Wave your hand in front of the U Force, you're interrupting a beam, triggering a switch. Blah blah blah. It's like saying a skateboard is the same thing as a bicycle just be
        • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:35AM (#15164734) Homepage Journal
          The Guitar Hero controller has a tilt sensor in it, which is sort of a primitive form of motion detection.

          Anyway, most of the time these technologies havn't taken off because they just plain don't work. The power glove was almost impossible to use, the stupid Sega octogon grid thing was flaky as all get out and on and on. If Nintendo actually gets the motion sensing to work properly on the Revolution, it will truely be a revolution.
          • The trouble with things like the Power Glove and the octogon thing were that they were just add ons for existing games, and the games weren't designed to accommodate them. Mike Tyson's Punchout or Streets of Rage had all digital controls so any movement would just register as "on" in the game rather than reading the speed or size of your movement. A small twitch was the same as a huge swing of your arm to the game.

            I remember playing Rad Racer with the Power Glove and two things were a problem. One is that y
      • If a DDR pad is a motion detector because it can tell which contact switches you're stepping on, then a standard gamepad must be a motion detector too. It can detect the movement of your thumbs.

        I'm disappointed at how much was left out of this article. The tilt sensor inside the GBA cart for Wario Ware: Twisted, for example. Or hell, the tilt sensor inside any pinball table.

      • I don't know if those would count for motion detectors, though. The DDR pad is just a set of buttons transferred to the floor, and the guitar hero axe is a set of buttons put in certain positions on a controller. You could count the ability to tilt the guitar up to go into star power, but I wouldn't consider that a full-blown motion-detection device.
    • We need nothing more than what we already have. When the kid whips out the power glove in The Wizard, that is one of the most bad ass moments in all of cinematic history. What more could you possibly want out of motion detection than that?
  • Are we getting closer and closer to virtual reality? I personally have always been interested in VR simulators, and I even had a change to play in a helicopter one @ 6 flag New Jersey.

    This is all really neat, and it may be old technology, we're getting closer to a more interactive game where the player is more envolved.

    But this of course also opens up to more addictive games....
    • I don't understand why basic VR technology isn't available for the average person to buy right now. I was talking to some friends of mine about this the other day.
      Something like the virtual boy for display today should be realtively cheap to make (it sold for what, $150 back in '95 or so? - plus blue and green LEDs are much cheaper now, so a full colour display could be practical). Combine that with some sort of glove that has simple motion detection, maybe a couple of gyroscopes and an accellerometer, a
      • Re:Virtual Reality (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ajs318 ( 655362 )
        The problem with the old "Virtual Reality" stuff was that it was, frankly, a bit crap. The resolution of the displays was so limited, a single pixel represented several centimetres in space. Depth rendering was never really accurate, and refresh rates were poor.

        Maybe all these problems have been overcome now, but the truth is that the last time anyone checked, Virtual Reality was all hype and no substance. The only thing keeping it going was it being just out of the reach of the common person. If it h
        • I had a go of one of those Virtuality arcade machines when they first came out and it still managed to impress me. The tech must be viable by now. VR is ripe for a major comeback.

          I'd settle for another go on a virtuality machine though. Anyone reading this know where you can still find one in the UK?
          • Yeah I agree on the Virtuality thing, it worked pretty well when I played on it in the Trocadero. The only thing lacking were the graphics, but given the Quad-SLi systems you can build these days I don't see any reason why you couldn't hook one of those Virtuality headsets up to a powerful recent PC and achieve a pretty immersive experience.
  • by Cadef ( 880567 ) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:31AM (#15163185)
    I remember way back in the Genesis days... My parents bought me what was perhaps the strangest input device ever... a chair. Basically, it was a seat mounted on top of a set of joystick actuators, so that when you leaned left the game received a "left" input, etc. It even had a vertical grip for each hand that had the buttons mounted in the handle. One of my favorite games ever for that was Road Rash. Road Rash was a series of motorcycle racing/combat games. Motorcycle racing was especially well-suited to the chair/controller contraption, because in order to turn your bike left, you just leaned left, a lot like on an actual motorcycle. I loved that thing, until the actuators finally wore out.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ooh, that must've done wonders for your weight! Imagine that! a CHAIR!
    • You can get a similar result with the PS2's dance mat controller.

      • Sit in the middle (or on the back button if your legs are long).
      • Put your hands on the left and right buttons.
      • Put your feet on the two buttons at the front (X and O?).
      • Lean left and right to steer.
      • Push on the "pedals" below your feet to accelerate and brake.

      It's quite fun after you've had a few beers.


      • Reminds me of when we tried to play Super Dance Dance Fighter 2 Turbo. Basically Street Fighter but too lazy to undo the dance pads. Damned bastard picked Guile and just did Sonic Booms or Flash Kicks while I was stuck trying to do Kens Dragon Punch or Hurricane Kick. I learned my lesson, though- next match I picked Blanca...

