Arguably the most important aspect of virtual reality (VR) is seeing; looking at objects and believing that you’re standing next to them, or talking to people that you truly believe are in the room with you. But what about a VR experience that takes away the player’s sight? Can it prove to be as immersive? That’s what indie developer Scott Leaman is exploring with his unique entry into Oculus VR’s ongoing Mobile VR Jam, Blind Swordsman, for the Gear VR smartphone-based head-mounted display (HMD).
As the name suggests, this is a title that casts players as a swordsman stripped of their sight. The screen on the Gar VR is entirely blacked out, thus players must rely solely on their hearing as they fend off three attackers. Enemies will come from 360 degrees, meaning players must spin around, either while standing or on a swivel chair to locate them. Once an enemy has been found players can either tap the touchpad mounted to the Gear VR or press a button on a compatible gamepad to swing their weapon. Enemies die with one hit, as does the player.
“I wanted to create an experience without graphics to see if it was possible to create a virtual world with only positional audio,” Leaman says of the title on an official submissions page from which the title can be downloaded. “This is to show the impact of audio in immersion and world building, as well as act as a showcase for the Oculus Audio SDK. I’m also taking advantage of the cordless nature of the Gear VR to allow a 360 degree experience and necessitating that the user turn away from their default forward direction. This makes the world appear to be all around them, not just in front of them.”
As part of the videogame track of the Mobile VR Jam, Blind Swordsman hopes to secure the grand prize of $200,000 USD. Runner-up prizes are also available, consisting of $100,000, $50,000 and $10,000 tiers. The Jam recently passed its fourth milestone, meaning that all entrants will have now been submitted to a panel of judges, with results to be announced in early June 2015. Judges include the likes of Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR’s John Carmack and members of other development teams included Telltale Games.
VRFocus will continue to follow any and all entries into the VR Jam, reporting back with the latest on them.