Preview: ‘Arnswalde VR’ is a Memorial to Life as it Was Before WW2

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It’s nothing short of amazing when you can take a tour of a town that doesn’t exist anymore, and Arnswalde VR takes you back to the once-West Pomeranian city to see just what it was like before the turbidity of WW2.

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West Pomerania in present-day Poland

Arnswalde, once a German-speaking city in West Pomerania, now holds a distinctly Polish name – Choszczno. Historically, these sorts of quick changes that bring about new city names, new people, and a newly recognized official language, are a real bummer from a preservation standpoint. They tend to wipe away so much of history – but hey, that’s war for you.

Arnswalde VR reconstructs the town circa 1920 from gathered photographs, and gives you a guided tour in a way that you never could from visiting the modern city, as 80 percent of Arnswalde’s infrastructure was destroyed during a heavy siege in January 1945.

You visit the historical buildings around St. Mary’s Chruch, a Gothic construction from the 14th century which still stands today, and tour the side streets to see the ironworks, the once-grand hotel of the city center, pubs, shops, everything else that made the quaint city go.

Download ‘Arnswalde VR’

“We have already shown the project to townsfolk, and we were overwhelmed with response – nearly 1000 people turned out (w expected max 400), so we had to schedule [a] second demo session [the] next day,” said Odyssey, the developer team behind Arnswalde VR.

The beautifully rendered Unreal 4 demo teleports you in front of each building, giving you a quick lesson on what the building is and how it was reconstructed. The demo does however suffer from optimization issues that may slow down performance on some lower spec GPUs. The commitment to realism however (of everything but a single villager doing the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance) is clear in the project – from the cars, period music, to the lazy hot air balloons in the sky that serve as observation points.

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The developer team likely meant for the demo to run on their own rig for the sake of showing it to the town, and not necessarily be distributed to others—so there’s a wide berth for forgiveness on some high poly counts that are borking frame rate. The demo is best if viewed in a VR headset, but it also supports traditional monitors.

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  • Steve B

    This is incredible! This is so great that Odyssey recreated a historical environment to preserve its memory. Everything looks fantastic and it is a beautiful presentation.

    I wish I could take a look behind the scenes. There seems to be some postprocess goofs and quite a bit of level of detail texture popping.

  • 7hny

    Hi, dev here, thank you for kind review. We encountered framerate issues while having Chrome browser open. Please try to run it while having all other apps closed, especially Chrome. App was tested it on GTX970 and i7 3770K, and it run solid 75fps. I’ll try to recompile it with newer version of UE4 next week, perhaps it will alleviate this issue.

    • Steve B

      Will do! I also have a separate instance of UE4 open right now as well, so I’m sure that is bogging things down.

      You and your dev team really did a great job. Way to go!