Last weekend we went up to visit Anna and Hogg and try out a 3D experience thing. John was very excited about it, and while it sounded neat I only half paid attention to what it was all about. I’d watched him try out a 3D demo once, it looked okay but not anywhere near worth paying money for. But we were doing it for Hogg’s birthday, and it’s Star Wars, so I was happy enough to go along and see if things had advanced.
It is Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, and as it turns out, it was pretty amazing. While the graphics are still a little on the clunky side, mostly in synching player movement to each other or surrounding, but the overall effect is completely convincing. I don’t know if I would call it “hyper-reality” (as The Void marketing department has chosen to brand it) but it is a very cool immersive 3D gaming experience for sure.
You and your teammates are strapped into backpacks, a chest piece, and a visor helmet. All necessary equipment, of course, but these all also help you feel “suited up” so to speak. Then you are herded into a small room, you flip your visor down (after adjusting the focus) and the adventure begins.
It’s a fairly basic crate grab mission in an enemy base, but the effects of movement, distance, and interactions are all smooth and you are quickly in the action. Several parts take place very high up, and my fear of heights was utterly convinced. Blaster hits were conveyed through haptic feedback, while sounds, temperature changes, air blasts, and smells, are all used to help flesh out the environment. It works beautifully.
What surprised me the most is how quickly you adjust to trusting the visual space in front of you in spite of knowing your eyes are completely covered in what amounts to a blindfold. After the first ten or twenty seconds I don’t think I once worried about walking into anything, though there was a little bit of smacking into other players now and again.
In any case, well worth the visit. It looks like they’ve done Ghostbuster adventures in the past, and it will be neat to see what they come up with next.
The rest of the evening primarily involved moderate-to-heavy drinking and science fiction trivia, and Sunday we lazed about and generally recovered out strength for the train ride back to Southampton.