Harmonix Music VR Coming to Project Morpheus

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Harmonix Music VR Coming to Project Morpheus
Harmonix Music VR Coming to Project Morpheus

You know what’s weird? Music visualizers. You know what’s even weirder? Virtual Reality. So if there’s one thing you can say about Harmonix Music VR – my company’s first foray into the medium, and an attempt to define the category of “VR music visualization” – it’s that it’s one wonderfully weird project. It takes any song you give it and generates a unique, musically-driven event sequence. The resulting experiences range from subtly magical to outright psychedelic, depending on the world you select. Sometimes fireflies show up to compliment a relaxing melody, and sometimes stars descend to engulf you in synesthetic spirals of color. It’s definitely weird. And as the title’s creative lead, I couldn’t be happier about that.

We set out to accomplish a lot with this software. For starters, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with VR as a medium. We have a long history of making music games, but how much would we have to relearn to make quality VR? Additionally, we recognized that with Morpheus, Sony was about to provide one of the most thoroughly immersive platforms in the history of technology, and we couldn’t wait to use that immersion as an aid for musical appreciation. I mean, when was the last time you sat down and just listened to a record? I’ve heard that people did that back in the 70’s, but if you’re like me and most people I know, you most often consume music as an activity enhancer – livening up your commute, making exercise less horrible, etc. Just sitting still and listening tends to make us 21st Century multitaskers kind of restless and distractible. But music provides so much worth focusing on and appreciating!

Now, a lot of people find that having a simple task to focus on helps them relax and appreciate what they’re hearing. So what if we could provide not just activities, but actual environments that were themselves an expression of your music? What if we could provide an escape where your favorite songs weren’t just the soundtrack, but the defining aspect of your surroundings, where your very sense of space complemented the sounds filling your ears? Wouldn’t that be a whole new kind of mind-blowing?

Of course, there are a lot of songs out there, and a lot of different types of music and music listeners, each with their own expectations and listening preferences. And there are countless potential ways of mapping musical qualities to spatial qualities. And that’s where things get weird.

Traditional, old-school music visualizers are many and varied, but all of them were limited to a 2D screen and the use of real-time audio spectrum analysis. With Harmonix Music VR, we have control over every aspect of your surroundings, using our internally-developed, amazingly effective song analysis voodoo. We still use real-time data, but we can also look at the entire song, break it into sections, identify specific drum hits, and even categorize the feel of song sections to drive the visual and environmental transformations.

So maybe you just want to relax, listen to some chill tunes, and vibe out on a beach where the weather patterns reflect the mood of your song’s sections. Or maybe you feel like having a more energetic trip through a variety of intensely reactive spaces. Maybe you like familiar environments with flourishes of musical reactivity, or maybe you just want to be somewhere impossible to really escape with your songs. We don’t want to make those decisions for you, so we’re building a bunch of different worlds, each with its own vibe and level of intensity. Within worlds, you can even interact with objects to trigger further experiential shifts. Two of our worlds will be available to try at E3 (and I hope to see you there if you’re able to swing by!), but believe me, they are just the tip of one big, trippy iceberg.

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8 Author Replies

  • Jon, you want to know what’s also weird? The fact that a platform as rich in rhythm games as Vita is, is missing a game from you guys. Controlled refresh rates and input lag makes me prefer non-instrument rhythm games on handhelds.

    • Dangisuckatgamin

      Not really weird at all..
      The Vita is not really a major selling point especially with a now very small company like Harmonix (they are totally Indie, heck they aren’t even including online in their big game RB4 at launch..)

  • I spent SO much time spacing out with my Winamp visualizers as they play along with my favorite songs. So to imagine being able to explore that as a virtual, physical space? Wow :-)

  • Zoryu_of_Setsuna

    Really cool!

    I love Music Visualizers, used to always have them on when listening to music, can’t wait to see what this is like.

  • Is there any possibility of this working with the PS4 Spotify app? Because that would be awesome.

  • I would totally want to check this out whenever I get the chance to try out Morpheus. Looks like quite the experience!

  • Where are the PS Vita games? :(

  • The people of Colorado Washington and what ever other states are legalizing relaxation, thank you!

    Too bad I’m in none of those places.

  • So glad to see Project Morphues being used for something beyond games. This will be a day one pick up for me. Can not wait to listen to some of my favorite songs with this, and dive even deeper into the stories, worlds, and emotions behind them. Thanks for supporting the future of entertainment.

    • Thanks for the support! I hope you like it and I’m glad you share our excitement about VR as more than just a gaming platform (although those will be sweet too!).

  • This looks amazing. I really enjoyed Beat Hazard Ultra on PS3 because of the gameplay experience it brought to listening to music. This seems to be doing something similar, but in a purely visual aesthetic, and I love the concept.
    Can’t wait for Project Morpheus next year. Pretty sure Zedd’s “Clarity” will be one of the first albums I run through this program.

  • Looks live something truly immersive. But this is more an app than a game, right? Is it going to be offered for free when Morpheus launches?

    • You are correct, this is not a game, it’s a tool for enhancing your music listening experience. It’s going to be a little while before we have anything to say about pricing.

  • Hmmm.

    I like the idea; will keep my eye on this.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Ideally, this is something that would be bundled with Morpheus, or at least much cheaper than a full game, being a visualizer. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to use it. Still have to wait to find out pricing of the hardware. Now if no Morpheus, would it still be playable on a TV screen? I know that kind of loses the point, but PS4 has no visualizer (that I’ve located yet) and this would be awesome. If not, Amplitude remake will have to do :)

  • I freelance over th℮ internet and earn about 80-85$ an hour. I was without a job for 7 months but last month my paycheck with big fat bonus was $15000 just working on my computer from my home for 5-6 hours. Here’s what i have been doing…

  • I love this track! Antony Maiovi?

  • very nice vr.

    Did you built it from scratch or did you use an engine for the 3d stuff?

    very cool

    • Thanks! Not sure if I’m getting your question right, but this is a Unity project, and we’ve built all of the 3D assets in-house.

  • just wanna share for webvr http://www.shadertoy.com and try synthclipse with it

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