GP: First of all, could you tell us a bit about the game, and how it came about perhaps?
TW: Eye of Judgment is a new game for the PlayStation 3 using a traditional trading card game and merging it with video game technology. The game is played on a three-by-three grid; you place a card on the grid in front of the new PlayStation eye camera, and the card comes to life on your TV screen. The objective is to control five of the nine squares on the grid.
The idea for the game came about after the developer saw the holographic Battle Chess scene in Star Wars, and he thought “that’s really cool, why can’t I have that? Why can’t that be a game?” With PlayStation 3 technology becoming available, and still wanting a game like that, he had a background in video game technology behind him, but knew nothing about trading card games, so got Hasbro involved. And Eye of Judgment was born.
GP: Hasbro has a bit to do with trading card games at the moment. I notice with Eye of Judgment that there are some similarities between that and Magic: The Gathering. Are the same designers working on these cards as with Magic?
TW: I’m not sure if it is the same team that developed Magic: The Gathering but with Hasbro having such a wealth of knowledge in that area by virtue of owning Magic: The Gathering there are a lot of similarities between the two franchises. In Eye of Judgment you can’t cast a card, unless you have enough Mana points. Mana points are the same term that you’ll find Magic: The Gathering players are using at the same time.
GP: With Eye of Judgment that has been developed with PlayStation 3 and the new Eye camera that is being released, can it be played with just the cards by themselves?
TW: Yes, you can play Eye of Judgment with just the cards, but the PlayStation and Eye camera add a new dimension to the game by bringing the cards to life by way of animation.
GP: Generally speaking, card tournament games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh have been played by the younger generation, with Magic being a little older perhaps; is Eye of Judgment aimed to bridge the gap between card gamers and video games?
TW: Eye of Judgment will make it more accessible for all people to get into from the young kids right through to the traditional card gaming market that ranges from 15 years to 45 years old. I just met someone at Vagabond who is 45 and really into his cards. So I think it will open up the market a little bit and try and blend the two together. Unlike traditional card games, you don’t have to spend a lot of time working out what you’re going to do and calculating the moves because the PlayStation 3 does the calculations for you.
GP: With the technology used in Eye of Judgment, how do you think it could be used in other game formats for PlayStation 3 in the future?
TW: It’s hard to say where this particular technology will go at the moment with Eye of Judgment but there are plans to have expansion packs for this franchise. Potentially I can see it moving in to other areas like I can imagine a game based on Star Wars Battle Chess similar to what I said before where the characters come to life. Having something like a Simpsons game the technology would be awesome being able to have Homer pop up, but it’s hard to say right now what plans are in development.
GP: Or the Muppets VS Sesame Street
TW: Exactly. It’s one of those things that you can hope that they can do. With this technology, the sky’s the limit. The main thing is the cards the cards have the CyberCode on them, and that’s what the camera actually picks up and allows the PlayStation 3 to bring the creatures to life.
GP: The CyberCode is similar to a bar code, but obviously it’s not as fine a resolution as a normal barcode because the camera isn’t designed to pick up something that fine?
TW: The PlayStation 3 Eye is the next generation camera so in terms of the amount of sound and detail it picks up it’s a lot more than the previous camera for PlayStation 2.
GP: So what are some of those differences?
TW: The microphone is a lot better. In terms of its sensitivity to light it’s a lot better; you would have seen with the PlayStation 2 that if you stood in front of a dark or too light a background it wouldn’t pick you up. We’ve come to shows with the EyeToy for PlayStation 2 and found it was real pain. But here we just plugged it in using the supplied lights for the show, with a little bit of shading and it has worked really well, we haven’t had any problems with it. In fact we had more problems with the video camera that is filming the game mat to demonstrate the game board than the PlayStation Eye.
GP: So, what comes in the Eye of Judgment packs and when will they be available?
TW: The main starter pack for Eye of Judgment contains the PlayStation Eye, a PlayStation Eye stand, the three by three game mat, the game software and a pack of 30 cards. This will give you what you need to start playing against either the PlayStation 3 or someone else anywhere in the world at any time, if you’re connected to PlayStation network. Additional card decks and booster packs will also be available to expand on this starter pack. There are 110 cards available in the full collection. The starter pack will be released on 26 October, and will cost $169.95. The Booster packs contain 8 cards and will cost $6.50 and will be available from both video game and trading card stores.
GP: With regards to an earlier question, is the price of PlayStation 3 going to be a hindrance to the younger generation who want to play this game?
TW: With the 40GB model being released at $799 it’s a little more affordable than where it was positioned before. With the trading card market they do spend a lot of money on the cards they are buying so with the PlayStation 3 coming down to just under $800 we see it as becoming a bit of an aspirational product to be owned. A lot of the kids coming through see themselves playing Eye of Judgment as a trading card game but then they know the PlayStation 3 is the next step for them with the game.
GP: Obviously with the new price point which the made the price of the console a lot more relative to its competitors. What else does PlayStation have in the works leading up to the Christmas rush?
TW: We’ve got a fantastic lineup of software. As with anything, unless you’ve got games to play you’re not going to buy the consoles, so software is king on whatever console you’re playing. On the PlayStation 3 we’ve got Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction coming out in November, which is a really awesome franchise, lots of fun and really innovative. We’ve also got Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune which is a Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones action adventure made by the guys at Naughty Dog, who made Jak and Daxter, which is one of my favourite franchises. So you know what you’re going to get this Christmas, you know that Uncharted is going to be something you can play, and Ratchet is lots of fun, lots of mayhem, crazy destruction. And then, you’ve got things that have already come out, like Heavenly Sword, which is an amazing game with a hell of a storyline. And on the PlayStation 2, that isn’t going to go away either, you’ve got SingStar, and Buzz, which are great social games, and a real family solution, which will continue to grow and be strong. Also, not forgetting we’ve got PSP, which has just had the Slim n Lite come out, which is slimmer and lighter, but with a few new features as well. I think overall, we’ve got a really strong line leading into Christmas. It’s going to be a very exciting time for us all.
GP: On the subject of exciting, on the PlayStation Network there are some fantastic titles coming through… what about the likes of Little Big Planet, when can we expect to see that available?
TW: Little Big Planet’s not really something I’ve had a [long] look into, but looks fantastic. That’s the one with the little things that you build and then go online and swap worlds. It looks amazing. I have no real details of when it’s going to ship yet, just trying to get Christmas out of the way at the moment with so much content coming in and it’s a big time for all. PlayStation Network will have some really good content coming out. We’ve already seen Gran Turismo downloadable, and a whole lot of trailors you can see.