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onfu

Is Gesturing in games a stupid fad or do people really enjoy it?

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onfu    311
I'm personally of the latter camp. I like gestures in games, although I can only name two that use them (Black & White, Darwinia). I'm curious though to hear some more thoughts on the subject... ie - Is gesturing something that was considered to be just a cool gimmick (that everybody then got over), or is it genuinely (in terms of what people like use) a good interface feature? I've been playing around with gesture recognition and discovered that it's very easy to make, yet I see it used extremely rarely. I'm quite keen to use it some more of my projects (I'm currently using gestures in a Flash art creation tool interface I'm building), especially some games, so that's why It's be good to know if everybody hates them or not. Cheers,

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Frequency    442
When I'm using an app, it's most comfortable to use either only the mouse or only the keyboard. If your app is reliant on the keyboard for access and use I don't think mouse gestures and tool-tip buttons is really a useful feature (see many word processing utilities...grr), but I find it very useful when browsing the web with Firefox since I can scroll with the wheel, click links with the right/left butotns, and use mouse gestures to go back/forward/home/close.

So if your GUI is going to be a lot of clickable buttons I'd say using mouse gestures like one would use keyboard shortcuts could be a nifty feature especially if it's very intuitive, but for things like having to use it to casting spells I think it's just sort of a cheesy fad. :)

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Trapper Zoid    1370
It depends a lot on how you are going to use gestures in your games. I feel that gestures are just an annoying gimmick in most cases, as the user interface would be less frustrating and more fun with a hotkey system or a menu (I'm thinking specifically of Black and White here).

I remember in Black and White that the gestures were reasonably difficult to pull off with a ball-based mechanical mouse. It was also highly user and hardware dependant; for me I just couldn't reliably do the "rain" symbol, whereas my brother could easily do it on his computer (however, I think he couldn't do "fireball" at all, whereas it was easy for me. Annoying since he was playing evil and I was playing good [wink]). I was really wanting a hotkey system after a while, since I couldn't really see any gameplay based reason to make casting god-like spells difficult in that game.

I think they could work if you had a reason for making the symbols difficult to invoke - maybe your a mage where the degree of accuracy on the symbol affects the power of the spell? Or much better would be if the symbols themselves were really just circular menu shortcuts, as in right-down-left as a symbol is the same as opening a circular menu (such as in Sacrifice or Neverwinter Nights), selecting the right submenu, the down subsubmenu, then the left option (hope that makes sense!). Whatever you choose, there has to be some sort of reason other than just "gestures are cool".

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Telastyn    3777
Indeed, something where the input needs to be quick, but of variable effectiveness like a spell casting is [imo] pretty neat. It needs to be more reliable though.

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Gyrthok    412
I haven't seen the idea used much myself (and I felt B&W's interface was just plain ugly). I think it could be considered a good interface feature depending on how you use it. For example, in B&W it was more of a tacked on gimick, but in Arx Fatalis, they make it a central part of the gameplay by using it for their Magic system, where you draw combinations of Runes in the air to produce magical effects (which i thought was really cool).

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rHornbek    175
I want to go back and read the others responses but if you get a chance go check out John Underkoffler's (Yes thats his name) "Gestural Interface" that was made know from the movie "Minority Report."

It is a possible reality for the future of all computing, humans are Physical creatures and so if one could in a sense use thier hands to surf the web it would be more tangable than using a mouse.

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OrangyTang    1298
Quote:
Original post by Dasubermechen
I want to go back and read the others responses but if you get a chance go check out John Underkoffler's (Yes thats his name) "Gestural Interface" that was made know from the movie "Minority Report."

It is a possible reality for the future of all computing, humans are Physical creatures and so if one could in a sense use thier hands to surf the web it would be more tangable than using a mouse.

Except that waving your hands around in front of you gets tireing fast, and makes precice movements tricky. Much more practical (and likely) would be to have touchscreens which would lie flat on a desktop.

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Sandman    2210
I think it can be either, depending on how it's implemented.

It's one of the things that B&W got right in my opinion. It fitted in nicely with the game concept, and kept the interface nice and clean. Some of the gestures were quite complicated and tricky to pull off, but that was part of the balancing of the game - the more powerful spells had more complicated gestures.

Darwinia on the other hand, got it wrong. It seemed like they bolted it on to the interface for no reason other than the fact that they could. It certainly did not streamline or improve the the usability of the interface in any way. Combined with the unforgivable crime of hijacking ALT-TAB for their own gimmicky purposes significantly put me off the game.

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PistachioPro    156
The game I'm working on, Ocular Ink, makes heavy use of a gestural interface.

Naturally, I think gesturing can be an effective form of input (since I'm making a game around it), but only if it's more convenient or intuitive than any other input mechanism the user can think of. If your gestures essentially have binary effects (e.g. draw a star, the lights come on), the user will probably want a hotkey or a button. Also, as OrangyTang said, too many flamboyant gestures will tire the user out, so they have to be avoided, as well.

