Researchers at the Institute for Creative Technologies at University of Southern California have decided that they’d like to meld work and play by hacking the Kinect system alongside their developing software in order to play World of Warcraft. They’ve put together a video where the presenters, Evan A. Suma, Belinda Lange, Skip Rizzo, David Krum, and Mark Bolas provide an interesting demonstration of how the Microsoft Kinect sensor can be used to permit gesture control for Blizzard’s extremely popular MMORPG.
We are developing the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit (FAAST), which is middleware to facilitate integration of full-body control with games and VR applications. FAAST currently supports the PrimeSensor and the Microsoft Kinect using the OpenNI framework.
In this video, we show how FAAST can be used to control off-the-shelf video games such as World of Warcraft. Since these games would not normally support motion sensing devices, FAAST emulates keyboard input triggered by body posture and specific gestures. These controls can be dynamically configured for different applications and games.
FAAST is free software that uses the OpenNI framework (www.openni.org). We are currently preparing the toolkit for an open-source release. You can download FAAST at: http://people.ict.usc.edu/~suma/faast/
The commentary on the video suggests that it’s not just World of Warcraft the FAAST software can support as it’s designed to permit a great deal of interactivity with numerous games. As a demo, WoW is an excellent game to use because it requires a bit of tactics, different button presses, and thinking in order to play the game. In fact, it’s mentioned during the video that even though their gesture set (and thus the number of commands possible) is extremely simple, the gameplay is still extremely fun.
The interface looks like it is quite primitive, but as a framework this will have a lot of growth that it can take advantage of.
Watching the video—and an avid Warcraft player myself—I can see that they’re playing a mage (with a water elemental companion). They probably chose this class because they’re ranged and firing off magic spells makes a lot more sense by darting a hand out than swinging a sword. What came to mind for classes like warriors and rogues (who use knives/swords/maces, etc.) that a gameplay interface could be developed where the player must mimic actually swinging or stabbing in order to activate certain talents.
The FAAST framework makes use of the OpenNI drivers, which have been the foundation of multiple developments for 3ds Max and are noted as the best current place to start for animation and skeletal software using the Kinect.