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Friday, 27 April 2012

Free Game Friday: Unusual game control systems

This week is a little different in that I've not been playing free games, but I've been controlling them with unusual methods (which are all free). None of this keyboard and mouse stuff for me.

FaceTrackNoIR is a face detection uh... thing. It detects your face in order to follow your head movements and it transmits this data to the game. You can lay out £150 for a TrackIR device or you can use a webcam and FaceTrackNoIR.

Who is that handsome devil?
It actually works surprisingly well for something that's a bit cobbled-together. It uses the free non-commercial faceAPI from Seeing Machines to monitor the position of your face and it does a good job even if you have a beard and a busy background.

Although I initially used it for a flight sim, it worked equally well in driving games and, in the video above, you can see it being used for a first person shooter. Quite impressive.

There are obvious limitations like not being able to look directly behind you or too far off to the side, but seeing as you don't have a monitor over there, it's not going to be a problem. I haven't tried it with a game that supports multiple monitors yet, but I think that could be quite interesting.

Try it for yourself here:
There's a list of games that support it here:

GlovePIE has been around for a while and basically allows you to control anything with anything. Originally designed to allow the use of those awful 'virtual reality' gloves, it's gone a bit further than that.

I decided to see if I could use my Nintendo Wii controllers with a flight sim and it was a breeze. The only other thing I needed was a Bluetooth adapter for my PC, but they can be picked up for pennies from ebay or Amazon (I had some spare Amazon credit). Here's a guy controlling Google Earth with a Wiimote:

In my case, it wasn't a total success. The Wiimote worked perfectly, but it wasn't actually any better than just using a joystick. I did try it with a driving game and that was a lot better although my arms did get a bit tired of holding it in the air all the time. But then I cam across this video and realised that I could do more with it.

Voice commands, eh? Well I've got several driving games where it's jolly difficult for me to perform certain functions because my hands are busy. He's playing rFactor 2 and I play the similar Race 07. I have difficulty arranging my pitstops because I've got two hands working the keyboard already, so when do I have time to navigate the menu to arrange my pitstop?

Voice command worked brilliantly. I play with headphones on, so there was no problem isolating the voice commands from the game noise. It uses the speech recognition engine built into Windows 7

I know there's a lot more that can be done with GlovePIE and writing scripts for it isn't terribly hard.

Get it here:

What worked especially well was combining the two. I played Race 07 using FaceTrackNoIR to track my head and GlovePIE to handle voice commands and that just let me get on with the driving. Entering a corner, I can look to the apex as I turn the car towards it, whilst telling my pit crew that I want different tyres on my next stop. Neither were particularly hard to set up (although I was using games with which I knew they already worked). Have a go yourselves and if there's any other unusual control method out there, let me know.

1 comment:

  1. very good review looks like i might have to have a play now with glovepie