During a programming and game design session at GDC this week, David Coombes, platform research manager at SCEA showed off more on NGP’s features and software.
Coomes, who has worked at Sony since 1995 knows of what he speaks, as he previously helped launch PSP and PS3 and spends his time at the firm researching future technology.
In his presentation today, not only did he introduce the handheld, but he also chatted about NGP’s “broad range of input and connectivity options,” and and how these create new opportunities for designers.
After going over the hardware stats for NGP, Coomes talked about the differences between the single core PSP and the four symmetrical cores in NGP – three of which are used for applications and similar to PC.
He also compared PSP’s memory card to NGP’s, stating it has much more memory and was close in size to PS3, yet he said he could not go into specifics on it at the present. It also has more RAM than PSP, and while the battery life is important, it will not run as high or hard as PS3 in order to conserve the battery life.
To show off the programmable shaders in the hardware, Little Deviants was shown running on the handheld.
Creating games for NGP
Coomes said Sony plans to support a diverse library of titles for NGP, from “the biggest triple-A down to the minis.”
Since the handheld was designed with developers in mind, Sony is making it easy to import over existing PS3 and even Xbox 360 assets. Models, shaders, and textures have been simplified in order to tailor to the mobile experience, yet maintain architecture similar to PC and PS3.
4 core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore
5-inch OLED capacitive touchscreen
543 MHz SGX543MP4+
Six-axis motion sensing
Three-axis electronic compass
D-pad, Buttons, Dual Analog sticks
Front camera, rear camera
Buttons and touch screens allow for a wide range of options and allow use of the right interface for a wide range of options.
Tactile feedback in buttons is always important due to the responsiveness and preciseness games feel when using them, and since touch is intuitive, spatial and not so reactive, it was important to include buttons on NGP as well as the addition of the dual touch screens.
With buttons, a person does not have too necessarily look down at their fingers, where as with touch, they are forced to.
Coomes said during the touch portion of the talk, here, that NGP has different strength readers and can read by skin type be it course, light, or heavy.
The camera can record the player when paying a game and show the player what they did through a replay function, or the video can be shown and shared on YouTube.
NGP can even use the camera to take a picture of the player, and implement it into the game to keep track of the character’s health. Shown on screen was a fella’s general progression from normal, to a man with a black eye and band-aides on his face.
The camera can also collect texture, use feature detection, track invisible markers and use EyePet.
Augmented reality demo
Tsutomu Horikawa, director of the software solutions and development department at SOEI in Tokyo was on hand at the talk to give a demonstration of how augmented reality works with NGP.
First, he used a sock monkey, which was shown jumping around on a PS3 game box, which was also full of sock monkeys.
After this, Horikawa san showed a T-Rex render walking around on a PC screen, which was created using augmented reality. To show how this works with NGP, Horikawa got up from his chair, walked into the audience, and scanned a picture of the T-Rex lying in the aisle-way.
Then, after taking a photo of it, he showed the NGP screen to the crowd, and there was this massive T-Rex standing in the midst of all of us, baring his teeth and looking around. It was rather cool.
NGP’s camera can also detect and track heads and shoulders, which Sony said was a bit hard to accomplish because people have a tendency to move around, so continuously smooth tracking is a bit hard, and it makes it harder when there isn’t enough light in the room either.
Friends list and the announcement of Near
Announced earlier today, Near, the app for NGP that tracks where you go throughout the day, was also touched upon in the talk.
The app allows you to check out what games are being played the most in the area you are currently in, shows where you are in the world, and even what you did gaming-wise today and who is playing an NGP near you.
You can gift items, do a treasure hunt, and while this will not be available at NGP’s launch, it is coming.
Uncharted on NGP
You have all seen the demo for this by now, however, seeing it live and seeing it on your PC screen are two different things entirely, and Frank Simon, senior staff producer at SCEA walked us through the demo of Naughty Dog’s first Uncharted.
You can use the touch screens to make Nathan climb, jump, and all other sorts of neat stuff. A slide of the finger makes him climb a rope, touching the back screen makes him slide down the rope.
Button prompts help him fight a bit, and when he is jumping onto the edge of a cliff and looking down, turning the thumb sticks to look around really makes you feel as if you are indeed on the edge of said cliff. It was rather vertigo inducing.
NGP is slated for a release sometime around the holidays. High-res gallery below courtesy of GamesRadar.