If you’ve ever wanted to experience the International Space Station for yourself, without the trauma of the second half of Gravity or actually becoming an astronaut, one Melbourne studio has got just what you’re looking for.
It’s called Earthlight, and it’s the latest title from Opaque Multimedia. Opaque has won some acclaim in the past few years, with their Virtual Dementia Experience — a game that simulates what it’s like to have dementia through the wonders of a VR environment — winning one of the top prizes at the world finals of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup this year.
Earthlight’s a little different and, given that it’s space, more interesting to a broader market. Using Unreal Engine 4 and motion controllers like the PlayStation Move, SteamVR or the Oculus Touch, Earthlight lets you wander around the International Space Station in the body of an astronaut.
That’s already an cool idea, but what’s especially sweet about the trailer — besides being in 4K — is the 360 degree nature of it. If you’ve ever looked at VR footage and felt a bit left out because you couldn’t get the full experience, well, that’s still the case. Watching a video’s nothing compared to having an Oculus or a HTC Vive on your head. But this is easily the next best thing, and it provides a pretty damn good idea of what you can see for yourself at PAX later this month.
Opaque collaborated with NASA (although they stress the project is not officially endorsed, being a commercial venture) to improve the authenticity of Earthlight, and the team has also consulted cognitive psychologists and researchers to make the VR experience as peaceful and pleasant as possible (something that can’t be said of all VR games and demos).
The Melbourne devs will be showing off Earthlight at PAX Australia using the HTC Vive, although PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and SteamVR versions of the game will be available when the game is released in the first quarter of 2016. It’ll also support gamepads with dual analogue inputs, if people want to navigate the cosmos that way.
If anything, it might be worth stopping by Opaque’s booth — #3324 — just for the opportunity to chill out. The PAX show floor can get exceedingly hectic, and going for a quiet space walk might just be the perfect tonic.