Rare might not be the studio we knew it as during the 90s and early Noughties, but the UK-based studio is still going strong, these days focusing on Kinect for Xbox 360. With the successful Kinect Sports series under its belt, we spoke to development director Nick Burton about the future of Kinect and what's next for Rare.
Q: In your view, what are the essential ingredients for a great Kinect game?
Nick Burton: Just like with any game the player should feel super human, capable of more extravagant and amazing things – but, we also have to ensure players can get better during the game, that skill is rewarded and key to progression. In addition to this, Kinect should always enhance the play experiences and not detract from them, it should be used where it fits best; where it creates game experiences that a standard controller cannot.
Q: If you had to pick out one thing, what would you say was the most important lesson you learned about Kinect during the development of Sports 2?
NB: Don't sit still. Always innovate, enhance and improve. We intentionally pushed Kinect way beyond the technology we had in the original Kinect Sports: side pose tracking for Golf; super accurate hand tracking for Darts and voice control throughout. Whatever we do next we will keep pushing the envelope because the game is way better for it.
Q: During the latter half of this year we've begun to see developers attempting more complex projects with Kinect, compared to what we had in the early months - SEGA's Rise of Nightmares springs to mind. In 2012, do you think we'll start to see an increase in more demanding Kinect titles, in terms of the player interaction's with the game world?
NB: Absolutely! Kinect is all about machine learning and software innovation which we can keep improving and updating with every new game. We have had around 35 years of controller development, we have had only one year of Kinect development so far. There is so much we could do, I have a huge bank of ideas on a whiteboard that we have not looked at yet but we have to improve and experiment one step at a time.
Q: What is your biggest hope for Kinect as a platform, going forward?
NB: We continue to push and grow the technology until we have experiences I cannot even imagine today. Look at where touch screens were ten years ago, and then look at an iPad and smartphones. Look at the things developers are doing with the same technology now they are used to it. It's going to be a fun ride getting Kinect to that point.
Q: I know that you guys can't be drawn on specifics, but is there any chance we could have a tiny, tiny-weeny hint as to what we'll see next from Rare? A vague clue, perhaps?
NB: It will feature Kinect in some way, but how? Oh now that would be telling!