E3 10: Sony shows off the impressive tech behind Move

Sony invited Destuctoid to attend a small demonstration session where they showed off the technology behind their Move motion-controlled controllers. No games were shown. Instead, bits closer to tech demos showed off what designers have put together to show developers what could actually be done with this new tech.

While a presentation that showed no games might sound a bit less exciting that one that showed actual games, I’m glad I was able to attend, as this showing actually got me excited for the possibilities for PlayStation Move. My mind’s gears were turning from the beginning, and by the end of the showing I found myself wishing I could actually make my own game to put some of this to use.

Read on for an overview of some of the best examples of Move-based opportunities we saw.

Painting: In one of the most basic demonstrations, PlayStation R&D man Richard Marks was able to dip the Move wand into a virtual palette of colors, and then draw using the color. It wasn’t the paint functionality that impressed as much as the painting and writing accuracy, which was solid enough to sign a name in cursive.

Using this tech to do things like select units in a strategy game or draw a sports play in a football game were given as examples. Marks explained that the developers of Socom 4 used this tech in the Move version of their game.

Puppet: The puppet demo uses two Move controllers. It tracks the head position and the two controllers, which act as hands. The tech generates a kinematic skeleton that looks to have very accurate movement. Squeezing the trigger button on each controller allowed the user to close and open the puppet’s hands.

We also saw a third-person example where you controlled a character looking forward with 1:1 movements. Head tracking allowed leaning to change the camera view.

Flashlight: A very convincing hand-held flashlight impressed. The movement of the light was probably the most impressive aspect. Even using the other hand’s Move controller to put a virtual finger in front cast a convincing shadow. Light shined on a static object let you see how the shadows shifted realistically with the virtual flashlight movement.

Fireball: Dragon Ball fans would appreciate the beautiful particle simulation generated to show off what a hand-held fireball might look like. The ball swirled between two hands, dictated by the position of the Move controllers. Drawing the hands out created a bigger fireball. Thrusting hands forward threw the ball. What was neat is how the level of fire was connected to the analog trigger buttons — the harder the squeeze, the bigger the ball.

Modeling: One of the most impressive demos showed real-time modeling using two Move controllers. We first saw a flat surface, like a piece of paper. Holding it in one “hand,” you could warp and bend it freely with another. One example showed that you could create terrain for a RTS game that way.

Another demo showed a cylindrical piece of marble, spinning from a hand-held handle. You could spin it like a lathe, freely carving things out of it with the other controller. A pottery wheel demo was quite impressive: grazing the second controller against the surface of the pottery clay bent it realistically. After this was done, the second Move controller acted as a spray paint can, allowing you to further decorate your work.

Sword: A variant of the modeling demo had users freely warping a sword to create a custom weapon. As an example, quickly pulling out at the end of the sword created an evil looking barb. You could also widen the blade or add spikes easily.

Legos: Virtual building blocks are a perfect match for Move’s sensitivity and accuracy. We saw Lego-like blocks being freely stacked and rotated to create new things.

Sheet: The demo that showed the most creative possibilities was this one. Instead of just stretching a rectangle in a 2D space, we saw a “sheet” being flexed and wobbled realistically between two Move controllers. A flick of a button and real-time video from the PS Eye was displaying on the sheet. The video output was still freely warp-able, with the watching audience being stretched and pulled with the Move controllers.

The same ability was used to “grab” a webpage and navigate it. Then it was twisted and stretched. Another example, a role-playing game map, was shown. They were able to unroll a map and set it down.

Camera: The camera demo was an extension of the Sheet one. Each “sheet” from the previous demo was set aside in a 3D virtual space. Then, using one Move controller as a sort of camcorder, the user was able to freely “look” at any of these sheets, moving in close to get a better look, or leaning back to get a wide angle. The user was able to move freely, instantly seeing the depth change. 

A related demo used this hand-held camera in a game setting. The “camera” was a helicopter, flying over a space, allowing you to freely fly over and attack. In another, a sort of diorama, the camera was guided through a virtual film studio, showing off the possibilities of a game that would let you make your own movies. 

3D: Finally, many of the above demos were shown with 3D display capabilities enabled. The flashlight and modeling demos were extremely impressive. In one new modeling demo, a face was shown, being held by one Move controller. The second controller could then grab and stretch any part of the face. Pulling the face’s nose forward seemed to make it stretch out right before my eyes, and it looked like I could reach out and touch it.

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Dale North
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