Heavy Battalion; Steel Armour

Posted by Shaymarx (113 posts) -

'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.'

(Ephesians 6:11. KJV)

From Software's recently released Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour has been received unfavourably by the mass majority of the 'gaming press', the only positive reviews were from the Microsoft endorsed Official Xbox Magazine and its American affiliate. Metacritic only consider one of these to actually be positive, but Metacritic opts to turn all review scores in to a percentage causing a contrast between the English publication which scores with whole numbers over the US publications fractional rankings.

The reading of some of these reviews does lead to more positive comments about game, but each positive review is followed by user comments aggressively unhappy with the idea that that someones opinion would differ from the majority. There is a disheartening amount of negativity not just from consumers but also employed journalists who have seem to taken the idea that the game is not what they want it to be as a personal attack on them. Brad Shoemaker's review highlights his own problem of not feeling connected to the game via the Kinect stating that it is unreliable.

It's frustrating enough to play a game that flat-out refuses to behave properly, but in Steel Battalion's life-or-death situations, it's absolutely unforgivable that you can't always do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it.

Brad Shoemaker June 19 2012

The question to ask here is should we be able would be able to do everything we want to do when we want to do it?

Whilst playing Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour you are placed in the role of pilot. A pilot who has a history of piloting the vertical tank. As a pilot you would not be flailing you hands around in an effort to use instruments, you would know which ones to use, and when to use them.

(The Kinect setup within my home is a simple one, problems only regularly occur between midday and five in the afternoon as the sun travels.) But the complications of playing with Kinect are not inevitable, it not a lack of technology but a lack of understanding the physical language between the user and the screen.

We are able to move within our world, forwards, backwards, side to side, around in a circle, jump and crouch. In fact the only movement we can not make is in to the world of the screen. The game screen is a window to a possibly endless number of worlds, but the closest we can come to experiencing these worlds is through the holding of a button, stick, or stylus based input device. Kinect has all the capabilities required to put a person in to these worlds, but not physically. As in all games the player is represented by an avatar (and as such a representation for both himself and the character) except the avatar can be the player. The players face is recognised, as is the colour of his clothes, the length of his hair and the shape of his waistline. The Kinect sees everything visible via its 3 cameras. The Kinect knows everything the player is doing, notices another person joining the player it even listens to the conversation that they have.

The Kinect is not capable of effecting the players world. It can not alter the natural light allowed in to the playing area, it can not move the player, it can not reposition itself in to another corner of the room.

The Kinect is simply a way to communicate with the software that the player is using. Like a control pad or a joy stick theKinect is reliant on the player knowing understanding the language of the software. If a player does not acknowledge that the 'A' button allows the games protagonist to jump, the control pad is not at fault for the players failure to make a jump to safety in the game which the player was playing. Likewise if a player does not physically jump or pose when required, it is not the fault of the Kinect that the player is not communicating with the software.

So is it the fault of the software? Not really.

The players ability to interact with the software and with the Kinect is dictated by the screen. This is always in two dimensions, it is closed window. You maybe able to see someone through a closed window, you can communicate by waving or shouting, they maybe able to follow commands that you give them, but that is the limit of your interactivity. You can not touch them you can not manipulate their environment other than through gestures. Of course they can not touch you, you can not feel each other. If you walk out of the sight of the window that person know you are there but is unable to show you they effect you commands have on them. Kinect is not capable of showing you what effect you have in a game if you are not in view of the screen.

The complaints levied against both Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour and Kinect come from an area that it does not cover, the Kinect was never intended to show you your behind, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour was not intended to wipe your behind.

The game offers a great example of showing you exactly what the Kinect is capable of. Your view of the action whilst in the cockpit of the VT is small glass window, you place both hands towards your TV screen to get a closer look, as the pilot you are never able to physically touch the outside of the window whilst you simply make a gestures and issue commands, to walk and target and shoot via the the control pad in your hands. Unless focused the player can find themselves franticly moving hands and swinging their arms while trying to decide how to hold the control pad if at all whilst trying to get a peak out the small window.

