This weekend I tried out The Void with three friends. We did the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR interactive game. I’ve heard a lot of hype on this experience, and I have to say it did not disappoint. The combination of physical set, real time effects, and cutting edge virtual reality in a high detailed environment and rich story was just astounding and good all around fun. Afterwards, we all couldn’t stop talking about the technology making the experience feel so seamless. So I did some digging into it.
ILMxLAB creates next generation Immersive Entertainment Experiences. They combined the talents of ILM visual effects, Skywalker sound, and Lucasfilm to create amazing interaction and stories. I’m not sure the interaction between ILMxLAB and the Void.
This was by far the most fun experience I have had in VR. Reason it was so great is I forgot it was VR! Here’s more in depth info on the tech involved.
The headset or HMD (Head Mounted Display) is a combination of technology. The headset fit like a helmet that didn’t restrict my eyeglasses. It has multiple pieces of technology to it. What was amazing to my friends and myself was the fact that we weren’t wearing gloves to align/register our arms and hands to the vr world. The real time sync was pretty clean. I was able to wiggle my fingers, give a thumbs up, or flip my palms up. The CG synced to my hand movements pretty well. Leapmotion worked on the hand sync.
The backpack and vest feel like your were wearing a kind of body armor. Since the story line is that we were Storm Troopers it completely worked with what I was wearing. The vest has sensors that react to contact hits in the game. If a Storm Trooper shoots you in your left rib, you feel a vibration like the blast hit you. They said the vest backpack weighs about 25 lbs. but it didn’t feel it. It must be balance well with the vest straps to helps level out the weight. In the backpack, you have Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 GPU, Intel i7 Processor, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, hot swapple battery, and other gadgets to make Batman proud.
The staging of the physical set is very well done. You don’t feel like you only entered one room and kept re-entering it. The sync up of real and virtual is expertly done. The story line is pre-Rogue one. K-2SO is in the story. In a scene you walk by him, but if you reach out you can actually feel him there (obviously they built a prop of him).
Here’s a great video where you see the set and the VR portion from some of the other Void experiences and R&D.
The mission runs for 30 minutes and is well worth every penny.
Here’s a article on their take away. If more VR experiences can learn from the Void and xLab, I believe they can turn VR away from being a one trick pony but into a fully immersive rich new medium.
Thanks to Paul Rivera, Hans Keim, and Kiyong Kim for joining me in this awesome experience. And to my wonderful wife who surprised me with this as an early birthday present.