Impressions of PS3 from a UX Perspective

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I recently just dropped 4 Benjamins on a PS3. Although I am super busy and doubted that I would have time to play, I rationalized that I eventually wanted to be able to check out Mortal Kombat vs DC coming out later this year in November. Along with it, I got 2 games: Heavenly Sword and Soul Calibur 4.

From power on to play time: ~ 10 minutes. OK, why can’t I just turn on the system, pop in a game and start playing? The minute I turn on the system, I am prompted to set up the machine. This includes setting up the time, picking the language, setting up your wireless network, yada yada. You think you’d be done, but once you are up with your wireless the system lets you know there is a new version of the firmware and that you have to upgrade.

OK, while I’m writing this review, my wireless connection on the PS3 just died for no reason. I still have my wireless on my mac just fine thank you very much. This is super lame. Somehow it can’t seem to find my wireless access point anymore. I tried the universal fix – rebooting. That seemed to fix it.

Back to the reivew. So I pop in Heavenly Sword. Turns out it needs to “install” the game on the 80GB harddrive. WTF? It’s a friggin Blu Ray disc. So I wait say another 5 minutes while it installs the game and finally I get to play. The graphics for Heavenly Sword are just phenomenal, but I’m going to keep the review of the PS3, and not the games.


Screenshot of Heavenly Sword

The PS3 has an online component called the Playstation Network which for now only has the Playstation Store. To connect to the Playstation Store, I need to create an online account and enter my billing info so that I can purchase online games and what not. OK, no big deal. I have to say, filling out forms using the control pad is a pain but I’m not sure how I would do it. I wonder if I can hook up a USB keyboard to the PS3.

Without the Playstation Store, I think the PS3 experience would be pretty lame. Here, I can download the latest game trailers, demos, and even purchase whole games. I’m a big Tekken fan, and they have an HD version of Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection which I already had for the PSP. I decided to download that which was a 500MB download. Here’s what I find extremely annoying. First of all, I can download something over and over again. The PS3 doesn’t have any intelligence in knowing that I’m already downloading said file and prompt me. Because I didn’t know what i was doing, I ended up setting up 3 Tekken downloads. I had to cancel the other 2. Oh, and once I finish downloading and want to play the game, it needs to install the game. Contrast this experience to that of the iPhone where you download an app from the app store. Both the download and the install are treated as one experience. Why reveal how the backend works to me? What do I care. Just assume whatever I download, I want to install and do it automagically without me having to think about it or take further action.

Let’s talk about the PS3 interface, called the Cross Media Bar (XMB for short). I found that navigating it is pretty easy. It’s a bit hard to describe, but essentially you navigate the first level menu through a horizontal menu system. Once you pick which menu item you want, you navigate the secondary level of the menu vertically using the up and down buttons. The one drawback with this navigation system is that content is NOT king. As you can see from the screenshot below, your applications are reduced to the size of icons that don’t even take up 5% of your screen. I can’t help but feel that the user interface gets in the way of the content. My other gripe is that the font is waaay too small. I’m sitting 15 feet away from the screen and I feel the font is equivalent to a 9 pixel font on my laptop screen.


Screenshot of XMB user interface

All gripping aside, I do like that the downloads happen in the background. I read that the first version of Xbox 360 live, the downloads did not run in the background and that you had to wait till it completed. There are other aspects of the PS3 interface that I haven’t explored yet such as the media center stuff and the multiplayer experience. There’s also a web browser with links to YouTube and Twitter directly. I looked up my 720 jump kick and watched it from my PS3 – hahaha. There’s also integration with the PSP, Sony’s handheld gaming device which have yet to explore. Keep an eye out for part 2 of this review.

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MK vs DC E3 2008 Trailer is out

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I’ve been waiting for this forever. Actually I’d rather see the cinematic intro, but short of that – the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2008 is going on right now and Midway Games finally has a new trailer for the new kid on the block – Mortal Kombat vs DC Comics.

