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EXCLUSIVE: Behind the Scenes with SCEA Research & Development (Part 1)

Chris Morell's Avatar + Posted by Chris Morell on Aug 28, 2009 // Senior Social Media Specialist

During E3, we showcased a prototype for a new controller launching next year. We know you probably have a lot of questions, so we sat down with Richard Marks and Anton Mikhailov, two of the main brains behind the new controller, to get some insight on the E3 demo, the back-story behind development, and the future of this new technology.

Today, you’ll get an inside look at our R&D team—more specifically, who they are, what they do and how they took camera technology to the next level with the new controller. Check out the video below.

We’ll be posting more interviews with Rick and team over the next few weeks. Expect more info here soon…

//Add Your Own

200 Comments

101

+ samuraix98 on August 28th, 2009 at 1:11 pm said:

looking forward for Part 2


102

+ DonnyG on August 28th, 2009 at 1:14 pm said:

Cool vid. I’m looking forward to part 2 and other behind the scenes videos. Also Richard Marx: http://thm-a02.yimg.com/image/2907e8abd0e33c82


103

+ joshdargie on August 28th, 2009 at 1:16 pm said:

Please do not release a bundle of games called Eye Toy Play… thats just to much of a copy from Nintendo…

Other then that I love this idea.. I cant wait to see it in motion.


104

+ davivman on August 28th, 2009 at 1:18 pm said:

@102 – I wouldn’t worry about a blu-ray release of games like that unless it had a pretty steep discount. However, games like that sound like they could have PSN written all over them.


105

+ ZekeXenu on August 28th, 2009 at 1:21 pm said:

Nice interview. Thanks for posting it.

I was curious about one thing though: Mr. Marks describes what features are actually on the motion controller (e.g. rumble, analog trigger, etc.), but he doesn’t mention an analog STICK.

I know the motion controller is still a work-in-progress, but wouldn’t having some kind of an analog stick be advantageous if someone were play, say, a first-person shooter using the motion controllers?

I think that’s a lot of the problem with Wii games. Too many of them are “on rails” and not very exploratory when using that console’s motion controller.

Any info on this would be welcomed. I hope Sony does put in some kind of an analog stick or pad along with all the other good stuff.


106

+ davivman on August 28th, 2009 at 1:22 pm said:

I’ll give two enthusiastic thumbs up to someone who can think of an innovative and fun way of incorporating a PSP into this motion controller equation.


107

+ Gringo234 on August 28th, 2009 at 1:25 pm said:

Sony needs to make the gohead for 3D.

I’m not interested in motion garbage, because simply I don’t like playing games like that. I don’t find it engaging.


108

+ AikiTengu on August 28th, 2009 at 1:34 pm said:

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing; it was really very interesting.


109

+ Prem-aka-Prince on August 28th, 2009 at 1:40 pm said:

all I can say is I like this first video of this series and I hope there will be many more (even if some topics don’t have as much to talk about?)


110

+ Skater_Ricky on August 28th, 2009 at 1:41 pm said:

Like Everyone says.. It has to have a Joystick added to it… something to the mix of a small joystick but not like the PSP.. make it a little bigger that sticks out a little more.. but smaller then the DualShock 3 contollers..

Id say make it like the (Boomarang Contoller (Concept DS3) Joystick that never came to existance)

All in all like everyone says.. We Needs Great Games and make it close enough to were we can play on Older and New Advanced Games too.. this means..

GAME DEVELOPERS GET OFF YOUR BEHINDS AND GET TO WORK ON ADDING THE FEATURES IN ;)

signed Ricky,


111

+ NoobianGod on August 28th, 2009 at 1:44 pm said:

Great interview! I’m extremely interested in what is going on behind the scenes in Sony. Hardware/Software/Firmware. Giving us glimpses of whats coming our way and what it can do is the best!!!


112

+ joostin on August 28th, 2009 at 1:46 pm said:

God of War in Motion…can’t wait lol


113

+ tomstockmail on August 28th, 2009 at 1:49 pm said:

I’d like to point out that Natal is flawed. Just watch, Natal will have special controllers for games like a gun that has a button and needs to be synced to the console for shooter games. At least the PS3 project knows this and already has the controllers being developed.

Also, Milo is not AI. Its pre-scripted events. Its dumber than a parrot, at least a parrot can learn.


114

+ piro_z on August 28th, 2009 at 1:50 pm said:

nice Im really looking forward to this will we see future games coming with this product at the next E3


115

+ RuthlessEd on August 28th, 2009 at 1:51 pm said:

This technology lives and dies on the games that get made for it. Look at the PS3 Eye. It might be great tech, but who would know. It’s only been used in a couple games…and barely used in those.

