One of the more odd delights on Nintendo's Wii console was a two-game series called Endless Ocean. The peaceful games let players virtually scuba dive and take pictures of the wildlife below the surface of the sea. Enter World of Diving, a new game about pretty much the same thing, except it's first-person, you can play it on a computer and, if you'd like, you can play in virtual reality.
I tried World of Diving briefly last month during the Game Developers Conference and was encouraged by what I tried. Using a traditional controller and playing the game on a TV, I got to lazily swim around and take pictures of fish. I chased sea turtles, too.
That was pleasant enough, but putting a virtual reality headset over my head suddenly made World of Diving from a decent demo to something I very much want to play again. Using an Oculus Rift headset, I felt transported underwater in a manner that felt perfect for a setting in which there are things to see in every direction. Played in VR, even the camera your character holds in the game assumes a measure of presence — of virtual physicality, if that makes sense — that impressed me.
The trailer up top shows what the game looks like outside of VR. I think it's ok when played that way, but as a virtual reality experience, the game can be a showpiece. It's fitting that Sony's got an underwater demo for their VR headset, too. The setting is perfect for the immersive feeling that VR can give you.
World of Diving is early in development by an experienced Dutch team at Vertigo Games. They haven't made anything like this before, but, if you'd like, you can experience development with them and maybe even point them in a helpful direction or two. They're offering a playable "Stage 0" slice of the game now that will let players dive solo or co-op in standard TV mode or in VR to get a feel for what the game is like. It's available with a $US20 pre-order for the full game and works on PC and Mac now with Linux support planned to be added in the next few days. There's more info on the game's official site.