Posts Tagged ‘motion controller’


Sony’s E3 Conference Announcements

June 4, 2009

Sony’s E3 press conference was longer than Microsoft’s but the content wasn’t as densely packed with quite a few trailers to pad things out.

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, came on with a reference to the leak of the PSP Go days before the conference. Tretton went on to say there will be 364 games coming out on the PlayStation platform this year before going on to bust out some facts figures and promotion of the brand.

The PS2 at $99 is still selling in its ninth year and outsold next-gen systems in April 2009. Sony are committed to keeping the PS2 going as long as consumer demand is there.

The PlayStation Network has more then 24million registered accounts worldwide and further growth is expected; as with the Xbox Live service, three of that 24 million are mine!

There was mention that Infamous is doing well with rave reviews and that it is one of over 35 exclusive PlayStation titles (note, not just PS3, includes PSP and PS2) during 2009.

New PSP – PSP Go
Kaz Hirai came on for the next bit, to present the PSP Go. The new PSP form-factor will be sold alongside the existing PSP 3000 which won’t be phased out. Intended for those who prefer their downloads over UMDs and physical mediums. Looking somewhat like a horizontal PDA, the PSP Go as expected has no UMD slot, takes Sony’s proprietary M2 Memory Stick, has 16GB internal storage, integrated wifi and Bluetooth.  It is 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the standard PSP and has the controls hidden until the screen is slid upwards.

To manage and transfer content to the PSP, Media Manager is out and Media Go is in and allows access to the PlayStation store for the PC. In addition to this an app to allow music to be played based on mood will be available. Called Sense-Me, it will look at a user’s music library and play the appropriate tracks according to the selected mood.

In order to attract developers, the PSP Toolkit is to be made a whopping 80% cheaper.

Upcoming titles will now be available in physical forms such as UMD and as a digital download from the PlayStation Store.

The PSP Go will be released at the same price point that the original PSP was released at: $249 in the US and a not so nice €249 in Europe on the 1st of October, and 26,800 Yen in Japan on the 1st of November.

There was a gameplay demo of from the single player campaign of Uncharted 2 – Among Thieves, with the announcement of the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta from midnight (0000hrs 3rd June).

Next up was another gameplay demo of the 256 player shooter MAG. Eight players were on stage which formed a single squad. Other squads with the remainder of the 256 players were located elsewhere in the US and they demonstrated the takeover of an enemy base. MAG will be coming to the PS3 in Autumn this year.

Some PSP 3000 bundle news,  Dissidia: Final Fantasy will arrive August 25th, Assassin’s Creed – Bloodlines bundle will be out November 10th 2009 and one that got a few cheers from the crowd…the Hannah Montana bundle with a lilac coloured PSP, due July 2009. Pets, LocoRoco 2, Patapon 2 and Rock Band are all coming for the PSP.

If you like Gran Turismo, you’ll be happy to hear that  Kazunori Yamauchi came on to the stage to re-announce Gran Turismo PSP. I was waiting for this game ever since it was first announced and even bought the original PSP on its release in Europe in 2005 in anticipation but in true Polyphony Digital style, it never arrived. Well, here it is again, this time demoed on the PSP Go. This time the game has a release date of the 1st of October, 2009!

The game will have over 800 cars and 35 tracks with several variations of those tracks. Single player mode will have the standard racing, time trials, drift trials and the mission challenge mode where you have to earn licences.

This is a full Gran Turismo game not a shrunken down version as many mobile games can be nowadays. There will also be a four player mode using the ad-hoc wireless connection and cars can be traded between yours and your friends’ garages. With over 800 cars, like Pokemon you’ll have to get sharing.

Kaz Hirai introduced Hideo Kojima to talk about an upcoming Metal Gear Solid project. Snake is coming back to the PSP in a game called Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The game is set 10 years after Metal Gear Solid 3, in the 1970s, and is labelled a true sequel of the MGS franchise, probably to appease PlayStation fanboys who may have been hurt by the announcement of MGS on other platforms. It was highlighted that the game is not a spin-off or side story with Hideo Kojima involved with the game’s creation. Expect Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker in 2010. Interestingly, Hideo Kojima did his short talk for the Microsoft pres conference in English while the one for Sony was in Japanese with the use of a translator.