  • Full exploitation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:07AM (#15163280)
    The mouse I am currently using has complete freedom of movement in a 2D plane. Thus there are an infinite range of gestures that could be used, but are not by current software/operating systems. For example, I could rapidly move the mouse from side to side to close a window, or I could draw a little circle to switch between applications. The possibilities are endless, but all we have is point and click.

    With the revmote we also have an infinite range of gestures, but in a 3D space. The question is will this be exploited to its full potential beyond the obvious gestures like slashing a sword? For example, can I draw a U shape in the air to throw an uppercut in a boxing game. For a fight game, less intuitive gestures (e.g. draw a circle for a roundhouse kick) could be used, but would still be surely easier than trying to remember a random combination of buttons.

    The revmote certainly has the potential to change things for the better, but it remains to be seen if this will be delivered.
    • Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cyno01 ( 573917 )
      Its already been stated that one of the Revs launch titles, Red Steel, an FPS with swords, will have something like that. You can swing your sword and it will react, but executing a specific series of movements will trigger a combo.
    • No, it wouldn't work in fighting games. Gestures like that would be way too slow. When you have moves that take only a few frames to perform you would not want to be waving your arm about like a maniac.
      This controller may work with fishing games and the like, but it wouldn't do anything good in fast paced games.
    • Re:Full exploitation (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You may want to look into Opera, which uses Mouse Gestures as part of its browsing system. Now that I'm used to them, pressing buttons feels archaic.
    • Well... have a look at Octree [] for some twisted mouse gesture functionality.
      Check out the tutorial section for the dirt.

  • []

    That game rocked. You could duck, move from side to side, shoot, it was pretty cool. The AI wasn't amazing and the motion sensors could be improved, but the thing came out 6 years ago, and I haven't seen anything like it recently. Also no mention of it, or its boxing counterpart in the article.
  • Remember all the people who say why no mention of the ddr pad should keep in mind there was a similiar pad for the nes. You used it on games like track and field where you would run in place to make the guy run and you would jump to make him jump. Lol at the porn comment. The revolution controller is perfect for orn games. People who say nintendo is kiddy now are just nintendo haters. Think about it you will see lol .
    • The power pad was a big miss though. The problem with it was that the developers were more or less completely stuck on the track and field mentality with the thing, and frankly, running in place for 15 minutes gets boring quick. They came real close to having an early version of DDR with Dance Aerobics, but the implementation just fell short. I think they could have done so much more with that pad, but it ended up in the dustbin of history next to ROB and the Power Glove.
      • My brother and I had an NES with a Power Pad. Sure we only had the pack-in game for it, but we found interesting ways of playing.

        There were 3 rows of sensors on the "running" side of the pad. If you had some friends over, you could just hit the sensors with your fists instead. It worked great for events like the hurdles. With 6 "feet" running, you can just plow through the course and be finished before the computer reaches the first hurdle.
  • Bunch of Nintendo fanboys... First motion detecting device I remember was the Le Stick for the 2600.
  • by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:18PM (#15165603) Journal
    Preface: My Senior project for college was reverse engineering the DualShock2 communication protocol and adding major modifications and upgrades, like adjustable rapid-fire, real-time macros, completely reconfigurable buttons, and some rudimentary motion sensitivity.

    Let me attest that it is VERY hard to get motion sensitivity right. I was using a 2-axis 2g accelerometer to try measuring gravity, and mapping the orientation of the controller with respect to the gravity vector onto the left analog stick's horizontal axis.

    I tried for a good three weeks, attempting to perfect an algorithm for smooth playback. In the end, I couldn't get something that worked universally for all games. It turns out that the DualShock2's analog sticks are pathetic. They jitter around their "center value", and I use that term lightly because "center" could be anywhere from 0x70 to 0x90. Meanwhile, a Mad Catz controller returned 0x7F dead on every time.

    So part of the problem is building a reliable interface. I think this is why Nintendo is rumored to use several different sensors. I've heard stuff about IR, ultrasonic, gyros, accelerometers, etc.

    Now, if the response of these sensors is very well understood and presented to developers in an intuitive manner, and they're consistent, then this could take off. But those are the biggest issues: getting consistent, reliable information from the sensors, and effectively decoding that information into game inputs.
    • I think that answers a question I've had for some time about the Dual Shock, namely: why do the Dual Shock pads have such a large dead zone?

      I find the sticks don't tend to respond until they've been moved over 25% from the center which is annoying when you want to make small adjustments. But if the sticks never read a stable resting position then it would seem the dead zone is there to stop all that jittering from translating into the game and making Solid Snake having some sort of epileptic fit on screen!

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta