PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny 'tried out a tremendous number of things' – including measuring galvanic skin response – before settling on the final FPS-centric design.
Imagine a games console that senses you aren't getting pumped up enough by a game, and so increases the intensity until it quite literally gets your juices flowing. The PS4 could have been that console.
Lead system architect Mark Cerny has revealed that, during the DualShock 4's development, Sony trialled gamepads capable of measuring players' galvanic skin response. It's a measure of how conductive your skin is at any given time, which varies based on how much you're sweating. When you're stressed, you sweat more, and that's why galvanic skin response is often used in lie-detecting polygraph tests.
"We had a long research project where we looked at pretty much any idea we could think of," says Cerny. "Would it help to measure the galvanic response of the skin? We tried out a tremendous number of things - and then we went to the game teams to ask them what they thought they could use from the controller."
Cerny's 30-plus-year career has taken in the likes of Marble Madness and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. After a stint working as a consultant for Sony Worldwide Studios, he's taken on his biggest gig yet – devising the hardware specification of Sony's next-gen console, while also developing PS4 launch title Knack.
Back to the drawing board
Although stress-sensing skin sensors didn't make the cut, the PS4 controller does feature a touch pad, among other developer-approved refinements. But as well as adding bells and whistles to the DualShock 4, Cerny's team focused on the core gaming experience – particularly first-person shooters.
"Historically we have heard many times that our controllers have not been ideal for first-person shooters," he admits, "so we wanted to make sure we had something that would be much better for that genre. We tested the throw of the triggers, the position of the triggers, how much pressure it takes. We looked at the joysticks, the dead spot, we looked at convexity and concavity." The end result, he says, "feels extraordinarily natural."
"I haven't heard a negative comment about it yet," he says. "For a controller with a very different form factor that was just amazing to see."
Having got our hands on the DualShock 4, Stuff can confirm that it walks all over its predecessor. Now, if only that rumoured November 13th release date would roll around…