Thursday, January 09, 2014

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Deus Ex Designer Warren Spector on Google Glass: "Meh"

Warren Spector Google Glass Deus Ex

Respected game designer Warren Spector recently got a chance to have a hands-on (and heads-on) review of Google Glass, so I was very interested in what he had to say. As every game geek knows, Spector was lead creator of the highly influential year 2000 classic Deus Ex, in which you play a computer-augmented operative in the near future, who must constantly use a head-mounted user interface to navigate and find out more about the world around you. So I was curious to know how Warren Spector would react, now that a head-mounted user interface for navigating and finding out more about the world around you is finally here.

And here was Warren Spector immediate reaction: "Meh."

Warren's full review, posted on his Facebook wall awhile ago, excerpted with permission:

Deus Ex Warren Spector

"Just got a chance to play with Google Glass. First reaction? It feels like tech that isn't quite ready for prime time. It worked better with my glasses than I expected (if you don't mind one ear sticking out like Mickey Mouse). But the UI? Whew. Needs work.

"Sometimes you swipe forward and back to go left and right through options; sometimes you swipe up and down to scroll and sometimes to put an app in the background (I think - it's a little unclear). There are taps to do things and swipes and two-finger swipes and none of it seemed particularly intuitive.

"Biggest problem? All the voice-activated stuff. I mean, do we really want a world where people are talking to themselves all the time (more even than they do now with their smart phones)? And do we want to live in a world where you have to say 'Google OK' every time you want to do something, meaning we’re all walking advertisements for Google, 24/7? Not me...

"For now, my verdict (based, I admit, on very little hands-on time) is: Meh. I’d pay $300 for it and be happy playing with my new toy. $1500 is crazy, even for first-gen new tech."

So like I said, Warren wasn't impressed by Google Glass. "It's not that they're bad," he told me, "it's that they seem not ready for the real world yet." But he didn't seem to think this opinion vis a vis Deus Ex was as significant as I thought it was, telling me, "I don't know that there's much to be learned from a 13-year-old UI that didn't make many people happy." But in any case, Warren has helped design many other games besides Deus Ex, including its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War (which has a much better UI, in my opinion), and the acclaimed Epic Mickey games from Disney. And if you're Google, and you're trying to create a new head-mounted UI that's so powerful it seems like the future of user interfaces, I'd say a person you'd most want to impress is someone like Warren Spector. But to judge by his "meh", Google might have much more to work on there.

Spector's photo reposted with permission by the designer!

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Pathfinder

"I mean, do we really want a world where people are talking to themselves all the time?"

This. In my experience, most of the excitement around voice-activated controls fades away when you actually have to use such systems on a daily basis in the real world.

Pussycat Catnap

most of the excitement around voice-activated controls fades away when you actually have to use such systems on a daily basis in the real world.

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Pathfinder

Pussycat, you rock. :)

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