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Twisted Pixel on The Gunstringer's Kinect aiming (and shooting!) mechanics

Curious how Twisted Pixel's Kinect-powered undead cowboy marionette sim The Gunstringer works? Well, narratively, isn't it obvious? It's a western about undead puppets. As for the you-are-the-controller part, Twisted Pixel designer Dan Teasdale offers up a lengthy explanation on the studio's dev blog.

"From the start of development on The Gunstringer, we've focused on getting across the feel of puppeteering as well as the feel of being an awesome kickass undead cowboy," Teasdale says. "It's really only something we could do with the Kinect sensor for two big reasons: pure analog actions and full skeletal data."

Teasdale goes into some specifics on what he means by "pure analog actions" and, mostly, he means not waggle. "Gesture libraries and waggle are the designer's way to fit a square binary peg into a round analog hole," he says. In contrast, there's Kinect. Instead of the usual analog null points, The Gunstringer will actually use your body's position (see: skeletal data) to determine a null point. "'Your hand is stationary next to your hip' is incredibly more useful than 'this dot of information isn't moving,'" Teasdale relates.

But seriously, how does the game control? Instead of the "move left, move left, no move right, okay stop" input you'd find with an analog stick, The Gunstringer lets you move the marionette "anywhere along the screen just by moving your hand to that location." That's movement, but what about shooting dudes? "Since we know how your entire arm from your hand to your shoulder is moving, we can accurately extrapolate what you're aiming at with your hands, and place the reticle exactly where you're pointing," he says. And the "fire action involves literally firing your six shooter as if you just felt recoil in your arm."

Alright, even with all this detail we're still having a hard time picturing how it all comes together – it sounds a lot like Rez or Child of Eden ... but with undead cowboy marionettes. Luckily we'll all have a chance to try it out, together, at PAX East next month.

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