Farpoint, one of the most anticipated titles for PlayStation VR, hits stores tomorrow along with the new VR device it was designed alongside, the PSVR Aim Controller. Sony has published details of the design decisions that drove development of one of the oddest looking gaming peripherals ever built.
In the realm of VR gaming, triple-A games for any of of the available platforms are not exactly plentiful. The niche sizing of the fledgling market presents a huge risk for companies looking to back titles which require the high level of funding to meet today’s gamer’s expectations of what a flagship title should look like, especially one that requires the consumer to shell out for a VR headset to play. It’s remarkable then that a title which requires the purchase of yet another peripheral in order to play it ‘as designed’ would exist at all. And yet, that’s precisely what we have in Farpoint and the new PSVR Aim Controller, both of which launch tomorrow, May 16th.
Impulse Gear, developers of new PSVR exclusive first person shooter Farpoint, state that they wanted a way to “physically connect the player to the game”, and when – by happy chance – the team’s development cycle coincided with the gestation of a new gun-like motion controller being built by Sony, they jumped at the chance to use it. “… once you have the controller in your hands you know instinctively where the buttons and triggers are,” says Impulse Gear Co-founder Seth Luisi, writing in a new Sony blog post, “The 1:1 tracking also makes for a more skill-based game because the precision removes any need for aim assist.”
Indeed, when the PS VR Aim Controller was first shown off, impression were extremely favourable, including our own hands-on from Ben Lang last year. But there’s no getting around the fact that the Aim Controller looks just plain odd. Of course, as with most modern consumer electronics, a device’s form factor is not one which is executed lightly. So why does the PS VR Aim Controller look the way it does?
“I tried to make the design of the Aim Controller as simple as possible,” says Taichi Nokuo, Product Designer behind the device, “It was important that the player can use it safely and comfortably with the PS VR headset on, and that the controller can be used as any type or form of weapon inside the game.” Visually of course, the Aim Controller doesn’t look much like a gun at all, something the device has faced some light criticism for, but of course there’s reasoning behind this. “I made the intentional decision for the controller to not resemble an actual weapon, so that anybody, from children to adults, feel comfortable playing with it,” says Nokua.
The Aim Controller includes the full set of buttons, triggers, analogue sticks and d-pad found on a standard PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller, but placement of them all needed careful consideration. “The buttons are not scattered around the controller,” says Nokua, “but are simply and strategically placed where players naturally place their hands. The design is minimalistic but also original, which makes it unique.”
The Aim Controller utilises PSVR’s motion tracking system, featuring the now familiarly bulbous, glowing (phnurp!) PS Move-style sphere at the front. This enables reasonably precise 6 DoF (degrees of freedom) positional tracking and gives the illusion of 1:1 control to the player.
Just how well judged this design effort has been will soon become apparent too as both the PSVR Aim Controller and its flagship launch title Farpoint are available from tomorrow either as a bundle or game and controller sold separately.
We’ll of course have coverage of both Farpoint and the PSVR Aim Controller soon, so stay tuned to the site.