The upcoming, forward-thinking Space Simulator, Star Citizen, has serious plans for the Oculus Rift and designer Chris Roberts – of Wing Commander fame – plans to use the virtual reality headset in quite a revolutionary manner. He sees it as a tool that could be used to create deeper conversations and formulate a new type of online relationship management.
While creating Star Citizen, Roberts caught wind of the Oculus just like everyone else and immediately the applications of the technology were obvious;
“From what I was building in Star citizen, I definitely want this, to turn my head around and see the whole cockpit…in full stereoscopic 3D’
The passion Palmer Lucky has for VR was something Roberts could clearly relate to with his passion for creating cutting edge space games set in fabulous worlds and environments. The addition of the Oculus rift will allow Roberts to develop the environments to be far more immersive than ever before. As Roberts has confirmed, Star Citizen will have full compatibility with the Oculus from day 1:
“At the end of this year there will be the dog-fighting module like a deathmatch in space, without the universe or the story… this will be great to get more feedback” Roberts said. “The final version should go live either at the end of 2014 or early 2015”.
The idea here is that before the final release this staggered approach will allow the team to iron out any kinks or bugs and result in a better final version which is to everyone’s benefit. Or as Roberts put it, “It’ll be more battle tested”.
On the topic of conversations and relationship management, Roberts let up that he had been thinking about creating a virtual eye-to-eye conversation which had implications on the game and your relationships in it.
“The technology has changed so much now that I sort of feel in a 3D environment, I can render really great looking – not life like – but cinematic characters”. He went on, “I want to keep you in that moment, I don’t want to be cutting away”.
The idea is that it would be like a life-like conversation you have every day, looking at someone face-to-face, living in the action. You look away from the person speaking to you and just like real life, there would be a consequence. If you were speaking to someone and constantly looking at the floor or ceiling, they would think ‘well this guys a bit weird, why can’t he look at me’. Your actions in these conversations will have consequences, just the next step in immersive VR gaming.
‘It’s not so much about quizzing them about A,B,C,D…It’s managing, do I like you?…How you manage them will depend on how they fly with you and how they interact”. Roberts explains, “If you’re rude to someone several times, they’re not going to help you if you get into a pickle in space, they’ll just walk past you on the corridor”
So it seems that the future of VR gaming is going to be just that, true virtual reality. Where the outcome depends just as much on how you manage those around you as playing the ‘game’ itself.