Lawnmower Man, Tron, The Matrix, anyone that’s grown up watching these sorts of movies that feature a virtual world and has gone back to their PC, a little more disappointed in its lack of immersion than they were before, has been looking for something like Project Holodeck their entire lives. It’s the starting point for true VR gaming and its the culmination of different technologies that while potentially expensive to begin with, could be the way we’re all gaming before long.
Project Holodeck makes use of the Occulus Rift headset, move motion controllers and gesture recognition cameras to track a person’s movements and translate them into the game. On top of that, players can see themselves in real time, interacting with the world. As the developers describe it, “Project Holodeck is a 360 degree virtual reality play space.”[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=fJaSiX7SYJ0′]
The latest devlog video features some proof of concept footage that really starts to give you an idea of what the tech is capable of too.[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRQugHb8E5o’]
Of course one big problem with a setup like this, is play space. You can make reality as virtual as you like, but unless our brain outputs are being tracked and actively blocked, we’re going to walk into a wall at some point. To combat this, the guys behind Project Holodeck are working on a game that restricts movement to a small area with realistic reasoning: you’re on the deck of a steampunk airship. Around the players (yes, there will be Coop support), are various controls for cannons, a ship’s wheel, throttle control and more. For the player to interact with any of this, they have to walk over to it, place their virtual hands on them – by using their real hands to move them – and physically move them.
However, everyone will also have personal weapons, such as guns and swords, so at points player gestures will be tracked for drawing a pistol or said blade from their holsters.
However these aren’t the only guys working on VR tech. Microsoft showed us a middle ground in early January with a concept video of its Illumi Room technology, that expands a gamer’s field of view to surround their room. It’s a little disorientating but perhaps not a bad idea.
KitGuru Says: Due to the potential cost of a setup like this, with multiple Occulus rift, multiple cameras, a decent open space and other hardware, it seems to this writer that an experience like this might be best debuted in arcades. You remember those? Yea well a few still exist, but I guarantee you’d have people flooding back if something like this was available. Of course those with plenty of cash and a nicely sized garage with padded walls and floor might be able to do their own setup, but trying to do this in a constricted lounge seems like you’ll have a lot of people putting their first through a plasma screen.
system or a game, they don’t know