“In many ways, it’s about making the technology invisible to create a feeling of magic,” Nicolas Doucet, the producer of EyePet, explained while showing me what is arguably the most ingenious and certainly the most adorable game on show here at E3.
EyePet uses the PlayStation Eye camera to bring a furry pet to life in your living room. You can play with him, feed him, dress him, stroke him and teach him, and his responsiveness is incredible. Waggle your fingers and he’ll run over to play; stroke him and he’ll nuzzle up to you and flip onto his back for you to tickle his tummy. And Doucet is right – while you’re always aware of the sophisticated technology bringing it to life, you don’t think about it because you’re completely lost in the illusion.
The game comes with a Magic Card, which you place on the floor once the PlayStation Eye is set up. It then becomes the control device for a variety of toys. For example, there’s a trampoline which you can move around by simply sliding the Magic Card across the floor, and each toy has an associated goal, such as gaining a certain number of trampoline bounces, to unlock further toys.
This sense of play and interaction is just one aspect of the game, and its goals and challenges come mainly through how you nurture your furry friend.
“The game’s goals come from the Pet Centre and there is a professor who visits you every day – I’m talking about in-game days as opposed to real ones – and issues challenges based on your pet’s development,” said Doucet.
One of the most striking of the game’s features is the way you can draw objects on a regular piece of paper and see them come to life for your EyePet to play with. I drew a wobbly set of wheels and tractor body and held it up to the camera, and my pet copied it and, when it came to life and I started moving it with the Wireless Controller, he started chasing it around.
“We encourage creative play through drawing and customisation,” added Doucet. “We find that kids will experiment with different designs and materials when drawing and find out that if you add more wheels to a car or change its material, for example, it will act differently. There are also lots of fur types and you can alter everything from colour, to patterns, to fur length, and add clothes. We’ve got classic play outfits such as pirates and firemen, and more realistic pet outfits.”
EyePet is a beautiful family game that has left a huge grin on my face. For anyone with young children it’s an enchanting way to play together and teach them how to look after a pet, and it’s also one of the most amazing uses of the PlayStation Eye technology I have seen.