Project Holodeck is an effort out of USC to create a multiplayer virtual reality gaming platform that offers full avatar embodiment and immersive first-person gameplay. Some members of the Project Holodeck team made the lengthy trek from the States to Dublin, Ireland to showcase the project at the ‘Game: Next’ exhibition, a 4-day look at experimental gaming technology and the future of gaming, at the Science Gallery
Temporary Head Mounted Display
Although the Holodeck will use the forthcoming Oculus Rift head mounted display for the visual component of the platform, the developer version of the HMD won’t be available until March. Until then, the team is using an HMD that is similar to early versions of Rift; it’s the ‘Socket’ HMD from USC’s MxR Lab (Mixed Reality). The unit, which has a 5.6″ screen, lacks its own head mounting hardware so the team incorporated it into ski goggles for easy fitting on the exhibition floor.
The Project Holodeck team will incorporate the Oculus Rift dev kit once it’s available, but for now the team says that “the minimalist design of the Socket casing allows for a lot of flexibility when it comes to prototyping different kinds of VR experiences. The biggest advantage for us is that we can use it right now with our current VR games, and playtest various compilations of hardware on the helmet to maximize usability.” Read more about the Socket HMD at the official Project Holodeck blog.
Project Holodeck at Game: Next in Dublin
In December some of the team members went to Dublin, Ireland to showcase Project Holodeck at the Game: Next exhibition at the Science Gallery. There they set up their platform and gave the public a chance to step into the virtual reality game.
To experience the Holodeck, users put on a rather funny looking helmet which contains most of the essential hardware, including the PlayStation Move wand (for positional tracking of the player), and the Razer Hydra base station (so players can wield the Hydra controllers for hand and arm control). A backpack appears to house laptop for connecting all of the peripherals.
There’s also a software component to the platform which controls all of the inputs and and creates virtual bodies (also known as avatars) for the players.
The first game that the team is creating for the Holodeck is Wild Skies, a steam-punk swashbuckling adventure where players pilot an airship. In the video below you can hear experiences of players that tried the Holodeck at the exhibition and you can see some of the prototype work for the game where players control levers, cannons, and more.