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Harmonix Music VR coming to Project Morpheus

Get ready to lose yourself in your favorite songs

You know what’s weird? Music visualizers. You know what’s even weirder? Virtual Reality. So if there’s one thing you can say about Harmonix Music VR – my company’s first foray into the medium, and an attempt to define the category of “VR music visualization” – it’s that it’s one wonderfully weird project. It takes any song you give it and generates a unique, musically-driven event sequence. The resulting experiences range from subtly magical to outright psychedelic, depending on the world you select. Sometimes fireflies show up to compliment a relaxing melody, and sometimes stars descend to engulf you in synesthetic spirals of color. It’s definitely weird. And as the title’s creative lead, I couldn’t be happier about that.

We set out to accomplish a lot with this software. For starters, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with VR as a medium. We have a long history of making music games, but how much would we have to relearn to make quality VR? Additionally, we recognized that with Morpheus, Sony was about to provide one of the most thoroughly immersive platforms in the history of technology, and we couldn’t wait to use that immersion as an aid for musical appreciation. I mean, when was the last time you sat down and just listened to a record? I’ve heard that people did that back in the 70’s, but if you’re like me and most people I know, you most often consume music as an activity enhancer – livening up your commute, making exercise less horrible, etc. Just sitting still and listening tends to make us 21st Century multitaskers kind of restless and distractible. But music provides so much worth focusing on and appreciating!

Now, a lot of people find that having a simple task to focus on helps them relax and appreciate what they’re hearing. So what if we could provide not just activities, but actual environments that were themselves an expression of your music? What if we could provide an escape where your favorite songs weren’t just the soundtrack, but the defining aspect of your surroundings, where your very sense of space complemented the sounds filling your ears? Wouldn’t that be a whole new kind of mind-blowing?

Of course, there are a lot of songs out there, and a lot of different types of music and music listeners, each with their own expectations and listening preferences. And there are countless potential ways of mapping musical qualities to spatial qualities. And that’s where things get weird.

Traditional, old-school music visualizers are many and varied, but all of them were limited to a 2D screen and the use of real-time audio spectrum analysis. With Harmonix Music VR, we have control over every aspect of your surroundings, using our internally-developed, amazingly effective song analysis voodoo. We still use real-time data, but we can also look at the entire song, break it into sections, identify specific drum hits, and even categorize the feel of song sections to drive the visual and environmental transformations.

So maybe you just want to relax, listen to some chill tunes, and vibe out on a beach where the weather patterns reflect the mood of your song’s sections. Or maybe you feel like having a more energetic trip through a variety of intensely reactive spaces. Maybe you like familiar environments with flourishes of musical reactivity, or maybe you just want to be somewhere impossible to really escape with your songs. We don’t want to make those decisions for you, so we’re building a bunch of different worlds, each with its own vibe and level of intensity. Within worlds, you can even interact with objects to trigger further experiential shifts. Two of our worlds will be available to try at E3 (and I hope to see you there if you’re able to swing by!), but believe me, they are just the tip of one big, trippy iceberg.

9 Comments
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1

Good news, I quite like what Harmonix produces but with all the VR tech coming out over the next year I didn’t want to have to get a Samsung one just to see this.

I can definitely see that while playing Hotline Miami Soundtrack

ShadowFlightBA 17 June, 2015 @ 22:28
3

Wow, sorry to say so, but Project Morpheus is really looking like a toy now. I’m pretty sure that it’s not going to be cheap, yet all the games revealed so far do not even remotely warrant buying it. Are you just building up the tension and will the good stuff come later or is this all we can expect? If you really plan on making Project Morpheus a success, it’s time to bring out the good stuff. Otherwise Project Morpheus will end up like Playstation gadgets before…. cool, but not worth it.

3.1

Spoken like someone with no knowledge in the technical barriers that come with VR. Current game graphics in a fully interactive virtual reality environment are simply not possible, yet. For now we’re going to see simply graphics in more action oriented titles and very life-like graphics in the better “walking simulators” but it is still early days for this tech.

For what it’s worth, I have my own concerns about Morpheus but based more around what isn’t being said rather than what has been revealed so far.

Function – for me this is where Morpheus either loves or dies. We keep hearing the words “Morpheus compatible” or “supports Morpheus” with certain games. So is this a device that only works with specific software? If so then its dead before release because those of us who remember peripherals like Move or Eyetoy (or even just the PS4 camera which has just one game that uses it and only one app) know that after a few months that, a year at the most there will be nothing else coming ...

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Spoken like someone with no knowledge in the technical barriers that come with VR. Current game graphics in a fully interactive virtual reality environment are simply not possible, yet. For now we’re going to see simply graphics in more action oriented titles and very life-like graphics in the better “walking simulators” but it is still early days for this tech.

For what it’s worth, I have my own concerns about Morpheus but based more around what isn’t being said rather than what has been revealed so far.

Function – for me this is where Morpheus either loves or dies. We keep hearing the words “Morpheus compatible” or “supports Morpheus” with certain games. So is this a device that only works with specific software? If so then its dead before release because those of us who remember peripherals like Move or Eyetoy (or even just the PS4 camera which has just one game that uses it and only one app) know that after a few months that, a year at the most there will be nothing else coming out for it. The ability to use this as a head mounted display as an alternative to a regular screen is absolutely essential yet Sony outright refuses to confirm if this functionality will be available.

Audio – there’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the device but the overhead comfort bar means we’re unable to wear any kind of decent headset. What is the point of the total immersion visuals that Morpheus will create of the audio is so poor?

Price – we all know this thing will be expensive, just how expensive we don’t yet know. The smart money says that Sony know better than to price it above the PS4 itself, but to get that sort of price point they will have to manufacture millions of them and risk being stuck with them if nobody buys them.

Availability – so this one is a little less known. No official Sony peripheral has ever released on time in the UK. The PS4 “gold” headset was subject to not one but three date changes as shipments were sent to the US instead. The same happened with PS4 camera for the whole of Europe and looking back to last gen, every official headset, the Move controller and then”sharpshooter” attachment all missed their official street dates. When we consider that all of these bar the PS4 camera had staggered releases the idea that dates were missed reveal a sort of incompetence that is rarely seen in global retail. I think we can look forward to seeing a US release date by the end of the year with Europe’s release date being held back and subject to change.

Exactly why I’m moving away from Morpheus and towards Oculus or StarVR. If I’m going to invest $250+ in VR I’m going to want to get the most out of it but judging from Sony’s lack of support for their previous peripherals their current stance on 3D, I feel Morpheus is going to be extremely limited.
PS4 has almost NO 3D games after 1.5 years yet almost all games have 3D support on PC, imagine this scenario when Morpheus and Oculus launch, I’ll put my money where the games are.

What a great idea and a great way to enjoy music! Project Morpheus looks like it will have something for everyone!

4.1

What I want is to have that anime diva idol chick Hatsune Miku in VR so I can interact with her heh hehe heh (drool) and “interact” I definitely will!

5

Regardless of what opinions anyone has to say, but Im going to get this Project Morpheus and already asked Virtuix Omni if they will make their device compatible with PS4. With the PS4 Camera stationary, Morpheus active and V. Omni attached, I actually would not mind running away from flesh eating zombies or chase after some anime chicks lol

5.1

It would actually prevent me from running into things when I can combine them all together.

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