Rare is the in-house technology conference that actually highlights software, much less shows a demonstration of a new program using branded IP. But when Apple hosts their Worldwide Developers Conference (or WWDC for shortsies), like a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’re going to get. On Monday, in order to show off the practical applications of their new iMacs–which will be powerful enough to run virtual reality–John Knoll from Industrial Light & Magic took the stage with a demo of a Star Wars VR experience, and it looks pretty damn cool.
Announced at Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London, Star Wars VR is written by Batman Begins and Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer and will take fans inside an interactive narrative surrounding none other than everyone’s favorite Sith Lord, Darth Vader. The WWDC 2017 conference showed glimpses of a VR user on the planet Mustafar, with things like Imperial Shuttles and TIE Fighters in the sky, and even Darth Vader himself.
The presentation from Knoll was mostly just to show off the iMac’s capabilities with the format, but we can glean from the images we saw that there are several different modes the player can utilize. One appears to allow the user to select and place various ships and characters in the setting wherever they want. Another seems to allow you to create a “sequence,” which seems like a movie-maker scenario. And another–which we spied on the menu circle–looks like you can change the planet entirely. You can be the ancient ones!
Back at the initial announcement, Goyer said Star Wars VR would be a living program, essentially, that the player can manipulate but not entirely change. “You are the visitor in this story that is happening in and around you, and to a certain extent you might even have some affect on [the narrative],” Goyer said. “You can pick up things, you can open things. You can push things, you can walk. You can touch characters.” All of that would seem to suggest what we saw in the demonstration is just the tip of the iceberg.
While we have no idea when this will be available for people to buy (again, this was just a proof of technology and not an official launch showcase) but having done even cursory virtual reality programs in the Star Wars universe–namely the Rogue One VR mission in Battlefront II for the PlayStation VR–we can’t wait to spend whatever time immersed in Vadertown as possible.
What are you hoping we get to do with Star Wars VR? What planets would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!