With the rising trend of motion-based technology such as Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox, Sony’s EyeToy for the PlayStation, and Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U consoles, it would only be natural to wonder when such technology would make its way over to the PC space. Well, thanks to Top Smash Tennis, a new game released by SideKick and Extreme Reality for Windows 8, that time is now.
I recently got to chat briefly with the developers behind Top Smash Tennis about how their unique motion-tracking technology allows anyone with a Windows 8 device and a web camera to play their quirky and fun new free-to-play title.
Nate Hohl: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me guys. So, first, what inspired you to create Top Smash Tennis? It seems like a rather ambitious outing considering all of the other motion-control options (Kinect, Move, Wii/Wii U) players currently have access to.
SideKick: The challenge with the other motion control options is that they all have hardware limitations.
All three you mention are games consoles and we wanted to bring the motion gaming experience to a much larger audience. With Top Smash Tennis anyone with a Win 8 device can play. Their motion is captured through the native camera already in their laptop or tablet.
We were able easily integrate this capability through the Extreme Reality SDK which interprets 3D full body movement from any 2D standard camera. What this enables is motion controlled gaming that you can take anywhere and not be bogged down by a console. Unlike the Kinect’s IR sensor, it works in daylight, and unlike Wii and Move, you don’t need to hold a physical device while playing the game. We see this as a way to open motion gaming to a much larger audience since all players need is the computer or tablet they’re already using.
Sports games are a natural fit for motion technologies, and a tennis game seemed perfectly suited for our first foray using this innovative new motion control technology.
NH: How smooth was the development process? I don’t imagine it was entirely easy getting a 2D camera to track and process 3D movements.
SK: The SDK from Extreme Reality was easy to integrate and let us instantly have this advanced motion control capability. Extreme Reality developed their Extreme Motion SDK specifically for developers to integrate into applications and games. They were great in working with us on our specific needs.
With 13 patents, Extreme Motion is the only technology that can recognize depth perception (X,Y,Z coordinates) with a standard 2D camera. It can analyze full body motion in virtually any environment—from the dim light emitted from a laptop in a dark room to outdoor daylight. It works by extracting depth perception via a real-time process that analyzes skeletal joints, static positions, and dynamic gestures in every frame of video from the 2D camera on any device.
NH: So Top Smash Tennis is a free-to-play game, what sorts of in-app purchases are you planning to offer along with the base game? New player avatars? New levels to play on?
SK: The game initially has three different levels available for play but more advanced levels can be purchased and unlocked using the in-app store.
NH: If Top Smash Tennis is successful, might we see more Top Smash games in the future? Top Smash Baseball perhaps? Or Top Smash Bowling?
SK: Absolutely! Sporting games are a natural fit for motion technology. Extreme Reality is already working on additional sports titles with various content partners.
NH: Awesome, guys thank you so much for your time!
Top Smash Tennis is available now via the Windows 8 app store. For more on Top Smash Tennis and Extreme Reality, be sure to check out their official website and find them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.