Results from Game Design Challenge: DualShock 4

By Danny Cowan [03.19.13]

Last month, amid swirling rumors and speculation, Sony announced its next PlayStation console. While many specifics regarding the PlayStation 4's hardware are still unknown, the console's DualShock 4 controller was showcased in great detail during Sony's two-hour press conference.  

The DualShock 4 retains the familiar shape and button layout of its predecessors, but offers a number of refinements. The Start and Select buttons are nixed in favor of a consolidated Options button, and a Share button has been added, giving players the ability to record, play back, and livestream gameplay in real-time.

The new controller's most striking feature is a two-point capacitative touch pad located where the Start and Select buttons were found on previous DualShock models. A small speaker that is able to emit sound effects during gameplay has also been added.

Another key addition is a light bar on the back of the controller. According to Sony, the light bar's LED will illuminate in various colors in order to identify players, match in-game actions, and indicate changes during gameplay, such as when a character has taken damage.

The light bar interacts with a second peripheral: a dual camera that senses environmental depth and tracks the DualShock 4's movement. The new camera offers four microphones, and supports the PlayStation Move peripheral.

As part of its latest Game Design Challenge, Game Career Guide challenged its readers to create a game for Sony's DualShock 4. Here are our top picks.

Best Entries

Felix Palabrica, Software Engineer, Pure Instinct (see page 2)

Denise Eaton, High School Student, Genitor Cycle (see page 3)

Trey Williamson, UC Berkeley Alumni and Consumer Products Coordinator at Ubisoft, Dark Manor (see page 4)

Jonathan McAfee, Belmont University / Wooded Glen Entertainment, Chunkadomination (see page 5)

Jordan Baum, ARPG Concept (see page 6)

Felix Palabrica, Software Engineer, Pure Instinct


You play as a detective gifted with heightened senses that enables you to realize danger before it actually happens and know the veracity of the statements of people you talk to.

General Control Scheme:

Left Analog Stick - Basic Directional Movement
Right Analog Stick - Interact with People / Examine or Pickup Objects (A prompt will be displayed to indicate which direction will pertain to a specific action)
L1 and R1 - Rotate Camera
L2 - Reset Camera
R2 - Zoom Camera
Right Analog Stick (Zoomed View) - Move line of sight / Aim
X - Run (Hold while doing basic movement)
Circle - Jump
Square -  Light Melee Attack (Fast, Can-Combo) 
Triangle - Heavy Melee Attack (Slow, Chargeable, Combo Ender)

Some In-Game Options:

View Inventory and Use Inventory Item
Journal Entries (Will be updated for any data gathered during investigation)

The game is divided into different types of gameplay:

Free Roam / Investigation

Your character will be displayed in third person view. Explore different places to gather details about the crime scene. You can also acquire different items that may either be a key item for an investigation or a usable item like weapons or healers. When your character senses danger, the controller will vibrate, the LED light bar will change color, and a special sfx will play in the controller's speaker.

Additional Control Scheme: Square and Triangle buttons are disabled in this mode


Your character can interact with different characters and ask questions about an incident. You choose the questions to catch the right information from the person being interrogated. With your heightened senses, you can hear that person's heartbeat (played in the dual shock's speaker). If that person lies, his or her heartbeat becomes faster and louder. From there, all detected lies will be recorded in your journal.

Additional Control Scheme:
Directional Buttons - Choose next question or dialogue (Up to 4 choices per turn).
Other controls are disabled in this mode


Your character will be displayed in third person view except you're in the middle of combat. A basic combo system is implemented by pressing square and triangle in different combinations. You can also use weapons varying from melee to range types.

Additional Control Scheme:
Right Analog Stick -  Aim range weapon while in zoomed view

Adrenaline Rush:

This usually happens when your character is in the moment of danger (e.g. falling crates, exploding barrels, etc.) or in the middle of combat. The view is shifted to slow motion and controls shift to interactive cinematic. On-screen prompts will appear in the form of directional lines. You follow the prompt by drawing a similar line using the controller's touchpad. Untimely respond will result to undesirable results like injury, mission failure, or even death.

Additional Control Scheme: Touchpad - Draw lines as prompted on screen to perform the necessary response for the situation. Other controls are disabled in this mode.

Denise Eaton, High School Student, Genitor Cycle

As the game finishes loading, A Harvest Moon-esque menu fades onto the screen, playing a peaceful melody. "Genitor Cycle: Raise Your Very Own Monster!" is the title that is written at the top of the screen.

You choose the "New Game" option, and a jingle plays. Mid note, the screen goes black and the game becomes silent.

