Sony's upcoming controller for the PlayStation 3, still known simply as the PS3 Motion Controller, has been the source of much speculation since its debut at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. The demos for the wandlike device have teased a number of different in-game experiences, but we have yet to see exactly what the new peripheral has to offer. With Sony holding a press event tomorrow, we expect to hear and see much more on the upcoming device shortly. But while we're waiting, we checked in with Sony's Rick Marks to poke around a bit more for information on the peripheral.
GameSpot: How did the design of the Motion Controller come about? How much did Sony's experience with the original EyeToy and PlayStation Eye affect its development? Has the Wii's impact on the gaming audience affected your approach?
Rick Marks: Motion control technology is something we've been working on for quite some time now. With the EyeToy on PlayStation 2, we created an experience that allowed players to physically interact with games using their body, and we used that as a basis for the PlayStation Eye and, now, the new Motion Controller. We learned that in order to create a truly immersive gaming experience, we had to combine physical interaction and movement with precise control and a simple, fast, reliable way to trigger actions. We've seen the experiences and advancements the EyeToy and Wii controller brought to the gaming market, and we're taking things even further by combining the strengths of previous interface approaches with responsive new high-precision tracking.
GS: Tell us about the functionality of the Motion Controller--what it can do and why it glows. We've seen different colors on display. Will there be a different color for each player using it on the same system?
RM: The Motion Controller's high-precision embedded sensors detect the sensitive movements and rotation of the hands, and the PlayStation Eye tracks the glowing sphere on the controller to precisely detect the position in real-life 3D space. The colors of the sphere can be changed by the game programmers to provide visual feedback that reflects changes in gameplay, or to differentiate between players.
GS: Why did the idea of having motion controls come about now? What pushed you to head in this direction?
RM: We learned a lot from our experience creating EyeToy, from our consumer research, and from the experiences we have observed for other products. We also studied many different technologies over the last few years, including 3D cameras, ultrasonics, and magnetic sensors. We believe the combination of the camera and other sensors we have selected provides the best possible interactive solution for games. Our primary goal in creating the Motion Controller technology was to finally allow players to feel completely immersed in a game across all genres--sports, shooter, action, party. There's really no limit with the types of game that the Motion Controller can enhance. Nothing currently on the market delivers an innovative experience that's intuitive for casual gamers and engaging for hardcore fans, and that's the opportunity the PS3 Motion Controller will fulfill.
GS: What do you think needs to happen for this to be successful instead of another piece of hardware that adds to the collection?
RM: A wide range of strong, compelling software titles will be imperative for the Motion Controller platform. We are working hard to build a comprehensive portfolio of innovative games for the Motion Controller, not only from SCE Worldwide Studios, but also from our development and publishing partners. The hardware is a very important piece, but the complete experience is what truly matters, so content is key.
GS: What are you hoping that developers will come up with when using this new piece of technology to distinguish themselves among the other motion-control-based games out there?
RM: What's incredible about our Motion Controller technology is that the possibilities for new gameplay experiences are endless. A key element to the Motion Controller is its precision. Having a handheld controller greatly increases the precision that is possible, as every movement the player makes is tracked in a one-to-one motion in real time to the character in-game. This means that developers can create gameplay experiences that are more realistic than what's been possible previously.
GS: How are you soliciting third-party support?
RM: Software development for the Motion Controller is well under way, and our development and publishing partners are excited about the opportunities to deliver new gameplay experiences to PS3 owners.
GS: Who is the audience for it--casual players or veteran players?
RM: The Motion Controller technology was built to address all types of gamers. The precision and accuracy will keep things challenging for the core gamer, while the intuitive controls will be engaging and immersive for the casual consumer. One of the most important aspects of our design is that it can be used for such a wide set of experiences.
GS: When will we see more on it?
RM: You can expect to hear more details soon, as we have a few key industry events coming up with GDC this week and E3 around the corner. In between those shows, we're also going to bring the Motion Controller on the road, so your readers may have an opportunity to check it out for themselves in the near future.
GS: Thanks for your time.