SOCOM Fire Team Bravo 3, Little Big Planet, Monster Hunter Freedom, Motorstorm Arctic Edge, Hannah Montana and Harry Potter will be some of the titles coming to the PSP this year.

50 PlayStation classics will be added to the PlayStation Store which began with the addition of Final Fantasy VII on the day of the conference.

Rockstar’s Agent will be exclusive to Playstation 3 and will be a spy/agent type sandbox game. An Agent based GTA, if you will. There was also a demonstration of Assassin’s Creed, after all Microsoft had the demo from Jade Raymond last time around and now it is Sony’s turn. Assassin’s Creed 2 will be based during the Italian Renaissance and you will play another of Desmond’s ancestors as the story continues where the first game ended. This game will have its very own Q, making gadgets and inventions for you, who better the the great Leonardo Da Vinci? In the gameplay demo, the player is shown using a glider above what looks like Venice. One thing worthy of note that was mentioned, is the ability to unlock six unique weapons if playing Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines on the PSP and connecting it to your PS3. Assasin’s Creed due out Autumn, or at least in time for Christmas 2009.

Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to the PS3 in Spring 2010 as on the Xbox 360, a lengthy video was shown of the characters and what can be expected. Also there was a sneak peak at some Final Fantasy XIV which Jack Tretton said will be exclusive to PlayStation when it releases.

Another exclusive to PlayStation, from United Front Games, is ModNation Racers, which looks like Microsoft and Sony have both been peeking at each others desks. Just like Joyride on the Xbox 360, ModNation Racers lets the player customise their car which look like Micro Machines as well as their character. One thing this has over Joyride is the ability to create a new track using the Track Studio within minutes just by driving around the empty game world. You can also drive around and change the elevation of the car so that the final track will have dips and peaks. Once drawn the track can be left as it is or terrain features such as mountains, trees, water and surface changes can be made. Being a Mario Kart type game, a combat racer, goodies can be placed around the track with which the other racers can be sabotaged. ModNation Racers will be available during 2010.

Sony’s Motion Controller
Not to be outdone, while everyone’s attention was on Microsoft liaising with a company that had developed a motion control technology that was to become a part of the Xbox 360, Sony were also working on a motion control system. Although not as slick, it does enable augmented reality objects to move and interact more appropriately than a no-controller system.

Sony’s prototype consisted of a wand controller like the Wii-mote and a glowing sphere at the top which is tracked by presumably, an Eye-Toy camera. In the tech demo a virtual representation of the controller was visible in the game with full movement being tracked, as the controller was moved around in a  figure of eight, the virtual controller moved just as the real controller did with the main body of the controller trailing after the sphere. The location and orientation of the controller were being reported and represented on screen. This type of positional recording is good for augmented reality objects which was the next demonstration.

While the main body of the controller has sensors within to report which way it is oriented, there is no way to report where in the room that controller is, which is where the glowing ball at the top comes in. Using the ball, they Eye-Toy camera and the software on the PS3 can work out, that if the controller represented something like a tennis racket or a sword, which way the augmented item should be facing and leaning and as such, on screen looks like the person is holding a real item. The same controller can be used to represent a gun, torch or anything else that is hand-held. A great demo was the one where the controller was used as a gun in an fps scenario, moving around the room shooting.

There was also an art demo, with the controllers representing marker pens and spray cans, the analogue buttons on the controller can be used to vary the amount of pressure/paint flow.

To follow on there was a fighting demo where two controllers would represent a sword and shield, moving each independently would result in blocks and sword attacks. Finally there was a bow and arrow demo using two controllers. Holding up one controller as if holding a bow and reaching towards the neck with the other hand, as if taking an arrow from the quiver, and then moving the arrow hand towards the bow hand and pulling back, stretches the bowstring. Releasing the fire button will shoot the arrow. Varying the distance between the two controllers when stretching the bowstring will vary the power.

According to Tretton, we should expect a launch Spring 2010, despite the prototype/tech demo. Maybe the release will include some basic games to show off the motion control system as with the Eye-Toy when that was first available.

Final Word…
There was also some in-game video from The Last Guardian which I thought would never end and then came another video for Gran Turismo 5. Finally, a gameplay demo of  God of War 3 was presented, without commentary so it did drag on a bit. God of War 3 is due out March 2010.

