Gametrak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Gametrak is a brand of 3-dimensional game control systems based on position tracking, designed for home video game platforms such as video game consoles and personal computers. The first Gametrak was invented in 2000 by Elliott Myers, who developed and guided the Gamester video game peripheral range for Leda Media Products and later Radica Games. Myers founded gaming company In2Games around Gametrak in November 2000.[1]

The main hardware for the original Gametrak is the base unit, a weighted device positioned on the floor in front of the display. The base unit communicates with the console or PC by Universal Serial Bus.a[›] and also features an attached foot-pedal input.

Technology[edit]

The Gametrak uses a patented[2] mechanical system for tracking position of physical elements in three-dimensional space in real time. The base unit features two identical mechanisms, each of which can determine the three-dimensional coordinates of an associated element relative to the mechanism. Each mechanism contains a retracting cable reel and a small tubular guide arm from which the cable passes out. The guide arm is articulated in a ball joint such that the arm and ball follow the angle at which the cable extends from the mechanism. At the end of the cable is a fastener for connecting to the tracked element.

The distance of the tracked element from the mechanism is determined through components which measure the rotation of the spool drum for the retracting cable reel, and calculating how far the cable is extended. Through the ball joint and guide arm, the mechanism functions in a similar fashion as a gamepad analog stick[citation needed] to determine the angular direction from the mechanism to the track element.[2] From the distance and angle data, a three-dimensional position for the element is resolved. The predetermined spacing and orientation of the mechanisms on the base unit allows the coordinate data gathered by the two mechanisms to be converted into positions in a unified space. According to In2Games, the mechanisms can determine position "to an accuracy of 1 millimetre anywhere within a 3m cube around the unit, with no processor overhead or time delay."[3]

By tracking two positions, it is possible to independently track two different objects, or the position and orientation of a single object, such as a sword or baseball bat. The Gametrak includes special fingerless gloves, each with a fastener along the outside edge for attaching a tether cable, allowing the system to track both of a user's hands.[4]

Haptic functionality was planned to be incorporated into future revisions of the original Gametrak,[5] in which supplementary retraction forces on the tension cables would be dynamically increased or decreased to simulate various effects.[2]

History[edit]

According to Myers, he arrived at the basic concept for the Gametrak while playing with a retractable washing line in a hotel bathroom. While pulling the cord out, Myers thought of combining it with a joystick mechanism to create a 3D control device. After testing the concept, the developers worked on an implementation to make the device affordable, accurate, and reliable enough for a mass market. Myers stated that "the whole process took about 3 years to get right."[6]

In January 2003, Atomic Planet Entertainment was confirmed as a licensed developer for the Gametrak, developing the launch title for the peripheral, a first-person fighting game originally entitled Black Wind.[7] In the game, players move their hands to punch, block, dodge and wield magic against the on-screen opponent.

In August 2004, a few months before launch, the Gametrak was showcased at the 2004 Games Convention, where it won a "Best of GC" award for "Most Innovative Product".[8] Along with the renamed Dark Wind,b[›] at the convention In2Games publicly debuted Real World Golf, a golf simulator game being developed by Aqua Pacific with design consultant Jon Hare, and set for release in 2005.

Gametrak was released for PlayStation 2 on October 22, 2004 in Europe, bundled with Dark Wind.[9] The game received mixed reviews but went on to sell around 60,000 copies.[citation needed] On August 26, 2005, In2Games simultaneously released PlayStation 2 versions of Real World Golf and Gametrak Version 2 in Europe. Gametrak Version 2 is functionally identical to the previous version,[10] but features various design refinements.[4]

Real World Golf debuted at #19 in the weekly Chart-Track rankings for PlayStation 2 software titles in the United Kingdom, after only two days of sales;[11] rising to #6 the next week;[12] and peaking at #3 the following week.[13] Remaining in the top 20 for another 6 weeks,[14] the game was considered a major success by the company. In November 2005 In2Games announced that it had secured additional funding and support, and was planning to expand Gametrak to new regions and platforms. The company also revealed plans for more Gametrak games; including self-published bowling, basketball, first-person shooter, and party game titles; and a baseball game from Gametrak's distributor Mad Catz.[15]

