First I did a Virtual Reality Blog where I was solo… This time I VR’d with a team… and that is a WHOLE different experience, I can tell you! In my previous Blog, “Virtual RealityExperience“, I donned an Occulus Rift and ventured out alone. Last time, although I was with friends, it was a solo experience. I was in my own Virtual world, alone, with only Killer Clowns for company (yeah… seriously, go read it!)
WHO KNEW NOTTINGHAM WAS THE CENTRE OF THE VIRTUAL WORLD?
First I did a Virtual Reality Blog where I was solo… This time I VR’d with a team… and that is a WHOLE different experience, I can tell you!
Last time, although I was with friends, it was a solo experience. I was in my own Virtual world, alone, with only Killer Clowns for company (yeah… seriously, go read it!)
MeetspaceVR is a little different. It was the same group of us, but this time, we enter the world TOGETHER and could interact with each other.
It’s a TOTALLY different experience with friends!
In the famnous Nottingham Intu Victoria Centre lives Zero Latency.
Its pretty unassuming, with nothing more that what looks like a few video games, a reception desk and a place to buy refreshments and sweets.
However… Zero Latency holds a secret behind its simple appearance. What is termed “Free Roam VR” awaits!
We arrived a little too early. Fifteen minutes they said… Fifteen minutes to log in, sign the, “If I die in the virtual world, I die in real life” waiver (Just call me Neo), and to get briefed.
Our slot was at 1pm… we got there at 12:20!
Excited? Nah… just worried about traffic.
It did, however, give us a chance to watch the monitors that were mounted on the front wall of the reception area. These provided a window into the world that we were about to enter… it also showed just how daft people look when they are actually in the VR.
There in front of us, we could see what the players could see… a high definition digital experience akin to an Avatar movie, where the world interacts with you and you interact with the world. On the monitor next to it, was the live cam of the warehouse area where grown men, women, & some children were wandering around in a semi darkened room. They were leaping and screaming, reaching and touching at things that simply weren’t there.
I am not entirely sure which screen was more entertaining or compelling!
Our game of choice was called “Engineerium” and was specifically selected for our mixed age group.
It gave little away on what was expected of you and the group in this game, only that you were to work together to achieve a collective goal… and that it messed with your head!
Sounds like fun!!
1pm came and we were called through to the briefing area for a short safety video. This asked us nicely to not hit each other with anything. Also they suggested we should avoid running into any of the real walls. Seemed fair!
Then we donned the full VR gear. We looked more like GhostBusters than Virtual Reality pioneers, with Occulus Rift headsets, Razr Headphones and microphones and a vest pack that monitored where we were and what direction we were facing in.
It was pretty heavy gear, but it didn’t take long for us all to stop feeling the weight of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man Killing Equipment as we were led into a large warehouse area with a ceiling covered in electronic recievers and cameras.
We each had to find a circle with our names over it… which meant walking, God-like, over a black abyss. Our first task!
The game was on!
Each of our Avatars were ‘floaty masked’ Tribespeople. They had dancey arms and no feet. Perhaps we moved forwards through Redstone Fart Power, who knows? Without feet it was difficult to tell!
We had to work together to find the rest of our tribe. The task was not obvious at first, as my senses, and those of my fellow floaters, were overwhelmed with the colours and movement of the world around us. Flying humpback whales, small iridescent frogs and swaying plant life either encouraged us or just distracted us from our first goal, which was to reach a floating orb.
But there was no path to it! It was far off in the distance on a pedestal surrounded by a very long drop!
All is not as it seems in Engineerium. Up is not necessarily up and down is most definitely not always down!
Curving twisting paths that loop and spiral give you access to areas a mere human brain may not be able to compute at first glance.
Gravity, apparently, gets thrown out of the window – but you tell your brain that!
Walking down a sheer drop path… literally straight down… is something that can only be experienced, not explained!
We were split into groups to do separate tasks… standing on pressure plates in a certain area. At one point I was looking up to see our comrades looking down on us from above. They were standing upside down on the ceiling! To progress through the game we needed to split up and regroup, completing tasks along the way. After each task, we would need to gather around floating golden orbs to release the next stage!
As we gained confidence and understanding of the bizarre physical laws of this digital universe, we moved closer and closer to a HUGE swirling ball. Eventually, our last task brought us directly underneath it. Our Tribe was waiting on the other side.
We were Victorious!
There are a few of these centres around the world apparently; New York, Brisbane… but only Nottingham holds the key in the UK.
I imagine this kind of Free Roam VR will become more common over the coming years, and I thoroughly recommend you give it a go! Maybe let me know about your own VR experiences through the comments below, or on twitter @AvoMinecraft
I am DEFINITELY going again!
I received no payment for this post and the opinions expressed are simply my own.