Motion gaming has been evolving over the last several years but for most of us the use of motion controls have been tied to console games. That means no playing our favorite PC MMO with the fancy motion controls – at least not easily.
When the Kinect hit the streets it was snatched up by both the online hacking community and universities (not unlike when the PS3 came onto the scene and research facilities began loading them up with Linux for various projects). For what it can, it’s a cheap device in comparison to other specialized pieces of hardware.
So what does this mean for gamers? This means awesome labs like the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, create software like FAAST that taps into the Kinect and harness its power for motion control on the computer.
What You Need
First and foremost, you need a computer, LOTRO, and a Kinect! If you purchased one of the newer Xbox 360′s that came with the Kinect you will have to purchase an additional Kinect USB adapter to plug it into the computer. If you purchased the standalone Kinect you have everything you need.
Aside from your computer and the Kinect, you need several pieces of software to get communication flowing between the two devices. The list below is taken directly from the FAAST site. Please be sure to visit for the most up to date software and driver recommendations. As of this writing the most current is FAAST version is 0.06.
There are five pieces of software total. These must be installed in order:
- OpenNI Unstable Build
- PrimeSense NITE Unstable Build – free license key from OpenNI is on the FAAST website
- SensorKinect Module (driver)
- Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST)
Configuring the Software
Now that your computer recognizes the Kinect plugged into it, it’s time to configure FAAST.
In the software there are three tabs:
- Sensor tab – You can choose your screen size and FPS here. Choose “connect” to connect FAAST to the Kinect
- Skeleton tab – not useable in current (v. 0.06) FAAST version
- Actions tab – where keybindings go and custom input files. You can save configurations from here or load from a text file.
The actions tab is where you will spend most of your time. This is where you can load pre-created files or type free-form in the text box any actions you want to perform.
[node] [degrees/velocity] key [key]
left_arm_forwards 20 key tab
The above action means that when the left arm is extended forwards at 20 degrees (basically pointing straight in front of you), the FAAST software will register that as the tab key. So if you have LOTRO running with this command, as soon as you point forward you will target the nearest enemy.
The FAAST website has a definitive list of all actions that FAAST recognizes. They have even begun to support mouse movements.
Once you have what feels like a decent set of commands to start with, its time to get ready to test those moves!
Calibration & Playing
In order for FAAST to know what is your hand and what is your knee, it needs to calibrate your skeleton. To do this, ensure that the FAAST is connect to the Kinect and choose “Start Input Emulation” on the actions tab. Now walk in front of your kinect and stand with your legs straight, arms out, and bent upward like the photo on the left.
Once FAAST has calibrated your skeleton simply click on the LOTRO window to make it the active window and away you go!
Here’s a short video of testing some motion controls. I apologize for the jerkiness of the video – my laptop started to have difficulty running the various applications at once.
Here’s a list of the actions I used. When creating your own keybindings file you can use the # symbol to comment out sections for easier reading.
#movementleft_arm_out 10 key aleft_arm_across 10 key dleft_foot_forwards 8 key wleft_foot_backwards 8 key sjump 5 key space#targetleft_arm_forwards 20 key tab#attacking with hotbar itemsright_arm_forwards 20 key 1right_arm_across 15 key 2right_arm_out 15 key 3#using extra action bars by combining keysleft_arm_down 20 key controlright_arm_forwards 20 key 1
After trying the Kinect and LOTRO together I got a better feel for what actions worked and which didn’t, so I was able to stop and start a few times. It’s not perfect, and ideally gaming would work well with a wireless mouse or some other pointer that would allow for looting mobs and collecting crafting materials. I did try a wired handheld mouse, but the Kinect was confused by the cord and wouldn’t register all the actions properly.
- motion controlled gameplay
- fun for ranged characters
- Kinect is sensitive; used a wired handheld mouse and easily confused it.
- having difficulty getting feel for movement – easy to over compensate turning one way or another.
- playing melee character a lot more frustrating than ranged – need to be in correct position. Diff for burglar or position based classes. Easier time w/ hunter
My next plan is to work a little further on the keybindings and check out FAAST’s mouse input support. I’d also like to try this more with a ranged character, such a hunter.
I’m also going to look into another program called KinEmote. It looks like it is motion controlled focused mainly on hand movement, so it may not be as versatile as FAAST.
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