OculusI have an Oculus Rift DK2, and we knew we wanted to use it for the game, but hadn’t quite figured out what to use it for. As we got closer to the event date, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to use it on players who got too close to our ghosts, for a bunch of reasons:

  • We had no death in the game (for the players, although they didn’t know that), but wanted something to happen if you tried to take on a ghost.
  • If people got too close to a ghost, we didn’t want them to see ‘behind the scenes’ (i.e. that it was a puppet, or that it was projected on gauze)

So we decided that was the right moment for the Rift. We briefed the players that if a ref/staff member shouted ‘Drop’ then they should drop to the ground and close their eyes (one of the few game calls we used). And then, if a player got too close to a ghost, we called ‘Drop’. This only happened three times during the event, which is great – we didn’t want it to be overdone, and we were perfectly happy that only three people had this experience.

We picked up the player concerned, got them to close their eyes, and then took them into a back room where we had the Rift set up. In silence, still with their eyes closed, we sat them down on a chair. Then we told them, quietly, that we were about to put something over the heads and that they weren’t to open their eyes until we said. Then we put on the headset and a pair of headphones.

For the experience itself, I’d assumed that I’d have time to put something together, but of course time was against me. In the last few weeks before the event I did a hunt to see if I could find something that someone else had already made that would be in some way relevant to our plot… and I couldn’t find anything and was beginning to despair. And then at the last minute I found something by Kite and Lightning¬†called¬†Senza Peso, which is a mini opera in which the viewer appears to be travelling in a boat across the river Styx, passing through several hell-like environments. That’s as good a near-death experience as we were likely to get! The music didn’t suit what we wanted to do, so we mixed a more effects-driven track involving a heartbeat.

So… from the player’s perspective they were suddenly in a boat crossing water, and passing into a cold, icy world. At this point, Kiera turned on a cold fan, blowing cold air at the player.

Then they passed into a place full of hell fire. Kiera turned the fan to blow hot air.

Then their boat docked, and they started to float up into the air. At the same point, two of us picked up the chair with the player on it.

Once the journey was over, we put them back down, got them to close their eyes again, and led them back to an empty part of the house, where we left them to ‘wake up’.

At least one of the three players who had this experience had never heard of an Oculus Rift; they’d no idea this technology existed. You can imagine the effect on them. It was fantastic watching them, as their characters, try to explain to the other characters/players what had happened to them, knowing that they wouldn’t be believed.

Here’s a link to a preview of the journey.