Exploring The Ocean Depths
In this demo, I found myself standing on the deck of a sunken ship. Initially, my mind questioned how I was able to be underwater and still breathe. While I soon suspended my disbelief, I do think it would have felt even more realistic if there was some simulation of wearing scuba gear. Your vision when using the Vive already has that appearance, so why not add some audio and visual cues to this one demo to further that illusion?
In spite of that, I still found myself in awe of the virtual world in front of me. There were fish swimming by, and I was able to reach out and swat at the smaller ones in front of me, which caused them to quickly dart away from my hand. The graphical fidelity of this demo (which was the TheBluVR: Encounter VR demo by WEVR) was very good – almost photo-realistic, which you can see in the screenshot below.
I was also able to move around the deck of the ship, and while the space available was dictated by the 15 x 15-foot playing area, I didn’t feel constrained in the environment. The area available to me made sense within the context of this demo. I walked over to the railing of the ship and looked down into the depths and could see a crashed airplane below. I then turned around and walked back along the deck until I reached some broken deck machinery, which blocked my way since it was the edge of the playing space.
One thing that did seem off to me, and did briefly break my suspension of disbelief, is that when I looked straight down I had no body or feet (flippers?). However, in order to incorporate an accurate representation of your body when you look down, the Vive would have to somehow track your feet, too, so they appear in the digital space where they are in reality. Perhaps the camera on the front of the Vive could help achieve that.
It was then that my VR Master (the HTC demo rep) suggested that I turn around so as not to miss what is the star of this demo’s show. I did, and found myself face-to-face with a huge whale that was swimming by way too close for comfort. As it swam by me, I found myself staring it to its huge, extremely life-like eye, and it was at this moment that I was completely sold on this demo. It honestly did feel like I was looking at a living creature staring right back at me, and it was slightly unnerving.
As the baleen behemoth continued to swim by, one of its massive flippers passed over my head and I instinctively ducked. Then as it was about to leave, it flicked its humongous tail down which caused me to jump back out of the way, both in fear and awe. The sheer wonder of just this one moment had me laughing with joy. By the end of this demo, I was already complete sold on Valve’s and HTC’s VR vision, and I wasn’t even halfway through was I was going to see.