I’ve watched the E3 presentations of MSoft, Sony, and Nintendo (thanks to G4TV). All three presented their latest motion-based control schemes. Nintendo recommitted to Wii Motion Plus. MSoft wowed with their Project Natal. And Sony brought out a couple of guys to demo their stick+EyeToy tech. Which is real? Which will win?
I have inside information.
Old info, yes. But still inside.
I saw Sony’s tech, in a…more primitive form, back in 2001 when I attended the first PS2 Dev Con. I was working for Acclaim on the All Star Baseball project, and they sent all their coders to the Dev Con in California. We all got cool shoulder bags (I still have mine).
During the con, there were tech demos, tutorials, and presentations. The second most memorable was a demo of the camera technology (later called EyeToy ), with special attention to how the PS2’s SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) opcodes could be used for incredibly fast 2D signal processing. The guy giving the demo (I honestly don’t recall if he was the same guy doing the E3 2009 demo or not) showed real-time video effects like greyscale, sepia tone, posterization, all the fancy/cheesy video filters we’re used to.
Then he brought out the toys. He held up a green ball and used it to mirror a virtual ball on the screen. THEN he brought out a couple of sticks with primary colors on each end, and demoed a virtual sword, morningstar, and lightsaber. The dev crowd went wild. He got a couple of standing ovations; the best reaction any presenter had gotten. We were all certain that Sony would be providing a lightsaber game within a few years, and a high-quality, low-latency one at that.
This was 2001. What the hell happened, Sony? Why did you drop this ball and let Nintendo pick it up? Even back then, the tech I saw was more precise then the Wiimote.
Now that you know what I know, how do you feel about Sony’s demo? Of all three companies, I’m most sure that Sony has a controller that REALLY works as advertised, simply because these guys have apparently been working on it for 8 years. Will Sony bring it to market and make great games? Well, did they do so 5 years ago?
Nintendo’s waggle stick kinda works, and is in consumer hands now. Their device also has tremendous mind-share. If Sony brought one out tomorrow, I doubt any amount of marketing money could make a dent in it. "Sony has a stick, too? Oh, I didn’t know that."
MSoft has a very old business model, called Embrace and Extend, which Natal is a logical part of. Unless Natal’s technology starts stinky and stays completely stinky, MSoft will continue to improve it, and will never give up on it no matter how much money they lose. MSoft’s giant pile of money allows them to stay in a game until they get their act together and win, even if that takes 10 years and 10 versions.
Now that I think of it, I wonder what Sony was thinking even demoing their tech. As good as it is, it’s just an embarassment. Sony apparently doesn’t care that they had the best tech first, and let their competitors win anyway.