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Playhouse Entertainment Interview [English Version]

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Let’s start with presentations! Who you are and what’s your role at Playhouse Entertainment?
I’m Brett Gale and I’m the founder and CEO at PlayHouse. Along with all the business development for the studio, I’m also responsible for all the game designs, mechanics creation, programming, animations and more. Pretty much everything that isn’t 3D art is carried out by me.
I can only imagine your stress level!How and why Playhouse Ent. is born?
[laugh] yeah it definitely can get a bit overwhelming but I really enjoy all those aspects of game development so it’s usually a lot of fun.
The main reason I started PlayHouse is because I wanted to start a career that incorporated my background in computer science, mechanical engineering, and filmmaking, as well as my passion for games and comics. I’ve been a huge gamer my entire life, and indie game development was becoming more affordable thanks to cheaper options for game engines like Unity. Gamers were also becoming more comfortable purchasing games digitally from online marketplaces. I had several ideas that I wanted to work on, so the timing just seemed right to start my own studio.
And seems that one of your ideas is focused on motion controls. I knew you by a video of one of your first tech demo and i tought that finally someone could exploit motion controls in an “hardcore way”.In fact, from experiments you’re passed directly to develop a game for the best gaming platforms with “The Manifest”, your first game. Can you tell us how it happened? And why so quickly?
Yes, that’s right. One idea I had early on was for a new motion controlled gameplay experience, which would be perfect for hardcore gamers who have become accustomed to dual-joystick character and camera control.
I’ve always been a big fan of motion controls. When I first played the Wii I immediately saw a ton of potential for motion controlled games, but sadly most experiences resulted in either a lot of ‘waggling’ or simply pointing at the screen and using the motion controller basically as a mouse cursor to control the game camera. The main control scheme used for motion controlled 1st and 3rd person games was to use a single joystick controller to move the character and a single motion controller to look around with the camera. This control scheme definitely had quite a few issues that hindered gameplay, resulting in very few games actually making use of motion controllers, especially on the PS3.
When the PS Move came out I saw even more potential for great motion controlled games. The PS Move is capable of very precise and lag free 3D motion tracking, however, there still was the issue of using one joystick controller and one motion controller, which resulted in the same issues for 1st and 3rd person gameplay. One of which is the fact that there was actually very little motion controlled gameplay being performed aside from moving the camera, forcing you to be constantly pointing it at the screen, making it difficult to play for long periods of time.
I realized that the system is fully capable of tracking 2 motion controllers at once, and can support more than one joystick navigation controller, so I figured that there’s no reason why one player couldn’t comfortably use two joystick controllers and two motion controllers at the same time if the controllers were positioned in such a way that would allow it.
With that concept in mind, I began designing a new peripheral that would combine a joystick and motion controller into one housing. I made my first prototype by moulding the controllers in place using a hardening clay, and after holding it in hand and seeing that the setup was quite comfortable, I was convinced that this would make for excellent gameplay opportunities. After creating several more prototype peripherals and creating several tech demos to test different gameplay mechanics I was even more convinced that this control scheme would make more really compelling and interactive experiences.
I always knew that I wanted to make my own games and not just focus on peripheral development, so it wasn’t long after that PlayHouse was licensed for development on PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and several other platforms. We’ve now been working on our first console experience, The Manifeste, for over a year, and finally made a public announcement about the project a few weeks ago. Luckily, the PS4 and Xbox One come equipped with advanced motion control capabilities straight out of the box, so most of the technology that I’ve developed directly transfers over when developing with the DualShock 4 and Kinect 2. However, we’re still using our peripheral for a more enhanced experience. With the announcement of Project Morpheus we’re also hoping that other developers will begin to see the potential of our peripheral for highly interactive VR experiences.
Oh! I love what your DualPLAY tech demo shows. How much that demo will affect the final version of The Manifeste? Given the fact that DualPlay was created exclusively for PS Move, did you have to compromise on something in the development phase?
 That demo was intended as a proof of concept, however, most of the mechanics seen in the demo will be used in some way in The Manifeste. No compromises were made specifically because of the Move. The Move is an extremely accurate piece of hardware with a lot of features. It was a lot of fun coming up different ways to use the light sensor for things like muzzle flash or as a health indicator. It was also surprising to see how important vibrational feedback is when interacting with objects in 3D space.
I read some infomration about The Manifest on the official game site, and you have defined it “an Interactive Historical Crime Drama”. I love "Interactive Drama" games, and being able to play one specifically designed for motion controls attracts me a lot, but can you explain which sort of gameplay mechanics should we expect? Do you think “hardcore gamers” will be fully satisfied?
I can’t speak about all the mechanics that will be in the final game, but I do believe core gamers will be very satisfied. The first and third person exploration is complemented with situational motion controls for a variety of mechanics and puzzle solving elements. There are also situations that will call for more action orientated motion controls such as aiming and shooting, making and disarming time-bombs, robbing banks, and much more.
Can’t wait to get from SCE or Microsoft a review or preview code to play it soon as possible. I’m really curious.The Manifest will be published directly on PSN, Xbox Live and so on. This isn’t usual for Indie Dev teams nowadays. Is the experience as you expected or it scares a little? What’s your feelings?
It has been a really great experience so far. Both Sony and Microsoft have been very helpful and supportive, making the process a lot less intimidating for our small team.