You sit there, confused for a moment. Just before you decide to reboot the system, the controller in your hand rumbles, and the light bar blinks red. A quiet voice begins to sound from the controller.

"They're coming!" the voice sobs. "I'm sorry to take control of your machine but please help me! Please help my child! If you could... Give it a home.. I swear the world would be better for it." The voice pauses to gasp for breath, and you see that an egg has appeared on your screen. "It may not seem important now, but I swear--"

Her voice is cut off by a loud scream and the sound of a splatter.

The egg begins to shudder and crack, and a small, sleepy creature pushes itself out of the eggshell. You stroke the screen on the controller, and it gives intermittent rumbles, like a heartbeat. The creature opens its eyes and the tutorial begins.

The controller is a vital connection to this animal, as it basically represents its body. It rumbles gently when it's happy, violently when it's scared, and just enough to create the sensation of a pulse when it's sleeping. Using the touch screen and motion control, you can stroke it, point at things, or even strike it. The microphone can be used to give it basic commands or simply talk to it. The controller can't interpret small talk of course, but your tone of voice affects how the creature responds. The color of the light bar represents its mood and health.

The game takes place on modern day Earth. Shortly after the tutorial, you and your new friend are pursued by a group of mysterious beasts with unclear goals. This leads into a complex mystery concerning the origins of the egg. While it includes combat, the game focuses on raising the hatched critter as your child. Through triggered scenarios, you build a relationship with it. The choices you make shape its personality, its opinion of you, and even whether it can go into combat against the antagonist race or not.

As the game continues, the child grows and learns at an impossible speed, reaching maturity quickly. On the 30th in-game day, your companion dies of old age.

Even so, the story is far from over. When your creature dies, it leaves behind another egg. The story continues with each generation, their genetics changed through your decisions. Through the intimate controls and complex moral scenarios, Genitor Cycle would aim to invoke a genuine feeling of parental love for the hatched creature, while offering a gameplay experience that could last indefinitely.

Trey Williamson, UC Berkeley Alumni and Consumer Products Coordinator at Ubisoft, Dark Manor

A co-op game of suspense, horror and conspiracy designed for the PS4 and Dual Shock controller.

The Horror Begins

The droning hum of wheels on pavement amplifies the foggy morning stupor. Muted police chatter wafts from the 2-way, empty coffee cups rest in their holders but impart neither spirit nor strength.

You round a wide bend in the road and your eyes drift off the road to the tall pines and bone white birch woods. Between the canopies flashes a lone stone spire and a frantic recorded radio message blares over the police frequencies, startling you and your partner. You jar the wheel and the car skids on slushy snow. It swerves and crashes into the guardrail.  Memories of the dark events surrounding the disappearance of your friend and mentor lay heavy on your conscience...that voice was unmistakable, you know who it is and where to go.

An hour later you find yourself at a mansion with the spire tower. The front door is unlocked from the outside, inviting you in. You cross the threshold and the door closes leaving you with nothing but darkness and the sounds of movement.

The Game

Dark Manor is a new interactive interpretation of the traditional survival horror game, utilizing the touch, speaker, motion and headphone features of the dualshock controller and the seamless multiplayer of the playstation network. You are trapped in the darkness of the Elrid Manor, forced to navigate the hellish darkness of the building while avoiding its horrific denizens. The manor's lit sanctuary rooms allow you to upgrade your character's abilities (fight/sneak/puzzle) and equipment. They can also hold resources and clues that will help you through the manor.

The Controller

The features of the Dual Shock controller are fully utilized to simulate a terrifying and exhilarating experience. With headphones plugged into the jack, the horrors of the manor will growl, scrape and moan in the darkness all around you in full stereo. With the Dual Shock 4 held in front of you, the motion control and force feedback becomes your divining rod, guiding while you sneak past hostiles. The touch pad becomes the precision you need to pick locks and solve puzzles.


Movement: When the player wants to move quickly, they will use joysticks to navigate the mansion. When there are strong hostiles nearby players can use the controller's motion control to sneak past. The headphones tell you where hostiles are and the force feedback indicates when you are too close.

Navigation: Fellow players can join open games at any time. They can talk through your earpiece to provide information about the location of hostiles, hidden passages and even floor plans they uncovered in their own game.

Puzzles: Pick locks and outsmart booby-traps using the controller touch pad.

Fighting: Battle with the terrors of the manor using equipment and weapons found in rooms. The controllers six axis will save you when creatures grab hold of your weapons or limbs. 

