Sony EyeToy.. sounds like it could be fun

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by paul h, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. paul h

    paul h Supporting Actor

    Mar 14, 1999
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    Nice to see something different and most of all fun coming along, sure this will do great in japan..

    from computerandvideogames:

    "It's brilliant, made in the UK and out today: find out why Sony's stunning peripheral represents the future of inclusive gaming inside!

    19:21 For weeks now we've been making fools out of ourselves in the office at every possible opportunity. In a non-editorial sense, of course. Mysterious office workers, who normally twitch nervously in the shadows, terrified of the usual raft of videogames that come our way have been compelled to crawl out from the darkness, throw caution to the wind and disgrace themselves with hilarity in front of a TV set.
    Why? EyeToy. A potential phenomenon that, in our experience, has reached closer to the ideal of the "game for all" than even Konami's Bemani series. Simply put: everyone seems to love EyeToy.

    What is it? Basically a webcam, designed like a mini-PS2, EyeToy sits atop your TV set glaring wantonly at you, allowing you to not just see yourself in a variety of attractive catlogue poses, but will also track your movements for a wide array of side-splitting mini-games that will leave you grinning from ear to ear and beer to beer.

    The first software on offer is very simple - quite basic in fact - but above all else, and most importantly, it's seriously fun and will likely be a game you come back to time and time again.

    We think EyeToy rocks in a very special way and are proud to be fully fledged groupies, ready to fling our soiled panties in the direction of Mr. Sony right now. The fact it's ten past seven on a Friday night and we're still in the office writing about it should tell you something.

    The peripheral and first batch of games has released in Europe today, amazingly for the price of a standard PS2 game. With the oft-delayed, critically lambasted Tomb Raider also shambling onto shelves simultaneously, there's a real fight on for the number one spot in the PS2 charts next week, so which one will you choose?

    But to get the full scoop on the origins of EyeToy and more, we spoke with communications manager Jason Fitzgerald and producer Ron Festajo at SCEE, who spoke at length about their labour of love.

    And once you've read that, hit the link at the bottom of the page to check out footage of us making complete imbeciles of ourselves in the name of wholesome, pre-watershed entertainment. Dignity is for losers.

    How did you become aware of the technology?

    Festajo: It was first demoed at ECTS three years ago, I think.

    Fitzgerald: There was a demo set up where you waved your arms and there was a rolling landscape in front of you on the TV, and the more you flapped your arms the higher you went and the less the lower you went, while zooming along. It was a nice idea, showing how something could react to your movements, but it wasn't a game.

    There was also another demo involving coloured balls, there the technology was actually tracking the colour of the balls, rather than just tracking movement. Which is something that when we get the technology right we can come back and investigate later.

    But for the first game we wanted to concentrate on making it about movement. It's easier for the technology, but it also lends itself to making an easier-to-play game.

    The games are just 2D at the moment, but will you be able to bring depth into play in the future?

    Festajo: Yes, for the long-term depth is something that we'll look into. It just adds more gameplay mechanics. But up till now it's been about making sure it's as stable and robust as it can be and ensure as broad an audience as possible gets to have a go on it.

    I think that with the earlier models a lot of calibration was needed. If you think about webcams on PC, the technology has been for a while, but in order to get it up and running you need this driver, install that and so on. The technology we have is very simple plug in and play and the games are very simple to understand as well. And there's hardly any calibration.

    That's true - no-one we've seen play it has needed a manual or anything like that...

    Festajo: At the very beginning we have an introductory movie which explains things to people who haven't seen EyeToy before and that's all you need. The beauty of it is that it's so easy to understand - you plug it in and you're away.

    To anyone who has reservations, what we found from showing it at the PlayStation Experience and E3 was that there were some people who were watching what was going on and laughing at it, but were quite reserved and didn't want a go. But then when they see someone playing, that all changes and they jump on and have a go.

    Fitzgerald: One of the nicest things is having a game that's so easy to demo! We don't have to say anything.

    Festajo: One of the best things for me was at the PlayStation Experience when kids and parents were playing Wishi Washi together, whereas at all the other pods it was just the kids who were into the game while the parents chatted to each other. EyeToy brings the whole family together.

    It's a party game at heart - do you feel yu owe a lot to Konami's Dancing Stage series and others for making party games so popular?

    Festajo: Yeah, definitely - and that's something we looked at. We looked at all those types of games that are played whenever there's a bunch of mates around. In fact we often refer to this as a board game. If you look at Trivial Pursuit, at Christmas if you had your whole family around and say let's play Trivial Pursuit, everyone would be up for us.

