How we game in VR is still up for grabs. On an Oculus Crescent Bay or a wireless Gear VR headset? Single player or multiplayer? Controllers or gestures?
CCP Games, the developer of space MMO EVE Online and its upcoming VR debut EVE: Valkyrie, isn't ruling anything out. We got to try out four VR demos that CCP's teams in Atlanta and Shanghai have been working on - Project Nemesis, Disc Arena, Ship Spinner and The Workshop.
The seven strong CCP Atlanta team whittled down thirteen ideas to three to make playable demos which means there's plenty more where these came from.
None are guaranteed to see the light of day but CCP has brought them to EVE FanFest in Reykjavik to get the reactions of fans, like it did two years ago when it debuted Valkyrie.
The closest thing we played to a game CCP could launch in the near future, Project Nemesis (see main image) is a wonderfully simple space shooter for Samsung's mobile Gear VR headset for the Note 4 and Galaxy S6.
It's set in the EVE universe, like Valkyrie, but in the four minute mission we played part of a defence team protecting a deep space mining platform from attacking raiders. So you're in a fixed position on a turret, not flying around, but there is still a cockpit set-up to keep simulation sickness to a minimum.
CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar compared Project Nemesis to "a mixture of Space Invaders and Mission Command" in his VR keynote. The team behind it agreed with the comparison, rather than to what's been available for the Gear VR so far.
Input is restricted to head tracking to aim and tapping and holding on the touch sensitive panel on the right hand side of the Gear VR to fire - there's no support for Bluetooth controllers to complicate things. And that fits in nicely with the accessible, pick up and play, arcade game comparison. But visually, Nemesis belongs to EVE.
"It's a fairly simple fiction but it's been fun using it to inform the visual style. You can see the mining lasers floating out in this distance and you can look around to see the rest of the mining platform," said Farrer. "Players familiar with the EVE universe will, I hope, be able to appreciate these visual tells."
Things got a little more experimental when we tried out The Workshop, a demo of four gesture-based mini games that uses a set-up of an Oculus Rift and a Kinect to track and visualise our body movements.
From kicking blocks in front of us to grasping a fireball in our hand and throwing it at 3D structures, The Workshop really gave us a sense of being in a 3D environment that we could manipulate - as long as we stayed on that centred hexagon.
Another demo showed us a giant hologram-style model of ourself, captured by the Kinect, and placed into the futuristic landscape which was honestly quite terrifying. We were invited via the audio instructions to say hello to ourself and it all got a bit freaky.
Finally, it being Iceland, we patted - that's the only way we can describe - a map of the area to produce musical sounds, kind of like playing a theremin.
With the holy trinity of visuals, sound and gesture controls, these demos really worked. Obviously throughout all these demos, we looked totally bonkers, flailing about with a headset on in front of the journalists and fans waiting to have ago. But minus the lack of haptic feedback - a continuing challenge for VR - it was all good, immersive fun. Especially the kicking.
Another demo of what CCP's Atlanta team is working on, Disc Arena is a Tron-style multiplayer future sports game.
We played two player with the player opposite also decked out with an Oculus Rift and being tracked by a separate Kinect camera.
Forgetting the logistics of ever playing this kind of game at home - perhaps more of a VR arcade setting? - Disc Arena responded well to us batting the disc back and forth with our hand movements but a few players had a spot of trouble getting the right technique.
An Oculus employee came in and got a pretty good score straightaway, though, so it's probably just a case of practice makes perfect.
More a VR experience than a game, Ship Spinner will appeal to hardcore EVE fans who have already started asking the devs at FanFest to add a similar mode to the EVE: Valkyrie game.
Essentially, you use your head movements and arm gestures to move around and inspect large ships from the EVE Universe in VR, getting real up close and personal.
With such a dedicated community, a decent number of whom seem to own Oculus Rift DKIIs already if the raised hands in the audience are to be believed, Ship Spinner is sure to be popular if it ever gets a release.
Source: CCP GAMES SHOWS OFF PROJECT NEMESIS FOR GEAR VR AND KINECT EXPERIMENTS
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