Hopefully this waggle stick won’t suffer the same fate.

And to #96

You’ve been smoking a crack pipe if you think the PS3 browser is “awesome”.


116

+ Sylvrfonic on August 28th, 2009 at 1:57 pm said:

I am not a big fan of motion controls. But, the combination of fidelity, feedback and augmented reality is really compelling.


117

+ MegadethAndy on August 28th, 2009 at 2:04 pm said:

I’m not really into gimmicks, but this has me sold. I believe as the ps3 gets ahead in sales, more devs will take advantage of it.
Just hope an analogue stick of some sort is incorporated.


118

+ p_morin on August 28th, 2009 at 2:04 pm said:

I also have concerns about the lack connectivity/link with the DualShock…

However, Heavy Rain could really be a game for this technology… Or just think of an Assassin’s Creed III with this kind of technology. The fights would be awesome, as long as Ubisoft put the efforts in it.

Yeah… I guess it could be great. If only the Wii had better graphics and a more “artsy” approach. :p


119

+ Midgetguy on August 28th, 2009 at 2:07 pm said:

I think this is really cool!

It’s sort of like a combination of what makes the Wii’s motion controller AND Natal great! It’s all about precision, interaction, and seemless INTIGRATION with what you’re doing! I think that there are far MORE gaming possibilites with an actual tangible object in your hand then with just camera recognition itself, while, on the other hand, with this kind of pin-point precision you could do so many subtle things within the gaming world…

I see it as the best of both worlds!


120

+ lopes_br on August 28th, 2009 at 2:12 pm said:

great interview. And a awesome device.

I guess that it will be better used on games than ms-natal.

or we’ll see several jumps at front of screen to play Uncharted2… lol


121

+ KazeEternal on August 28th, 2009 at 2:12 pm said:

Can’t wait to see future parts in this series. Maybe we can have a few with the firmware team as well, perhaps on past features as well as some discussions on Backward Compatibility.


122

+ Airwalkinman17 on August 28th, 2009 at 2:21 pm said:

Wow! Really cool and interesting video. It had like a “behind the scenes” vibe to it, and I felt priviledged to watch. All I can say is that SONY is doing motion control the right way, with HARDCORE games and gamers in mind. You have all the precision AND buttons. People forget that without the tactile feel of a button/trigger you cannot do simple things in game like firing/switching weapons/jumping etc. Keep up the good work!!!


123

+ Blazebrova on August 28th, 2009 at 2:24 pm said:

Probably the best inside look yet I have seen….Thanks Rick!

BTW, when are we going to get a name for this “Playstation motion control”? We need something catchy!


124

+ ArCaNgEL on August 28th, 2009 at 2:26 pm said:

This is a great project can’t wait to get my hands on it
Keep up the great work.

P.S pass the word around we would also like CROSS GAME CHATTING!!!!!!

Thank You


125

+ tacopaco94 on August 28th, 2009 at 2:31 pm said:

is there a directional pad or analog stick on the new motion controller?


126

+ Wollan on August 28th, 2009 at 2:35 pm said:

Like mentioned by many (here or elsewhere): It needs an Analog stick. Yeah, one wand should function like half a DualShock 3 + motion controls / 3D pointing. Having an Analog stick is KEY for deeper games.

PS! When the day comes that Sony moves into Stereoscopic 3D and release their own official PlayStation glasses, make sure they are readable by the PS Eye or come equipped with 1:1 head tracking of some kind (so the viewpoint can follow your movements precisely).


127

+ Natureboy99 on August 28th, 2009 at 2:37 pm said:

You don’t need an analog stick! All you need is two wands. Since this thing tracks perfectly in 3d space, the left wand could be used strictly for xy movement. forward, back, left, right (or strafe) can all be controlled by the left wand, really easily. The downside I guess is that you have to hold your arm up. The right wand could then be used for looking or interacting with stuff. Nintendo cant do that because it’s not accurate enough. They had to do the nunchuck to compensate for this weakness. Not so with this wand. I’ll bet most hardcore games will simply be two wands with just the buttons on them. Analog sticks are history after this gets released.


128

+ Neil on August 28th, 2009 at 2:40 pm said:

Excellent. This should be put up on the PlayStation store.


129

+ p_morin on August 28th, 2009 at 2:45 pm said:

@62 – ThreeLeggedFreak –> Stop using abbreviation, please. You sound like a whining conservative hardcore gamer. Plus I don’t understand you.


