Thursday, October 16, 2014

Is Virtual Reality The Next Step In Gaming Technology?

As many of us gamers are well aware of, graphics are getting exceedingly better as our game systems progress. Remember when we saw Crash Bandicoot for the first time and though "Holy crap! This looks awesome!". Then we saw "Mercenaries" or some other PS2 game and thought the same thing. Then came the PS3's graphics. We saw "Resistance: Fall of Man" and thought "Sweet mother of yes, this is incredible!". "The Last Of Us" came out towards the end of the PS3's life cycle and everyone drooled at how incredible it looked. Around this time, we started seeing a few new "devices" that might take their place next to our game consoles. Tech such as the Oculus Rift VR headset. That takes us now to the PS4 and we all can see that the graphics are getting scarily close to photorealism, and I'm pretty stoked on that.

Graphics will continue to get better and more fluid as time goes and technology advances, but with that advancement in gaming tech, a question arises: Are we going to see VR headsets coming to our current gen consoles?

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Will PlayStation 4 Bring VR To Consoles

We've seen a few different immersive techniques performed by our boys at Sony Entertainment. Remember the EyeToy? Not many people took a hold of it, but the few that did started to play with their first versions of augmented reality games. Now the new PS Eye for the PS4 is able to give you the same thing while incorporating the use of the new Dualshock 4 controller. Everything from the touchpad, to the vibrating motors in the controller are used in conjunction of the Eye to make the augmented reality a bit more believable. That being said, they're now also developing something a bit different with their own VR headset, codenamed Project Morpheus. There isn't too much detail on the project as of yet, but it will be used for "social screen" gaming. Essentially, it will work with companion apps so that whatever the person wearing the headset sees, so too will the people running the app see. Should the person be playing in a haunted house scenario, the everyone will be able to see what's inside.

The Oculus Rift

If you've not heard about the Oculus Rift as of yet, you may be living under a rock. They're still very much in development, but definitely towards the later stages. Instead of being used mainly for console gaming, this company is going for more mobile gaming (possibly due to the company being bought by social network Facebook). They're still sending out DK's to specific developers but also have DK's ready for just about any publisher or developer who wants to take it for a spin. They've made heavy improvements to their older model. They're now making an Oculus Home and Oculus Cinema to go along with the new device. Oculus Home will be a place to download and start new VR content, much like the PS3 Xross Media Bar. Oculus Cinema is basically a movie theater for your face where you can watch whichever 2D or 3D movies you have stored.

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Is It Practical?

The thought of having VR gaming is nothing short of titillating. The idea of being able to place a headset on your noggin, and physically turning your head to look around in the game world would be a truly incredible, almost scary, experience. The only problem is that with today's technology, we are still a bit behind in what we could actually accomplish. To say that we are ready for VR technology for our gaming consoles might be a stretch. Technologically wise, we're not there...yet. In our gaming hearts and minds, we've been ready since we've seen them shown on cartoons and movies that showcase them. It still might be a while till we see games through a headset instead of a TV Screen though.

Needless to say, I think we will be seeing photo-realistic graphics before we see VR headset technology. There is just a lot more to take into consideration when dealing with VR technology, especially since they cater to the physical motion of the user. We're a lot closer to "movie-quality" graphics than we are VR gaming. It's sad but true.

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