Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire (Virtual Reality)

  1. #1
    Administrator
    Posts
    7,323

    Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire (Virtual Reality)

    My son and I were in Las Vegas for the past few days and we saw this place called "The Void" which was (poorly) advertising a "virtual reality" experience called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. We have been to tons of places that advertise VR and 4D and a billion other buzzwords so even though I was mildly interested we just grabbed a flyer and decided to look it up later. I went to their web site, which sucks and doesn't help explain what it is at all. It spends more time talking about where it is and how great the "grand canal shoppes" are:

    https://www.thevoid.com/locations/lasvegas

    On their home page it says:

    Itís hyper-reality. Itís technical achievement. But mainly, itís fun! THE VOID is a whole-body, fully immersive VR experience, full of surprises at every turn; with you, your family and friends inside the action. One second youíre standing on solid ground, the next youíre stepping deep into darkness, looking at unimaginable beauty Ė or fending off danger from another realm. Did you see it? Did you feel it? Whatís next? Youíll just have to experience it to understand.
    Yesterday was our last day in Vegas and we didn't have anything else to do so we decided to just do this thing and see what it was. I put my contacts in because I figured anything with VR would require goggles. (They said glasses would be ok but after wearing the helmet I'm glad I didn't try with glasses.)

    The rest of this post is going to have spoilers about how the attraction works but not really the story.

    I'm so glad we did it, this was just a riot. I have never done "real" VR before; only those stupid goggle things you put your phone in and watch a video through.

    It was $35/person and they said the experience takes about 30 minutes, but this includes the safety briefing, suiting up, locking up your backpacks, taking photos, etc., so probably the attraction is about half that, or maybe even less? But I think it was worth it; more on that in a second.

    They made us put on these pretty heavy vests with backpacks and helmets (almost like having a full computer strapped to your back), but the vests were well designed so nothing was flopping around. The helmet fit well, adjusted well, and the goggles flipped down. There were integrated over-ear headphones that sounded great. They shuffled us into this blank gray room and told us to flip down the goggles. Only my son and I were in there (I think you always go with just your own group).

    As soon as I put my goggles down the boring gray room turned into a Star-Wars themed ship, and Edward was instantly a Storm Trooper! It was absolutely nuts. I reached my hands out in front of my and it looked like I was wearing the Storm Trooper armor. Every hand gesture I made was tracked and looked great. I couldn't believe it. Like I said, I have never done VR before so maybe I'm just gushing about something that is "normal" but it was really cool.

    The story started and we were directed from room to room. We had to step onto skinny walkways, through doors, etc. There were places where we were at the edges of huge cliffs, we were riding elevators down and up and whatever. There were places where there was lava and hot wind blowing on us.

    We weren't stationary like living room VR, we were actually walking through a pretty big set of rooms (connected by doorways that open and close according to the scripted/triggered story).

    About halfway through we physically picked up some Stormtrooper Rifles and got to do a bunch of blaster fights; it was incredible. I was grinning ear to ear the entire time.

    I thought it was absolutely fantastic and if anybody is ever in Las Vegas I hope you try it out. The thing I worry about most is that the people working there suck at describing what it is and/or convincing people to pay and go in so I don't know how long it will last. And their web site sucks. I thought the experience was 100 times better than the "Star Tours" ride at Disneyland, for example, and people wait in line for hours for that thing, and this thing was empty when we walked by it (on multiple days, different times throughout the days). I guess it's possible they're just good at scheduling, I don't know.

    Oh, and neither my son nor I got nauseous at all. I was sort of worried about it because I've read about it and I did get a little sick to my stomach after some of the mixed motion/movie rides at Universal Studios.

  2. #2
    Administrator
    Posts
    7,323


    ^^ found a video that shows some of what happens inside -- all the footage is from inside the VR thing. It was so rad.

  3. #3
    Sounds similar to the VR Arcade I went to in Tokyo this past May. Most of the stuff was the standard stationary seats or such with googles but the "main" one we did was based on Ghost in the Shell. Like your experience, we strapped on a beefier google set with headphones, a backpack and a "hip/back" part, leg parts, arm parts, and a rifle-like gun. We were in I'd say a basketball court sized room, and when we initially put on our goggles, we could see each other as just the primitive parts we were wearing but then it overlaid a more fitting image over us. The experience itself was a sort of "capture the points" deathmatch, and we were told to walk slow. The incentive was that you didn't project extra sound and aura if you walked slow, but the reality was it was for a) safety and b) to keep the lag at a minimum (I didn't experience it but a friend said they did). It was definitely the sort of VR that's worth it.
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

  4. #4
    Doesn't care what his title is
    Christmas Cardmaker Extrordinarie

    Posts
    4,989
    That's pretty slick. The last time I tried VR was in the mid 90s at some place on Fisherman's Warf in SF. It was that crappy one that had the useer stand in some kind of platform and wear a giant goggles and wear ridiculous gloves. I played the one with the geometric shapes and the random pterodactyl attacks, as well as some car driving game. It was later mocked in an episode of Freakazoid.