130

+ Scavengre on August 28th, 2009 at 2:46 pm said:

I love the concept and the Rendered Vision of the controller by a PS3 users is probably one of the best ideas I have seen about this. But Why does that Ball need to be so big? It detracts from its sleek concept. Is it because camera needs an item of specific size to track and keep calibrated? I mean come on I can see it being a quarter of the proposed size. That “Ball” is the Number 1 eye sore of this concept. I think I would rather have the whole controller be the “Ball” rather than the out of place Globe on the end of it.

Don’t get me wrong I think the concept is awesome but there needs to be some serious refinement made to the functional design of it before I will make the leap into the Wand gadget. As it is now how distracting would the glowing ball be in a lowly lit room? Why not incorporate the ball into the controller not onto it? If the camera is tracking the “Ball” to determine where the controller is in three dimensional space in concept then couldn’t the end of the “wand” be a plastic that illuminates instead of the “ball”?

All in all I am looking forward to seeing what Sony does with the controllers design and functionality by the time its supposed to be released in 2010.


131

+ Cjdamon042 on August 28th, 2009 at 3:01 pm said:

Natal looks interesting, but I can’t see it being used successfully in the majority of games. Sure it works great for things like menus, mini games or perhaps racing, but without buttons, it really is limiting.

The wands on the other hand are basically a mixture of Natal, the Wiimotes and the Sixaxis which basically means it should be awesome. I just hope they’re not too expensive, since two per player is ideal.


132

+ halophiliac on August 28th, 2009 at 3:13 pm said:

Thank you so much for the R&D interview! This is the most exciting video I’ve seen since E3! I love the direction you are headed with motion and head tracking.

I love that the prototype controllers already look like lightsabers. That’s what we’re all waiting for a high fidelity light saber game!

I really hope there are analog sticks in your plans!

thanks again!


133

+ KUMAR_ROHIT on August 28th, 2009 at 3:24 pm said:

awesome news… so when can we expect a release date


134

+ Jeigh on August 28th, 2009 at 3:27 pm said:

Heheh. I really do find this tech very exciting, but I couldn’t help but catch how he was “tip-toeing” around any mention of a very specific competitor.

Doesn’t really matter anyway. The bottom line is where we come in, as the potential consumers, and, as a potential consumer, I’d really like to ensure that this thing is actually going to get some very serious support. The PlayStation Eye was released to a fair amount of fanfare and then forgotten shortly after. And now it doesn’t even serve as a paperweight since it’s on top of my TV and isn’t heavy enough anyway. This new tech is essentially the PS3ye’s “partner,” so I’d like to be sure it’s not going to walk down the same path.

I’m also worried about what happens when the color-globe is lost from the sight of the Eye- say there’s some sort of move being done and my head blocks the line of sight briefly. Line of sight is something that I really hope you guys are taking into account.


135

+ LpSquall on August 28th, 2009 at 3:30 pm said:

By far one of the best videos posted on the PSBlog. Thanks for sharing this video with us.


136

+ Jeigh on August 28th, 2009 at 3:31 pm said:

On a sidenote, I’d like to agree with Scavengre (130). By the time this thing gets out of the R&D phase, I really hope it comes in a more aesthetically-pleasing design. Such a garish giant ball thing being swung around brings the word “fairy” to mind, as well as a picture of Martin from the Simpson prancing around in his pink tutu. Let’s avoid leaving such an impression in the final version, hm?


137

+ onlineatron on August 28th, 2009 at 3:34 pm said:

Look Sony… this tech IS better than Natal but…. IT NEEDS IDENTITY!!

It needs a name, it needs a game to demonstrate it’s ‘hardcore’ abilities, it needs a final design.

WAKE UP AND PROMOTE THIS THING!!!!


138

+ Jeigh on August 28th, 2009 at 3:35 pm said:

Sorry, but this subject really does have my interest and I’d just like to point out one more thing (hey, constructive criticism makes the product better- it’s like a PlayStation Nation-wide brainstorming session). Not all viewing conditions will be the same. Say the ‘globe’ turns red, but something in the room is already that color of red- is there something to ensure that such confusions aren’t made?

That’ll be all for me. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing from you all again in the (hopefully) near-future. +)


139

+ The_Infamous_One on August 28th, 2009 at 4:01 pm said:

I’m glad to see some more in depth information on the camera technology! Awesome work! :D


140

+ chriscowboyd on August 28th, 2009 at 4:08 pm said:

I’m quite sure no one official at Sony is going to read this but I believe I have come up with a good name for this. You ready?

Introducing the ………………….

