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The Force is Strong with the new Star Wars Virtual Reality experience

Written by Micah Blumberg March 17 2016: I had an incredible time trying out Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine created by ILMxLAB and presented by Epic Games at GDC.

Don’t call it a game, call it an interactive Virtual Reality Experience, the first of many featuring stories that are part of the official Star Wars canon. So what I just experienced was like one mini episode that really happened in the official Star Wars movie universe.
It takes place on a planet (Tatooine) with only the beginning and ending in space. (As the Star Wars opening title rolls just like every Star Wars movie)

Do you remember how you felt when the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens appeared online?

For me that trailer was like this gut level emotional reaction that tied back to my childhood affirming the rightness of all those earlier experiences. It affected my whole nervous system, even my eyes got wet.

I felt the same thing wearing the HTC Vive headset and watching the opening crawl, the text that explained that I was Skywalker’s apprentice waiting on a delivery from the Millennium Falcon.

Then I was on the planet itself. Tatooine. Seeing the Millennium Falcon descend from the sky to land almost on top of me. I really felt like I was a Jedi’s apprentice.

Star Wars

The sense of presence in Virtual Reality is amazing. It really felt as if the Falcon was there. What surprised me a lot was that the Millennium Falcon seems smaller in person, in Virtual Reality than I had imagined it being after seeing it in movie theaters many times.

It was also a thrill to see R2 D2 in person, via Virtual Reality, R2 D2 was also a lot smaller in person that I had guessed. What I mean by in person is that VR has the ability to give you a sense of space, three dimensional space. So I could walk around seeing R2 D2 and the Millennium Falcon from different angles. I could crouch, lean, step, and so on.

The Falcon had some mechanical trouble right away so naturally I had to help out with engine repair pressing buttons. Since the HTC Vive controllers are so great, so precise, it was a joy for me to press buttons and see that I was able to precisely touch the buttons on Falcon and see them light up. It was a fun mini-game.

Starwars VR

Then I got a present from Luke Skywalker and it turned my controller into a lightsaber which was the coolest feeling ever. I know that there have been lightsaber demo’s in VR before but this was really the first time I got to try it out. Immediately I had to defend R2 D2 and the Falcon from Storm Troopers using the lightsaber to deflect laser blasts back at the enemy troopers.

It was built for Steam VR, and I got to wield a lightsaber with the pinpoint laser perfection controller tracking system that the HTC Vive offers.

About the author:

Micah is a researcher, entrepreneur, and journalist who covers virtual reality, cognitive science, biology, and AI.

Visit his website at http://vrma.work
Comment in facebook groups like Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive https://www.facebook.com/groups/gearvr/

and Self Aware Networks: Computational Biology https://www.facebook.com/groups/neomindcycle/

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