Project Holodeck is an ambitious project out of the University of Southern California to create a low-cost fully embodied virtual reality environment with the help of the Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra, and other hardware. The team showed off their latest progress on their first game, Wild Skies, at USC’s annual ‘Demo Day.’

Late last year I had the opportunity to step into an early version of Project Holodeck and check out Wild Skies. At the time the game was functional, but very much in the alpha phase with lots of placeholder art and work to be done.

project holodeck wild skies usc demo day

At Demo Day, Project Holodeck Director, Nathan Burba, took to the stage to narrate a live gameplay session showing the latest version of Wild Skies.

From when I last tried it, Wild Skies has seen substantial upgrades in visuals, narrative, game mechanics, and more.

You can watch the team’s USC Demo Day presentation in full here:

Project Holodeck producer, James Iliff, tells me that there’s, “Lot’s of exciting things to come this summer with the Holodeck.” We’re looking forward to it!

Last week the Holodeck team also released an early playable version of their second game, Zombies on the Holodeck, which can be played on the full Holodeck system, or with any combination of the Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra, or keyboard and mouse. Check it out here. You can also learn more about Project Holodeck at the official site.

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  • Andreas Aronsson

    Whoa! They’ve really come a long way since last I saw it! It is very promising to see stuff like this being done with fairly accessible gear :D I’m still waiting for my Hydra, cannot wait to try it out o.o to get a small taste of this.

    I really like how they solved the presentation, to have a camera that can follow any of the characters without showing any distortion, makes it great for spectators. I can see a feature like that being very useful when the Rift gets used in e-sport :P What? Well that time has to come, rite?

    • Ben Lang

      Good eye! When I interviewed Nathan Burba, he told me that the team was carefully considering the spectating experience. It’s certainly interesting to see two people in the game from a third-person perspective.

      • Andreas Aronsson

        For sure. It was a bit hard to follow their interactions when the camera was from a different angle than what you saw on stage. Filming the virtual stage from the same view point and have them overlayed or side by side or split screen… if the system works well enough it could be a nice showcase :3

  • James Iliff

    Thanks guys! Spectating is a unique challenge and we decided to go with a more ‘cinematic’ route. The upside is it can be really entertaining for an audience (they really loved it), but the downside is its not always easy to see what the players are doing, and for newcomers it may be hard to tell that there is real-time tracking.

    A better solution would involve more angles that resemble the viewers’ angles to the stage, so that avatars line up more often than not. We wanted to try having two 60″ flatscreens on either side of the stage, each one showing the first person camera of the player it was closest to. That turned out to be too much for the event to handle, though!

  • kevin williams

    I just wonder what the validity of deployment is ? Is this a nice tech demo or is there a business plan?

    • Ben Lang

      Sounds like there have been some interesting interested parties. I’m also wondering where exactly they’ll take it.

    • James Iliff

      We are moving forward in a big way, can’t go into details yet though ;) Project Holodeck is only the beginning.