In the '90s, there was much buzz about virtual reality and how it was the next big thing. But unless you count the Virtual Boy, nothing ever really came of it. I, of course, could see the appeal—imagine being so enveloped in a game, that your every movement, your every thought, makes it seem like you're really inside the game's world.
Motion controls took a minor step at bringing virtual to reality. 3D is another baby step. But at this past GDC, I was privy to an experience combining the two in an unusual way.
The entire situation was unreal. The enthusiastic developer excitedly told me how you could use Sony's HMZ-T1, dubbed as a "wearable HDTV", in combination with two PlayStation Move controllers in the upcoming game, Datura.
If this game wasn't trippy enough, what I was about to experience was as mind-altering as an intoxicating dose of a Deadly Nightshade tincture. The double PlayStation Move combination wasn't the typical controller in each hand setup; instead, it was just one controller in the right hand, while the other was velcroed to Sony's 3D surround-sound capable HMZ-T1
A PlayStation Move controller on my head. Sounds silly, but this second Move contoller acted like a camera, adding precise head-tracking to my movements. When I turned my head left in the game, the camera panned left in unison. There was no pause. There was no lag. The Move controller in my hand offered just as precise hand movements within the game. The massive screen of this "wearable HDTV", in full steroscopic 3D, in surround sound, combined with the two PlayStation Move contollers, brought this game to life in a way that I never thought possible—at least not for many more years to come.
This was it. This was virtual reality. And this was the most surreal gaming experience I ever had in my life. But it was short-lived. The PR rep quickly approached, giving the developer an earful, explaining that he shouldn't be showing this setup for Datura. The reason being, is that the Sony HMZ-T1 is $800, and the development team didn't have plans to support the double PlayStation Move head-tracking combo for Datura at launch.
Understandably, it's not practical, and it's really nothing more than a tease if you look at it that way. Why get users disappointed that they cannot play it. She even took it away, packed it up in a box, and walked away with it. It was myself and one other journalist who got to see it, albeit for only a brief moment.
And for a brief moment, I did. And there was no disappointment in the game, the situtation, etc. The only disappointment I feel is that I am unable to experience a game as deeply on a regular basis. When the time comes, my friends, gaming will never be the same.
As cool as the demonstration below is, it doesn't do this experience justice.