That time that I hit a dude in the face in a HTC Vive


Ok so if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I don't tend to just write something personal, but I figured this was as good of a place as any to share a story (we are a story studio after all!).

So I go to the Chicago VR Meetup last night (it's 1am right now) to show off the progress we've made on Life of Lon. Standard fare, grab some pizza, demo your game, get some feedback, ok life's good. So I meet a few people, make some connections, and then I meet this guy named August who is part of the company called In Context Solutions that is hosting the whole shindig. He mentions the Vive and I'm like, 'Oh yeah I haven't actually tried a Vive yet.' Which is strange to say when I've been running a studio launching a game for the Rift. Shouldn't I know what else is out there? But alas, difficult to get a Vive.

Anyways- August, yes. August. He goes, 'Hey we got a Vive here- come on back and try it!' Ok so what could I say? I was done demoing and everyone had filtered out. So I go to this small office space with chairs up against the wall and it's dark. There's this guy in the corner at a standing desk presumably running the game software. There's a zombie game called The Brookhaven Experiment created by Phosphor games on at the moment, and a guy in the middle is flailing around. I guess I'm next.

I make some small talk and then it's my turn. The guy in the middle of the room looks at me expectantly. I move in slow motion to the middle of the room, strangely out of control of my own body. I hold the headset and look at it. This is what I've been seeing in videos for 8 months, and I'm holding it in my hands. I take a moment and look at the lenses and the front of it. The guy waits for me and I nervously explain that I haven't held a Vive before. He nonchalantly goes, "Not a lot different than the Rift really." I suddenly feel very behind the curve.

I pull the headset down and two floating controllers drift into view. I grab for them and they become a flashlight and a gun. I feel very strange- halfway between two worlds. I know immediately that I am having some sense of what they call 'Presence'- that feeling like you are somewhere else.

It's a zombie defense game. The zombies spawn and you have to a) be able to see them (hence the flashlight) and b) be able to accurately shoot and kill them. I did an alright job of it (I thought) until I ran out of ammo. That's when someone from the real world said something to the effect of, 'Wow, nobody runs out of ammo on level one.' So apparently I am trigger happy and I will die in the zombie apocalypse. To all of my friends and family: I'm sorry. So here I am with no ammo and piles of zombie corpses around me. What do I do? I ask, "What do I do?" And someone offers- "Hit them with your gun!"

So now I'm swinging around like an idiot trying to kill zombies with my gun. I also swing the flashlight around because hey, it's metal too, right?

I swing for a zombie with my flashlight and BAM did it connect with a satisfying THWACK. But uhh, that hit felt pretty real. What's going on.

The crowd of bystanders erupts to my right and I realize I had hit someone. I slowly pull the headset off almost unable to bear the embarrassment I felt. I hit a bystander in the jaw- a clean hit at just the right angle the zombie was at. Somehow the Vive's glowing walls didn't appear from the distance I was standing (or someone had mis-calibrated it) and I swung at a place that was actually off limits.

Thankfully, he was ok. But I felt horrible about it. I had basically cold cocked someone.

So it goes when you try out development kits with in-flight games. All I can say is that I cannot wait to get my hands on The Brookhaven Experiment to try my luck at surviving the zombie apocalypse again.

Daniel Allen is the co-founder of Block Interval and co-creator of the in-development VR game Life of Lon. For more information about the project, check out lifeoflon.com or the VR announcement.

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