Making the Users Happy
Sony recently announced two big pieces of news sure to make its PlayStation 4 owners very happy. First, a new virtual reality gear called Project Morpheus and second, a system update that will eliminate streaming restrictions.
At the 2014 Game Developers Conference, Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, announced the Morpheus system and introduced its functions.
While Morpheus will not be the first attempt at virtual reality gameplay, it does represent one of the biggest ventures to date. With Sony leading the charge and funding the bill, users may get the first VR system of high quality at an affordable price.
The design allows users to place the device over their head and look through a set of built-in googles. Once affixed, the reality of the game is shown on the single screen. Head movements are then picked up by the Morpheus sensors, revealing scenery in whichever direction the user turns. Other movements rely on the Sony’s motion capture system, the PlayStation Move. Together, the systems allows users to feel immersed in the simulated environment before them.
Though the Morpheus system was designed primarily for gameplay, Sony’s ambitions are larger than just entertainment. At GDC, Sony representatives named NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory as agencies with which they are working.
“They’re already trying to use VR to do immersive science and we would love to make hardware good enough to for them to be able to do that,” said Dr. Richard Marks, head of Sony’s research and development department. He went on to describe different scenarios that the Morpheus could one day be used for, such as viewing the surface of Mars in real time.
“VR is a medium, not a peripheral,” said Anton Mikhailov, Sony’s R&D senior software engineer. Mikhailov spoke directly to game designers about making games for Project Morpheus. He encouraged them to try to make players feel like they in the game when designing for the Morpheus.
“Presence is the killer app,” he said, and expressed that games would only be one type of content for Morpheus.
Alongside this news, Sony also released information about its upcoming firmware update for the PS4. The new 1.70 update will allow users to turn off High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) for high-definition gameplay captures. Users will also be able to save video and screen shots to USB drives. The update comes after Sony previously mentioned removing HDCP restrictions. A video editor is also being released with the update.
“We recognize that some gamers want to record and share longer clips of their gameplay sessions, and we’re excited to deliver this option with PS4,” said Scott McCarthy, a representative from Sony.
To accommodate the graphics of the PS4, popular streaming sites such as Ustream and Twitch will also have their resolution boosted to 720p in a future update.
A timeline for either update was not revealed, though an announcement from Sony confirmed that the 1.70 update would occur “in the upcoming weeks.”
With these announcements, Sony has taken giant steps to satisfy its fan base, and, for the most part, it seems to be working. Now if they could just match their supply of PS4s with the demand.