Good to know! Seems you’re not stressed! But what are your expectations for The Manifest development time? Have you a Deadline?
Sorry, but we’re not making any announcements about release dates just yet.
Yeah I know that! But The Manifest seems to be a very big project, especially because is specifically designed on very different type of motion controls. I was impressed that you’re enjoying all this calmly and without stress. Ask you about deadlines was a way to know if there isn’t really nothing that worry you! Anyway, as just said, The Manifeste will support all motion controls in the market: from PS Move to Razer Hydra, passing by Kinect 2. Without considering VR headsets, have you a preference between them? Which of these has more unexpressed pontential in your opinion?
 [laugh] Don’t mistake me being calm with not being stressed! Everyday presents new challenges to overcome. It’s my job to stay calm and come up with solutions, which in itself is often very stressful.And about deadlines, we’re not making an announcement yet because I realize there is still a lot of work to be done and I don’t want to stress out the team by saying we absolutely need to release by a certain date. That could change if I feel development is taking longer than I have planned for. Right now I have a pretty good idea of when we’ll be good to launch, but I’m not ready to set that in stone just yet.It’s difficult to say which motion control system is best. They all have their strengths and they all have a ton of untapped potential. With the DualShock 4 and Kinect 2 coming with each PS4 and Xbox One, it puts us in a great position for more people to experience motion controls. It’s important that our games are fully playable using either a DualShock 4 or Xbox gamepad with Kinect 2. Those control schemes are our main focus because those will be the experiences available to play right out of the box. The DualPLAY version will be a somewhat enhanced experience, allowing for two-handed motion controls at all times, but it is not required to fully enjoy the experience.
Another development aspect whereby indie dev win over big team! Have you met a lot of prejudice in the gaming community regarding projects for motion controls?
Surprisingly the response towards our take on motion controlled gaming has been very positive overall. I think a lot of that positivity stems from the excitement towards VR, in addition to seeing motion controls used in a way that is targeted towards core gamers. It seems that publishers are still a bit reluctant to invest heavily in a motion control focused project, but that could change quite a bit once consumer VR headsets are available for purchase.
Oh! Let’s talk about VR then! I was thinking of buying Oculus Rift dev Kit 2. Do you recommend it?
It’s difficult to recommend buying an Oculus DK2 right now if you’re not buying it for development. The reason I say that is because you might be disappointed when the consumer version is released and you already own a dev kit that is not as good as the consumer version. The DK2 is big leap in quality over the first dev kit, and I’m sure that the consumer version will also be a big step up from the DK2 in terms of functionality and features.Also, there is still a lot to learn when it comes to VR development, so by that time VR experiences will be a lot more polished. Trying out early demos has made it very obvious that not every game or experience transitions to VR all that well. Some VR demos I’ve tried have made me quite sick, even to the point where I was nearly afraid to try out certain games due to fear of motion sickness. Motion sickness and other negative aspects of VR will likely be minimized greatly or even removed by the time a consumer version is released.That being said, if you have the money and are really interested in VR and want to try out all the early content then the DK2 is your best chance. Although, I’ve heard that shipments have been pushed back to August for new orders so it might be best to hold off until some announcements have been made regarding a consumer Rift or Project Morpheus.
So good to know! Do you think that The Manifest could be a good VR experience?
Absolutely yes!
A large portion when playing The Manifeste is spent exploring and getting to know your environments, discovering clues, solving situational puzzles and obstacles and more. Playing in VR makes the experience much more personal, allowing the player to have a more intimate experience with the story and characters.
We’ve been working with VR headsets for quite a while now and have spent a ton of time creating immersive VR techniques for a variety of gameplay situations and mechanics. The Manifeste will feature a dedicated VR Mode for Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus that will feature a number of gameplay adjustments specifically to increase the level of comfort and immersion when in VR mode.
Well, each answer on The Manifeste make the hype grew in me.
We’re at the last question! In reference to Oculus Rift: what do you think about the OculusVR-Facebook story? Do you think it’s a good thing or the original OculusVR purpose like make OculusRift an open source device will be lost?
I think a lot of people might be overreacting about Facebook buying Oculus. I don’t necessarily think it will change the focus that Oculus was working towards. The boost of funds from Facebook not only means that a high-quality, mass-produced consumer Rift is a guarantee, but also that we’ll be seeing VR used in cool ways other than gaming, which will only help make VR more accessible to the general public.
And what you think about the new Xbox One SKU without Kinect?
 I think it was only inevitable that they removed it from the box to make the price point more competitive with the PS4. The higher price tag was certainly swaying more sales towards PS4 and I think it was a logical move to compete. I’m not sure what effect this will have on sales of The Manifeste, if any. We know not everyone is interested in motion controls, even though we are doing something completely new and exciting with them. For this reason The Manifeste is also playable without using motion controls. In this case the motion-controlled gameplay is handled using either physics-based grabbing and dragging, or pre-made animations. We’re really aiming to have an intuitive and fun control scheme with and without motion controls.
Thanks a lot to giving us this interview. I hope to play The Manifest soon, it seems the perfect game for my liking!
Make us know if you will be at Gamecom in Germany next august, would be a great pleasure seeing you!
 Thanks you so much for the kind comments about the game. I’m glad to hear that it’s something you’re interested in. I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me. The coverage means a lot to our small team!

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