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PAX Preview: EyePet

Sony's latest "game" to use the Playstation Eye is EyePet, and as you can probably imagine, it's a virtual pet that's targeted towards a younger audience. While at PAX, I was given a 1-on-1 presentation by Sony on the EyePet and I walked away impressed, to say the least. I had heard of the EyePet, just not very in-depth, before PAX. I knew it used the Playstation Eye to film a table and your pet would appear on it, but that's it.

After setup, the Eye will be focused on a table, which is then outputted to your TV. After the game is actually started up, the player pulls out their magic card (A small black card used for many of the interactions inEyePet) and taps on the table. Your pet will then jump out of a magic portal and be ready to play with you. Players will be able to play a variety of games with their pet (bowling, cards, and a few others), as well as customize the look of your pet by changing hair color and putting clothes on them. They will also have to clean their Pets when they get dirty. Every day, there are a series of challenges that await you, things like "score a strike in bowling" and simple objectives like that. After completing the objectives, more objects for customization become available. It's not something that a hardcore gamer is going to have to purchase on day one, but it is definitely something that a young child would be interested in.

The thing about the EyePet that really impresses me is the technology used in the interaction with the pet. Not only does the game project the pet onto the real world surface, it also detects depth. It's a bit of an obstacle to overcome, especially after dealing with the original EyeToy that only reacted to movement. Having to reach out to pet your animal, or maneuvering the magic card into the correct spot is something that does take a bit of getting used to. The whole time I was being shown the EyePet, I was thinking of what other games this technology could be used for; most assuredly RTSs and adventure games would work, and card games are a given. It will be interesting to see if Sony does anything with the tech behind the EyePet, outside of the actual EyePet program.