PlayStation FreeMotion Controller

See how FreeMotion rhymes with emotion. See how you can attach the 3 at the end of PS3 to the “Free” in FreeMotion and end up with PSFreeMotion. I hope you guys think about it and that other readers give their opinion on the name PlayStation FreeMotion Conroller. You guys at Sony better hurry before someone squats on this trademark.


141

+ kwonstein on August 28th, 2009 at 4:09 pm said:

since this technology really requires the PS Eye for full utilization, it should be bundled with the PS Eye when it is released.


142

+ chriscowboyd on August 28th, 2009 at 4:16 pm said:

I thought of an even better name that follows in the palindromic vein of the sixaxis

Introducing the …………..

PlayStation EvoMove Controller

Trademark it quick before someone else sits on it.


143

+ DustyBlue on August 28th, 2009 at 4:17 pm said:

This motion controller has AMAZING potential to make all kinds of awesome games. People say this is just Sony’s answer to the Wii, but I think it has way more potential and can do more than the Wiimote.


144

+ Zookey on August 28th, 2009 at 4:33 pm said:

Really psyched for this!


145

+ VenomXv on August 28th, 2009 at 4:36 pm said:

Accuracy is the most crucial element with motion controls. Glad you guys got that down.


146

+ Cpt_Ramz on August 28th, 2009 at 4:41 pm said:

Luv this, cant wait. I hope you get to use it with GOW III. Duel weild Kratos swords with two of them.


147

+ NathanJ_ on August 28th, 2009 at 4:44 pm said:

So where’s the ps3 Kinetics game that will be releasing with this crap. If you fools don’t pack it in with every ps3, it’s going to fail as hard as the ps eye is failing. My word, did you not learn the lessons of what packing in a blu-ray drive can do?


148

+ bit-blt on August 28th, 2009 at 4:50 pm said:

Well, I appreciate the interview but “Part 1″ was basically a rehash of what was better demonstrated at E3. I look forward to more info in “Part 2″.

Natal is more than just a EyeToy camera, it also uses sensors to measure player proximity/position. However these sensors are not much more than those used in auto-focus cameras. In the end I think Natal will fail because it’s too expensive, requires specific room conditions, is not accurate, and does not give players tactical feedback in the form of buttons and vibration.

MotionPlus does not provide true 1:1 motion detection. Wii games continue to rely on “waggle” and “pre canned” gestures. (FYI “waggle” refers to simply shaking the controller.)

I think PS3 motion control technology is the most impressive and most accurate with true 1:1 motion detection. It can provide a fast precise sword (light saber) fighting experience, or be used for objects selection in games like Warcraft, or for building in games like LBP.

Good technology alone is not enough:

1) needs a real name
2) must come bundled with a “killer app”
3) add-ons must be inexpensive
4) available early 2010

BTW I like the suggestion of attaching the “ball” directly to DS3, as an option.


149

+ Sephex on August 28th, 2009 at 4:51 pm said:

I’m with #29. This is EXACTLY what the PS Blog needs. More “Future Tech”, more “possibly coming-one-day” interviews and demos.

@#46, by watching the E3 demo, this “wand” concept made FAR more sense than an add-on for our Dualshock 3. Because you can use 2 wands at once. They rough demos they showed were “sword & shield” and “bow & arrow” concepts. And now knowing that there is an analog (L3/R3) on the controller, this allows 2 controllers to fully function as a DS3 controller + motion-sensing.

Someone write a hack-N-Slash RPG with these motion controllers for my sword and shield, yes, an Elder Scrolls would do nicely, and you would make a small fortune off of me.

Keep it comin!


150

+ exion on August 28th, 2009 at 4:57 pm said:

I can really see this product revitalising the user-made content trend that the PS3 flaunted last year (with Unreal 3′s mods and Little Big Planet) insofar as it could empower players with the ability to fully customise their in-game avatars much like PC gamers could in the golden age of Unreal and Quake, but with a much lower entry level in regards to technical skill requirements…

The thought of making custom clan spaytags, and player skins from my PS3 makes me drool a little… and that’s not even starting about the possibilities this tech could bring to gaming…

From an FPS or RTS game perspective, this could be a valid alternative to the more traditional mouse setup!

Also, on the subject of the PSeye; could we get an update for “eyecreate” that takes advantage of some of the PS3′s newer features? Stuff like “upload to youtube” would be a great feature to have integrated within the title, as a start!

As more people will inevitably be picking up the PSeye with the advent of this new tech, you’ll see more people downloading this program… yes it’s free, but it could offer so much more, and be a genuine selling point!


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