    But if you said: "Let's play some PlayStation!" the adults would say: "No, you go away and do that," and carry on talking. But with EyeToy, because it's so easy to play and such a great party game, everyone wants to get involved. It's like charades or Trivial Pursuit.

    What about the US and Japan - are they working on EyeToy projects?

    Festajo: I'm aware they're working on something. It's been around for a while, but we were the first to say: "This is going to be big!" and we've always maintained that. For the other territories, I think that now it's generating a lot of press and a lot of people are getting into it a new form of gaming, they're looking at it more closely. We've put the time and effort into ensuring the software and the hardware is developed properly. Europe has done that.

    Exactly. It must be great to be leading the way...

    Festajo: Yeah, I've been in games quite a long time and I've never known of anything to come out of Europe first. Everything has been developed here and it's getting released here first.

    For something like this, you'd almost expect it to come out of Japan first...

    Festajo: Exactly. Every day we were working on it we were thinking that. It's good for Europe that we're leading the way.

    The package is very simple, very straightforward, very inclusive - did you just want to get the peripheral out there as soon as possible?

    Festajo: Yes, we didn't want to alienate non-gamers so something like this is perfect for them. Game-heads will also really like this because of the technology side of things and what the camera will be able to do in the future. It's a good combination of the two.

    How did you go about choosing the games you did?

    Festajo: We looked at movement. With Wishi Washi, that was originally a game where you climbed mountains. We were asking how would that work, and when it wasn't quite right we thought, what else can we do? Someone started doing this [makes waving gestures with hands and arms] and we said, why not have something being wiped away? Two weeks later we prototyped a window washing simulation.

    Imagine the looks on people's faces we were explaining this to. "So what are you going to do with EyeToy, then?" "We're gonna make the world's first window washing simulator!" [laughs]

    So when Chris Deering [the President of Sony Europe] came down and said: "How are we gonna beat the world, lads?" you answered: "Window washing!"?

    Festajo: [laughs] Yeah! It's fun, but not only is it fun, a lot of body movement is required. Parents have picked up on that because their children are no longer just sitting down.

    Festajo: We've done research which shows parents see PlayStation as a kind of babysitter and they feel guilty about this because they don't understand the games they're playing. But they can understand this and, as we discovered at PlayStation Experience, parents will play it. It just reassures us that we're on the right track - there's something really special about it.

    Will EyeToy become a major part of SCEE's business or are we looking at the Power Glove of the twenty-first century?

    Festajo: It's a webcam first and foremost, so you look at all the things you can do with this online and so forth. It's very versatile in that sense, so it's not in any danger of fading out like the Power Glove. It's not as if we're releasing a maraca you can only use with one game.

    Fitzgerald: I think it could also replace a lot of other peripherals, creating a variety of experiences.

    And whereas as something like Sama Di Amigo cost over 100, you've got this down to the price of a PS2 game? How hard was that?

    Festajo: Very. The plan was always to get the price down. We're not going to make any money out of it so just get the price down. We've also get a very good camera in there. At this price, people will see that we're not conning them. It's a good camera, we want to get it out there, and it will be a big part of what we do in the future.

    Fitzgerald: I didn't believe we were going to hit the price place. I never thought the company would be willing to not make money on it.

    You must be taking a huge hit on each one...

    Festajo: We can't really say.

    Yes, then

    Fitzgerald: [laughs] We can't say. It's like with the PS2 itself; you've got to make the effort to get the installed user base.

    What's the next stage for EyeToy?

    Festajo: It's not always going to be motion-based: we are researching other technologies to make it stronger and make gameplay mechanics a little bit better.

    Are you working on this software now?

    Festajo: Yes, we're working on software now."
  2. Calvin Watts III

    Calvin Watts III Supporting Actor

    Mar 7, 2001
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    Looks interesting - I'll probably end up getting it.
  3. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

    Jun 20, 2003
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    Great article. The details coming out of E3 were sparse, but I thought the technology and how it will be incorporated into gaming had promise; with the right software and marketing, it could easily meet, if not exceed, its potential. I believe it will do extremely well in Japan, solely on the kitsch factor.

    What's great about the EyeToy is that it opens the door to new, innovative possibilities gaming-wise, things that could never be achieved with controllers or headsets. I think it can catch on like dance pads or fishing controllers, but on a larger scale, if Sony throws its weight behind it. I'm definitely looking forward to the N. American release.
  4. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    It lets you play Para Para Paradise hopefully without $150 peripherals [​IMG]
  5. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

    Oct 16, 2000
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    When something really cool comes out in the future, I'll look into it, but as of right now it's not doing anything that hasn't really been done with a netcam on a PC.

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