February 21, 2008 - Almost exactly one year ago at GDC 2007, IGN Gear was treated to an exclusive closed door demonstration hosted by Emotiv, a previously shadowy corporation that had invested years in developing technologies for decoding brain waves and translating them to gaming. We were definitely impressed, and when we got word that the company was ready to show a finalized consumer version of the product at this year's GDC, we were stoked.
A game styled in ancient Chinese mythos will also launch with the EPOC. We were fortunate enough to try the EPOC out in the title, and were rather captivated. Running our character between various masters of mind control, we noticed the sky changing colors, transitioning between mint green and varying degrees of orange. The atmospheric changes turned out to be moment to moment expression of our mood and focus, green for placid and clear, deeper orange for attention and activity. We were impressed with the ability of the game to react quickly, and rather easily we learned how to achieve both focus and clear.
Moving on, we encountered a pack of vengeful spirits that needed to be dispelled. By bearing our teeth and snarling at the spirits (employing the EPOC's facial recognition) we drove them away. The challenges then became harder as we transitioned to actually moving objects in the game. Challenged to lift a boulder, we were instructed to first clear our mind, then focus upon visualizing the stone rising from the ground. The cognitive process we employed is difficult to describe, but with relative ease we managed to lift the stone a few inches. With half a minute more practice, we managed to pass the test, raising the stone above our virtual tutor's head.
The process felt similar to what we might imagine The Force might be like. Simply willing the stone to rise didn't work, nor did focusing too heavily on the object. Rather, it was more a singular thought of envisioning movement, that, when sustained, exacted change in the game. We didn't have long to practice, but we could sense when we had arrived at the right thought, and training the ability to do so felt highly compelling.
Moving on in the game, we transitioned between mountain top temples, using our mind to reconstruct bridges connecting them. Once we were skilled at lifting, the game transitioned to training us to pull objects, which took an entirely different skill set. Our time ran out quickly and we didn't progress further, but the game will challenge players to go much deeper, pushing, rotating, and otherwise manipulating in game objects while also scaring away evil spirits and other distractions.
Emotiv is currently working with many developers to build EPOC enabled games. By launch there should be several supporting titles, and from what we've now experienced, we expect they should be pretty good. Stay tuned from more news from Emotiv as the EPOC nears launch, this is definitely something to be excited for.