Somewhat hidden in the far side of the GDC expo floor, across from the IGF Pavilion, was the DePaul University booth. If you’re not familiar with that name, maybe you’re familiar with Octodad, their life-changing contribution to the independent gaming world. They didn’t have much at the booth, except for a couple stations on which to experience Octodad yourself, if you haven’t already.
Oh, and one of the stations was an XBox 360 with Kinect on it. And yes, it is just as crazy as it sounds.If you’re not familiar with Octodad, then you need to crawl out from underneath Jesus’s dinosaur and get a clue. Octodad is a revelation, an adventure game with a control scheme that’s as broken as it is hilarious. You use the mouse to control Octodad‘s arms or legs; dragging the mouse while holding down the corresponding left or right button moves that limb on him.
The controls are crazy as is, but when applied to a Kinect, they’re even more ridiculous. The DePaul guys thought it’d be funny and map all the controls to your arms. So yes, when Octodad walks forward, you look like you’re swimming in place, and when he walks backward, you look like you’re Chuck Norris elbowing bad dudes sneaking up behind you. To switch to arms mode, you have to cross your legs in midair, but that didn’t exactly work out for me, probably because the Kinect doesn’t recognize these massive tree trunks as legs.
Still, it’s a brilliant tech demo that further exemplifies the fact that the more absurd you feel playing a game, the more fun you’re likely to have. There’s no official word on whether or not the DePaul guys really are considering a proper release, but word’s getting out, and they might not have a choice. If you can’t check it out at the GDC, perhaps you can do a Kinect hack of your own.