Sony R&D headman on using PS Vita as a PS3 controller
Phil Rogers, Sony Europe R&D Manager, has been explaining the various ways PS Vita could connect with the PS3.
Nintendo caused a flurry of excitement, and confusion, when they unveiled the Wii U, their ambitious successor to the Wii, at E3 this year. Nintendo’s decision to focus on the controller caused most of the confusion. It’s a tablet device with traditional game controls built around it essentially. People didn’t know if they were seeing a new console or simply a new controller. It turned out there was a new console in the background, but Nintendo preferred to focus on the new experiences their new controller offered.
Many couldn’t decide if Nintendo were mad or if they were on the verge of reinventing the industry, again. The touch-screen opens so many new ways to experience your games, including: managing your inventory, looking at maps and communicating with your friends – even the ability to turn off the TV to continue your gaming on the controller. These are just a few of the ways in which the Wii U could make gaming easier and more intuitive.
It wasn’t long, however, before the more PlayStation minded people thought about how Sony could use Vita to link up with their PS3 to do all the things Nintendo are promising. We couldn’t see any reason why you couldn’t micro-manage your inventory while playing Battlefield 3, for example. But what do we know though? We only have a surface level of understanding for the software and hardware involved.
Rogers, however, is someone who should know and he is reported by Eurogamer to have talked about some of the possibilities at the Develop Conference 2011.
One idea is to utilise the unique features of Sony’s handheld. “PS3 can send data down to Vita and Vita can display it. You could use the unique features [of Vita] – gyroscope, touch front and back – as a control device for a PS3 game”, said Rogers. He also spoke of the ability to sync “game states”:
“You can run software on both devices and use the network to sync the game states. And that’s pretty good, because you then have the processing power of PS3 doing that work, Vita [doing] fancy graphics – however you want to do it. You’re not sacrificing the PS3’s CPU to be able to have a rich experience on Vita.”
“At launch we’re going to have some PSN features that work across both platforms… You could access data on each side and access scoreboards, for example. We’re building on that.”
“Obviously we had to bring certain things on and make sure that servers work against all the features and it doesn’t break the PS3 experience, because there’s a lot of PS3 users.”
There will be full games that can work on both PS3 and Vita. The medieval hack ‘n’ slash RPG Ruin is one game that has already been shown in action doing this. You can play Ruin on the train home from work/school and then save when you get home. Your save file will be sent to the PSN cloud making it immediately available to be used on your PS3.
“We have a system called Title User Storage, which allows 1MB of data on our servers for games, and that can be accessed on both platforms; you can access that same data.”
“You can save your game on PS3, go over to Vita, pull that data back and swap it between them, so you can play a game at home, take it on the train and continue.”
“You can save your game on PS3, go over to Vita, pull that data back and take it on the train and continue.”
Rogers wasn’t about to reveal any other titles that will support this feature but he did give this teaser: “But there’s probably a few that we’ve seen via the support site that we can’t talk about…” He did however say that Sony is encouraging third-party developers to fully explore the various features on offer.
“There’s a push from our third-party team for encouraging licensees to be having those features [cross-platform, continuation play] in game… The feature is there… We’ve told developers that you can use Title User Storage to push the game data across.”
“The important thing to note, and people always forget this, is that the Network exists; you don’t need fancy cables, you don’t need to have that there… You’re connected over an access point; send IP to each other – it just works.”
“We did support USB, but [there’s] not really much more point for that – wireless is fairly decent.”
There are also lesser talked about benefits from the link-up. Most people forget that you can access your PS3 from your PSP (and select phones) with Remote Play. Finding a Wi-Fi connection is not always easy when you are out and about so it isn’t always ideal. However, we are hopeful that the feature will become much more useful if you have a 3G PS Vita model.
“For launch we’ll also have Remote Play, which does look good on Vita – I saw an early version of it running recently.”
In theory you could have a HDD full of great films which you could stream to PS Vita when you are out and about. You can enjoy the latest Harry Potter, say, on that lovely big OLED screen. Let’s hope the 3G offers are attractive.