Well, it looks like the legendary RiftCoaster may well finally have a successor. Teddy Lipowitz knocked up this coaster demo, based on the new Unreal Engine 4 platform, over the Easter Weekend. The twist? You’re avatar is the size of a mouse.
It’s difficult to overestimate the impact Boone Calhoun’s legendary Rift Coaster demo, based on Epic’s UDK had on the public consciousness upon its release and pretty much constantly ever since. It’s still by far the most ubiquitous virtual reality demo and one that has spawned more ‘reaction’ videos than any other tech demo. For Boone, it eventually lead to employment with Oculus VR, but the demo only took him a few days of work to knock together, largely thanks to Epic’s UDK Engine – an Unreal Engine 3 based offering targeting independent developers.
A year on from its initial release, another leading light of the VR development community well known for his experimental work with the Razor Hydra used as a positional tracking device, Teddy Lipowitz has released a new roller coaster demo. This time, the demo’s based on the brand new Unreal Engine 4 platform and uses one of the engine’s included sample environments, the Realistic Rendering demo room, as a base. Teddy’s taken the room, tweaked the world scale, constructed a cunning track that twists over bookcases, through lampshades and under sofas and finally slapped an armchair (another standard UE4 asset) on it and hey presto!, a seriously compelling coaster showcase.
The experience is much like the original Rift Coaster, except that you’re effectively shrunk to the size of a mouse (or Borrower / Smurf depending on your preference) and your surroundings are rendered in sumptuous detail as afforded by UE4’s cutting edge rendering engine. It looks great and the ingenious placement of track enhances feeling of speed in all the right places, not quite as gut churning perhaps the original but effective nonetheless.
So, how long did this new project take to complete? “I made the whole thing over the Easter Weekend and that was my first time using UE4”, Teddy tells us. So what does a veteran UDK user think of UE4? “It’s all round improvements from what I’ve seen so far. They’ve done a great job of streamlining the editor interface and the new blueprints system is much more flexible and advanced than the old Kismet for level logic, etc.”
So, great for high level game builders then, but what about if you need to get a little closer to the metal? Teddy thinks UE4 has this covered too; “Having full access to source code is a huge step, it allows users to write quick and optimized game code and to tinker with how it interfaces with the engine. It also allows more advanced users to get into the guts of the engine and try things like implementing Geometry Shaders for stereoscopic rendering to improve CPU performance (like in my RollerCoaster demo).”
And what about the VR support? “Most of all the fact they’re pushing so hard on the native Rift support speaks volumes about their commitment to VR, which is awesome. They make really great tools!.”
Thanks for Teddy Lipowitz for sharing his thoughts on the process. You can download the UE4 Coaster Demo here.