Summer Lesson for Project Morpheus E3 2015 Hands-on – Realistic Voyeurism

summer lesson 06-20-15-2

Bandai Namco revealed their Project Morpheus tech demo, Summer Lesson, back in September of last year. The game quickly became infamous because of its focus on interacting with a Japanese school girl, and how it led to very different possibilities.

Thankfully, Bandai Namco brought a new, English-friendly version of the demo to this year’s E3, and I had the exciting opportunity to sit down and play it the game. The short version of how the game plays – you can only interact with the girl via head gestures, or by looking at things.

summer lesson 06-20-15-1

Summer Lesson begins with a brief fade in to a beautiful, almost mesmerizing view of a beachhouse on a Japanese coastline. The female character (who I don’t believe is named, yet) is playing an acoustic guitar, and singing a song that you can hear in the English trailer. Everything is created in real 3D space, and it definitely felt that way after strapping the Morpheus on.

The sound is mixed in an excellent 3D space, so as you move your head, the sound will definitely sound as if it’s coming from behind you, to your side, and so on. This naturally goes with the atmosphere as well, with the sound of the ocean and its crashing waves, coupled with the environmental sounds (wind chimes, a clock, insects like cicadas, and so on).

summer lesson 06-20-15-6

The entire region you’re in – from the house to the coastline, looks gorgeous. The sense of distance really felt just right, and yet everything was still so clear and detailed. One of the biggest disadvantages is that you’re stuck in one place, sitting on the steps just outside the house (pictured above).

The girl stands up and walks across you to set her guitar down next to you. Following this, she proceeds to sit down next to you and starts asking you questions like “Sensei, is my Japanese ok?”, which definitely made me squeal a bit inside. It’s hard to describe, but her visual position combined with the 3D audio made it feel like something, or someone, was actually talking to you.

I have to give Bandai Namco props, I went in thinking the animations and the audio were going to be super cheesy – I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Not only does everything from the girl to the environment, the surprise guest, and so on move well, the audio is superb. I think the English voice cast sounded nice, without being cringe-worthy.

summer lesson 06-20-15-7 summer lesson 06-20-15-4

While the former image shows when the girl asks if she was playing well, the latter shows you a few of the conversation options you’re given (you’re given four total). Unfortunately, you can only select one of these options, and then the demo starts to wind down to its conclusion (probably to keep the demo shorter for testing purposes).

Handling the Morpheus was natural and comfortable, to be blunt. The field of vision when in this particular demo was pretty spectacular, and the head-tracking seemed to be pretty accurate. I couldn’t really discern any noticeable lag when constantly looking around (trust me, I was), and when carefully following the girl’s motions as well.

The entire thing seems to be later framed as some kind of on-set recording, for a commercial or a show, perhaps? I think it was all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the whole package really came together nicely. I couldn’t help but feel as if I was restraining myself, because the Playstation rep could have been watching my every move (or in this case, look).

summer lesson 06-20-15-5

There was a moment in particular that really made me go “oh, wow.” That was when the girl sits next to you and simply asks for help with her Japanese lessons. The player camera/view and position are purposefully set in a way so that you’re forced to physically move in order to see over her book.

I was sitting there wondering where the next event trigger was, only to see it on the book – but then I naturally stood up a bit and leaned over to my right, and the Morpheus picked this up effortlessly. I was peering over her book and continued the conversation – and she progressed through her Japanese lessons.

Without sounding too creepy, the possibilities behind this are somewhat insane, exciting, and yet tantalizing. I know that this particular demo was entirely focused on you being a teacher in some kind of live-recording with a student, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of realism in the demo. I wish I could have just relaxed in that environment, to be honest – it was that nice.

summer lesson 06-20-15-3

The girl felt real, and I wanted to see more of her, if you get what I mean. I felt somewhat embarrassed to look at her, because she felt that real to me, in this demo. I dunno, it was something else, and I think you truly have to experience it to believe it.

Summer Lesson is an incredible tech demo, and it only gives me hope for the future of virtual reality.

, ,


Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry.

Where'd our comments go? Subscribe to become a member to get commenting access and true free speech!