GDC News: Sony’s Project Morpheus, Oculus Rift Dev Kit
At this years Game Developers Conference, Sony revealed their next gen experience for the PS4 to be the virtual reality headset currently called Project Morpheus. Apparently the headset utilizes a 1080p goggle screen fitted with gyroscope sensors, 3D audio technology, the Playstation Move controller, the Dualshock controller, and the Playstation Camera to handle providing the virtual reality experience of a lifetime.
Sony explained that this has been an ongoing project since 2010 and they are now ready to begin demonstrating their work. Those at the conference are being treated to demonstrations with the all new Sony tech. A clear competitor with the Oculus Rift technology, Project Morpheus clearly is Sony’s cross hook to Microsoft’s flailing Kinect technology. Where developers have been EXTREMELY sparse in exclusive development for and with the Kinect, it seems more likely that developers will have a hard time developing for virtual reality tech.
This is probably due to the fact that the goggles immerse you in the experience without sacrificing the gameplay precision that a controller delivers. Still, this console version of virtual reality tech looks to be at least a year or so away as the title ‘Project’ lets you know that this is still a prototype that is not ready for a clear release date. Developers are just now getting their hands on the development kit for Project Morpheus during GDC.
The excitement around this announcement is very high given the large and growing PS4 user-base. There will probably be much more gaming support around having VR modes for games. There could even be a growing surge of space combat sims or flying sims given this tech really enhances this genre in a big way.
Proof of these were early demos of a space combat sim called Eve: Valkyrie which is set to be a PS4 and Oculus Rift exclusive. Early reports are that the game is intense and will tie in (of course) with Dust 514 (which is a PS3 exclusive) and Eve Online.
On the Oculus Rift side of the fence, it seems that Valve (game developer that powers steampowered.com, Portal, Half-Life, and Team Fortress) has joined in the Oculus revolution to work with their Steam Machines that are currently in beta as well. To confuse things even more, there are further rumors that Valve has their own VR headset prototype that is even better than the Oculus Rift. We’ll see what is really true in the coming months though.
In early hands-on demos at GDC, critics have stated differences between the Oculus Rift tech and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Of note was the fact that Project Morpheus is still able to track movements and what you are doing if you have your back to the console or camera. This is probably due to the Playstation Move sensors and additional tech that the Oculus Rift does not utilize. Still, with the latest Oculus Rift dev kit release, there was talk that the motion blur effect when moving your head too fast is reduced moreso than these early demos of Project Morpheus.
The real question will be whether or not these developers will have the motion sickness concerns taken care of. Oculus Rift claims to have eliminated this effect but we’ll see if it is a concern that Project Morpheus avoids or has to overcome as well.
Slowly but surely, the age of the Lawnmower Man will be upon us!