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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.

But it's true--because interaction in this sort of full-body environment feels so natural, you don't encounter the same stiff restrictions common to current VR. I loved that the HTC Vive allowed me to use my hands, but this hacked-together Frankenstein of a VR rig did something even better by letting me express myself like I would in real life.

Another prototype, "The Workshop," is built entirely around full-body interaction. It's actually a collection of demos, all with different mechanics. One lets you kick or swat green blocks around. One has you "splashing" around in a hex map, pushing terrain down and then raising it back up with your hands. One lets you throw fireballs at targets. And then one is just a mirror image of your own Kinect-hologram.

"When you rotate someone 180 degrees they can shake hands with themselves. When they cock their head to one side the guy cocks his head to the other side, or you can circle around yourself. We did a lot of experimentation with that," said Godat. I...well, unsurprisingly I made obscene gestures at myself. Which was weird.

Then there's a third demo, "Ship Spinner," which is the most CCP of the demos. You've got a godlike view of a massive EVE ship, almost like a living, breathing model (and similar to the publicly-available DK2 demo RPG Room). You can, as the name implies, spin the ship around, watch it launch drones, et cetera. Leaning in allows you to poke your head into the ship, looking at people on the bridge or down hallways or finding the dead guy splattered in a lower room.

It's not so much a game as it's an interactive sculpture, but it's an interesting example of how VR's not necessarily limited to first-person games--and, again, it shows the power of a controller-free environment.

Will anything come of these demos? For the mainstream, probably not. At least, not for a while. I don't see Oculus or Valve including something like the Kinect's depth sensor in VR anytime soon. But I asked Godat whether CCP would consider putting the demos on Oculus Share or something similar. He said, "We may very well, hopefully, see that exact thing happening."

"Print out a cool little PDF, the airplane guide on how to build that 24-foot-long tether. That's not exactly a piece of end-user hardware," said Godat. "But if we found a hardcore audience of people that said, 'we want to build that tether and start doing this walking-around-VR with you guys,' I think that's absolutely something we'd love to pursue. That's a route we can begin engaging with an audience of people who are hungry and want to do things."

 

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