Jonathan McAfee, Belmont University / Wooded Glen Entertainment, Chunkadomination

Title: Chunkadomination: the Incredible Discovery of a Most Powerful and Mighty Thing

Genre: First Person/ Tower Defense/ Platformer

Story: Hailing from the planet Chunkadom, home to a peaceful race of rock golems, you and your fellow Chunkies have discovered the most incredible artifact while exploring a new world!  It has given all of you the power to levitate objects, and manipulate the world around you in extraordinary ways.  But wouldn't you know it,  you are invaded by hostile aliens!  The Speckle-dash, a greedy race of insects, want the artifact to turn the rock golems into slaves.

Using the new found powers, you must make it safely back to your rocket ship.

Motive: You and up to three friends must build fortresses to fight off waves of enemies and progress through the world's environments to reach safety.  Every member of the team has a special ability:

The Materialist- can create objects out of nothing, used for building (doors, ramps, walls).
The Builder- can adhere objects together to create structures.
The Healist- can repair damaged materials and teammates.
The Prankster- can create traps to help slow enemies.

Everyone has a hammer, sand blast shotgun, automatic pebble rifle, and diamond cal sniper gun, all with basic upgrade paths for more customization.  After fending off a wave, you'll have time to move on to a new location and build a new fort before the enemies come again.

Mechanics: The main mechanic is altering the world around you.  This is accomplished by approaching objects, and tapping "x".  From here you can do a few things:

1. Using the Move sensor, you can alter where in the game the object is located.  If you lift your controller above your head, you will lift the object on screen above your head.  If you move your controller to the right of your body, the object will mimic this motion.  You could hold a box for a friend to jump on and reach an otherwise unreachable area.  You could lift a rock over your head and throw it at an approaching enemy, or just tweak the walls of your fort.

2. Slide your finger on the touch pad to rotate the selected object.  If you find a normal looking rock, you might pick it up and rotate it only to realize that it's part of a stairwell.  You might remember passing a ruined stairwell on you way here and go back to find that the piece fits and you are able to progress up the stairs to the next area of the game.

3. Pinch and spread your fingers on the touchpad to enlarge or shrink the size of an object.  This could be useful if you are trying to get a key through a crack in the wall to one of your teammates on the other side.  It also could be used to make a giant weapon that you swing at the incoming insects.
Only your imagination will limit you.

Jordan Baum, ARPG Concept

A concept for an ARPG in which the way you fight would be changed by using on one of four elemental states: Earth, Wind, Water, or Fire. Depending on which state you are in you will have different attacks at your disposal. The game's combat would be stylized and very fast paced like a spectacle fighter such as Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.
Earth would cause you to take less damage from basic attacks. In addition earth's abilities would emphasize earthquake style moves that would knock enemies into the air.

Wind let's you move and attack faster allowing you to lengthen combos and do more damage, you can also fly up into the air to continue attacking enemies that you knocked up with Earth's earthquakes.
Water has an emphasis on ranged attacks and would be effective against enemies that have a lot of area of effect damage. Water also has slows and crowd control with ice spells that can be used to kite enemies that you don't want to fight up close.

Fire has a lot of aoe attacks making it effective for large groups of small enemies. It also has some single target attacks that burn through damage reduction making it effective against tanky enemies. Using Fire directly after using Water's crowd control would allow you to take down slow Earth enemies or set up or your foes for massive damage with an area of effect attack.

With these abilities Water would beat both Earth and Fire by keeping them away with crowd control and ranged attacks. Fire would beat both Earth and Wind as you could simply use AOE attacks when wind characters got close and Earth's defense wouldn't matter against Fire's single target attacks. Meanwhile Earth and Air would be effective against non-elemental characters. Earth could use defense to ignore their attacks and knock them up, or you can switch to air in order to take them on with massive combos and out manuevering them. Bosses would use multiple forms and require you to switch forms as you fought in order to beat them.

You would change forms by tapping on the left or right side of the PS4's touch pad to cycle through. This would leave the rest of the buttons free for opening your inventory, blocking and dodging. The LED would change from Red, Blue, White, or Green depending on the form you are currently using.

Battle's would not be random, instead enemies will spawn and roam an area and if they spot you then the game will transition into the battle as the enemies reach you. After the fight you will be given a grade that will be influenced by the amount of damage taken, either a variety or counter bonus based on the type of enemy and which forms you used to defeat them, and style based on your combo. This grade will affect the amount of experience you gain from the battle.

Leveling up will give you skill points to unlock new attacks and boosts for your four forms. There are no stats meaning if you are skilled enough then you can take on anything at level one. Which would allow for pacifist runs of the game. Instead of equipment you can find items called aspects. You equip these to each form and they are like perks, adding an effect to a certain ability or giving you a buff while using that form.

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