Before I tried the game demo, HP showed a concept video of what the engineers hope to achieve; an mscape-equipped device with a camera will operate like the glasses in They Live, tweaking the real-world with superimposed effects. Examples from the video include a player dodging an in-game boulder or leaping over a virtually crumbling street.
Philip McKinney, a VP who works in the game group, said that mscape is still about two years away from that level of play -- real-time animation over real-world video -- but currently supports a variety of sensors. 'Ere Be Dragons, a project that was most recently played during GDC, relied on a GPS sensor and heart monitor.
Players ran though the streets of San Francisco, claiming territory on a map displayed on the game screen. They secured the most territory when keeping their heart rate at an optimal level, like 110 beats-per-minute, while other players tried to scoop up previously claimed areas with the same method. Additionally, mscape is currently part of a Tower of London tour-and-game, where players try to free in-game prisoners while avoiding real-world Beefeaters. Players are captured if they get too close to a Beefeater's RFID sensor.
My mscape demo game was on a considerably smaller scale, just to show the basic idea of the device. I walked between several IR emitters (pictured) that had been placed throughout the room, pointing the PocketPC in their direction. When the device sensed a beacon, it advanced the narrative about exploration and trade.
Admittedly, I grew bored of the demo quickly, especially after the splashy video showing the future of the mscape platform. But I left with interest for mscape projects; augmented reality titles could change the idea of videogames, making something completely new from the mixture of analog and digital.