Sony's PS3 Motion Controller gets demoed and named at GDC

The Playstation Motion Controller now has an official name: Playstation Move. The name was announced during a press conference at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The conference went on for about 45 minutes and was primarily devoted to the Move, which consists of the Eye Toy (a camera pointed at the player) and a wand-like controller with a lighted ball at the end and a range of buttons on the shaft. Alternatively games can use two of the wands, or one wand and one "sub-controller" that has an analog stick (the camera is always required). If this is sounding very much like the Wii's Remote and Nunchuk well, you aren't far off (though at least there's no cable between the two parts to smack you in the face when things get heated).

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No firm price was offered but Sony says that you'll be able to get the camera, wand and a game in a bundle for under $100. Alternatively you can buy the system bundled with a PS3, or just buy the components individually. A bunch of games were shown, from the very predictable (table tennis, boxing) to a two-player version of Little Big Planet where one player controlled "Sackboy" and the other manipulated the environment via the Move, to a brief demo of Zipper Interactive's recently announced SOCOM 4 being controlled via the Move system; this last was in some ways the most impressive demo because it showed off the precision of the system as well as the fact that some Move experiences can be enjoyed while sitting comfortably on your couch. (Have you ever noticed that all three game console makers demo their motion control systems in fake living rooms with huge empty areas in front of the TV? I'd have to move furniture in order to play many of the games they show off.) One thing that Move can do that Nintendo'nt (anyone else remember that campaign?) is 'augmented reality.' The Eye puts you "in the game" and your image onscreen has the wand replaced with some virtual tool such as a paint brush or an electric fan (used to blow virtual baby birds into their virtual nests in one demo). All in all, the demos seemed OK, but I, at least, wasn't really blown away by any of them. That said, it's always hard to tell how well these systems work without actually trying them for yourself. You need to feel the connection (or lack thereof) between what your hands are doing and what's going on on-screen in order to be sure. For example, in the boxing demo the player did a quick spin move that led to a roundhouse punch. It's hard to say if his motion triggered a pre-set action (a 'combo') or if the system was able to track the controller that accurately, and was able to 'connect the dots' from when his body briefly occluded the wand to when it reappeared. The Playstation Move is due out this fall.

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