Your Armour is directly in front of you, you peak through the visor but your behind (as well as your sides), are completely uncovered, leaving your squad mates as your only form of protection, when your alone you have no protection.

For Kinect to place the player fully in the world would require more screens, and even then the Kinect would simply be the visor in the armour.

S.Gibson

#1 Posted by Shaymarx (113 posts) -

'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.'

(Ephesians 6:11. KJV)

From Software's recently released Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour has been received unfavourably by the mass majority of the 'gaming press', the only positive reviews were from the Microsoft endorsed Official Xbox Magazine and its American affiliate. Metacritic only consider one of these to actually be positive, but Metacritic opts to turn all review scores in to a percentage causing a contrast between the English publication which scores with whole numbers over the US publications fractional rankings.

The reading of some of these reviews does lead to more positive comments about game, but each positive review is followed by user comments aggressively unhappy with the idea that that someones opinion would differ from the majority. There is a disheartening amount of negativity not just from consumers but also employed journalists who have seem to taken the idea that the game is not what they want it to be as a personal attack on them. Brad Shoemaker's review highlights his own problem of not feeling connected to the game via the Kinect stating that it is unreliable.

It's frustrating enough to play a game that flat-out refuses to behave properly, but in Steel Battalion's life-or-death situations, it's absolutely unforgivable that you can't always do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it.

Brad Shoemaker June 19 2012

The question to ask here is should we be able would be able to do everything we want to do when we want to do it?

Whilst playing Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour you are placed in the role of pilot. A pilot who has a history of piloting the vertical tank. As a pilot you would not be flailing you hands around in an effort to use instruments, you would know which ones to use, and when to use them.

(The Kinect setup within my home is a simple one, problems only regularly occur between midday and five in the afternoon as the sun travels.) But the complications of playing with Kinect are not inevitable, it not a lack of technology but a lack of understanding the physical language between the user and the screen.

We are able to move within our world, forwards, backwards, side to side, around in a circle, jump and crouch. In fact the only movement we can not make is in to the world of the screen. The game screen is a window to a possibly endless number of worlds, but the closest we can come to experiencing these worlds is through the holding of a button, stick, or stylus based input device. Kinect has all the capabilities required to put a person in to these worlds, but not physically. As in all games the player is represented by an avatar (and as such a representation for both himself and the character) except the avatar can be the player. The players face is recognised, as is the colour of his clothes, the length of his hair and the shape of his waistline. The Kinect sees everything visible via its 3 cameras. The Kinect knows everything the player is doing, notices another person joining the player it even listens to the conversation that they have.

The Kinect is not capable of effecting the players world. It can not alter the natural light allowed in to the playing area, it can not move the player, it can not reposition itself in to another corner of the room.

The Kinect is simply a way to communicate with the software that the player is using. Like a control pad or a joy stick theKinect is reliant on the player knowing understanding the language of the software. If a player does not acknowledge that the 'A' button allows the games protagonist to jump, the control pad is not at fault for the players failure to make a jump to safety in the game which the player was playing. Likewise if a player does not physically jump or pose when required, it is not the fault of the Kinect that the player is not communicating with the software.

So is it the fault of the software? Not really.

The players ability to interact with the software and with the Kinect is dictated by the screen. This is always in two dimensions, it is closed window. You maybe able to see someone through a closed window, you can communicate by waving or shouting, they maybe able to follow commands that you give them, but that is the limit of your interactivity. You can not touch them you can not manipulate their environment other than through gestures. Of course they can not touch you, you can not feel each other. If you walk out of the sight of the window that person know you are there but is unable to show you they effect you commands have on them. Kinect is not capable of showing you what effect you have in a game if you are not in view of the screen.

The complaints levied against both Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour and Kinect come from an area that it does not cover, the Kinect was never intended to show you your behind, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour was not intended to wipe your behind.

