Weightless Virtual Reality Experience

Posted March 2, 2015 by in All

All Demos: ,
 
 
 
 
Developer: Martin Schubert
 
Demo Release Date: 01-12-2014
 
Version: 1.0
 
Type: Experience
 
Platform: PC, Mac
 
HMD: Oculus DK2
 
Download: Click Here
 
Control Schemes: Leap Motion
 

Best Part:

Some beautiful and magical object interaction and glimpses of how great hand tracking could be.
 

Worst Part:

Glimpses of some fairly intractable limitations to pure hand tracking. Arm Ache.
 
Bottom Line

A really nicely produced experiment, and play space for anyone looking to make use of their Leap Motion. Not much of a game, but doesn’t really need to be.

Rating

Graphics
 
 
 
 
 


Sound
 
 
 
 
 


Controls
 
 
 
 
 


Gameplay
 
 
 
 
 


Comfort Level
 
 
 
 
 


Immersion
 
 
 
 
 


Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

3/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

If you’ve tried the Apollo 11 experience demo, then you may have wished that you could reach out and touch that floating pencil at the end. 2nd place winner in the Leap Motion 3D Jam, Weightless, allows you to experience just that. You are the sole crew member of a small space station above earth and you seemed to be tasked with sorting objects with your bare hands, in this zero gravity environment. Human objects into one tube and strange alien objects into another.

weightless vr 2Your first instinct will be to try to pick things up, which, as is often the case with the Leap Motion, simply does not work reliably. Grasping an object invariably sends it spiralling off into the wrong direction, leaving you clumsily flailing to get it back. Delicate and precise nudges, often with your palms – not the tips of your fingers – seems to be the best tactic. Developer Martin Shubert actually posted a helpful tips video to help you get the best experience with the game, which is worth viewing but it’s a shame that it’s necessary.

Once you do start to get the hang of gently nudging the floating debris around, you begin to appreciate that interacting with weightless objects is actually a pretty clever attempt to work within the limits of the Leap motion. Careful hand movement is required, and it’s certainly an experience you couldn’t well replicate with any other kind of input device, but the Zero-G environment means that Weightless can provide meaningful object interaction without requiring you to grip things – which the Leap isn’t very reliable at. Additionally, you wouldn’t expect weightless objects to provide as much physical resistance, which might go some way to mitigating that lack of any haptic feedback.
weightless vr 3This kind of close quarters object interaction is transfixing because your focus is almost always within the range at which stereoscopic 3D is at its most effective. You’ll really flinch at an object coming in close to your face and worry about cutting your hand on a pair of scissors. The hand models themselves, are pretty realistic looking and responsive, although they cut off at the elbow, which often breaks immersion. If you keep them in that near  range sweet spot, they don’t seem to glitch up as much as I’ve noticed in other leap motion experiences although they are far from glitch-free and are still prone to occasionally flipping your palms around.
The wider environment of the station and its spectacular view is quite beautiful, and watching the shutters open to reveal the earth in the intro sequence is lovely. With a stirring playlist of backing music, Weightless can be a really serene place to hang out.

As well as object interaction, the Leap Motion powers a novel locomotion method that eschews the need for any other input device – Hold both hands in front of you with your palms facing forward to gently fly forward in that direction. Once you’re moving, you can move your hands in left, right, up or down, to strafe in that direction. At times, when it’s working well and the background music is just-so, this method feels beautiful and elegant. Unfortunately, its weaknesses soon become apparent – chiefly, that your arms will begin to ache as you have to hold them in front of your face for both movement and object interaction. You’ll need to take pauses.

Download Click Here

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About the Author

Edmund

Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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