Seeing the tools developers use to create games on the PlayStation Move could be the key to understanding the device's full potential. Move research and development lead Dr. Richard Marks walks us through the tools of the trade.
While we've barely scratched the surface in terms of what the PlayStation Move motion controller is capable of, Dr Marks' presentation at E3 2010 surely gave us some ideas. During the course of a half hour, Marks showed off several technical demos straight out of the developers' toolkit; simple little tools that open up a world of possibilities.
Tools like this simple shoot demo. A point of light appears on the screen as your crosshairs, and all you have to do is move the Move to the appropriate location and click the button. Bang, the target is dead. It's a primitive application, but Marks tells us, "This is what we give them, and they give us SOCOM 4."
Some of the demos are deceptively simple. Take the paint demo, seen above. All it does it use the Move controller to allow Marks to write on the screen. From this, developers can simply stick with the painting mechanic, or use it for more complex actions, such as casting spells or solving puzzles.
Then things got really impressive.
The frame tool allows developers to generate a skeletal frame around the player's image in the camera. With the push of a button, Mark's on-screen body was covered with a framework that moved as he moved. Using button combinations he could make it bigger and smaller, fat or thin.
Adding walls and a floor, Marks was soon navigating a primitive 3D environment, his image replaced with the frame, reacting as he moved with fluid grace.
This tool was used to animate the player's avatar in The Fight.
Just as impressive is the dummy tool, which spawns, as you'd expect, a wooden dummy. Using the Move, Marks walks us through manipulating the dummy, bumping its limbs and making its body sway. The tool gives developers a better idea of the precision interactions possible with the technology, making actions like sword fighting or the mini-games in Sports Champion much more realistic.
In the sparks demo, two Move controllers are used, with a shower of sparks arcing between them. It's a gorgeous effect, though I'm not sure what the practical applications might be.
Lighting and shadows were highlighted in the shadow demo, later used to show off the 3D effects in move. The move is used as a light source, playing across an octopus-like creature as the angle changes.
Nothing says building quite like LEGO blocks.
Carve is perhaps the most impressive tool, though less likely to be utilised by end-users. Using two Moves, a 3D object is manipulated, stretched and trimmed, bits coming off in long strips like wood shavings from a branch. Skilled Move users could easily use the tool to create complex, lifelike shapes.
At the end of the presentation, Marks and crew pass around a couple of pairs of3D glasses, a seeming requirement for E3 presentations this year, and while the purple octopus does seem to be reaching out from the screen, no visual gimmick can rival the excitement generated by these simple little technical demos.
If developers feel as excited as I do after seeing these tools in action, we could be in for some truly amazing Move games this spring and beyond.