Thief in the Shadows, a VR experience based on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), has been nominated for a Visual Effects Society award for ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project’.

Nominated for the 14th Annual VES Awards alongside triple-A titles Halo 5 (2015), Destiny (2014), The Order: 1886 (2015), and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015), the Epic Games and Weta Digital collaboration, Thief in the Shadows, stands as the only virtual reality experience in the Real-Time Project category.

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Common wisdom would say that virtual reality experiences are destined to lag behind traditional real-time media in the visual department because of the increased rendering demands (higher resolution & framerate, and 3D rendering), but the nomination of Thief in the Shadows shows that a well optimized VR experience can stand among triple-A graphics.

The experience recreates a scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug where players take on the perspective of Bilbo Baggins in the treasure halls of Erebor as the terrifying dragon Smaug encircles him. A small team from Epic Games and Weta Digital adapted assets from the film to run in real time in Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, matched to dialog from the film.

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Thief in the Shadows, sadly, has not been released to the public, but we were fortunate enough to step inside of it at GDC 2015Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson has seen the experienced and reportedly enjoyed it.

Goosebumps VR Adventure has also been nominated for this year’s VES awards in the category of ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project’.

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The 14th Annual VES Awards ceremony will be hosted Tuesday, February 2 in Beverly Hills, CA.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Meh, it looks shiny but its never been released and requires a Titan X to run, I’m not sure its really fair to be judging it against actual games that have to be able to run on a console?

    • gothicvillas

      I have titan on my rig. Is this for download anywhere?

      • As far as I know it has never been available for download.

      • Nope sadly it was never released :(

  • This project is no longer available for download, right?

  • Neo Racer

    Yea why would they want anyone to enjoy this!? LOCK IT IN THA VAULT