The game offers a great example of showing you exactly what the Kinect is capable of. Your view of the action whilst in the cockpit of the VT is small glass window, you place both hands towards your TV screen to get a closer look, as the pilot you are never able to physically touch the outside of the window whilst you simply make a gestures and issue commands, to walk and target and shoot via the the control pad in your hands. Unless focused the player can find themselves franticly moving hands and swinging their arms while trying to decide how to hold the control pad if at all whilst trying to get a peak out the small window.

Your Armour is directly in front of you, you peak through the visor but your behind (as well as your sides), are completely uncovered, leaving your squad mates as your only form of protection, when your alone you have no protection.

For Kinect to place the player fully in the world would require more screens, and even then the Kinect would simply be the visor in the armour.

S.Gibson

#2 Posted by konig_kei (607 posts) -

It is a problem with the software, maybe a little over ambitious or just poorly coded, maybe both. How is it that some games can get it so right (e.g dance central) but this falls flat on it's face? A game with poorly configured/coded controls is not the fault of the player, atleast not totally anyway. If the controls are not consistent they are not good. Kinect is the first try and it's not perfect, perhaps they'll get it right next gen and a new steel battalion will work. I doubt it though.

Just my 2 cents.

#3 Posted by Shaymarx (113 posts) -

This piece has now been updated, to present more reflective argument.

Please take a read.

#4 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

You're wrong, it is the fault of the software when a huge proportion of users and reviewers alike found the game unplayable regardless of they did with their Kinect setup and the particular foibles of this game.

Backing up the argument thay the software is at fault (and something you don't take into account) is that the actual game play is also extremely poor, including terrible AI and horrible trial and error gameplay built upon rote memorisation. Even with controller support, this is a fundamentally bad game.

The reason official magazines gave it a good score is because they have a reason to give a potential flagship "hardcore" title for Kinect a good score; a vested interest which is quite rightly lampooned for what it is.

#5 Edited by Shaymarx (113 posts) -

@konig_kei: Thank you for reading. I would suggest that is less a matter of poor coding but rather the difficulty of coding software with the ability to control the player as a puppet whilst the player is controlling their onscreen representation with the same strings. The players need whilst playing a game is to be immersed, without a physical device in hand be it pad, stick wheel or wand/remote the players immersion is solely reliant on the screen, requiring the player to be able to see that the kinect is viewing the player and the player must be able to control the character in game. Here there are two controller feedback loops.

Normally a game only requires the player to be involved with one feedback loop, for example it is possible to play Street Fighter whilst looking away from the screen, you know form the tactile feel of the controller as well as the sound of the game playing you know what is going on.

A kinect game gives the player no tactile response, and as such the players arms (and the players themselves)could be anywhere within the field of play if the player were close their eyes.

Games such as Dance Central and The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles (from The Gun Stringer) keep the player(s) immersed through on feedback loop. WTMC only shows the player the reticle, the device is able to see that the player is pointing moving there arm and then lifting the arm, the player only needs to see that the reticle moves and that the shot hit its mark. The player has no need to check if the kinect is viewing them as his focus is the reticule.

Dance Central while seemingly more complicated, is simply requiring the players movements to match the animated characters on screen to the correct rhythm. The game simply informs the player if they matched there limb and torso movements to the beat. The player is not looking to see if they are accurately represented and and such becomes skilled at placing the limbs where and when they are told to, they are developing their understanding of the language of Dance Central's mechanics.

Kindest Regards.

#6 Edited by Shaymarx (113 posts) -

@Tim_the_Corsair: Thank you for response Tim.

You are right I did not mention that other areas of the game were lacking. My point was that as players (consumers and reviewers alike), we have a tendency to expect things to fit us rather than question what changes we have to make to fit the experience, and observing the logistics of our presence within virtual worlds via the Kinect is essential for us to be able to accept that experience.

Kindest Regards

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