Sony with the release of the anticipated PSP Go and their version of a motion controller kept the standard high for the announcements at E3, not letting Microsoft take all of the thunder. Compared to Nintendo, Sony’s showing was more compelling despite the number of trailers and the length of the God of Ware demo at the end.


Microsoft’s E3 Conference Announcements

June 4, 2009

You may have read my E3 rumours roundup for Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony…I wasn’t until yesterday that the three companies revealed their cards.

Microsoft was the first of the companies to present their works to the press, beginning with a montage of gameplay footage of Beatles tracks, indicating that there would be a Beatles version of the Rock Band game. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney came on stage to have a bit of a natter to promote the game and approving of their in-game characters. Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono were also on-stage.

Corporate VP for Xbox John Shappert didn’t start with sales and marketing figures, instead announcing 10 World game premieres along with innovations and experiences.

The Games
Tony Hawk Ride, a skateboarding game if you aren’t familiar with the seires or Tony Hawk, will also be playable with a static skateboard peripheral. The peripheral has sensors on the sides to detect grabs with accelerometers to detect motion/orientation. Due out later this year.

There was some gameplay on a snowy mountainous level on a section called Cliffhanger in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Shappert said that there will be two map packs for the game, released on the Xbox 360 first.

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to the Microsoft console. The game is due for a Spring 2010 release.

Xbox 360 Exclusives
Exclusive to the Xbox 360 will be Epic’s first Xbox Live Arcade title, Gears of War: Shadow Complex, a 3D side scroller with over 10 hours of gameplay, due this summer. Joyride a product of Microsoft Game Studios is like Madtracks but with customisable cars and avatars.

Another exclusive is the follow-up to the popular Crackdown game, Crackdown 2.wasn’t given a date but the signs from Ruffian Games suggests it is still in the works, possibly an Autumn 2010 game if I had to stick my neck out.

Left 4 Dead, the survival horror, also has a sequel, Left 4 Dead 2. It was given a release date of November 17, 2009 and also available on PC.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction had a gameplay demo showing Sam Fisher walking and skulking around in the shadows with a new ‘mark and execute’ ability, allowing the player to select a target to kill before entering an area where an enemy may be alerted. As well as playing the stealth game, the player will get the opportunity to go in all guns blazing according to the demonstration. Splinter Cell: Conviction will be out Autumn 2009.

Forza Motorsport 3 was shown confirming that the racing game with realistic handling and physics is coming back for a third instalment. A video created using the in-game video editor demonstrated how creative the users can be with it. Also, a dashboard view will be available, missing from the previous instalment due to weight reduction customisations which would result in dashboard changes. Expect Forza 3 on the shelves in October, 2009.

One for the Halo fans, Halo 3 ODST. You play the role of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (hence the ODST), you have become separated from your team and have to find your way around and find out what happened.. From the video, it looks like you as the ODST are being dropped in a capsule towards a space craft/carrier of some sort which warps out of the area just before an EMP blast is unleashed. The setting is New Mombasa, three weeks before Halo 3. You also get to play as other ODSTs so you can experience the story from other points of view to build up a complete picture of events. Halo ODST is due to be released Worldwide on the 22nd of September, 2009. Bungie Team are also working on yet another Halo game, Halo Reach, due for release Autumn 2010.

Alan Wake has seen delays and now it looks like the game is coming together, so much so that there was a gameplay demo for the crowd at E3. Alan Wake from Remedy Entertainment, due for release in Spring 2010.

Metal Gear Solid is coming to the Xbox 360. Although this seems to be a spin-off rather than a true MGS game. Don Mattrick mentioned Snake and Hideo Kojima rebuffed the reference by stating he didn’t say anything about Solid Snake. The title Metal Gear Solid: Rising was revealed in a vague teaser video which had a voice over saying “Raiden is back,” possibly suggesting the game could be centred around this character.

Media and Social
ArtistDetails Xbox Live partners with to bring music from the internet to the Xbox 360 dashboard and will be free to Gold members (finally, something extra for the subscription) later this year. In addition to music is the ability for those in the US with Netflix accounts to browse and add titles to the queue directly from their Xbox 360, no longer needing access to a PC.

