Interviews

Kung Fu Live: 'A crap load of different tech put together'

Virtual Air Guitar Company brings motion control to PSN

Although Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move are currently dominating the motion gaming stage with grand promises of one-to-one control and full body tracking, developer Virtual Air Guitar Company has quietly created a PlayStation Network title that can stand toe-to-toe with the motion gaming Goliaths using only the humble PlayStation Eye Camera.

Kung Fu Live is developed by a collective of computer vision and virtual reality researchers and is a unique game that uses proprietary technology to remove players from their surroundings and track their skeletal movements all in the name of a good Kung Fu beat down.

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With the title scheduled for release tomorrow on PSN, we took the opportunity to sit down with Virtual Air Guitar Company to talk about Kung Fu Live and how Sony's PS3 could be more than capable on creating experiences on par with Kinect.

So what is Kung-fu and how did the game come about?

A lot of our background is connected with virtual reality and new human computer interfaces and we wanted to bring some of that to gaming.

We set up a company in 2006 and started doing our first game, which was a virtual air guitar game where you put the player in front a huge virtual crowd, it was like a karaoke game.

We sold that project and it hasn't come out and probably won't but this game, Kung Fu Live, is going to come out.

It's our second game, but the first to come out, it uses proprietary computer vision technology so the PlayStation 3's Eye camera can be used, it does background removal and skeleton tracking so it knows what's your hand and what's your leg, it's basically an intuitive way to whoop ass in front of the character.

As a camera game it's a little more hardcore than most, there's quite a bit of gameplay depth so it's not just flailing around, that won't work on some of the harder difficulty levels.

Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the technology and how it works?

Yes, it's our own technology that we researched; we have five computer vision doctorates in our company who have been developing it from the University projects.

It's a crap load of different technologies put together and a few really smart algorithms that let us do the skeleton tracking and background removal.

Judging from the technology it looks like the PS3 is capable of creating experiences similar to Kinect.

That's what has caught a lot of attention online, we're a small company but since this is the year of motion gaming we're pretty much standing in the middle of it by bringing the same kind of functionality to the PlayStation.

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Do you think it's fair to say that Kinect isn't too far ahead of what you're already doing on PS3?

Yes, we're doing a similar type of skeletal tracking and we are using a normal 2D camera, whereas Kinect has a depth camera, but the result is the same.

It's a hard question to answer, it's similar technology but obviously the hardware is different.

How does the PlayStation Move work with this?

We haven't integrated it into this game, but we are working on it. So you could have augmented weapons with the Move controllers in your hands, it wouldn't be just fist fighting, you could have anything from a Sword to a cup or whatever.

With this game you can take everyday objects, lets say a plastic chicken, and use that as a weapon in the game since it scans them in. The Move support will be for the sequel I guess, for this game we didn't have enough time, we wanted to release the game.

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