When Microsoft’s Kinect was released, I imagined all the cool kind of interactions that were possible and what this could do for gaming. Now a few years later, I haven’t really played any great games that used the Kinect. The only exception would be Child of Eden, which was awesome. I think the main problem was the precision. It feels like 1 out of 5 times the Kinect misinterpreted your actions. Of course this could be poor software implementation and not the hardware, but still. Were motion controls doomed?

Now, it is less than one month until the release of the Leap Motion. Instead of full body detection, it does hand and finger recognition. The poor precision that in my opinion degraded the Kinect is not an issue here. It has a precision of 0.01mm with almost no latency (~5ms). I remember that I saw the video about a year ago and I was convinced, with many others, that it was a hoax. That kind of precision was just unreal, especially for the price they aimed to sell it.

When the possibility arose to apply for a dev-kit, curious as I am I did not hesitate and filled in the form. A few weeks later, after attending a game jam for Empowerment for Children, I came home finding a package directed to Crimson Owl Studios. This was the first mail we ever received that was directed to Crimson Owl, so that was already special in itself. Even better, it contained the Leap Motion dev-kit. About 15 minutes later I had it plugged it and a demo running… WTF! It wasn’t a hoax. It worked, just as in the video. Wow, nice… It did have some problems with detecting multiple hands simultaneously, but that was solved in later firmware updates.

So how to use this for Caromble!? Let’s just try something and first let it detect my finger positions. The SDK is simple and intuitive and comes with a Java binding, so in less than an hour we had something up and running. Moving your finger left and right moves the paddle, simple as that. I was tweaking the parameters to adjust the sensitivity, when I came up with the idea to use my finger position in z-axis direction to influence the sensitivity. That turned out to be a pretty good idea. During gameplay I sometimes used high precision and sometimes high moving speed. The ability to adjust this during gameplay felt really nice. The two other actions we have in Caromble!, charging and activating powerups, have been implemented by directing your finger upward and tapping respectively. This implementation makes it possible to play Caromble! with the Leap Motion as can be seen below and I must say, for me it adds to the fun.

Perhaps motion controls for gaming isn’t doomed after all! We will try and find the best way of using the Leap motion to control Caromble!. Perhaps you readers have some ideas of how to use it to charge the paddle or activate powerups? Perhaps we could add a second hand? Possibilities enough. Let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

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