**Originally published on Project-Grey before we shut the fucker down because it was too much work**
The Oculus Rift is a game changer. It is the first truly immersive 3D virtual reality experience. I’ve seen it modded for Skyrim, I’ve wet my pants on the rollercoaster, and seen artists use it to create virtual displays for their work. The only problem is the cables. No matter how vivid the visuals are; on a mountain top, with the sun dappling your face, you’re still holding a controller, strapped to a computer like a horse to a feedbag. 3 guys couched in the warehouse district of Melbourne are poised to change that.
Zero Latency is a development house specialising in immersive Virtual Reality. Their “Inversion” project consists of a room set up with tracking cameras, an Oculus Rift linked to a fully wireless backpack, and trackable weapons.
What this means is that for the first time, you can walk around an empty room, and you’ll see a campsite, an alleyway, or whatever environment the Zero Latency boys want to drop you in.
Their flagship project, Zombie Fort: Smackdown, takes this immersive virtual reality experience and makes it absolutely terrifying. To the point where I literally screamed like a little girl.
Let me put you in the picture
You’re in an alleyway, you’re backed into a corner, and there’s no escape. There’s a corpse on the ground, and a burning trashcan for light. Ambient horror music sings through your ears. You look up and notice how clear the stars are in the sky.
It’s funny, what you notice in times of crisis.
Suddenly, on the wall across from the entrance to the alley, a silhouette twice your height lurches into view, followed by another. The source: Zombies. At first, one or two start to shuffle around the corner. You take a deep breath, and start headshotting.
We all know that’s the only way to deal with a Zombie.
All of a sudden the trickle of zombies has become a hoard. You watch the bodies mount up and start to get your bearings, “this isn’t so bad, I might just make it” you think to yourself. Sadly you didn’t notice the little alleyway entrance to your right. You check your six in time and notice a zombies arm swinging at your head. The reflexes that saved prehistoric men from predators kick in, and you duck, step to the right, and start firing.
Not just business people with a taste for brains either; hulking monsters, warped from decay, join the swarm. The lights flicker, suddenly it’s just torchlight. Your head shots turn to spray and pray. Soon you know there is no escape, but you go down guns blazing.
The lights go up, the zombies disappear, and you take off the Oculus. Suddenly you’re back in a warehouse, with pizza boxes, beer bottles and post it notes. Three guys at a computer have just watched you prance around an empty room like you were in the scene from flashdance, but with machine guns.
Your heart is racing. You finally remember to breathe.
This is the future. This is the stuff you wanted VR to be in the 90’s when you put on a headset the size of a TV on your head and watched 3D polygons explode into pixels.
My previous experience with the Oculus was stifled by the use of a controller, and the restriction of wires. With the Zero Latency wireless rig, movement tracking system and backpack I was literally ducking zombie swings, checking my six whilst clearing my 12, circle strafing, and screaming “blat blat blat” as I fired my final bullets.
Limitations exist within the space, and the format, but the guys have come up with some creative ways to expand the gaming universe and its functionality, so I can’t wait to see what comes next from Zero Latency.
Where can I try it?
You can actually demo this on February the 16th at PauseFest. While the tickets are expensive they cover 4 days of the latest tech, digital and innovation. There’s interactives like this, talks from industry leaders and a slew of displays. You can also pay in bitcoin and the team have partnered with CoinJar to offer a bounty in bitcoin for zombie scalps.
So go to PauseFest, shoot zombies, win your ticket price back in Bitcoin, and go about your day knowing you had a taste of the future.