Posted 3:59pm

A Few Rallies With Virtua Tennis 4 And PlayStation Move

As dark clouds have taken residence over London and the weather resembles a certain interactive drama, I don’t think I’ll be stepping onto a tennis court any time soon. Luckily, I have a PlayStation Move motion controller, a 3D TV and an early demo of Virtua Tennis 4 to tide me over.

I recently spoke to the game’s Executive Producer, Mie Kumagai, and asked why she had chosen to develop a tennis game when she served us the first in the Virtua Tennis series, back in 1999.

“When we first started the series, we wanted to make a casual arcade game that everyone could pick up and enjoy,” she said. “Sport seemed like a good place to start because it appeals to many people that wouldn’t usually play games. That was the start of the series, but we reached a point where we were looking for something new; it’s around this time that we heard about PlayStation Move.”

VT4_adv4_01

Virtua Tennis 4 lets you step into the shoes of some of the world’s best tennis pros. Every swing of the racquet can be performed with the PlayStation Move motion controller and you can judge the approach of the ball better than ever, thanks to stereoscopic 3D support. I asked Kumagai for her thoughts on Move and her philosophy behind working with a motion controller.

“I saw PlayStation Move at quite an early stage in its development,” she replied, “and I remember being curious about what Sony [Computer Entertainment] had been working on and excited about the new technology.”

“We have two points of consideration when it comes to the game’s controls. The first is that we want the game to be playable without the user having to press any buttons at all; in other words, you are relying entirely on your own movement.”

“The second consideration is to achieve a good balance between first and third person points of view. If we want the game to be totally realistic, then first person would be the way to go, but that way you kind of lose the fun of controlling top tennis players like Roger Federer, so we have aimed for the right mixture of the two.”

VT4_exb_aus_11

The demo available to play at gamescom (and my desk) features Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Your character’s left and right movement is automatic but each swing of the racquet must be performed by the player and you can drop back or rush to the net by physically stepping back or forward. There’s a dynamic camera system in place, so when the ball is in the other half of the court, the camera pans out so that you can see your position.

When the ball is coming towards you, it glides seamlessly into a first person viewpoint where you can see your racquet in front of you and time your swing accordingly. You can even twist the racquet to adjust its face when it connects with the ball, allowing skilled players to apply spin. It’s accessible and extremely intuitive, especially when playing in stereoscopic 3D.

“The balance between accessibility and realism in very important when it comes to gameplay, but I think that Virtua Tennis with Move has a really good system, where the gameplay and the controls are in perfect sync. Building the game up from this existing system wasn’t too hard for us,” Kumagai added.

Virtua Tennis 4 will be available on PlayStation 3 in Spring 2011.

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Comments

28 Comments 4 Author replies
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Glad to see more and more games get both Move and 3D support.

 
Carnivius_Prime 30 August, 2010 @ 4:25 pm   2

That’s some expensive hardware just to play tennis in 3D. Cheaper for me to buy a racket and go over the road to the tennis courts they got there and that’s even better 3D. 3DTV’s just ain’t been out long enough to be affordable to most people especially soon after having to fork out for HD.

    James Gallagher 31 August, 2010 @ 10:49 am    

    What I like about 3D is that it’s an optional extra. And when the prices of the TVs come down as they inevitably will, chances are you’ll already have a stack of 3D games ready to go at no extra cost.

ubersao14 30 August, 2010 @ 4:27 pm   3

any idea when the demo will be available on the ps store?

 

Will their be an option so you don’t need fps view?

    James Gallagher 31 August, 2010 @ 10:53 am    

    You should give it a try – I found it really intuitive and a nice change from the traditional ‘TV broadcast’ camera view.

 
homerjnick 30 August, 2010 @ 4:43 pm   5

After the utter shambles of Virtua Tennis 2009 with online play so bad, cheaters and glitchers galore and the fact that if your opponent disconnects you do not get the win meaning getting 650 online wins for a mere bronze trophy and thus your Platinum is practically impossible Sega can go and shove Virtua Tennis 4 somewhere!!!!

 

I’m really liking the swinging action in Gamescom videos but stepping forward and back at least should be replaceable with an analog stick in the other hand so you need minimal distance from the PS Eye camera to accommodate the most players.

 
thorgrimm 30 August, 2010 @ 4:48 pm   7

Are you gonna be able to move the player too?

 

Considering you are doing a lot of movement, how is it wearing 3D glasses and all? Will rapid movements whilst playing (like a tennis swing) ‘obscure’ the 3D-effect, if you catch my drift?

 

VT 2009 was developed by Sumo Digital in England. VT4′s back with the original SEGA-AM3 Virtua Tennis team in Japan.

 
AKGermany 30 August, 2010 @ 5:34 pm   10

I understand their “no buttons” philosophy, but I’d still like to move my player around the court myself.
I don’t know if that fits with the 3D technology at all, but player movement is an integral part of what I want to be able to do in a tennis game.
Still I’d try out their approach, hope there’ll be a demo.

 
thorgrimm 30 August, 2010 @ 6:08 pm   11

indeed… They should add the option to move yourself…^^

 
homerjnick 30 August, 2010 @ 6:31 pm   12

@Shin-Ra

That doesn’t matter, Sega endorsed it…

 
SA_Royal 30 August, 2010 @ 7:36 pm   13

I want to move my own player thanks

 

Will the graphics be 1080p as per the awesome VT3, or the sub-standard offering that was VT2009 ?

 
Prox1mately 30 August, 2010 @ 7:49 pm   15

“No buttons” doesn’t mean you won’t use the analogue controller as I’d hardly call that a button. It’s a stick that has been the control of our characters for a really long time. I don’t think they’ll risk a move like “no analogue controller” for a big franchise like Virtua Tennis anyway.

 

Hi James, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Move but i already have the PS3Eye so i’m wondering if all the Move launch demos will be made available on the PS store? Can you find out? Thanks. :)

 

got 232 wins and 11 losses online with vt 2009 so safe to say i will be buying this and owning lol

 
irish-sid 31 August, 2010 @ 12:01 am   18

Errrm, can you play it with a controller?

FatTrousers 31 August, 2010 @ 2:06 am   19

Not a tennis fan but Sega really wins with this series of games, Virtua Tennis is a masterpiece.

 

can i play with a pad?
i love a good tennis game, but i’m not really interested in move.

    James Gallagher 31 August, 2010 @ 10:51 am    

    Not in the code that we currently have but that’s still quite early. I’m not sure of the game’s final specs at the mo.

 

I also hope that we get an option to Move the player ourselves. It won’t be easy, but it would add a lot of depth.

 

I have vowed never to buy another VT game after the game breaking glitch of 2009 (that never got sorted). Shame as i’ve bought near enough every version since the Dreamcast. I’l wait for EA’s tennis game to get my chance to smash Mr Happy Murray all over the court :)

 
JordanBlack68 31 August, 2010 @ 12:49 pm   23

Would be good to move our own player

 
MisterBronze 31 August, 2010 @ 1:53 pm   24

I plan to buy a Move, but I’m a huge fan of the arcade versions of Virtua Tennis. I actually used to play the game competitively at a local arcade. I hope that same arcade gameplay is available in the game, to be played with a DualShock 3.

 
edjayjay 31 August, 2010 @ 2:40 pm   25

Just wondering James, is this gonna be at the Eurogames Expo in London this year?

 
thorgrimm 31 August, 2010 @ 4:26 pm   26

James, could you ask if movement will be allowed at release…??

 

Thaks James! :)

 
weaselEST 1 September, 2010 @ 7:32 am   28

So it’s actually Virtua Tennis 3 with Move and 3D support?