As part of continuing GDC 2014 coverage, Cymatic Bruce and myself had our first opportunity to experience Sony’s new Project Morpheus, the PS4 VR dev kit, earlier today.
How Does it Feel to Wear?
Brian: I found it a little awkward to figure out how it fits on your head. The design of it looks very well polished, but it’s a little less intuitive to place onto your head than the Oculus Rift, and it’s less obvious how to make adjustments for fit. The Sony rep giving the demo worked with me to achieve a comfortable fit. Since the Sony Morpheus sort of sits on top of your head instead of being strapped on, I did have the impression a few times that it might fall off, but that was unfounded as it stayed securely in place once I started whipping my head around.
Bruce: Comfortable in some ways, uncomfortable in others. Overall the unit was less stifling than the Rift, with more airflow around the face. The sweet spot seemed to be quite loose (which is a good thing), however after several minutes of play, near the end of the second demo (Eve: Valkyrie), it was definitely bearing down on my glasses, causing pain on the bridge of my nose. I’m not sure if it was a design issue or an adjustment issue.
What Were the Demos?
Brian: Two demo experiences were shown today. The first, called The Deep, puts you underwater in a shark cage, which is similar to the Game of Thrones experience put on recently at SXSW in Austin in that they both take place in confined spaces, so they don’t have to account for player movement. As an experience, it was ok. The game itself was well done, and the shark looked amazing, but I think I was just looking for a different kind of experience… which I definitely got in the second demo, the unreleased-but-already-famous Eve: Valkyrie. I won’t review the game here, but it’s a terrific game in its own right right, and a great showcase of Morpheus’ strengths. Eve offers the same advantage as The Deep in that you’re sitting in a cockpit, a confined space.
Bruce: Both demos were solid. The first demo, The Deep, was definitely playing to the strengths of the hardware. It was passive; not much to do but experience it. I can understand their choice of demo given the type of consumer they’re targeting. Eve was great as always but seemed to be missing some graphics components that were in the Oculus Rift version. The targeting reticle was simplified and there were some panels missing from the cockpit.
How is the Hardware?
Brian: Positional tracking didn’t work at the beginning of my demo of The Deep, but the rep made some adjustments and it started. After that, I was able to look down and see my knees, and when I bent down in real life, I could see my avatar’s knees bend and I crouched closer to the bottom of the cage. I was also able to pitch forward and my torso would move closer to the edge of the cage. In Eve, I was able to lean forward to look more closely at the cockpit, and, hilariously, was able to detach my head from my torso from leaning way back.
The image quality was, frankly, stunning. As mentioned, the games themselves are very well done, and I had to concentrate hard to break the illusion and try to see individual pixels, and this is with me whipping my head around like a crazy person trying to make the image skip or blur.
I did experience slight disorientation in Eve, and it was only in certain cases where a ship was passing very close to me at a high rate of speed. Even now I’m not able to put my finger on what the issue was, but I felt ‘unsettled’ somehow by something I couldn’t consciously perceive. It would be interesting to record that at a high frame rate and play it back to see if there’s something going on.
Bruce: The positional tracking was solid for the most part. I did encounter occasional hiccups and jumps in my position, but when it worked, it worked very well. I would say the DK2 still has more precise positioning. The controller tracking was also very good in the The Deep demo. The controller only rotated the hand; the arm’s position wasn’t tracked. It was kind of cool that the crouching made the avatar crouch.
The screen was very clear, with the screen door effect hardly noticeable. There was still quite a bit of motion blur with rapid head movement, especially with the neon lettering in Eve Valkyrie.
Road to VR has been invited back tomorrow for two new experiences. Please respond with what else you’d like to know in the comments, and we’ll try to address them in tomorrow’s demo.