Sony Playstation at Game Developers Conference: Project Morpheus and more

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The annual Game Developers Conference is going on this week and Sony is having a pretty good show so far.

Tuesday night they hosted a session that was, as widely rumored, all about VR. Sony has a VR visor prototype called Project Morpheus (named after the god of dreams). It includes a 1080P display and 90 degree field of view. For tracking it uses both built-in accelerometers and gyroscope sensors, and the Playstation Camera. That last bit seems to be getting a mixed reaction. Not everyone wants a camera on top of their TV, after all, but it allows Morpheus to do full body tracking.

Sony didn't offer any pricing or launch details, other than saying it won't be out this year. (I don't think anyone expected a product to go from "introduce it to developers" to "on the shelves with support" in nine months, did they?) My guess is that we're looking at a holiday 2015 product at the earliest, given that Sony is pitching the device to game developers now.

There's a lot of coverage of Project Morpheus out there. I suggest starting with the NY Times and Polygon's hands-on (head-on?) report.

The next big news is primarily of interest to game developers: Sony announced that they'll be supporting GameMaker:Studio and MonoGame on the PS4. These are both 'middleware' packages for game developers, and they're apparently popular with Indie developers. Sony also announced that Unity support for the PS3 and PS Vita is available now and support for the PS4 will be coming soon. Lastly, Sony shared the news that its own Authoring Tools Framework will become a free, open source tool for Sony developers.

You can learn more about these tools at the Playstation blog, but for those of us who're not game developers, this just means there are even more ways for developers to bring their games to Sony platforms, and that should be good news for anyone who owns a Sony console.

Of more concrete and immediate interest to Playstation 4 owners is the news of a pair of firmware updates coming soon. The first one will allow you to turn off HDCP, which will let you capture gameplay video via HDMI. That's for folks who use external hardware to capture video of gameplay, and it's a feature that was promised would be coming post-launch, so it's good that Sony is keeping its promise.

The same patch will also bring a video editor to let you tweak your on-board PS4 gameplay footage, and it will let you save both video files and screenshots to a USB stick. So the days of only being able to share captured video to Facebook are over, finally. Granted it still won't be as convenient as saving to OneDrive on the Xbox One, but baby steps I guess. I'd love to see Sony make a deal with DropBox or something similar.

The following patch will add the ability to archive Twitch streams as well as bump up Twitch (and uStream, if anyone is using that) to 720P. Going after Xbox One parity there, I guess. Now all we need is a Twitch app so we can watch whatever we want from Twitch.

The first update will arrive "in the coming weeks" and the second is coming at some indeterminate time after. Both will have additional changes that aren't yet specified.

Microsoft has been doing a great job of improving the Xbox One experience and it was starting to feel like Sony was falling behind, so I'm really glad to hear about these new patches.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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