Last week I came to a special event organised by Steel Media, the publishers of Pocket Gamer and who are running the Global VR Challenge, with a $35,000 cash prize. This competition is in partnership with Dee Poon, China’s leading maker of VR gear, and also supported by Alpha and Kingsnet Technology. With the first round of judging complete, Steel Media wanted to celebrate and host an evening of drinks, informal chat, and demonstrations with 250 people attending. It was also a great opportunity to try out a lot of new and exciting demonstrations at the same time – and below is a brief overview of what was there.
The first game played was BAMF, a teleportation game where the user ‘snaps’ a picture of where they wish to go and then they appear there. After 11 months coding experience and 4 months developing the game, BAMF is Mikael Bergene’s strong entry into the VR scene.
The first level was a crystal forest with four crystals needed to be found. The player teleports around the tutorial level finding and gathering these crystals which are found on top of hills, on hovering rocks, in a deep forest and, surprisingly, on top of a large ferris wheel. The controls were tight and responsive, and the cursor switches to green if the user can teleport to where it is looking at. The art style was also simplistic and clean, which paired with the simple mechanics well. There are five levels in total, and each has their own mechanics for the user to traverse to succeed in the game.
The game is currently free, with plans for further expansion in the future. In a future article, Mikael will discuss why Unity is such a strong engine for VR development.
Hide the Body
Developed by Duncan Walker, Hide the Body is a HTC Vive game where the user has to chop up the body using items from around the house and hide the pieces in cupboards and shelves, with a time limit. This was the first impressions of a game still in development, so the below may not be a full representation of the final product.
The controls were responsive and fun to use – it was easy to bend down and pick up cookies to throw around the room, as a small step into the world. Chopping up the body with a chainsaw was satisfying as well, with pieces falling apart easily like picking leaves from a branch. Opening shelves to place the pieces in felt satisfying as well. However walking around the room was a mix of actual walking with minor teleportation – a mix of actions which broke the immersion with a conflict of movement controls. There were also times when, if walking too far, the game freezes and needed to walk backwards again to be in range of the sensors. Duncan also was an excellent controller of the demo, prompting users to hide pieces, and the next person to find the pieces which the previous user hid. Overall it was a fun, experimental game with movement controls that clashed together.
Bad Day to Fly
Another HTC Vive game was by BELOUDEST, who developed a VR demo of a flight simulator. There were som severe glitches initially with the sensors, which meant the demo was non-functional for five minutes, but once the game got going the flight controls were great to use and were fun to fly around in. Flying across mountain ranges and grasslands was a lot of fun, and a particularly good moment was freefalling and hitting the ground really hard, giving the mind a nasty shock.
Exo Exit is another game they are developing which is a survival gunslinging game in a science fiction setting. There are not may details about it yet.
From the creators of MUTE and shortlisted for the VR Global Challenge, these young developers showcased a rapids game where the user has to sail down the river in a canoe. What struck me most about the game is its innovate control scheme. The centre of the screen has a circle – look down to move forward, look left of the circle to move left, and so on. With a headset that is reliant on head movements, it is interesting to see a developer create a smooth and elegant solution which provides the logic of a joystick merged with head movements.
Developed by RGBird Games, VRapids is avalable on Android, iOS, and PC.
Finally there is the company sponsoring the Global VR Challenge and working in partnership with Steel Media for the event, Deepoon. The leading Chinese VR manufacturers, Depoon creates VR headkits with all the specs included, as an all-in-one package deal for standalone mobile VR. After achieving success in China they are looking to expand into the UK market, while pursuing developers to develop for its software. With 3 hrs battery life and 150 games for the system, they are on their way to making a splash in the UK market.
The game on demo was a shooter, where a gun-slinging tomb raider pilages the crypts of egyptian-like mummies. It was very immersive – in fact oftentimes when a creature crept behinf me I jumped and caused several people looking to laugh. The gameplay was smooth and the framerate was solid, and a good demo for its capabilites for the discerning buyer. It waesult.ities – and I was very impressed with the result. ties – and I was very impressed with the result. I hope to do a full review soon.
Overall the event was a great success, and I wish Steel Media, Depoon, and all the developers well for the Global VR Challenge throughout this year.
Thomas Ffiske, Virtual Perceptions