Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida is one of the biggest evangelists for Virtual Reality, and was at the forefront of development of PlayStation VR. During the latest episode of the Remaster Podcast he was interviewed by former SCEE executive Shahid Ahmad, and shared what converrted him to VR, the issues he sees with it, and the solutions Sony is adopting. He even quoted one of the anime that has been serving to popularize the idea of VR in the past few years.
Below you can check out the most relevant points he made:
- Back when the team was working on PS3, they were experimenting with attaching a PlayStation Move to the old Sony head mounted display. Sony Santa Monica’s Thomas Miller did his usual job during the day, but at night he worked on converting God of War to VR. When Yoshida-san visited Santa Monica Studio, he was made to wear the contraption, and he found himself “in God of War.” When he looked down, he saw that his body was Kratos, and he said “wow, this is amazing!” That was one of the experiences that made him believe in the power of VR. It wasn’t yet real VR, because the field of view was very narrow, but he saw something that could be done in the future that would be amazing.
- Sony’s R&D team also used another hand-made prototype to play with the PC code of Half-Life 2, and Yoshida-san was impressed by how he was able to aim and shoot with complete freedom. Again, he was amazed, and he was convinced that with PS4 it was possible to make a consumer VR system. He became one of the “cheerleaders” within the company.
- Every day he woke up and saw companies doing amazing things and the whole industry moving really fast on it, so he thought that Sony could not stand still and wait it out.
- Yoshida-san is “beyond excited” to be able to bring PlayStation VR to the consumers’ hands this October, so that people can experience amazing games, as well as entertainment and educational experiences.
- Comfort was “absolutely the number one issue” that Sony has been working on. There were many technical milestones that they needed to hit before bringing VR to consumers. when they announced the Morpheus prototype at GDC two years ago, it offered a good experience, but they already knew what they needed to improve upon, for instance frame rate, latency, field of view and more.
- Yoshida-san believes that with the hardware Sony has done the necessary work, and the rest is now in the hands of developers, including Sony itself. There are many things that can be easily put in VR games that would make people sick. According to Yoshida-san, making horrible VR experiences is the “easiest thing” that one can do as a developer. On top of that, developers are used to their games, and utilize the VR system all day, every day, so they’re used to it. They might lose sight of the fact that people that never tried VR have a different experience.
- Due to that, the issues that VR developers have to address are multi-faceted, complicated and difficult to test without bringing in new people for the purpose.
- Sony is working together with PlayStation VR developers to share their learnings, what worked and what didn’t work. They also published a set of guidelines for developers, and are holding seminars inviting leading VR developers to talk about their learnings and share them with new devs.
- There are lots of new developers that want to work on VR experiences, and they’re eager to learn from those that are already experienced with it.
- The different VR platforms are very friendly with each other because they started roughly at the same time, and at that time there were more people skeptical about VR than believers. They wanted to make it happen, and since the community was so small, they knew each other very well. Especially with Oculus and Valve, there is mutual trust and respect, and they know that all three are committed to deliver great VR systems to the world, and that’s important for VR to take off. They know that each time one of the companies has people try their systems, they’re converting more into believers. While they’re competing to create the best system from an engineering standpoint, on a broader point of view, they’re helping each other to get more people excited about VR.
- Every day developers learn something new while working on VR, and according to Yoshida-san, what they learn is less about VR itself and more about human beings, how we see the world around us, and how we distinguish reality from something that is not real. Now he understands that things that he saw as real, are just things that his brain interprets as such due to the signals coming in through his senses.
- Humans are very limited in what they can perceive through their senses, and by understanding these mechanics, by sending the right signals with the right timing, something that isn’t real can be perceived as real. Yoshida-san totally believes that in the future virtual reality will become part of reality. According to him, what we will experience in VR, will become almost as good as real world experiences in the future.
- He really liked something that Palmer Luckey said: “the only difference between reality and virtual reality is the amount of data.” When he told Luckey that he loved that quote and he would use it himself, Luckey responded that he took it from Sword Art Online. Yoshida-san thinks that is at the core of Virtual Reality.