While Europe got its furry little EyePet last year (and we even reviewed it), the North American version was hit with a delay just prior to its fall release. When I noticed that retailers were listing the PlayStation 3 virtual pet title for an extremely late 2010 release, I knew what was up -- Sony was working to adapt the game for its motion controller.
At GDC this year, Sony revealed the PlayStation Move, and sure enough, EyePet was among the titles to support the new controller. I sat down with the game's lead, Nic Doucet, to check out some of the game's new features, which SCE London is working hard to implement before the game's North American "re-launch" this fall.
Hit the jump to find out how you'll use the move to interact with you pet, including making sure he's the cleanest little dude with the shiniest coat of fur in gaming.
The EyePet concept is simple -- a virtual pet game that uses the PlayStation Eye camera to put an adorable creature in a player's living room. The game has players pointing the camera at the ground or a table, the on-screen pet running around and reacting to camera movements, such as chasing hands or string teased by the player.
The game shipped with a card which the player could hold in their hands, the camera converting the card to in-game items that the pet could interact with -- a bubble machine, a trampoline, and more. It was a neat system that showcased the augmented reality capabilities of the EyeToy, but there was room for improvement.
"The card was cool, but it had its limitations," Doucet explains. "Whenever it wasn't facing, it would stop working. Especially for an audience that really didn't understand technology, they could get frustrated. With PlayStation Move all that goes away because it's just tracking its movement."
That's where the PlayStation Move comes in. Sony London is working hard to adapt the in-game tools to work with the motion controller, which can track movement not only more accurately, but in a 3D space. The first example we were shown was the new version of the game's bubble maker, a handheld machine that when waved through the air would produce bubbles that the EyePet would playfully interact with. On-screen, the Move in the player's hand is turned into the machine, which can be move, twisted, and turned to see from all angles.
Next, we were able to give the pet a shower. In this case, the Move is turned into a shower head, a shampoo dispenser, and finally a blow dryer. The one-to-one motion of the Move made this easy (and kind of fun, actually) to do; it responded rather quickly to subtle twists and turns of the wrist. Using the shower head, steam would fog up the screen, and you could use your hand to "wipe" away the fog.
Between Dale North and I, the pet was cleaned at least four times, in order test the accuracy of the motion controls. By the time we were done, our little dude had a slick, shiny coat of fur, which Doucet pointed out uses similar tech to that used to bring Sully's fur to life in Monster's Inc.
With months to go before the game launches in North America, Doucet and his team are still working on converting some of the game's toys for use with the PlayStation Move controller. He says they're about "a quarter to a third" done with the conversion, but are fortunate enough to take their time, as the core game is already done. The team is going through five or six designs for each toy, taking its time to "use it properly."
"It's going to be a showcase," he says. "It's going to make sense."
[Note: It appears the screenshots provided by Sony aren't actually representative of any of the new Move content; the shower image above is one example -- it still clearly displays the old "card" object. The newest version features an actual shower head.]