Some things are inherently terrifying, being stranded in the ocean with a great white (more on that tomorrow), being near a spider and drifting through space.
Earthlight is a VR experience that puts you right up there in the nope category of floating through space without a tether. Director of Business Development at Opaque media Norman Wang told LoadScreen that the game was developed with assistance from NASA, who provided feedback on aspects such as getting the feel of the International Space Station right.
Earthlight was originally developed as a tech demo showcasing the ability to use the Kinect as a VR interface, but has gone on to become a series of modules that puts the player in the shoes of an astronaut.
Enough background, let’s talk about how it felt. Terrifyingly beautiful is probably the best way to put it. Starting out in the International Space Station, Earthlight‘s demo has you climb up a ladder, using Vive’s hand controllers to grasp each rung. Once you reach the top you’re confronted with the dark depths of space and a stunning view of that place we all live.
Slowly reaching out for rungs placed around the station you have to pull yourself to a terminal in need of maintenance. Each movement pulls you through the silent zero gravity environment, the only noise is your breathing and a voice guiding your actions. I know it’s entirely implausible, but you genuinely feel like letting go will straight up Sandra Bullock you.
As you complete your rung pulling obstacle course around the space station, you’re instructed to do something technical with a bunch of tubes, of course you don’t know NASA terms, so why not just touch the wires?
This is when your stomach lifts and the motion sickness kicks in as a small explosion kicks you backwards. The voice in your ear says to stay calm as you float further out of reach questioning your life choices feeling dizzy and frightened. This is when the demo ends and reality comes rushing back.
Earthlight is likely going to be the closest most people will get to becoming an astronaut. Going forward Norman Wang said Opaque Media will explore using their games physics to create science fiction games. I for one look forward to the simulator that lets you play as a gravity monster from Interstellar.