Keep an eye out for the Sonya handstand throw at 49 seconds into the trailer. That was yours truly baby.

I have to say, this is probably the one MK game that I’m most excited about. After having seen the game in development, I feel like this is the best one that we’re doing so far. The graphics are by far the best that I’ve seen. This of course is due to the fact that it’s going to be one the new platforms Xbox360 and PS3. Sadly I have neither.

For more of my articles related to Mortal Kombat click here.

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6/27/2008 Weekly Favorite Links

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This week will be a mixed bag of links from every and any subject matter. It’s whatever I thought was funny or cool or just wanted to share with my readers.

I want to finish off with this really cool video of Carnegie Melon’s slithering robot that swims in the water.

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Mortal Kombat Intros – All the Ones That I Did

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So this is my 5 minute brush with fame. Since 2001, I’ve been involved with the Mortal Kombat video game franchise as a motion capture artist. In layman’s speak, I do the martial arts moves that the video game characters do in the game. When it’s mentioned people always wonder what my involvement was and I always tell them to look on Youtube. To make it easy for me, I’ve decided to consolidate all the stuff I did for the Mortal Kombat games so far in one easy to find blog post.


Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance

This was the first MK game I was involved in. So I lied about the title because this is not technically an intro, but I didn’t have anything to do with the intro of this game. However, I feel like this teaser trailer clip is reflective of the work I did for the game. Keep an eye out for a 720 front sweep with a broadsword at 0:34. Ah, those were the days.


Mortal Kombat Deception

I have a little beef with this game because somebody at Midway dropped the ball and as a result, my friend Kevin and I were not credited. That said however, I really loved the intro. Kevin, Carlos (Pesina) and I pretty much did the whole intro. During the 3 man fight, I was Raiden – how cool is that? When it was just the 2 bad guys, I was Shang Tsung and Kevin played Quan Chi. What’s funny is at the time – I had long hair and Kevin shaved his head. I wonder if that had anything to do with the characters we played. Personally I had a different idea of where to take the fight. If Raiden could teleport at will, I would have had him simultaneously fight the 2 bad guys, teleporting all over the place. Imagine a Dragon Ball fight scene where he teleports behind, kicks the guy, guy flies over, he teleports above, bashes them down followed by a lightning bolt. I think that would have been pretty cool.


Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks

This game is a departure from the regular MK franchise in that it wasn’t a one-on-one fight game, but a platform fighter ala Double Dragon or Golden Axe from the old days. I don’t recall doing too many moves for the actual gameplay but we were heavily involved in the cinematic intro. Although you see many characters on screen at once, most of it was done by Kevin and I. I got to play Liu Kang in this one. Apparently I ham it up pretty well.


Mortal Kombat Armageddon

The MK Armageddon cinematic intro was probably one of the biggest undertakings of the MK franchise as far as intros were concerned. All the characters in the MK universe were present for one big battle. This cinematic was fun for 2 reasons: 1 we got to play with weapons and 2 we had to work with a staircase for the pyramid fights. I got to reprise my role as Liu Kang – this time as a cool undead zombie wield double chains.

Recently, my friend Ray and I have been working on MK vs DC. I don’t want to give too much away, but from what I’ve seen of the game so far, it’s going to rock. You guys at E3 are going to be in for a real treat. If only I can get Ed Boon to let me go to E3 on Midway dime. One can dream. Click here for some photos of me doing motion capture for the MK vs DC.

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Mortal Kombat vs DC Teaser Trailer Is Out

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The teaser trailer for the new Mortal Kombat video game was just released earlier today. My colleague Dr. Raymond Wu and I performed motion capture for this trailer last year in the summer.

Duuuude. I was sooooo disappointed. We spent a whole day choreographing and shooting and this is what they have to show for. I was so looking forward to seeing what they did with all the motion capture footage. Over two thirds the trailer doesn’t even show anything, just a bunch of shapes and text. What a waste. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

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