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PSU Interview: TN Games

25 February 2007

Hidden from nerd radar comes a new technology dubbed the ForceWear Vest. Developed by Dr. Mark Ombrellaro and TN Games, the ForceWear Vest will be the next step in rumble gaming where the player will wear a full upper body vest equipped with 8 pressure areas. Imagine playing Killzone 2 where you will not only feel rumble but the cuff of every bullet entering your CGI body, or playing Burnout 5 and feeling the kick and thrash of your collisions.

PSU contacted Mark Ombrellaro, CEO of TN Games and obtained some new information on the ForceWear Vest. Here is the interview:

PSU: How long has TN Games been working on ForceWear?

Mark Ombrellaro: At TN Games we have been working on ForceWear Vest for the past six years.
 
PSU: How does the ForceWear Vest actually work? Do you feel pressure in certain areas, is it inch-by-inch accuracy, etc.?

Mark: The ForceWear Vest is a wearable force generation system developed by TNGames for videogames. The system consists of 2 major parts: wearable force generating vest and the controlling software library. The controlling code is available to game developers to integrate into their videogames and control the functionality of the Forcewear vest.
 
Currently, the video game industry uses vibration as a rough proxy for tactile events within the video game environment. With Forcewear, tactile events and impact within the game are actually imparted to the user. The vest contains 8 points of contact (4 in front and 4 in back) and can generate up to 10 lbs of force at each contact point. With Forcewear, various impacts such as single gunshot wounds, multiple gunshot wounds (machine gun and shot gun), through and through missile injuries, blasts, kicks, and punches can be directed to the player. ForceWear is also directional so that action-taking place outside the player¹s field of view can also be felt. A player facing forward who is being hit by gunfire from behind will actually feel the gunfire in their back while they may not be otherwise aware of this using standard visual display cues.
 
In addition to shooter information, ForceWear can also be used to impart G-force effects for driving/racing or aerial flight content.
 
PSU: How is the vest programmed to know what the game is doing to release the actions needed?

Mark: The controlling code is available to game developers to integrate into their videogames and control the functionality of the Forcewear vest. This allows the game developer to maximize the accuracy and directionality of the ForceWear effects.
 
PSU: The vest is customizable, how so?

Mark: The vest will have options to customize its look. At present, there will beversions geared towards shooter games (black tactical jacket and Camo look) as well as a look for racing (flame suit appearance). There will be accessory products for adding additional contact points to arms, legs, and the head. There will also be the ability to add parts to the jacket to
customize its appearance to tie specifically with game content. At TN Games we feel passionately that players be part of the action.
 
PSU: What platforms do you plan to have the vest compatible with and will it be only for certain games or can all past and future games work with it?

Mark: ForceWear is being introduced on the PC platform and we are working on having the technology enabled on all of the various console platforms. We are currently working with major game developers to integrate our controlling software into several older and upcoming titles.
 
PSU: When is the expected release of the ForceWear Vest?

Mark: TN Games will unleash ForceWear Vest in November 2007.
 
PSU: What will be the retail price range?

Mark: We are working to determine a price.
 
PSU: Anything else you'd like to add?

Mark: As a company, one of our favorite things is watching someone experience ForceWear for the first time. From the young gamer to the hardened industry veteran, all have been astonished by how much TN Games¹ ForceWear Vest amplifies the gaming experience. Describing it to people is like trying to explain the first television program or the genesis of the Internet. Once you try it, regular video based content alone is never enough. ForceWear redefines the concept of interactive entertainment.

We'd like to thank Mark for the interview and we are looking forward to providing everyone a full review of the ForceWear Vest while attending GDC this March, so stay tuned.


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