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Mark Cerny on 'bridging the gap' between casual and console

Mark Cerny on 'bridging the gap' between casual and console

July 10, 2013 | By Mike Rose

July 10, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Business/Marketing

At Develop Conference today, Sony's Mark Cerny gave some notable insight into how working on the upcoming adventure game Knack for PlayStation 4 has allowed him the opportunity to "bridge the gap" between casual, touch-screen games and the traditional AAA console game.

Cerny noted that back in the 90s, many younger gamers and adults new to the games industry would often play handheld button-fueled games, and this would easily lead them into more complex console games.

However, in modern times a vast number of new gamers play titles on smartphones and tablets, meaning that transferring to a controller with more than a dozen buttons could potentially prove a tricky transition.

"Anyone can play Fruit Ninja," he noted, but a DualShock 3 controller may be a little too daunting for a more casual player.

Hence, with Knack Cerny is attempting to bring together broad accessibility and an old school challenge, such that it can prove fun for newcomers, but also provide a challenge for those who are home console veterans.

With Knack, Cerny plans to "firmly have a foot in both worlds," providing a story-driven action adventure that "acts as an on-ramp to AAA console games."

This challenge of providing both accessibility and depth extended to the PlayStation 4's controller too. In early testing, Sony found that eight year olds were having issues with the controls of the DualShock 4 -- however, it wasn't the complexity of the controls that was the problem, but the actual size of the controller itself.

It was discovered that younger players had no problem reaching the face buttons, but had to stretch to push the shoulder buttons.

To put himself in their shoes, Cerny and his team built a giant controller that was slightly too big for an adult's hands. This gave the team insight into how the current design felt for younger children, and they were then able to alter the controller to match what they had discovered.

Indies on PS4

Cerny also addressed the big indie game push on PlayStation 4, defining "indie" as the following: "Indie is smaller, nimbler titles, whatever they may be."

He went on to say that "it's all about what the game developer wants to create," and for Sony, it's about helping them do exactly that.

Players are now looking for more diversity in their games to balance out the bigger titles, he reasoned, and therefore it is essential for Sony to bring these smaller titles to PlayStation. "The console generation has woken up to the possibilities," he added. "The Renaissance of gaming is coming."

And he noted that working on a game for the PS4, rather than simply working on the hardware side, has meant that he can talk to developers on a level that really helps them understand what building games for PlayStation is about, since he has first-hand knowledge of building a PS4 game.

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