Monster Vision: Eye of Judgment Q&A

Sony's Yusuku Watanabe takes us through the camera-and-card game for the PlayStation 3.

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By Alex Wollenschlaeger

To get an idea of how important the average person is to Sony, you need look no further than SingStar and Eye of Judgment. While the former expands on the karaoke concept that has done so well on the PlayStation 2 in Europe over the past few years, Eye of Judgment introduces the new PlayStation Eye camera and immediately puts it to good use.

If you think of Eye of Judgment as a trading card game you're halfway there, but it's the other half that makes the game interesting. Using all sorts of techno-trickery, Sony has managed to infuse the cards with virtual life, allowing them to come alive on your TV as the cards are scanned by the camera.

Cards are placed on a board and scanned by a mounted camera. The camera reads and recognizes the placed card and renders a virtual creature on top of the card on the screen. You're able to interact with this creature in a few ways. The creature will then attack an opponent's creature, depending on the specific abilities of the card.

There are around 30 cards that will be included with the game and the camera, and Sony is teaming up with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: The Gathering, to release another 70 or so cards, which will be sold in themed packs.

It's not just the camera that is put to work in Eye of Judgment. The game includes full online play, allowing you and a friend to duke it out with your animated creatures over the internet. And the game's digital deck feature means you'll be able to download the decks of the pros and figure out just how it is that the kick so much butt.

While the idea of playing a trading card game on your new £400 console may not seem the best use of the hardware, there's a certain sense of awe that comes with seeing how you can interact on-screen with a virtual beast that manifests itself on the card. Plus the collaboration with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast ensures that the card bits aren't being brushed aside.

To find out more about Eye of Judgment, we went straight to the man himself, Yusuku Watanabe, senior designer at Product Development Department #1 at Sony's Japan Studio.

Following is a transcript of our chat:

Kikizo: Could you tell me more about how the game came about? Was it a case of technology looking for an outlet or was it the result of trading card game players on the team looking to use the camera?

Watanabe: It started out with the CyberCode technology, which was developed at CSL, the Sony laboratory. But initially it all started out with two supercomputers working full force with a high vision camera, only showing the computer graphic creature just standing, that's it. When I saw that technology, although it was at a rudimentary stage, it actually gave me a wow factor. I was just so amazed with that ability of the technology that I wanted to introduce this to a wider audience.

Yes, I had the same feeling after the demo. Could you tell me more about the technology used on the cards themselves? Is there some brand new technology here or are we looking at fancy barcodes?

Essentially, yes it is a basic bar code. But when it first started it was just a white piece of paper with 24 black dots, or bits, if you will. And that's where it all started. The whole process of bringing it up to this level, of having the illustrations and the designs be as sophisticated as well as having all the technology that allows it to play was a process that was very long. The black dots on the card are all the identification details of the creatures.

Did you work with the creators of Magic The Gathering to develop the underlying rule systems for Eye of Judgment?

We actually did the whole game development internally. After it was completed, we began our collaboration with Hasbro. They did give us some comments and we were happy to receive them, but overall, what you see today was all done by us at SCEI.

One thing you didn't show much of during the demo today was actual battles. I've seen a few videos online of the battles and I noticed that they can go on quite long. Is there a way to skip past the longer battle animations, say once you've seen them a few times already?

Yes, you can turn them off. You can actually have a mode where you have a field and just play on that.

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