It is difficult to explain virtual reality to someone who has never tried it before, but one of the most exciting developers working in the space might have solved the problem.
Studio Owlchemy Labs, which is making the VR game Job Simulator, has a new trailer in the works that mixes together video of a real-world player and the simulated office he’s interacting with. This creates a seamless image that enables us outsiders to get a third-person view on what the player is doing inside of the virtual world. Previously, audiences have had just a first-person view of the action, which doesn’t really convey a sense of presence. Companies like Sony have used computer-generated graphics to suggest what it’s like to play a game in VR. But those solutions always fail to accurately portray the sensation of existing in a simulation, and that’s a problem for a technology that is asking consumers to spend upward of $1,500. If this market is going to grow into a $40 billion business by 2020, it’s going to need to figure out how to demonstrate VR in an exciting and instantly recognizable way.
Owlchemy is onto something with the mixed-reality tests it’s doing with Job Simulator. In the short, 7 second clip below, you can see a man picking up things on a desk and throwing them, which is a big part of actually playing the game with the Vive.
Check it out:
This isn’t an animation or a mock-up. The video shows a person who is really playing Job Simulator and how his actions are affecting that world. He picks up the coffee cup and throws it in the air, catching it with his other hand. He throws a paper airplane across the room.
I’ve played Job Simulator, and it feels exactly like this. You get the sense that you’re really standing at a desk or in a kitchen despite the cartoon graphics, and you are just knocking things around with the controllers and throwing items around.
This isn’t to say that this is a perfect solution. I’m sure some people will see this and not understand why a real man is standing inside of an old video game office like a cheap 1990s version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but this is the best 2D translation of the 3D VR experience I’ve seen yet. And it’s likely viewers will see a lot more of this as developers begin trying to market their Vive, Rift, and PSVR games.