E3 '09: Can Sony's Magic Wand Abort Natal?

PlayStation MotionController tech demo wows at E3

Posted by Staff
Saving the best for later is a standard ploy at expo conferences, and Sony didn't disappoint at E3, when after an hour of game demos and new PSP announcements it broke out its new motion controller.

At first it brought a few guffaws, looking like certain models of lady pleasuring device. But Dr Richard Marks and his side-kick were at pains to explain that this was just an engineering prototype and that the look would definitely change.

Still, standing against Microsoft's recently revealed Project Natal (pron: "Naaaaytal" by us), it had a lot to compete with.

One thing that Sony's device has over Microsoft's, however, is a release date of 2010. Microsoft's is still wide open.

But the guffaws were soon silenced when the boffins began to show us their tech demo. The device which features a coloured illuminated ball on top of a WiiMote-like handle couples with PlayStation Eye to combine motion sensing with optical location detection. The result appears to be a motion controller without the delay that plagues the Wii controller and makes it so frustrating - particularly in gun games. Game modes can be changed using buttons on the controller which also change the colour of the ball.

We were shown the controller being used for writing, which was pixel perfect, for swordplay - again with amazing accuracy. Then the controller was used to reach into the scene and manipulate construction blocks. Finally, a pair of the controllers were used for both hands using a bow and arrow. Reaching over the shoulder enabled an arrow to be retrieved from the quiver, bringing it back to the front knocked the arrow, and then the amount the hand was pulled back controlled the draw - and the power of the shot. Again, pinpoint accuracy appeared to be the order of the day.

Wii deserves credit for popularising motion control. And Sony may have left its real entry into the arena too late - but it looks as if it has conquered the problems that have made motion control better suited to casual games up to the present. It even went as far as to say that it had created the motion controller for "real games".

Barring delays, PlayStation Motion Controller will hit stores in Spring 2010, we're told.


El Hel 2 Jun 2009 20:30
1 Nil to Natal me thinks
Aoe4 2 Jun 2009 21:38
The stick was much better watched it live and had reservations but god that is so cool with ps3 graphics and power its a suped up wii and i love my ps3 all the more- Best purchase ever!
more comments below our sponsor's message
deleted 3 Jun 2009 08:22
I dont know which will be better here, Look at Natal, Motion Detection of the human body in 3D Space with Facial Recognition and Voice Recognition, it ` could be very very cool if it works perfectly, but it will need to work perfectly,

Now sonys no name, Its basically an upgraded Wiimote but very very pixel perfect, which will also give a tangible feedback, ie you need buttons, triggers for guns and an ability to move with the world, something natal will have to overcome,

How would a FPS work with natal? would you just walk on spot, what about walking backwarsd or strafing? how would it recognise a trigger pull, jump and crouch, what about weapon changes, i simply cannot see natal doing something this complex, and thus its gonna stick to party style games unelss they overcome this,

although i loved the "its nt just a preset waggle command" take that nintendo, im sure your crying into you huge piles of cash, along with another completely bolllocks nintendo E3,
Rutabaga 3 Jun 2009 10:52
Does any one think that natal will work as well as the "staged" pieces in real world conditions? Varying lighting, people wandering around, amount of room available etc. How accurate can it be? The bloke on stage had his avatars limbs shaking about all over the place when he wasn't.

Also the one were the woman was moving the water on screen, there is no way this was real because her hands were so near the tv and low down that the camera couldn't possible see what she was doing.
deleted 3 Jun 2009 11:14
Rutabaga wrote:
Also the one were the woman was moving the water on screen, there is no way this was real because her hands were so near the tv and low down that the camera couldn't possible see what she was doing.

I noticed her hands were so close to the screen that the Natal (sat above the screen) line of vision couldnt possibly see what her hands were doing unless of course it has a sensor of some sorts on the bottom and top of the device to allow a kind of touch screen interactivty, the fact it was all pre recorded and not live simply shows there is no way that freakish game was that good, even tho Peter (likes to bullshit) Mols, said there was no acting (erhem whatever) the whole thing was scripted perfectly, when Milo jumps off the rocks the woman acts concerned!! if that game was real with no acting, id be wanting milo to fall split his head then roll off the cliff, also anyone not feel the concern of actually have a young boy on screen interactive to your emotions, tone of voice and able to recognise pictures you show him!!!!

next we will see virtual court rooms " now milo please show us using this natal scaned teddy bear where he touched you!!"

i want natal to be as good as it looks but my concerns outweigh what i think is possible, Sonys device is better although just upgraded Wii-mote which is what motion + is, do we really need motion seriously?

i like the fact i browse movies with my hands and play using voice, although i can see myself winding my mrs up with that one, play, stop, play, stop, play, stop etc.....
Rutabaga 3 Jun 2009 11:29
I think the best example of the accuracy between two devices was, the sony one had the chap writing a highly detailed signature on screen. The microsoft one had a chap chucking random splodges of paint at a virtual wall creating something you would of been embarrassed to show using Deluxe Paint on the Amiga.

Don't get me wrong I think Natal has potential, especially in menu and interface control. Whether it will have the subtle finesse needed in gaming I'm unsure.
miacid 3 Jun 2009 11:31
The whole motion sensing thing reminds me of Formula 1 and the Brawn team., let me try to explain.

At the start of the F1 session Brawn GP (a new team) came out with a new car which no-one had seen and started to dominate, this dominance most people attributed to the rear diffuser, as they had found a loop hole in the regulations that meant their car (and 2 other teams) had an advantage over the others.

This loop hole was confirmed by Formula 1's governing body so everyone could have the same diffuser (if they wanted).

Watching an interview with Ross Brawn (owner of Brawn GP) he was saying that he thinks a lot of teams will be surprised when they add this diffuser and it doesn't make the changes they're expecting.

Sure enough, other teams started to use the new diffuser and yet Brawn GP continue to dominate.

The point I'm trying to make is that just by coping or even improving the motion sensing controls, isn't a guarantee for success, it's the whole package that needs to be considered.

In short:
Nintendo = Brawn GP
Motion sensing controls = Rear diffuser
norkidge 3 Jun 2009 12:04
@El_Hel Natal was so completely scripted its left a bad taste in my mount. It wasn't posture/facial recognition that amazed me - we've seen facial feature tracking in PS3 tech demos years ago - where a face was realtime mapped onto an actor (just like they did in the Running Man movie). Recognising expression is just a matter of tracking specific nodes - brows, eyes, mouth.

The sour taste comes from the voice recognition and apparent AI response. How comes we haven't seen anything of this degree of sophistication outside of a 360 hype demo? Because it doesn't exist, and the character's response was queued up to specific questions/statements. If the girl had asked "why are you wearing blue socks" I reckon the character would have been unable to respond meaningfully. And if you'd changed the "player" to a Scotsman speaking at normal conversational pace, again, it would have barfed.

That Molyneux proclaimed it's all-doing amazingness just puts the nail in the coffin. When we people learn that he has form on the effervescent blue skying vs. keeping his head in the realm of possibility (at least, inside a reasonable development cycle).

I cry super double foul alpha on Natal.
Steviepunk 3 Jun 2009 12:29
So, what you are saying is that is someone tries to add a budget cap to console development then Sony and Microsoft will both threaten to pull out of console development?

Joji 3 Jun 2009 14:03
I think Natal stole the show. No one was expecting that, but most of us were expecting Wii style responses from both Sony and MS.

I guess its up to devs to find good ways to impliment this tech into their games. Good luck with that.
deleted 4 Jun 2009 05:15
Also notice the part where the kids scans his skateboard in, how come the natal doesnt pick up his fingers in the scan or the trucks and wheels????

god i hate PR Hype, we need some hands on reports,

hear that SpONG bother MS till they give in and let you exclusily preview the damn thing!!!! and while you there, ask milo his sexual preference and video the emotional reaction!
Rutabaga 4 Jun 2009 10:43
haritori wrote:
Also notice the part where the kids scans his skateboard in, how come the natal doesnt pick up his fingers in the scan or the trucks and wheels????

Because Natal knew what the underlying pattern should be under his hands and the wheels, because Natal has every possible texture combination known to man stored in its "mind".

I may be wrong but I keep thinking of the Simpsons episode where Nelson Muntz writes a memo on his Newton. "Beat up Martin," on the screen, the handwriting recognition turns it into, "Eat up Martha."
mikehell 8 Jun 2009 16:52
It appears as though project natal will rely on voice commands for button presses where needed, and well not every kind of game will suit, same goes to everything that uses motion technology.
I feel as though sony is the only one that has gotten the totoal gameplay right = normal controller triggers + motion sensing. want an example of where this smooth integration happens take a look at "Resistance" when an alien grabs you - you have to throw the controller to knock him off. It is very minor use of the 6 axis but adds a fun exciting element to the gameplay & now they are increasing the experiance with this wand & eyetoy tech.

Also Don't belive anything expesially the hype, I will belive it when i own it myself

- mikehell - - - ( MikeHell z Lair - Da Tech Den ) -
Kamran 5 Jan 2010 14:02
sony wand will win the war........
Mathayes 5 Jan 2010 18:31
sony wand..... i dnt knw how many have seen the movie "GAMER"..... u culd say the person playing the game is using a more advanced version of sony wand....lolz
Posting of new comments is now locked for this page.