UK and Ireland customers will have the ability to get live Sky TV via their consoles, over the internet, with no additional hardware needed. No mention of it being free so will probably have a cost associated with it.

Sky_Sports The Xbox video service will be re-launched as the Zune video service, videos will be upgraded to 1080p with movies and shows being instantly watchable while the rest of the content downloads in the background. This will be available from Autumn 2009.

What’s missing? Social interaction! Watch films, tv shows and sporting events with friends on Live  with your avatars at the bottom of the screen. You will have the ability to animate your avatar using preset events such as cheering.

Friends Also, coming to your TV via your Xbox 360 is Facebook. Felicia Day presented a quick demo of how friends on Facebook would be displayed, with their Xbox Live profiles linked, along with the ability to see their status updates. That’s not all, you can also view Facebook photos from your dashboard. For a while now, Facebook has provided access to its API, Facebook Connect. the Xbox 360 will use this to let you upload and share pictures and event from games that support it, to your Facebook account, such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Facebook isn’t alone, Twitter will also be available with a full screen Twitter experience from the dashboard with the ability to post to Twitter also. Both Facebook and Twitter will be coming to the Xbox in Autumn.

prjctntl-F_2 Don Mattrick said, “People ask me, ‘can you add a motion controller?’ I tell ‘em, of course we can.” Which pretty much gives away what came up next!

The rumours of the camera based motion controller are true, a video trailer showing a family playing in front of a TV, steering a car with two hands holding virtual steering wheel, the Dad getting up to carry out a wheel change as part of the pit stop, the son playing his part as a Godzilla-esque dinosaur beating off planes with his arms. and stomping his feet. Mother and daughter, side by side taking a penalty..and trying to save it. Another son scanning in a skateboard, getting it into the game and then pulling off moves by jumping and changing stances. The daughter comes in to the room, stands in front of the TV to which the Xbox 360 responds by signing her in and using voice commands to initiate a video chat as well as trying on clothes on her avatar. No longer will you need buzzers for games like Scene It, you can hit your open palm with the other hand shaped into a fist, as if miming the application of a rubber stamp to paper. All this possible using the camera technology dubbed Project Natal, part of which is a sensor discretely placed below/in front of you television.

Steven Spielberg came on to give a brief spiel about how the controller can be a barrier to gaming and removing this will make gaming more approachable.

xxxxx Project Natal’s creative director Kudo Tsunoda came on to explain Project Natal live in front of the audience. Demonstrations included painting on a canvas using the hand as a brush, navigating the Xbox dashboard using hand gestures and animating the avatar by moving his body. There was a game demo using Ricochet, no controller required just your body in front of the camera and moving arms and legs, which is mimicked by the onscreen avatar, into the path of oncoming balls to send them back down the hall to destroy a wall, according to Tsunoda, real physics are involved.

Developers over the past few months have had access to Natal and one of these have been Lionhead. Peter Molyneux came on stage to talk about Project Natal and to present what Lionhead have done with it. A boy called Milo, a character that will recognise faces, voices, emotions and will react with the user. In the video, the in-game character Milo is interacting with the user of Natal, Claire. Milo throws a pair of goggles at the screen/user and Claire reaches forward to catch the virtual item. Molyneux explains that this wasn’t acted and that everyone who uses it feels the need to reach down to catch the item, presumably since there is no contact with a controller and the compulsion to press a button to interact.

As well as gesture based interaction, there was a data input interaction, much like using a scanner or loading a photo into your computer but in a more natural way. Claire drew a fish on a piece of paper then put it near the camera at the top of the screen and put the paper down. On screen, Milo received a piece of paper from off the screen near the camera making it look like he was passed the item. The drawing was scanned and recognised by the game and Milo reacted accordingly. This demo with Milo was available for selected audiences at E3 behind closed doors, so it isn’t just a video of a concept but a working model.

This is more than just inspiration from the Wii, but an evolution of motion gaming that removes the controller and advanced interactivity. It could be around a year before games are available and the announcement of a public release for Project Natal…along with a rename.

For Microsoft, the games announcements have been mainly of sequels and followups. The coup of a Metal Gear Solid title, Final Fantasy XIII and the innovation demonstrated by Project Natal means that they had a strong E3 showing, with many wondering if Sony or Nintendo could better them…