Virtual Reality and Gaming
Visualize soaring through the air at the pace of light, jumping over high structures and looking through walls with X-ray sight. For a lot of people, becoming a superhero is a reverie of the past, and for Kosho Hoshitsuki, it was the same.
Hoshitsuki, a young student studying computer engineering, as he matures, his desire of putting on a cloak and camouflage did not come to pass. But gratitude goes to an innovative club at Penn State, Hoshitsuki is getting closer to the superhero position via virtual reality.
Established the in fall of 2015 at Penn State University, the Virtual Reality Club allows students from different disciplines to have a hands-on understanding with creating virtual reality (also known as VR) games and programs for such platforms as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.
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For students in the club, weekly get-togethers are an opportunity to share thoughts, hold game creation lessons and present comments on each other’s personal assignments.
According to Owen Shartle, the club’s leader and a senior studying computer science, “Our main goal is to have a place where people can come enjoy virtual reality and talk about new technologies.”
All over last year’s fall and spring semesters, the club members threw ideas at each other and labored on personal games and assignments using software’s such as Blender, a 3-D modeling device; Microsoft Visual Studio, used to code computer and mobile programs; and Unity, a game creating platform.
The club’s labors led to an end-of-the-year showcase of their efforts in the HUB-Robeson Center during the last week of April. As concerned students met close to the fish tanks in the HUB, club members show-case their completed assignments and introduced spectators to the fundamentals of virtual reality gaming.
Hoshitsuki’s game, “Fe Guy” (as in the chemical element), utilizes an Oculus Rift and a Leap Motion infrared (IR) sensor to produce an engaging virtual universe where users believe that they have the authority of the superhero Iron Man (hence the game’s name).
Thanks to the Leap Motion IR sensor, partakers were able to fire objects by moving their arms to aim and fire. When a participant lifts up his left arm in real life, the personality in the game also lifts his left arm.
In addition to creating games that appear visually astonishing, club members have also been educated to center on user knowledge and functionality when creating for virtual reality.
“With virtual reality, there are a lot of major design thought processes that a lot of us didn’t think about when we first started,” Shartle declared “So you might have an idea to make a skydiving game, but then you find out moving fast in virtual reality can make people sick. So there’s actually a lot of things you have to think about when designing the game.” And with an industry that is developing so quickly, club members are at all times laboring to stay ahead of the newest virtual reality equipment.
“Staying current with what companies are working on is pretty important in this field,” Shartle affirmed. “One day, you’re using a certain motion tracker, and the next day there’s an update and you might miss the boat on getting the newest development kit.”