Augmented reality is changing the way you play games – find out more in the second part of eu.playstation.com's feature...
Even though the user's experience is vital to games which use augmented reality, the technology still plays a hugely important role, especially with the arrival of PlayStation Move on PlayStation 3 adding motion control elements to games. The Shoot, Start the Party! and other titles are ready to thrust you into the limelight when combined with the PlayStation Eye camera, while a great selection of hit PS3 games are getting a PS Move makeover.
EyePet Move Edition is one of the first titles to take advantage of PS Move enhancement, letting you shower, feed and play with the pet using the motion controller as a tool that magically changes into a variety of different items before your eyes. You can also draw pictures that come to life and turn into toys using the precision of PS Move. It's something which perfectly complements the tactile nature of the game and makes an already user-friendly title even more approachable.
"It's all a good way to introduce new gamers as we can do experiences that weren't possible before," says EyePet senior producer Nicolas Doucet. "Augmented reality can be done very well in the digital way, but it still can't replace that physical interaction, so that means we're drawing in new crowds with something different."
"With augmented reality and the PS Move motion controller we can put a big hammer or paintbrush in your hands and you'll instantly just know what to do," says Start the Party! executive producer Pete Smith. "It adds to those levels of realism and fun, making it very approachable and intuitive. And that's a good thing for mass market gaming."
Even without motion control, augmented reality is a very effective way of getting more people to play, as well as being a way of encouraging the imagination. "I think that it can maybe make you look at the world a bit differently, which I think is a great thing," says Smith, who also worked on augmented reality PSP title Invizimals. "I think something like Invizimals can be so magical through the whole element of make-believe and inspiring kids to make up stories and tell their parents about how these creatures were found and how they live. Kids are really getting immersed in this whole new world and the creatures in them and I think that's absolutely fabulous."
It's this sense of wonder and surprise that augmented reality games excel in, rewarding the player and the developer, as Doucet retells. "When we first incorporated motion detection in EyePet and rolled a ball across the floor, the pet jumped over it. We knew how it worked but the first time it actually happened it was beautiful.
"And there was a lady who came to visit with her son; she put her hand on a desk and the pet came to sniff her hand because he detected it on the screen - she really freaked out," laughs Doucet. "She could feel the desk, it was real and tactile so that played a big part of it, and that's when you know augmented reality is truly working."
"The core values of PlayStation"
So where will the future of augmented gaming take you? Motion control and stereoscopic 3D are already making moves to immerse you like never before, something games like EyePet Move Edition are already taking advantage of. However, this doesn't mean games which don't use augmented reality will become a thing of the past.
"I don't see traditional games disappearing completely," says Doucet. "There's space and a need for traditional shooting, racing games and other genres, you need titles like that. What I think we're doing with augmented reality is more complementary, something different and can be mass-market and accessible - a different form of entertainment."
"I do think augmented reality is important, but I also think that it has its place," agrees Smith. "I think you need concepts which are created from the start to be augmented reality games. Invizimals couldn't be done without it - it would be a totally different and lesser experience. Augmented reality needs to be included for the right reasons."
Both developers have plans to take the next steps into augmented reality with PlayStation, but only offer wry grins and coy laughs when asked about their plans. "If we want to influence the future we have to prove that the medium has legs," smiles Doucet. "And I think we've started proving that but we need to continue it, and then it may become one of the core values of PlayStation. It's up to us to write that future... but that's all I can say! I wish I could tell you more! I have to say I'm excited. There are a lot of rewards if you're willing to take the risks."
Of course, the best way to experience and take in augmented reality is to try it for yourself. So why not give a few games a blast now and experience the future of videogames? See the world through new eyes with Invizimals on PSP, adopt a truly unique pet into your home thanks to EyePet, and prepare for the motion control revolution of PlayStation Move through forthcoming titles such as Start the Party! and The Shoot.
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