Back in the days of the NES (Famicom in other parts of the world), there were already shooting games. But not quite like the FPS titles of today. With the limitations of technology back then, most of those games were limited to billboard and arcade types of gameplay. But at least they had a (light) gun! One of the most popular to hit the cartridges was Duck Hunt. With the new dawn of virtual reality, it just seemed fitting to give an homage to the title, which is exactly what New Jersey Institute of Techonology student Joseph Delgado did.
Making a remake of Duck Hunt is one thing. Making a remake that works nicely in a 360-degree virtual reality world is a whole different story, one that Delgado was only too happy to share. His entry into the Global Game Jam, “Duck Hunt VR”, for lack of a better name, takes the elements that made the original both enjoyable and frustrating and puts them in an almost realistic VR world. Almost realistic.
Delgado tried to make some of the original’s 2D game sprites into voxels, basically polygons made of cubes ala Minecraft. However, doing that for every visual element of the game dragged the frame rate considerably, which would cause the nauseating sickness often associated with VR. So instead, he had to settle for billboarding some of the art assets, a technique that practically slaps an image on a flat 2D plane, pretty much like a billboard. The background mountains, some of the trees, and even the ducks are billboards. At least the dog is a voxel.
Delgado then came across one of the biggest problems in VR: input. Considering there are very few VR input solutions today, especially off the shelf ones, he had to settle for adopting a Razer Hydra for his purpose. Almost comically, he discovered that the best place to put the Hydra’s base station was on his head. But even then, he had to deal with issues of lag between hand movement and in-world reaction, which we expect will be a common problem once VR really hits the market soon.
All in all, it seemed to be an enjoyable learning and playing experience for Delgado. For the virtual ducks, probably not so much.