It seems that our discussion of VR applications in the amusement space will continue today. Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report sent me this link about a brand new system that will be launching in October which has some “holodeck” style thought behind it, and also opens up to a second Blast From the Past Feature.
The system is called Scale-1 Portal which is being developed by a company called Momorprods (tongue-twisterrific!). There are two designs that can be used, Basic and Advanced, with the latter bringing more screens into the picture. The player stands inside of a small space that is open at the back. 3D projectors create the imagery on the floor and walls (just front wall on the basic, sidewalls are added on the advanced which also uses its own aluminum structure to hold up the side walls). A Kinect device combined with other IR tracking cameras, a good PC rig (Intel Core i7 with 2x nVidia Quadro graphics cards) and 2x 70W speakers power the rest. You can visit their website here.
A demo of the play is seen here and this is being designed, according to the website, for the arcade/amusement industry. No idea on the cost however and how it would compare to your standard arcade game (which price is average $7500 a unit). The first game for the unit is called Robot Frag and looks like Police Trainer 911 but where you blast virtual robots instead of virtual people. Overall it seems like a good way to get around the general problems of VR requiring a headset, although you do need the 3D glasses.
Blast From the Past
What this reminds me of is a project from the late 90s that pre-dated Kinect and while it wasn’t as elaborate as Scale-1 Portal, it was headed in that direction for the time. We’ve brought it up before, a device called Combatica by a company called Holoplex. I do not know if this passed the prototype stage or not but what it promised back in 1999 was full-body motion sensing where two players stand in a chamber and face-off against each other. Their fighting movements would be translated into the movements of the on-screen characters as they fought. I would certainly be interested in finding out how far this project made it and how it worked in practice – I heard this was found in Vegas at the time but whether that was just a location test or something else like this, that is the real question that needs to be answered.
The Las Vegas Gameworks location had the Combatica running Sega’s Virtual Fighter. If you remember the first VF the moves weren’t exactly smooth when you executed them. The sensors/tracking seemed a bit slow in response to the players move. I don’t remember how moves were executed but just watching people play the game was pretty painful.
I saw the Combatica at Gameworks Las Vegas running Tekken for several years (last I was there was 2002 or 2003, I think).
The controls were simple – one foot stayed in a circle. A foot forward acted like a forward joystick move, and backward the opposite. A jump was up. A duck was down. A punch or kick would activate the punch or kick for the game. Pairing a punch and kick at the same time would work for a grab (just like in Tekken).
Overall, Combatica wasn’t the greatest experience, but was an amusing thing to play when using a time card.
Yep – I was evaluating GW facilities at the time, and saw it running at Vegas and then again at Orange. The system was newly installed as the developers had links with the DreamWorks guys and SEGA US. It was hilarious seeing the executives trying to down-play the problems with the system till in the end they gave up.
The Israeli camera tracking system used was very similar to that used currently on the KINECT. There is also another system from a company called GestureTek – but that was more focused on self created content: