Hey, What's Up With PlayStation Move?
I took a break from my feverishly playing Final Fantasy XIII all night to watch Sony's "GCD" Press Conference (excellent lower third typo there) via the PlayStation Blog live stream thing. While I do think that hosting a press conference at an event specifically aimed at developers is a bit odd, the games press have been showing up to GDC in increasing volumes over the years so hey why not. It's worth noting that neither Microsoft nor Nintendo are holding conferences so I guess they agree with me. The nature of this announcement is aimed slightly more at developers than consumers at the moment so it's good to get them thinking about it. They have their work cut out for them convincing the developers that it's worth devoting their precious development time to this anyway.
With very few other hardware announcements going on at the moment, Sony are taking this opportunity to dominate the industry "mind-share" while Microsoft are keeping quiet about their Natal related plans till E3.
So what did they announce?
Senior Marketing man Peter Dille got up on stage and revealed that the 'Sony Motion Controller' which had been rumored to be called 'Arc' has been announced as the PlayStation Move. As a name 'Arc' didn't really make any sense, 'Move' makes sense because you have to move the Move to move stuff. The Move is the same glowing ball on a stick thing they showed last E3, but now it has a companion bit of hardware called the "PlayStation Move Sub-Controller" which is basically a wireless nunchuk equivalent, rather than a Steel Battalion-like controller for submarines which is what a sub-controller initially sounded like to me.
The Move part of the controller will have the normal four face buttons and a big Move button with a wavy line symbol in it. The sub-controller will have a d-pad and two of the normal face buttons (only the X and O).
How does it work?
The technology seems to be like the Wii Remote but backwards. While the Wiimote has a camera in it that sees the UV lights on the censor bar then transmits positional information back to the wii using the wireless signal, the Move does it the other way round. It uses a PlayStation Eye camera to work out where the Move is by looking for a positional tracker on the Move (cleverly disguised as a massive glowing ball), and also uses a bluetooth connection to transmit button presses, etc. The thing this seems to do better than the wiimote is being able to detect how far the Move is away. You can see this in action in the demonstrations where they take a image of you as seen from the camera and superimpose a different object such a sword or frying pan into your hand over the top of the Move. This seems to work far better and faster than anything the Wii has ever done.
The system has a couple of other notable features. The Eye has some Natal style head tracking in it which means that developers can finally make the nodding/shaking head based conversation systems I've been waiting for. The games can also control the colour and brightness of the glowing ball thing, which I can see being used in a future hacking mini-game.
How do I get one?
The Move will be available Fall this year, which I reckon will probably end up being about October so they can get some games for it out during Q4. Because the Move requires a PlayStation Eye which they are probably aware not everyone has, it's available in a variety of SKUs: (I love that the term SKU has entered the common gamers lexicon).
Are there any games on it?
- Just the PlayStation Move on it's own. Presumably all instances of the Move come with a sub-controller)
- The PlayStation Move bundled in with the PlayStation Eye.
- A PS3 with all of bundled with the PlayStation Move and Eye
Sony showed off a bunch of games with varying degrees of support for the Move.
- Sports Champions - This seems to be a Wii Sports style mini-game collection involving table-tennis, golf, and sword fighting. The sword fighting had someone holding two Move's, which leads me to wonder if they are both synced to the same player when connected, you know the 1-4 player lights on the back. It would be nice if they've come up with a way of associating two Moves with one player as I can see a lot of potential for dual-wielding games.
- Move Party - This is the token game that tries to make you look like a madman swatting at invisible flies, because it's a game involving swatting at invisible flies. It's basically a mini-game collection based around seeing yourself on the screen and interacting with stuff in the 'virtual' environment.
- LittleBigPlanet - They've implemented Wii pointer like controls in little big planet that you can use to push stuff around in the environments that would be too fiddly to do with analogue controls. For example, stacking blocks to build a pyramid for Sackboy to climb. I noticed in this demo that someone standing next to demonstrator was playing the game with a Dualshock while the other guy did the pointing. This either means it's a Mario Galaxy style co-op mode, or they haven't finished implementing sub-controller controls yet.
- Motion Fighters - A game where you punch dudes. It looked like Wii Sports Boxing, but with more moves and realistic graphics. Josh noted that this looked like a bit like a Def Jam game, and was positively distraught to find out it wasn't one.
- SOCOM 4 - This game will support Move based controls using the sub-controller for movement and shooting using Move as a pointer. This didn't look too different from how shooters have worked on the Wii, where you have to aim towards the edge of screen to move your view, which will likely run into all the same problems this method has on the Wii, it sucking being the foremost.