SAN FRANCISCO (March 20, 2014)– Virtual reality development for games, linear entertainment and other types of applications has exploded over the past months, and the new Unreal Engine 4 demonstration at this week’s Game Developers Conference brings new depth and fidelity to the Oculus experience.
It’s a multiplayer game, but it’s not what you might expect coming from a studio that’s known for making gritty shooters.
Rather, in this encounter (un)officially described as “Couch Knights” you control half of a cheeky battle set in a metropolitan living room scene. Trendy apartment decor, realistic furniture and a balcony overlooking the city are juxtaposed with two action-figure-come-to-life warriors who duke it out with their pint-sized swords and shields atop your coffee table, as lifelike avatars of yourself and a friend face off from the comfort of virtual couches.
Both players maneuver wee crusaders while action unfolds within the virtual den. You each hold a controller in the scene, as well as in the real world – an element that helps ground the experience. As you’d expect with the Rift, you can alter your view of the environment in real time by simply looking around the virtual space naturally. In addition, both players’ motion and position are mapped through the headsets to their in-game avatars through inverse kinematics (IK).
While the mini-me duo initiates melee combat on the table, events can quickly take a surprising turn as they dive from the original play space, scurry at your feet, hop up on chairs, and run around you and your foe on the individual couches.
This new demonstration is possible thanks to the new Oculus Development Kit 2, an updated version of Crystal Cove, which features an external camera and positional tracking. The second development kit for the Oculus Rift is now available for pre-order.
Preceding this milestone are numerous pioneering efforts between Epic and Oculus, such as the interactive “Elemental” Unreal Engine 4 demonstration shown at E3 2013 and the extended “Elemental Defense” strategy demo unveiled at CES 2014 – both of which contributed to several best-of-show awards.