We’ve known about Koei Tecmo’s interesting foray into virtual reality with their Project Morpheus tech demo, Summer Lesson, but outside its pre-Tokyo Game Show reveal, we haven’t learned much else. This is also considering the game was pulled from the Tokyo Game Show lineup of games, due to the lack of space for the already lengthy demo.
Thanks to this week’s Famitsu magazine, we’ve gotten a few more tidbits for the game from Tekken lead Katsuhiro Harada, who is heading the Bandai Namco developed project. Apparently, Summer Lesson can be played entirely without a controller, and it can even be played hands free in its current build.
Famitsu put an emphasis for the demo having quite a bit of communication between both female and male characters. The Project Morpheus headset can track your head movements when you make yes or no gestures, but a tease was made at it also somehow tracking the players’ other gestures – although examples were not given. While the school girl that has predominantly become the face of the demo has an internal code name, she doesn’t have an official one yet – but we do know her voice actress, as she’s voiced by Natsumi Tagoto.
There was a short interview with Harada-san, in which he talked about the game’s development and his previous experiences with virtual reality. Harada wanted to create a real sense of immersion with Summer Lesson, and due to the still experimental nature of the platform, lots of trial and error had to be done. He even teased at having Tekken characters in the demo:
“There was a time when the team even tried to implement Tekken characters into the game. However, we opted against it because we’re looking to enable players to form a real connection with the characters on screen in a real intimate way. This is especially evident in our prototyping of the female character, as it’s highly difficult to create a visual design that is cute to a wide range of people. Also, it’s very challenging to design the characters to look appropriate as looking through a VR display kind of creates a fish-eye lens effect, which gave us even more challenges to make it all visually appealing.”
He also described their difficulties with modeling and designing the room within the tech demo:
“Creating this project as a tech demo really encouraged us to push ourselves as a team, as we truly wanted to see what the outcome of a new platform and even furthered efforts could produce. We undertook a lot of experimentation and prototyping between the in game character models, the lighting, and of course, the skin textures. This project required every bit of experience we collectively have as a studio, but it also pushed us to switch up our thinking, as the entire project could have fallen apart.”
Harada moved on to describe how the overall feel of the room itself is paramount to the experience at hand:
“The scaling of the room is very important to the immersion of the title. We want you to feel as if you could reach out with your hands into the room itself, as if you could touch it. This is a big part of how we intend to sell the experience as being truly immersive. Coming from this, we feel like communication is a big part of the game, speaking with the characters is also a key portion of the scenario. There’s a misconception that you’re just an idle, transparent object and you can just sit there staring at the girl, but I promise you, that’s not what the game is really about.”
Unfortunately, if you’re expecting to be able to import Summer Lesson in the coming year or something, Harada seemed to be somewhat anxious to answer questions regarding the tech demo’s future. He said that his team is investigating various options for the development of the virtual reality experience, and that they are considering to expand the experience. He teased how robust the interaction in Summer Lesson is:
“You can directly converse with the artificial intelligences and help develop them in real time, which creates entirely different reactions to you as an individual, every day. The characters are not just girls, there are guys in there too. Hell, if we really wanted to have some fun, we’ll add in a bear or something. Stay tuned for what is coming.”
Are you guys excited for the implications behind Summer Lesson?