Sony Opens New First Party Studio Working on PS4 Exclusive Games for Project Morpheus

on May 15, 2015 5:13 PM

With Project Morpheus looming just over the horizon, Sony appears to have strengthened its Worldwide Studios team with the opening of a new studio based in the English North West

The studio, revealed by several career opportunities published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, will work exclusively on original games for Project Morpheus.  It’s labened “North West Studio,” but it might not be the final name.

The carer opportunities published for the studio are the following: Lead & Gameplay ProgrammerExperienced Gameplay ProgrammerExperienced Graphics Engine ProgrammerLead DesignerExperienced Game Designer – SystemsLead ArtistExperienced Character Animator for Games and Experienced Level Designer.

Lead & Gameplay Programmer

An exciting and rare opportunity to join an ambitious new studio to create original games exclusively for Project Morpheus, PlayStation’s VR platform. Based in the North West of England, we aim to build a small but highly experienced team who want to build great games to showcase this exciting new immersive technology.

We are looking for a generalist programmer to lead the coding team; someone obsessed with delivering the highest quality playable experience. You will be skilled in creating controls, mechanics and systems that feel fluid and intuitive to learn, but have the depth and richness that keep players engaged for hours as they seek to master them. Having shipped several successful games, you will be excited by the prospect of applying your knowledge to emerging Virtual Reality technologies, keen to discover what works and what doesn’t in VR.

You will join the team early in pre-production so will have ample opportunity to make your mark on the title. As the team will be relatively small, the role requires someone with a hands-on approach who loves to code as well as direct.

Thanks to this ad, we learn that whatever the studio is working on, it’s at a very early stage of pre-production.  The introduction about the studio and the last line about joining in early pre-production is common to all the ads.

Experienced Gameplay Programmer

We are looking for a generalist gameplay programmer; someone obsessed with delivering the highest quality playable experience. You will be skilled in creating controls, mechanics and systems that feel fluid and intuitive to learn, but have the depth and richness that keep players engaged for hours as they seek to master them. Having shipped several successful games, you will be excited by the prospect of applying your knowledge to emerging Virtual Reality technologies, keen to discover what works and what doesn’t in VR.

The second ad mentions prototyping quickly “to prove whether core gameplay is fun and has replay potential and variety,” and is quite similar to the first, which isn’t surprising, considering that it’s about a similar role, leadership aside.

Experienced Graphics Engine Programmer

We are looking for a low level engine programmer for our new Virtual Reality game. You will help evaluate internal WWS solutions and potential middleware, e.g. Unreal Engine, then propose bespoke extensions to maximize performance where required. You will also analyze the unique requirements of our game and develop custom solutions for loading, streaming and rendering that deliver the creative vision at the highest possible quality, keen to discover what works and what doesn’t in VR.

This ad is interesting, as it reveals that the studio still hasn’t finalized what engine will be used for its first game, and still needs to decide whether it’ll utilize an internal solution or a middleware like Unreal EngineUnity is also mentioned as a further example elsewhere in the post. The candidate will also have to ensure that the game will run at the “high frame rates required for VR,” “remove bottlenecks. Primarily in rendering, lighting and shading solutions but also the implementation other systems critical for delivering high quality VR, e.g. motion tracking.”

Lead Designer

We are looking for a Lead Game Designer to translate the creative direction of the project into compelling gameplay, by creating mechanics, missions and levels of the highest quality. You will be the team’s advocate for the player, focused on creating intuitive and satisfying gameplay in collaboration with the Lead Gameplay Programmer. You will be skilled in creating controls, mechanics and systems that feel fluid and intuitive to learn, but have the depth and richness that keep players engaged for hours as they seek to master them.

The candidate will have to desugn the hgh level game systems, like “structure, progression and rewards,” and also lead mission development, “to ensure consistently high quality results and that the game is properly balanced.”

Experienced Game Designer – Systems

We are looking for an experienced Game Designer to translate the creative direction of the project into compelling gameplay of the highest quality. You will be the advocate for the player, focused on creating intuitive and satisfying gameplay in collaboration with our Gameplay Programmers. You will be skilled in creating controls, mechanics and systems that feel fluid and intuitive to learn, but have the depth and richness that keep players engaged for hours as they seek to master them.

This ad is similar to the one before, as the candidates will cover similar roles.

Lead Artist

We are looking for an experienced Lead Artist to create a distinctive visual style for our new game that reinforces the overall creative direction of the title.You will be obsessed with the latest computer graphics techniques, confortable with the performance constraints imposed by real-time rendering and excited by the challenge of finding the limits of what can be achieved in Virtual Reality.

As well as leading the art team, you will be the bridge between them and the programming team. You will develop tools, techniques and pipelines and mentor less technical artists to ensure they can deliver art of the highest quality within the strict technical budgets required for immersive VR experiences.

According to this ad, the new game will have a “distinctive art style,” and will “Set a high visual bar within the technical constraints and strict budgets of VR.” Experience in working with outsourcing companies and external contractors is also mentioned. This isn’t surprising since the team has been mentioned to be small, and will probably require external helps for asset creation.

Experienced Character Animator for Games

We are looking for an experienced animator to our game to life. You will be skilled in character and object interaction able to create believable motion using both hand keyed and motion captured data. Having shipped several successful games, you will be excited by the prospect of applying your knowledge to emerging Virtual Reality technologies, keen to discover what works and what doesn’t in VR.

This post mentions both keyed (created by hand) animation and motion capture, on top of “blended techniques” (which are a mix of both), and the use of procedural rigging. We also learn that the goal is to achieve “believable human movement” and “realistic facial animation.”

Experienced Level Designer 

We are looking for an experienced level designer, an expert in creating compelling and memorable missions. You will be skilled in crafting level layouts and scripts to deliver a the highest quality player experience.

Having shipped several successful games, you will be excited by the prospect of applying your level design knowledge to Virtual Reality, keen to discover how to create highly immersive missions.

The candidate will be responsible to  “create amazing missions, blending core game mechanics in varied and exciting ways,” and “Lay out the game world and script events to create unforgettable experiences, carefully crafting the pace whilst balancing progression, challenge and reward.”

Interestingly, the last two ads mention a preference for Unreal Engine, which indicates the possibility that Epic Engine might be a strong candidate for the game.

This is not the first studio Sony opens in the English North West, as Evolution Studios is based in Runcorn, Cheshire, and SCE Studio Liverpool, closed in 2012, was also located in the same area of England.

At the moment there is no further information about the studio, nor about the games it’ll develop. We’ll have to wait and see what they’ll manage to create, but color me intrigued.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.