playstation move -

Talking to Sony's senior researcher Richard Marks, he tells us why the upcoming PlayStation Move won't just be another Wii, why Sony passed on Kinect technology and how Move is comparable to $100k surgery simulators...

Q: Could you go through the process of how you designed move. Were you looking specifically at devices like the Wii?

Richard Marks: PlayStation Move is the direct result of the work we did with EyeToy, so we really did start with the camera portion. Back in the year 2000 one of the tech demos we were doing, even back then, involved a coloured ball on a stick and we were trying to track that around. So we were trying to do the same sort of thing with EyeToy, but we couldn't do it reliably or accurately enough to be a good gaming interface.

We did as much as we could with just a camera: that was my focus. But we kept running into problems, you couldn't do all the experiences we wanted to do and also around that time DualShock was coming out for PlayStation 3, it had built-in censors and gyros that gave different kinds of information about rotation, whereas the camera could give a lot of position information.

So combining the two made a lot of sense. And also the big other factor that we were realising at the time was that it feels good to have something in your hand for a lot of games. It's not just that it gives you more input capability, which it does. But also it just feels right. Like if you have a tennis racket it feels better to have a controller in your hand. If you have a magic wand, a sword, a gun, it all feels better.

Q: So you weren't interested in trying to shed the remote all together like Kinect inevitably did?

RM: We were very interested in it in 2004. But then we just decided it wasn't a viable product in our minds. EyeToy can already do a lot of that already. We hit a lot of the same limits with the 3D camera that we had hit with EyeToy so it didn't seem like it added enough value.

I had demonstrations with the 3D camera where you're just casting spells or drawing. Doing it with your fingers is kind of neat but in the end it feels awkward. I would often just pick up a stick and it felt better.

Also around that time was when the Wii was coming out. The goal with EyeToy was to have a new way to play games and have something that people who wouldn't normally play would play. The Wii had also accomplished that a little bit with a very simple controller. So we realised we didn't have to get rid of the controller as long as we didn't make it too complicated. [The controller] was easy to use, you could get all the benefits of having buttons. But we could also have all the benefits of tracking the controller with a camera, and that's when we basically started the productisation of Move. We pay attention to what's going on [in the market], to the Wii in particular. We tracked how successful that was. With Kinect, we had already made our decisions of what to do design-wise before Kinect. We had already been working with the 3D camera before that.

Q: Design-wise how much inspiration did you get looking at the Wii.

RM: Our design metaphor is very different. The Wii is really going for a remote control metaphor. [Move is] focused more like a handle. Like the handle of a baseball bat, or a tennis racket, or a sword, or even a gun maybe. So it really feels like something you would want to hold in your hand and it feels good in your hand. It's tapered because smaller hands will hold it up higher, closer to the buttons, whereas bigger hands will be further away from the buttons. It also slips less easily because it's tapered, that's a well known handle design thing, like axes and things like that do. Maybe it would be impossible to make a one handed device that people wouldn't compare to Wii. But I don't think it looks very much like it. Maybe the thing is we have one big action button, I mean we already have the PlayStation buttons part of our design so. The navigation controller does have a very different set up of buttons than on the nunchuck. There's no d-pad on a nun chuck. It's not inspired by the Wii but of course the Wii already existed when this was designed.

New stuff to check out

Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

strickers66's Avatar

strickers66@ Woffls

Surely the removal of the need for auto aim would be a bonus for people who actually want to do the aiming.The Wii is good for some shooters(as long as the IR sensor does not move too far either way)but more accuracy cannot be a bad thing. The Wii does basic motion quite badly,it's very unreliable(hence the hardware "patch").
Strikes me some people are looking for problems with Move.It's not perfect but it does appear to be the best and most versatile motion controller yet.
it does some of Kinect,some of Wii and combined seems more capable than both.
Posted 19:00 on 27 July 2010
strickers66's Avatar

strickers66@ pblive

That's what the big glowing spheres are for.
Posted 18:54 on 27 July 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

He seemed to focus quite a lot on going in and "grabbing" stuff. Grabbing stuff would feel a lot more organic if you weren't already holding something. And the fireball thing, does Goku hold something to do a kamehameha? No, he just uses his hands :D I think there's a lot of applications where a lack of controller is more intuitive, and Marks just happened to choose some bad examples of what they'll use the tech for in my opinion.

As for accuracy, half the shooters out there have massive auto aim anyway, so does it really matter all that much? I played RE4 on Wii and at no point did I think "you know what, that infected's head is too small for me to hit with this stupid inaccurate controller". Also sucks for people with caffeine problems *twitch*
Posted 15:33 on 27 July 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Good inteview Emily.

I'm still a bit sceptical of the camera. Despite being a million times better than Eyetoy, the PS Eye is not all that good in darker rooms and with artificial light. Since a lot of gamers play at night I'm still to be convinced that it will accurately track movement.
Posted 13:53 on 27 July 2010
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu

Great interview.
Posted 13:07 on 27 July 2010