Skyrim for Kinect a Reality… on PC.

Skyrim for Kinect a Reality… on PC.

Who honestly has a Kinect? Oh…you do? OK. Well, how many people actually use it then? Microsoft’s mind-blowing, device is probably racking up more time spent on the shelf than expected, but this guy is hoping to change that.

It would seem logical that the majority of people buying the Kinect would consist of Xbox 360 owners – not factoring in the moms and grannies out hoarding them en mass as gifts. Surprisingly, the PC community seems to be embracing the Kinect just as much, if not more, than Xbox users.

The Kinect was met with somewhat of a ho-hum launch due to a rather acute case of “nobody has a living room that big-encephalopathy.” Microsoft suggests no less than 6 feet of space in order for the Kinect to accurately pick up your body movements, so that rules out a majority of the college crowd and anyone with anything less than a grand ballroom for a living room. Unless you can find a way to play it from the couch like I did with every single Wii title to date.

The other side of the Kinect issue comes from a lack of hardcore gaming support. The dance games have been a global success because frankly, who doesn’t like to get their groove on every once in awhile? However, those starved for something a bit meatier were left out to dry. Ultimately, many Kinect systems went largely unused for extended periods of time. And what happens when something new comes out and is coupled with a smidgen of boredom? Modding.

History has generally shown us that modders are cracked down upon quite heavily and whatever they produce is quickly shut down. Some of the best remakes of classic titles have come from dedicated fans who understand what the community wants, but are soon given the option to shut down or deal with a lawsuit. Thankfully, despite the possibility of having Microsoft breathing down their collective necks,  the ingenious modding community within the PC world has actually embraced the Kinect and really put it through the gauntlet, producing some truly incredible projects. Rather than resisting the support, Microsoft has in return embraced the modding of the Kinect and even gone as far as investing in some PC Kinect start-up companies.

However, most of the results were just tech demos of people farting around with the technology and not really working towards an ultimate goal. Then Skyrim came out and Cliffy B made an off-hand comment about wanting to see a Skyrim for Kinect. Unlike plenty of good ideas that are left to rot in the dustbin of history, this idea found its footing with a humble modder/programmer known as KinectFAAST.

KinectFAAST is currently working on what I must say is a rather impressive looking version of Skyrim that is fully compatible with Kinect. Something many have only dreamed about may not actually be that far away.

No, he isn’t rebuilding the game from the ground up. Rather, he is out to create a full control scheme conversion of Skyrim for the PC, including gestures and voice controls. That means casting spells, swinging swords, blocking with shields, and using Dragon Shouts can all be done without the use of a controller.

Take a peek at the mod in action.

This has all been accomplished using a middleware program called FAAST, which uses OpenNI drivers to control the Kinect. Voice control is not currently available with the OpenNI drivers, so a Bluetooth headset is used in conjunction with a program called VAC (Voice Activated Commands) to achieve the desired voice controlled actions.

The mod itself looks insanely promising, especially considering the scope of the game it’s attempting to alter. Anything related to Skyrim is a massive undertaking, so revamping the entire control scheme to take advantage of the various elements is going to be really hit or miss. There’s hardly any grey area to deal with here and from the looks of it, things work quite fluidly.

Most impressively, there seems to be no more trudging through the menu system to activate or equip specific magics. Being able to shout out ‘fast healing’ on the fly while holding another spell really keeps the battle running smoothly and removes those annoying breaks in the action.

If true motion control for walking and interacting with the environment is on the way then this mod may just be the golden egg that the Kinect has been waiting for. A game that can actually engage a player for more than 15 minutes at a time being controller entirely with your body? Sure. Why not? Although, I don’t know if I would be able to stand through a typical 8 hour session of Skyrim, but that may just be me.

Either way, there are modders out there who are listening to the community and doing their best to provide support for what people actually want. It still remains a mystery to me why some of these modders haven’t been picked up by Sony or Microsoft and given the time and proper resources to do things properly and with additional support. It’s obviously something people want, so wouldn’t it benefit everyone involved?

I digress…

Keep up the good work KinectFAAST and to the rest of you aspiring Kinect modders, keep doing what you’re doing. We need more people like you!

 

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