PC versions of the Gametrak and Real World Golf were released in Europe on November 23, 2005.[16] On April 11, 2006, Gametrak was released for both PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the United States, bundled with enhanced versions of Real World Golf.[17]

On August 25, 2006, In2Games released Real World Golf 2007 in Europe for PlayStation 2 and PC,[18] by which time over 300,000 Gametrak units had been sold.[19]

With the creation of its RealPlay and Gametrak Freedom products, In2Games is no longer developing for the original Gametrak system.[20]

Gametrak Freedom[edit]

On October 20, 2006, a next-generation wire-free Gametrak system, using a patent-pending[21] ultrasonic tracking technology, was revealed at a press event in London under the name "Gametrak Fusion".[22] Based on different technologies, the new system is not compatible with the original Gametrak.

The system utilizes a compactible USB-connected base unit[23] and various wireless RF controller units. The system tracks the position of a controller unit through four ultrasonic transceivers in the base unit which are used for the trilateration of an ultrasonic transceiver on the controller unit.[24] The controller units also incorporate three-axis accelerometers, which are used to help determine the controller's rotational orientation. According to In2Games, the system is accurate to "within about 2mm".[25]

The standard controller unit is a wand which features interchangeable clip-on heads for applications such as tennis[26] and golf.[27][28] Custom controller units such as a bowling ball controller were also featured.[29] A concept design was shown for a two-piece wireless motion-sensing gamepad controller that can quickly be split apart or snapped together.[30] Among the game ideas conceived for the system is a minigame based on the "buzz wire" steady hand game, in which the player attempts to move and angle a wand to guide an attached hoop along a threaded wire without allowing the hoop to contact the wire.[31]

In2Games positions the control system as a competitive cross-platform alternative to the Wii Remote,[25] targeting it for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.[32] Originally planned to be released in summer/fall 2007 with a base unit and wand for less than £30 (approx. US$56, c.2006),[33] as of August 17, 2007 the system, renamed "Gametrak Freedom", was stated to still be in development.[34]

The product is linked to the game Squeeballs, announced at GDC 2009[35] by PDP and being developed by Eiconic Games.[36] More information about the game, including a trailer, can be found at the teaser site www.squeeballs.com.

In 2008, In2Games, along with Squeeballs and the Gametrak and Gametrak Freedom technologies, were acquired by US peripherals group, PDP, owners of the Pelican range of gaming products.[37]

Related products[edit]

RealPlay[edit]

On August 17, 2007, In2Games announced RealPlay, a range of family-friendly video games for the PlayStation 2 with wireless motion-sensing controller units similar to those originally shown for then-named Gametrak Fusion, but without the ultrasonic tracking technology.[34] The RealPlay controllers feature accelerometers with a full-scale sensing range of 5 g.[25] The first four RealPlay titles (RealPlay Racing, RealPlay Pool, RealPlay Golf, RealPlay Puzzlesphere) were released in the United Kingdom on November 30, 2007 at a retail price of £34.99 each (approx. US$72, c.2007),[38] with the release of two additional titles (RealPlay Bowling, RealPlay Tennis) planned for 2008. The company currently has plans to release the RealPlay line outside of the UK.

Notes[edit]

