E3 2010 officially began tonight with Microsoft's insane, surreal unveiling of Kinect, the new name for Project Natal. Hosted by Cirque De Soleil, the event featured mandatory, glowing smocks for all attendees, a life-sized elephant puppet, and some strange-if-friendly folk dressed up in costumes that looked like they were pulled straight out of Ruffio's wardrobe. Lots and lots of twine.
The first look at Kinect was definitely interesting and full of some surprises. The winner of the night was a glimpse at a "Star Wars"-themed light saber game which appears to give players one-to-one sword controls as they battle storm troopers and Darth Vader.
Unfortunately all of the demos tonight were brief and flashy, but Monday night brings with it extended hands-on time with many of the games, and I'll be updating Multiplayer with impressions as they come through.
Safe to say, though, that E3 started with a bang. Microsoft's proper press conference is tomorrow, so we'll see if they have any more aces up their sleeves.
When Big Park's "Joy Ride" first showed up on the radar, its description mentioned free-to-play model experimentation, but it didn't say anything about Project Natal capabilities. That may be because it was only recently retooled to be a Natal title, readied to launch simultaneously with Microsoft's new motion controller system.
Microsoft is going to be overloading the world with Project Natal info in two weeks when E3 rolls around, but it seems that they weren't able to keep the cat in the bag for quite that long, as the mythical motion-sensing hardware made an appearance at D8, the Wall Street Journal's conference dedicated to new and interesting tech.
Although Microsoft has been hush-hush about their E3 line-up of Project Natal games, 3rd party publishers are apparently less hesitant to share their plans for the motion-sensing technology. In discussing plans for E3, a Crave Games representative mentioned that the company will be releasing a version of "Brunswick Pro Bowling" which will support Natal, allowing players to roll strikes without the impediment of a controller.
First, someone predicted a $50 price tag for Project Natal. Then, a Swedish ad for about $200 showed up this month. Now, a new report says that Microsoft's roll-out will consist of an October launch with the price set at $149.
"Microsoft expects to sell millions and millions of Natal units in its first year on the market so you can expect the software launch line-up to target non-traditional gamers," an anonymous source told Edge. "A major marketing campaign will also play a key role in attracting and educating the expanded audience about Xbox 360's controller-free revolution."
Estimates for how much Project Natal will cost have been all over the place, ranging from a $50 prediction last year to Swedish listings that showed up this week with the MSRP set at 1,499 kr (or just under $200). Microsoft spoke up, though, and they said retailers haven't been told what the peripheral set will sell for yet.
"Retailers are not yet aware of pricing details for Project Natal and pre-order pricing is pure speculation," Xbox 360 director of product management, Aaron Greenberg wrote on his Twitter account.
It's always nice to see major networks giving attention to our quaint, little multi-billion dollar industry. Case in point, MTV Networks will be airing Microsoft's two press conferences during E3 this year.
The first is the premiere of Project Natal, which will be viewable in its entirety on MTV on June 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET, with a repeat airing on Nick at Nite, mtvU, MTV Hits and Logo, at 9 p.m. ET that evening. The premiere will include a mysterious performance by Cirque du Soleil, as well as the first look at new games and features for Project Natal.
The second is the Microsoft Media Briefing, which will air live on Spike TV on Monday, June 14 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The content of the briefing is currently unknown, but expect the focus to be on new non-Project Natal-related games and upgrades to the 360 dashboard. More "Gears of War 3" footage seems like a solid bet.
In addition, both events will be viewable live, as they happen, on GameTrailers.com. I think video games have finally made it! Oh, "Modern Warfare 2" was the biggest entertainment release of 2009? Nevermind.
Project Natal World Premiere E3 Event To Air On MTV (MTV News)
Back in February, Microsoft publicly stood by its Christmas release plans for Project Natal, but a Saudi marketing manager from the company appears to agree with TV presenter Jonathan Ross now that October will be the month we see Natal hit stores — both in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.
Few people who haven't had a private demo of Microsoft's Project Natal like James Gunn had know what all of its bits and pieces look like. An Italian website called Multiplayer.it (no relation to our blog over here in the States) may know a little more, though, now, thanks to someone who leaked purported shots of the Natal development kit. The instructions that are shown in the pictures show off at least as much info as the peripheral components do, including a previously unmentioned independent power source and an automatic tilting mechanism.
James Gunn may be best known as the writer and director behind "Slither," as well as an upcoming superhero film starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page called "Super," but he's also a dedicated blogger and tweeter. Last week, he tweeted that he was going to demo Project Natal, and that in turn lead to a blog entry about a his experience, including a "Wii Sports"-ish sounding game he called "River Rush."
"['River Rush'] a game where you stand side by side in a river raft, so it’s two people playing at once," Gunn wrote on his blog at JamesGunn.com. "To move right, you have to step right; to move left, you have to step left. As you rush down right rapids, you have to jump up and slap floating stars in the air – the whole raft jumps up every time you do."