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CCP's VR Labs has mashed Oculus Rift and Kinect into a multiplayer VR Frankenstein

Hayden Dingman | March 23, 2015
I used it to play Tron. And also to flip myself off. More hands-on information inside.

2. All sorts of game-specific actions that can only be accomplished by rendering you into the world itself. Multiplayer is the most interesting: "I've heard numerous times, numerous quotes from very famous people that I respect the hell out of, that VR is an isolated experience. That's because you haven't made it multiplayer yet," said Godat.

Only one of the three CCP Atlanta demos at Fanfest is multiplayer, but it's by far the most interesting--mostly because it's the most like a real game. And also, it's Tron. I love Tron.

"We're going to be very blunt about that. It was definitely inspired by Discs of Tron," said Godat. "Every man, woman, and child that ever watched Tron as a kid wants to play that game."

Of course, the prototype isn't called "That Game That's Totally Just Discs of Tron." It's called "Disc Arena." But the concept is the same. You're standing on a small platform at one end of a neon-lit room, with a similar platform on the other end. Flicking your right arm causes you to throw a disc down the hall, and the objective is to hit your opponent to score points. Your sole protection? A futuristic force-shield strapped to your left arm, which can either absorb discs if it stays still or deflect discs back at your opponent if you swing it.

And when I say there's a shield strapped to your arm, I mean your arm. The Kinect is rendering your movements into this "room." When you move around, the image of your body tracks 1-to-1 with your motions. It's a crappy holographic projection of you--you're basically a mass made of black squiggles. But you can tell it's your body.

The coolest part is that your opponent is also a real person, and is also rendered into the world. It's the first time I've played a VR game and honestly felt like I was in the same room as another person. Obviously it's a "person" in that it's off-color, slightly low-res, and a bit blurry, but the level of fidelity in tracking movements makes it clear these aren't the stiff, awkward animations of a CGI character. You know it's a real human being inhabiting that avatar.

It's Snow Crash. You can immediately think of all sorts of applications made possible by tracking and rendering your entire body instead of just your hands or other key points.

Of course I immediately started taunting my opponent, making all sorts of obscene gestures in his direction just to see my in-game avatar react in the same manner. Godat laughed when I told him this. "Infinite numbers of profane gestures can be thrown at your opponent," he said.

 

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