Sony PlayStation Move: what the future holds

Those few criticisms aside, PlayStation Move undoubtedly opens up a number of new opportunities for developers to create some interesting new forms of gameplay in PS3 games.

Groves thinks that the availability of the camera image married with the depth data should allow for, "reasonable 'background subtraction' which opens up all sorts of game designs where the player can be taken out of their living room and fully immersed into the game environment.

"Even better is the skeleton tracking that allows the player to directly control the in-game avatar. Once developers get used to this there are a huge amount of direct interactions with the game that can be enabled - but we'll have to be careful not to put things in for the sake of it - do you really want to reach out and open every door in an FPS rather than just press a button?

"We've worked on things before where a direct player movement is cool when you first develop the mechanic, but gets really tiring and dull after the 20th time they've had to do it in a game."

PlayStation move: core gamers will be familiar with the controller

IN CONTROL: Core gamers will be familiar with the Move controller

PlayStation Move, while an incremental step from EyeToy/PSEye, still represents a huge step forward for developers such as Grove who thinks that: "Once developers have had time to get used to the data coming from the depth camera and improvements in the tracking and analysis software work their way into the development community there will be new game experiences emerge: there always are with new input tech.

"Kinect, Move and 3D are all potential components of a future system of physically immersive game worlds and totally organic interactions."

Shoot and Move

One of the most interesting games we've seen to date for PlayStation Move has been Cohort Studio's The Shoot. What initially looks like a straightforward light-gun game that works with Move seems to promise quite a bit more depth when you dig a little deeper.

TechRadar spoke with Cohort Studios' Technical Director Gordon Bell to find out more about what it was like to integrate Move into his latest project.

"Working with any pre-release hardware can be a real challenge, so we were all very anxious to get our hands on the new controller and SDK as early as possible and make a start on integrating the controller into The Shoot," Bell informed us.

Cohort was one of the first teams to work with Move hardware, (with the "legendary 'ping pong ball on a stick' version that [Move designer] Richard Marks has since shown in interviews," Bell reminds us) and were instantly impressed with the performance of the hardware and the supplied drivers.

Shoot and move: the laser-gun attachment is a must

SHOOT AND MOVE: the laser-gun attachment is a must

"Even in these early iterations, and it was clear that the controller was going to give us everything we needed and more," says the developer. The Shoot was initially designed as a pure light-gun game, and as the Move offers great 'laser pointer' support, this was easy to replicate.

"We were then free to look at the other possibilities the new controller's positional and directional support gave us, and design and develop the motion play (ducking and dodging) and gestures/acting (for activating power-ups and boss fights) to make the most of the Move hardware. Initially we were concerned about the possible performance impact of the controller, but this has turned out to be negligible."

Cohort says the support from Sony has been "great" and that they have worked closely with SCE's internal team developing the controller, "including direct contact with their hardware and SDK developers on a daily basis. They've fed back a great deal of ideas into The Shoot, and we've had a similar input into the development of the controller and software."

The learning process for developers has also been remarkably simple, according to the Cohort dev. "In even the earliest versions of the drivers, Move was easy to implement. We can query the controller for its absolute angle (as a quaternion) and position in 3D space directly through theSDK, with no further interpretation of the results needed on our side (although the raw data is available if we wish to perform our own analysis on it).

"Any learning required by dev staff was minimal on the technical side, certainly no more than with a regular DualShock controller, and our time was spent refining our gesture system instead of worrying about the controller itself."

Design challenges with Move

While the technical issues with implementing Move control into games have been fairly straightforward, the real challenge to game developers is going to be over on the game design side.

"The Shoot is Cohort's first motion controlled project so we've had to learn the hard way about which gestures and actions are rewarding for the player, and which just cause frustration and fatigue," says Bell.

"Players are used to pressing a button and seeing the results in game, so reliable gesture and motion detection is a must or the player will become frustrated. The number of different ways people can interpret even simple instructions, such as 'punch at the screen', has been a real surprise and something we've had to take into account throughout the development, but we think we've come up with a great set of fun actions for the player in the final product."

One thing is for sure, Sony has already announced a fairly solid-looking line-up of games that will tempt us into buying PlayStation Move when it arrives on shelves later this autumn.

In addition to those, we are sure to hear lots more from the company's internal studios and other third party developers about other new Move-controlled games and applications in the coming months leading up to release, because if there is one thing that the PlayStation company understands it is that good games (not impressive tech demos) sell hardware.


Liked this? Then check out PlayStation Move vs Microsoft Kinect

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Adam Hartley