A basic demo, but it’s easy to see the potential.
During the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017, we got a brief look at a virtual reality (VR) arcade solution by camera company OptiTrack in conjunction with gun peripheral manufacturer StrikerVR, with a very basic demo that involved shooting floating orbs. A year later and things are very different. Location-based VR has exploded, with more developers and manufacturers getting involved than ever before, with more locations popping up around the world. So for GDC 2018 the demo was turned up a notch, showcasing the potential of several technologies.
The main stand was run by OptiTrack, with the main purpose being to highlight the company’s range of cameras and tracking software. To aid in this, OptiTrack brought in the talents of a few other companies, with StrikerVR returning with an updated (and final) design of its gun, Hardlight VR had its Hardlight Suit available, Amimon provided its wireless HD technology and Vertigo Games debuted the recently revealed Arizona Sunshine LB VR Edition.
We tried out everything apart from the Hardlight Suit – let’s just say it was a little snug – and it all performed admirably. Firstly hats off to Amimon and its wireless technology. At an event like GDC wireless systems can be incredibly patchy at best – there’s so many wireless devices concentrated in one area – yet Amimon system didn’t seem to bat an eyelid, with no noticeable lag or latency issues when playing Arizona Sunshine LB VR Edition. Just like before, OptiTrack’s tech easily tracks not only the user but the StrikerVR gun as well, being able to freely move around the large area the company had available.
The StrikerVR gun is much improved over the previous version. The company has tweaked the overall design to make it more ergonomic and comfortable to hold, plus it’s now weighted towards the back thanks to the battery being moved, giving the gun better balance. Features like a button on the bottom of where the ammo clip would go in to aid reloading is still there, as well as a side button for swapping inventory guns.
With all this high quality tech around it Arizona Sunshine LB VR Edition should’ve shined, it was just a shame it was so basic. Placed under a green, military tarpaulin which was open on all sides, Arizona Sunshine LB VR Edition just wave after wave of zombies, being able to pop heads with a machine gun. Pressing StrikerVR’s weapon swap button changed the function to a single shot rifle yet the in-game design stayed the same. There were no scores or challenges to complete, it was just a case of killing zombies until boredom set in.
While the demo was as basic as you could possibly get – and hopefully not a reflection of the final location-based experience – the entire test itself was very positive. We have tried different location-based VR systems before and they almost never fail to impress on some level. The fact that this was entirely wireless, featured a gun with decent recoil and involved zombies just made it extra special. Whether this exact setup will ever come to market is unclear – as each will be sold individually by the respective companies. Should that happen those 80s days spent down the arcades are likely to resurface in VR form.