The advantages, though, I think are twofold. First, gestures can contain a lot more information that a single button press. You can tap into characteristics like size, position, orientation, quality, drawing speed, etc. If you use those attributes in a way the player can understand, gestures will let her tell the game what she wants to do in a much more compact way than a conventional control scheme would allow. The second advantage is that the action the user performs while making the gesture can often closely mirror, or at least evoke in the user's mind, the action that happens in game. This makes gestures potentially more intuitive than conventional a-punch, b-kick, c-jump control schemes.

I'm actually going to be giving a little talk on this subject, as it relates to Ocular Ink, during the Experimental Gameplay Sessions at the GDC. If you're going to be at the conference, come check it out.

John Edwards

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MatrixCubed    199
Ever since its introduction (or, more specifically, my introduction to it) in the Opera browser, I thought 'mouse gesturing' was a campy, RSI-inducing trend. Unfortunately, it spilled over into the PC game world. Personally I find it's the epitome of "we can, but should we?" technology. I'll choose hotkeys over it any day.

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Nytehauq    328
The problem with gesturing is that it's counterintuitive to draw symbols on a screen with a mouse, while pointing is much more intuitive for most users. I think instead of focusing on written glyphs a gesturing system should be similar to a control system - mouselook is intuitive in most FPS's - why not use a control system similar to gauge user input?

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Nytehauq    328
The problem with gesturing is that it's counterintuitive to draw symbols on a screen with a mouse, while pointing is much more intuitive for most users. I think instead of focusing on written glyphs a gesturing system should be similar to a control system - mouselook is intuitive in most FPS's - why not use a control system similar to gauge user input?

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RayNbow    191
Doesn't the success of gestures also rely on the input device?

Simple gestures can be done easily with a mouse, but complex ones will be a pain in the ass. But what if you use a tablet or a touchscreen interface (think PocketPC, Nintendo DS, etc)? Gesturing would be a lot easier and the gestures can be complex without being annoyance.

(Just my 2 cts :P)

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by MatrixCubed
Ever since its introduction (or, more specifically, my introduction to it) in the Opera browser, I thought 'mouse gesturing' was a campy, RSI-inducing trend. Unfortunately, it spilled over into the PC game world. Personally I find it's the epitome of "we can, but should we?" technology. I'll choose hotkeys over it any day.


Opera is actually what convinced me that gestures are a good idea. What makes it better in Opera than in Black and White is that Opera has the "right button down" thing which allows for simpler gestures. I actually hate using browsers without it; it's like using a mouse without a wheel. So much more convenient than dragging the mouse over to the back button, to the scroll bar, or going through a menu to get "open in background page". On the downside, some pages cover the screen with flash which is a nuisance. Also, people get confused when they sit down in front of my computer, "Where's the back button?". [grin] (Although the red O is appropriate, GO BUCKS!)

EDIT: Another option I like is Blender's "One hand on the keyboard, one hand on the mouse". However, I think that's overboard for Opera where there are only a few common commands (as opposed to Blender which has a lot of common commands). Emacs is great as a pure keyboard interface, which is nice because its main purpose is typing. Use what's appropriate for the task at hand.

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onfu    311
Split down the middle, like I was afraid it'd be :)

Thanks for all the input - plenty of food for thought.

I agree 100% that gestures for the hell of it are a pointless waste of time. Applying them appropriately is the challenge.

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by onfu
Split down the middle, like I was afraid it'd be :)

Thanks for all the input - plenty of food for thought.

I agree 100% that gestures for the hell of it are a pointless waste of time. Applying them appropriately is the challenge.


It's only a challenge if you start from the solution looking for a problem. Just put gestures in your tool box and you'll know where to find it if you need it.

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anthemaudio    301
I don't know if you guys play much Unreal Mods, but I'm the lead audio engineer for a mod called The Soul Keeper (IGF mod finalist I ALWAYS point out...ahem.) and the sorcery in the game is done with gestures. It's kind of a "oh cool factor" going on, but it just made sense for a spellcaster with a book in his left hand to gesture the spell in mid air with the right...lemme see if I can snag up a pic here...

Image courtesy of Helm Systems


Well, this is right after the gesture is drawn, but you flip to the page in the book and it shows you what symbols to draw...none of them are so complicated that they are impossible to use, but you definitely want the spellcasters on your team to be quite deft, as the magic in SoulKeeper can be tricky, but is quite devastating.

And that I think is the tradeoff, our approach isn't to create a convenience thing like assigning spells to hotkeys. It's keeping things (including the interface) within the realm of the game and rewarding those who get good at it with fantastic, useable results.

If anyone here is going to GDC this year (and since I can't go), stop by the Epic and IGF booths and say hi to the SoulKeeper team for me...it would be a nice "gesture".

Tony

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