During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I was invited to a special invite-only shindig at The Omni Hotel. The party showcased what is new and shiny in the world of gaming technology, particularly in the field of virtual reality.
Being a SEGA nerd, I made a beeline to the Sonic-dedicated area. The activity available was “Sonic’s Ring Jump,” in which you jump and perform a series of actions against a green screen, ending in an attempted jump on the trampoline beneath the stage to catch the gold ring dangling from the ceiling. Catching the ring nets you a prize of one thousand dollars.
After your likely failure to catch the prize, your butt-first landing (or whatever graceful pose you achieved) was captured along with the rest of your pantomiming and added to a short video, making it appear as if you were running through a level in either Sonic Mania or Sonic Forces. You could send yourself the little film afterwards.
This section was open to the public during the day but I definitely dug that the line to participate was pretty much non-existent at the party.
This sign was also left up from the daytime activities. The artwork gave me a chuckle.
One booth that was noticeably popular was that belonging to MX4D. The setup made me think of a stripped-down Star Tours. In the back of the exhibit were these mechanical two-seater chair things. The seats can swing back and forth, turn at different angles, and rumble. With the VR goggles on, it was a very convincing roller coaster experience!
What were people looking at through those goggles? Well, for those waiting in line (check out the “30 minute wait from this point” signage), there was a large TV screen playing what the “riders” were seeing. The ride was’t just about the sensations of the tracks. There was a freaking dragon chasing you! How awesome is that? It is no wonder there was always a line.
Chilling by the Sonic displays was a standee of Neil deGrasse Tyson, decked out in a fancy space get-up. What was that doing there?
I soon found out that the famous astrophysicist had teamed up with a group of game developers to create Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Odyssey. The title’s Kickstarter campaign just ended (they were successfully funded) but you can still get a seat on this rocket before it takes off. Their Indiegogo page remains open and I highly recommend you check it out!
The concept is, put in simpler terms, a space-exploration game but with worlds created by the likes of Bill Nye, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Peter Beagle, and Tyson himself. The title promises Metroidvania-style gameplay, with exploration dictated by the tools, skills, or resources necessary to access certain areas, as well as VR missions.
I was very impressed by the technology showcased that night. Gamers and tech buffs have a lot to look forward too.