VRcade looks like the next logical step for immersive video gaming: With full body & weapon tracking, haptic feedback, a large motion capture arena and realistic graphics, the system offers everything needed to get closer to the virtual reality most of us know only from movies. Road to VR takes a look at VRcade and the exciting future of virtual reality gaming.
The VR gaming buzz is pretty loud these days, mostly thanks to the Oculus Rift VR headset. Half-Life 2 is VR-ready, you can reach for the skies, hunt some Zombies on the Holodeck, and much more with a dev kit. But the founders of VRcade are already thinking about the next step. To be precise, they’re already taking it.
Their working VRcade prototype uses Unity to drive an Oculus Rift headset, combined with full body and gun tracking as well as haptic feedback via gun recoil. The whole system is designed to be played untethered on a massive, divisible motion capture arena – the player only wears a small backpack to power the headset, while body movement and gun position are being tracked remotely with multiple cameras. All this with supposedly very low latency and highly accurate tracking.
VRcade has very ambitious plans for the type of experiences they would like to offer for their paying customers. One of them is an exploration game “aimed at male and female gamers of all ages” called Pyramid Adventure: using a torch prop, players enter an ancient Egyptian pyramid and explore its secrets. The only light-source is the virtual torch, which only burns for a certain time and can be used to interact with the surroundings. You burn away spider webs, set mummies ablaze or trigger traps with your torch and try to get as far into the tombs as possible. Different levels offer different challenges: combat situations, stealth passages or running episodes could offer variable gameplay and even a fitness workout for the player.
VRcade: RPGs Taken to the Next Level
Another, even more ambitious game pitch by VRcade is VRPG, a full-scale roleplaying game that is supposed to offer a very special twist: the game is played on two different platforms. In their browser or mobile app, players can collect items and level up their character. Coming to the brick and mortar VRcade location, they can use that gear to fight opponents with equal equipment in a virtual space.
Each player gets his or her own space of up to 50 by 90 Foot and never has physical contact with their opponent, since they only hit their virtual alter ego. Fighting in the arena rewards the players with items, gold, and tokens that can be exchanged for even better equipment.
Also planned are different levels that make use of the player’s loadouts, which they choose before each match. One example that VRcade mentions is a hedge maze level, where players can burn or cut down the bushy boundaries to create an advantage over their enemy.
Right now, these are only highly ambitious plans, but VRcade also has shown two proof of concept demos for their VR gaming system. One of them is the shooter demo from the above video, another interesting demo was shown to our colleagues at gamespot.com: VRcade recently visited their US corporate office with a portable version of their technology and showed off both the shooting demo as well as a zombie demo that seems to be pretty disturbing, according to everyone’s reactions in the second half of the video:
Besides their own ambitious game visions, VRcade also wants to get external developers on board; they plan to offer a software development kit to create new or export existing experiences to VRcade. According to Dave Ruddell, Software and Systems Architect for VRcade, simple projects and demos take only a few minutes to be exported for the VRcade tracking software. Right now, only a Camera Kit for Unity that works with the DIY Rifts is offered, but convenient support for UDK and Unity is planned for the future. And they are setting their own bar even higher.
VRcade also wants to offer a fun experience for spectators of the virtual adventures. Besides watching the actual scene at the physical location, VRcade’s “SpecNet” could allow people from all around the globe to watch fights, chat among each other or cheer for their favorite fighters as a virtual crowd. “The world’s first Athletic E-Sport” is the simple, yet lofty goal for VRcade. To reach it, the developers plan to set up a crowdfunding campaign soon – we’ll definitely keep our eyes on VRcade and keep you updated.