^ a: The Xbox version connects through the Xbox controller port, which uses standard USB signaling, but features proprietary ports.
^ b: In2Games renamed the title from Black Wind to Dark Wind in late April 2004, to avoid negative publicity[39] after the phrase "black wind of death" was used in a statement published in mid-March from the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades to describe a potential strike against America.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elliott Myers – CEO". Management Team. In2Games. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  2. ^ a b c GB patent 2373039, Elliot Edward Myers, "A transducer for detecting the position of a mobile unit", published 2002-09-11, issued 2005-06-15, assigned to In2Games 
  3. ^ "What is Gametrak?". Gametrak Developer FAQ. In2Games. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  4. ^ a b "Gametrak & Real World Golf". Deaf Gamers. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Game-Trak". game-trak.com. In2Games. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  6. ^ Block, Gerry (2006-04-14). "Exclusive GameTrak Interview with Developer In2Games". IGN Gear. IGN Entertainment. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  7. ^ "In2Games". game-trak.com. In2Games. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  8. ^ "Gametrak wins "Best of GC 2004" award at Leipzig Games Convention". In2Games. 2004-08-23. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  9. ^ "Gametrak: Dark Wind". In2Games. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2007-08-21. [dead link]
  10. ^ "In2Games reveals design and pricing of Gametrak Version 2". Gametrak Hardware News. In2Games. 2005-08-05. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  11. ^ "Top 20 Sony PlayStation 2 (full price), week ending 27 August 2005". UK Software Charts. Chart-Track. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  12. ^ "Top 20 Sony PlayStation 2 (full price), week ending 3 September 2005". UK Software Charts. Chart-Track. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  13. ^ "Top 20 Sony PlayStation 2 (full price), week ending 10 September 2005". UK Software Charts. Chart-Track. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  14. ^ "Top 20 Sony PlayStation 2 (full price), week ending 22 October 2005". UK Software Charts. Chart-Track. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  15. ^ "In2Games announces major success with Real World Golf, major fundraising and new products". News. In2Games. 2005-11-10. Archived from the original on 2005-11-08. 
  16. ^ "Real World Golf comes to PC". Game Announcements. In2Games. 2005-11-10. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  17. ^ "Mad Catz Ships Real World Golf". Mad Catz. 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  18. ^ "Launch Date - 25 August". In2Games. 2006-07-30. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  19. ^ "In2games to Preview Real World Golf 2 at E3". In2Games. 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  20. ^ "Gametrak". In2Games. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  21. ^ WO application 2007110626, Steven David Lavache, "Wireless position sensing in three dimensions using ultrasound", published 2007-10-04, assigned to In2Games and Steven David Lavache 
  22. ^ "In2Games unveils Gametrak Fusion - 3D wireless motion sensor gaming is here!". In2Games. 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  23. ^ "In2Games MD Elliott Myers holding the Gametrak Fusion system" (JPEG). In2Games. 2006-10-19. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  24. ^ Harley, Adam (2006-10-13). "Wii Killer - SPOnG's exclusive In2Games interview". SPOnG. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  25. ^ a b c Ivan, Tom (2007-10-02). "Gaming in Motion: Taking on the Wii". Next Generation. Future Publishing. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  26. ^ Elliott Myers (2006-10-20). Codename Fusion tennis video (Flash Video). London, England: ComputerAndVideoGames.com. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  27. ^ Jordan, Jon (2007-06-29). "Q&A: Holmwood On How In2Games Will Wii-ify 360 and PS3". Gamasutra. CMP Technology. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  28. ^ "Gametrak Fusion bowling ball, baseball bat, sword, golf club concept renders" (JPEG). In2Games. 2007-10-19. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  29. ^ Elliott Myers (2006-10-20). Codename Fusion bowling video (Flash Video). London, England: ComputerAndVideoGames.com. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  30. ^ Elliott Myers (2006-10-20). Codename Fusion controller video (Flash Video). London, England: ComputerAndVideoGames.com. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  31. ^ Smith, Quintin (2007-10-17). "In2Games". Eurogamer. Eurogamer Network. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  32. ^ "In2Games's innovation lands £7.76m Ingenious investment". In2Games. 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  33. ^ Jordan, Jon (2006-10-20). "New Controller To Offer ‘Wii Emulation’ For PS3, 360, PC". Gamasutra. CMP Technology. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  34. ^ a b "RealPlay Wireless Gaming Range For PlayStation 2 Unveiled". In2Games. 2005-11-10. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  35. ^ "GDC 09: Squeeballs Announced". 
  36. ^ "Eiconic Games". 
  37. ^ "PDP to Raise the Stakes on Motion Sensing Gaming". 
  38. ^ "PlayStation 2 Wireless Gaming Hits Pinnacle". In2Games. 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  39. ^ "Terror threat prompts PS2 game name change". In2Games. 2004-04-21. Archived from the original on 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  40. ^ "U.S. Wary After Madrid Bombings". CBSNews.com. CBS Broadcasting. 2004-03-12. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 

External links[edit]