Sixense’s Danny Woodall on Porting ‘Jedi Training’ STEM Demo to Unreal Engine 4


Road to VR last caught up with Sixense at CES, where they demonstrated an early integration with Gear VR to add positional tracking. The ‘Jedi Training’ demo now comes to GDC, running on Unreal Engine 4. Ben Lang Speaks to Creative Director at Sixense Danny Woodall on what the engine was like to work with.

If it weren’t for the conference schedule and the headlines being dominated by all things virtual reality, GDC 2015 could quite legitimately be named ‘Game Engine Wars’. With Epic’s Unreal Engine and the newly released Unity 5 announcing very loudly that they’re now ‘free’ to use and flaunting their virtual reality credentials, things just got interesting for VR developers.


Sixense aren’t picking sides though, their motion tracking controller system STEM has been well supported by software designed to show off it’s unique wireless capabilities, the majority of them based on Unity. This time it’s running on UE4 and our very own Scott Hayden went hands-on with the new build.

scott-jedi2Sixense’s creative director, Danny Woodall, strapped me into the DK2, headphones, and handed me the two STEM motion controllers, a first for me as I had never used the motion tracking device before. The demo being shown on the expo floor was showcasing an updated version of their popular ‘Jedi Training’ simulator using Unreal Engine 4, a room where you’re given two light sabers of your choice and are immediately beseiged with laser fire from a floating orb droid. I caught several laser bolts to the face, damaging my pride more than anything else, but I quieted my restless mind and focused on the task at hand. I became one with my dual wielded lght sabers, and easily caught and even deflected a few shots back at the droid, stunning it to my ultimate satisfaction.

It was a remarkably smooth experience using the devce, which I later found out was one of their prototypes and not the finished version of the product. Responsiveness of the device was a non-issue, as I readily assumed my new role as a dual-weilding padawan without a hitch. The demo was also deceptively smart at getting you into the action by forcing you to make the mental switch between the handles of the sword and the physical handle of the STEM hand controller.

Sixense are currently busy shipping pre-production STEM units, collecting feedback from those on the Prototype program. For the rest of the Kickstarter backers, Sixense asks for patience while they fix problems.
You can find out more on Sixense at their website here.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Sean Concannon OculusOptician

    Demo looks fantastic, Sixense’s previous magnetic tracking Hydra controllers worked reasonably well. With all these new refinements and wireless functionality they should have a winning product on their hands if not the best. Only problem is pricing in regards to Magnetic vs IR tracking technology.