In the second part of our exclusive interview with the president of SCE Worldwide Studios (WWS), find out how PS Vita will open up new gameplay experiences on the move.
What are the key changes and opportunities that PS Vita provides in game design?
There are many opportunities that PS Vita offers, not least with regards to core game inputs and outputs, new and unique user interfaces and social connectivity. With the newly developed 5-inch OLED screen which has four times the screen resolution of PSP, the core hardware performance, support for PlayStation 3 generation graphics, and the dual analog sticks that give precise control, PS Vita will be by far the best portable platform for gamers.
In addition, with the combination of the touchscreen and rear touch pad; gyro sensors and accelerometers based on PlayStation Move; front and rear cameras and the core CPU performance, we can develop new types of casual games or applications that are not possible on home consoles. The new user interfaces will be able to enhance core gamers' gameplay experiences, making this more intuitive and immersive.
Social connectivity is an integral part of the PS Vita game experience, and each game will feature LiveArea, where your friends' activities will constantly show up and where you can chat with your friends, as well as find out new information related to that game, availability of new downloads, and location based information using the PS Vita system's in-built GPS feature. These functions will help consumers connect to other PS Vita gamers, as well as add another layer of fun by making consumers feel part of the game community.
How will the inclusion of dual analog sticks enhance gameplay?
Some could argue that dual analog sticks have been one of the biggest contributions by PlayStation to the games industry. Since we introduced them to the market on the original PlayStation, they have become a standard input method for home console hardcore games. Playing 3D games [not stereoscopic 3D] with two sets of independent, tight analog inputs is invaluable to controlling the game character and the game camera. The stick factor of the PS Vita analog stick is also very significant; when you try the PS Vita dual analog sticks yourself, you will immediately understand what the world has been missing in portable games. It feels fantastic.
What does the touchscreen mean for game development and how will it be used?
The ability to interact directly with game objects and the game world on-screen using the screen on the front of the PS Vita has been proven by smart phones and tablet devices. It is so intuitive that anyone can get involved. By combining the intuitive nature of the touchscreen with the tight control provided by the buttons and the analog sticks, PS Vita games will have the best of both worlds.
Additionally, the rear touch pad is a total wild card and was one of the biggest sources of discussion during the design phase of PS Vita. However, when one of our studios developed a prototype of a game they were working on, most of the PS Vita development team members, whether hardware engineers or game developers, fell in love with the potential of having the large rear touch pad immediately under the screen. The rear touch pad has the same width as the 5-inch OLED screen on the front, which means you can design a one-to-one input between where your fingers are on the rear touch pad and where the game objects are on the touchscreen. You can also use the rear touch pad as additional buttons, or for various other gesture-based inputs.
Can you tell us a little about the enhanced connectivity options and how these might be used?
In terms of the hardware itself, all PS Vita units will have Wireless connectivity, and some PS Vita units will have 3G connectivity too. The availability of 3G connectivity will vary depending on your country. 3G will be "always-on", allowing players to keep up to date with everything that's happening with their recently played games, as well as using LiveArea and location based applications such as Near.
How will features such as LiveArea and Near be incorporated into games?
The power of social connectivity within games is enormous. People are social by nature, and it is just more fun in many cases to play with your friends rather than play by yourself or with people you don't know. All WWS titles will make use of LiveArea, some specifics of which we'll be able to share with the public later this year. Some teams are also working on using the location based data to enhance the game experience. This is definitely a new frontier and a new challenge to game developers' creativity.
Keep an eye on eu.playstation.com and PlayStation.Blog at blog.eu.playstation.com for more information on PS Vita as it becomes available during 2011.