20th Century Fox’s Interactive Entertainment and theme park arm FoxNext is building a 2000 sq. ft free-roaming multiplayer VR experience set in the world of the Alien movie franchise.
The Alien movie franchise is among the most enduring in history, with very entry re-imagining a universe that was conceived almost 40 years ago with the latest, Alien: Covenant, in theatres right now. Yes the series has been a mixed bag from a critical perspective, but there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you grew up loving the 1986 sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterful 1979 original, Aliens, directed by James Cameron. If you’re nodding your head in enthusiastic agreement while reading this, then I’ve got some great news for you.
FoxNext is a new division of 20th Century Fox comprising FoxNext Destinations, FoxNext Games and FoxNext VR Studio. FoxNext Destinations (focused on out of home entertainment, theme parks etc.), have shown off a proof of concept virtual reality experience for a large scale multi-player virtual reality experience. According to the Hollywood Reporter who snagged a sneak peek at the POC, this experience is the proving ground for a 2000 sq. ft. attraction including “specially-created prop guns with haptic effects and hand tracking.” And, perhaps inspired by the pioneering work by The Void, the experience will also integrate motion platforms, heat, mist and “physical elements” to bring the virtual headset delivered imagery to life. Although not confirmed, it does sound like the experience may be weapons oriented, with a chance that the experience may veer towards an Aliens (rather then Alien) setting. A prospect which Cameron may not relish given his public criticism of VR in the past.
“FoxNext was created to support our motion pictures and with the view that technology is creating an opportunity for us to really revolutionize the way stories will be told in the future,” FoxNext president Salil Mehta told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s enormous innovation occurring that allows real interactive storytelling, and we created divisions to focus on games, VR and location-based entertainment. We’re trying to define the best ways to create content for each.”
FoxNext is working with iP2 Entertainment and Pure Imagination Studios to build the technology behind the experience and, at this early stage, it seems that the teams are using Samung Gear VR headsets connected via “iP2’s proprietary wireless VR technology”, presumably with the help of some form large scale (i.e. industrial motion capture) rig for tracking both props and headsets. Whether this would remain the case for the full-developed version of the experience is unknown at this time, but in terms of content the report states that “volumetric capture techniques” were used to produce it, perhaps for scans of the physical set to be brought into VR.
This writer absolutely was one of the aforementioned who did grow up loving Alien and Aliens, and the (albeit tentative) prospect of being able to step into boots of a colonial marine, handed an M41A pulse rifle and taking the fight to the Xenomorph fills me with more childish glee than I’m prepared to own up to.
As soon as we learn more, we’ll let you know.