    The one you tried looks neato, and I think it's pretty cool that you have to walk through actual space to get around.

    Edit: here's an ABC special on VR from 1991. Those are the same games I played. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVn3H93Ysag

    And here's the episode of Freakazoid https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6mi1h5
    Last edited by Steven; 07-06-2018 at 02:44 PM.

  5. #5
    I saw an art talk about this at GDC and got to try it out a month or so later--it's really very cool. My girlfriend is 5 foot even and she looked really funny in properly-sized stormtrooper outfit with a giant helmet.

    VR still doesn't quite "work" for me--I find myself so aware of the hardware and its limitations (afraid of moving too fast & breaking something, or messing up the tracking) that I'm actually less immersed in the experience than I am in a regular game. But the Void thing is definitely VR at its best.

  6. #6
    Administrator
    Posts
    7,323
    I noticed a couple of tiny glitches while I was marveling at how well it handled tracking my hands and fingers even though I had no gloves or anything else on. It overlaid my arms with armor and my fingers with storm trooper gloves. At one point I stuck out my pointer finger and for some reason it rendered as me having my middle finger up. I though it was funny. That was the most major thing. There was a button pressing puzzle where the real physical buttons didn't line up perfectly with the rendered buttons; like the rendered ones seemed to be hovering about 2mm above where the physical buttons actually were. These things seems solvable and didn't take away from the experience for me at all. Edward complained that it was a little blurry. I think he didn't have the helmet on right from the beginning. I looked up other locations and they have another in Orlando and we're visiting there later on in the summer and I think we'll go again.

    The thing we did wasn't really a game, it was more like an interactive story. Yes, we had to shoot a bunch of storm troopers and we had a boss fight or two, but there were no consequences for getting shot, there was no point to taking cover, etc. The enemies didn't really move around, they ran to their spots and then shot at you, you basically just mowed them down. It was a ton of fun for me. The bosses were more complicated but I have the feeling they were just on a timer (to keep groups moving through on schedule) so probably if we didn't defeat them fast enough they'd just trigger something that would move the story along. For example, during the button-pressing puzzle my son messed up a couple of times and then had me do it; I messed up twice and the droid was getting a little fussy with me, but I did eventually finish it. I think if I had taken too long it would have been able to "remote" solve it or something; they wouldn't let us stay trapped in that room forever.

    I would love to tour the place as an employee, watching a bunch of people shooting fake guns in empty rooms; seems like a crackup. I don't know what would happen if we, for example, stepped off the edge of a cliff and then got too close to the edge of the physical room; probably the employee would tell us to back up or whatever. But it was realistic enough that we didn't want to step in the lava or off the cliff or bridge or whatever; it was pretty freaky.

  7. #7
    Doesn't care what his title is
    Christmas Cardmaker Extrordinarie

    Posts
    4,989
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    The thing we did wasn't really a game, it was more like an interactive story. Yes, we had to shoot a bunch of storm troopers and we had a boss fight or two, but there were no consequences for getting shot, there was no point to taking cover, etc. The enemies didn't really move around, they ran to their spots and then shot at you, you basically just mowed them down.
    Sounds like VR Rebel Assault II.

  8. #8
    Administrator
    Posts
    7,323
    This review has more information about the experience and some photos of the equipment: http://www.theforce.net/story/games/...wed_178171.asp

  9. #9

    "Has it won yet?"

    Posts
    17,027
    Maybe actually walking during a VR experience is less nauseating than staying put yet "moving" in the VR world? I never did a walking VR demo but I can imagine having some lower body action goes a long way.
    SnailIracing:n(500tpostshpereline)pants
    -----------------------------@%

  10. #10
    Administrator
    Posts
    7,323
    For me it was freaky because I knew in my head that they wouldn't do this but my eyes see "solid" ground (the hull of a ship or a platform or a trail around a volcano or whatever), so I know I'm supposed to walk there. But the ******* operators could have me just walk into a hole right? Or straight into a wall. (they weren't actually *******s, like I said they were really nice, it was just going through my head)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ECHOMAN View Post
    Maybe actually walking during a VR experience is less nauseating than staying put yet "moving" in the VR world? I never did a walking VR demo but I can imagine having some lower body action goes a long way.
    It does. Anytime I can't move in the VR world myself bu the world moves around me I want to hurl, but I'm perfectly fine when I can move.
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •