Whether it's hardware, software, or vaporware, there's no shortage of intense hype for new products and technologies at E3. But beyond the breathless product demonstrations, the reality doesn't always live up to the promise (not that this is all that different from any other part of the tech industry). Even having gotten a close-up, in-person look at some of these big buzz-worthy introductions at E3, it's hard to separate fact from hype, although one thing is obvious: only a handful of these hardware developments are even close to actually being released.
Project Natal, the Xbox 360's motion-sensing camera add-on, certainly has potential, but the promo video for it Microsoft showed off was purely a work of science fiction. In it, a happy family enjoys multimedia content, chats with friends, and plays complex interactive games without a controller, just using their bodies. The actual playable demos were a few generations behind that, more reminiscent of the Sony Eye Toy accessory for the PS2--the main example was a simple game where players bat a ball back at the screen by swatting at the air, with just enough lag to be annoying. We're very excited about the potential of this new motion-sensing, face-and-voice-recognizing, camera add-on, but for now the gulf between the reality and prerendered video is sizable.
A much-hyped software package that uses the Project Natal hardware, Milo was presented as a virtual onscreen boy who could recognize you and carry on an intelligent conversation. The demo video was impressive, but obviously shot in a tightly controlled environment with clearly scripted responses. Talking to several people who got a chance to try out talking to Milo in person behind closed doors, the responses were uniformly disappointed, describing the supposedly realistic Milo similar to a Tamagotchi virtual pet, with only very basic interactivity. Milo was created by Peter Molyneux, a game designer infamous for over-promising and under-delivering, with ambitious but flawed projects such as Fable and Black & White. … Read more