Sony appears to be gearing up for a controller upgrade for the PS3 that is aimed at first person shooter video games â€“ though its described capabilities go far beyond that limited focus. According to a recent Sony patent, the traditional looking controller will undergo a transformation with the use of new sensors that will allow the controller to act as a gun itself. The odd looking method will supposedly provide the user with a superior and more natural method for aiming in a first person shooter game. Furthermore, this scheme is capable of providing true analog aiming; meaning that the more steep the angle on the controller, the quicker the game reacts in given situations. Additionally, the player will be able to make a single quick up-and-down motion of the controller to have his or her character reload a weapon. Sony describes the upgraded controller as having the ability to be tracked in six degrees of freedom. In addition to covering this first person shooter controller upgrade, this report also takes a peek at an upcoming PSP gun accessory which could theoretically be redesigned to work with Apple’s iPod touch and/or iPhone.
First Person Shooter Games: New Sony Controller Abilities
In a first person shooter game, the 3D motions and movements of the controller may be used to make the player character dodge certain obstacles. For example, the look and movement may be mapped to the two joysticks, but for those real “panic-inducing” moments (like an enemy grenade landing nearby) the player will have the ability to dive/dodge for cover like in real life. The controller’s motion often works great for this, especially when something needs to be done immediately and the player is panicking. Players may even do it instinctively. Some people move their bodies and their controllers when they want to move something on-screen. By jerking the controller in a direction, the player dives in that direction, for example. Also, in some embodiments rolling the character forward may be done by tilting the controller forward. With two analog sticks and a motion-sensitive controller, the movement of a shooter may feel more realistic and diving and shooting may be more fun for the player. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the controller’s motion may be for looking and the second joystick for dodging/diving.
Combat Movements, Reloading/Switching Weapons
In one first person shooter gaming example, a player could make a single quick up-and-down motion of the controller to have his or her character reload a weapon. That is, navigation systems such as weapon reloading could be mapped to a controller movement. And the same with changing weapons; for example, in some embodiments the player may quickly raise the nose of the controller to reload, and quickly drop the nose to switch weapons.
In a combat driving game, a certain motion may indicate deploying a weapon. For example, an up-and-over the shoulder motion may be configured to tell the game to toss a grenade at an opponent. A circular motion or a side-front-side arc may be configured for shield activation.
3D Aiming Scheme
According to Sony’s patent, “the tracking of the three-dimensional motions of the controller may be used to implement an aiming scheme or function. For example, in some embodiments the one or more images displayed on the display screen may comprise an indication that a displayed item is being aimed at. Such indication may be implemented in many different ways. For example, a weapon reticule (1618) may be displayed on the display screen. In some embodiments, the weapon reticule is fixed and the one or more displayed images that are responsive to the controller tracking may comprise images of a scene that move in response to motions of the controller. This allows the user to aim by moving the controller to find the desired target in the scene on which to place the weapon reticule. In some embodiments, the weapon reticule itself is responsive to the controller tracking and moves, similar to the crosshairs. This allows the user to aim by moving the controller to move the weapon reticule to place it on the desired target in the scene.
In some embodiments, the controller may comprise a conventionally shaped controller having two handles that is designed for two-handed operation. But in such embodiments, however, the controller is used in an unconventional manner whereby only one of the handles is held onto by the user. As stated, the other handle is extended away from the user and is not held onto. Thus, a conventionally shaped controller having two handles is held like a gun and is used for aiming. This avoids the user having to purchase or otherwise obtain a special gun-shaped or weapon-shaped controller for games and/or simulations where aiming is involved.
Thus, with this scheme aiming may be performed with the wrist (1619), which is a proven natural movement for centuries. By moving his or her wrist to move the controller, the user can aim up (1620), down (1622), left (1624), right (1626), and any direction in between. The user can also use his or her wrist action to roll the controller from side to side, as indicated by arrow (1628), such as to perform a strafe action.
It is believed that aiming with one hand in this manner is more natural and quicker than having to rotate the controller with a more conventional two handed grip. It is also believed that aiming with one hand in this manner is more natural than aiming with a computer mouse or with a stick, such as a joy stick. Furthermore, this scheme is capable of providing true analog aiming; meaning that the more steep the angle on the controller, the quicker the game reacts.
Referring to Sony’s patent FIG. 16B, in some embodiments the user’s other hand (1634) may be used for interacting with other control inputs on the controller. In such embodiments, control information is received by the system in response to the user interacting with one or more control inputs on the controller with his or her other hand. An action may be performed in response to the received control information, such as moving an in-game character. By way of example, the user’s other hand may be used to move and/or slide one of the controller’s sticks (1636) (or any other controller stick or input) forward or backward (1638) to move the game character.
Thus, the above-described techniques may be used to implement analog aiming with a motion sensing controller. A wide variety of controllers and techniques for providing motion sensing may be used. The technique works with any size of display screen and room. Furthermore, no wires are needed between a left hand and a right hand controller. Furthermore, no calibration or accessories are required.
Video game beginners tend to (unintentionally and instinctively) move the controller a lot, almost as if it would help them in the game. In some embodiments of the present invention such movement will help. For example, in some embodiments of a driving game the 3D motions and movements of the controller may be used for steering or controlling the vehicle. For example, if the user is supposed to steer right and the game notices the controller moving or tilting right, the game may add in a bit of steering to help the player. In some embodiments the game may also show a message onscreen reminding the user to steer with the joystick instead of moving his or her hands.
Thus, in some embodiments of a driving game the 3D motions and movements of the controller may be used for controlling the steering wheel or the controller may actually be used as a steering wheel. This may be used in many different embodiments, such as for example where the vehicle comprises a boat, a go-cart, or any other vehicle in a driving or racing game. Using the controller to steer leaves the analog sticks free for looking, or aiming a gun. Plus, the depth/pressure sensitive L2 and R2 triggers are good for accelerating/braking.
Sony’s attempt to make their controller more first person shooter friendly is long overdue, even though it’s not the sexiest accessory to play these games with. It’s economical and won’t force users to have to buy an accessory if you can’t afford one. Although Sony still gets two thumbs up for this first round effort, I’m hoping that Sony’s final product will add a little more styling. We could always hope can’t we?
Could a New Gun Accessory for the PSP be redesigned for Apple’s iPod Touch?
The next patent of interest is from designer and President/CEO of Mad Catz, Darren Richardson. The patent is titled “Detachable controller for handheld electronic device.” The patent covers a new controller that could be configured to operate similarly to a gun having a trigger and having a gun-type handle. A mounting connector is formed on the top surface of the gun controller to mount the hand-held electronic device such as a portable electronic game such as a PSP brand or PLAYSTATION PORTABLE brand hand-held electronic game. A releasable collar is provided to secure the game to the controller. The controller includes a three-dimensional motion sensor to detect motion of the controller and generate corresponding signal commands to the game. The controller also provides a number of ergonomically placed buttons allowing further user input corresponding to one or more of the buttons available on the game housing.
What’s interesting about this device is that with a little work, it could work with Apple’s iPod touch or iPhone being that Mad Catz also makes iPod accessories as well as those for the PSP. Keep an eye out for that possible move in the future. Their GameShark Media Manager even has an iTunes like metal look. If you’d like to see this type of device for gaming come to Apple’s iPod Touch, then provide Mad Catz with your feedback. It’s always worth a shot.
Written and Researched by Neo.
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