EVE Fanfest played host to a lot of virtual reality (VR) reveals from CCP Games, some of which pushed pretty far from the universe which is responsible for allowing the developer the room to explore the technology. Ship Simulator however, developed by the team at CCP Atlanta, is one project that held on to the reigns, tying the technology to EVE Online in a supplementary manner that proved very popular with much of the audience at the show. And with good reason.
As you may have guessed from the title, Ship Simulator is a simulation of a small selection of the space ships featured in EVE Online. However, it’s not a case of piloting these ships from a first-person view as many would expect – we’ve got EVE: Valkyrie for that – Ship Simulator is instead an exploratory piece of software. Using the Oculus Rift DK2, users were able to zoom in/out of the ships, looking at them from all angles as well as cutting a hole to look at the inner workings.
As with Disc Arena, Ship Simulator uses the Kinect 2.0 to incorporate hand gestures. By placing a hand above or below the ship the user is able to raise and lower its position to allow for a better view. Furthermore, an option menu activated by simply pointing and gesturing upwards would allow drones to be launched from the craft, which would then fly around the area independently of the monolithic vessel that acts as the centrepiece.
Interaction with the craft is limited in Ship Simulator, though those in a malicious mood are able to destroy any launched drones by simply swiping them. It’s a momentary thrill, but that’s exactly what Ship Simulator was designed for: it’s not a complex reestablishment of the unfathomably deep massively multiplayer online (MMO), it’s a grin-inducing insight into the design work that goes into the real characters of the videogame.
Much like Disc Arena, Ship Simulator would struggle to find an audience at present due to the added requirement of a depth camera. Labelled as an ‘experiment’, Ship Simulator comes closest to the VR Labs’ mandate than any other teaser from EVE Fanfest, and yet it also holds a lot of promise. Ship Simulator will no doubt have EVE Online fans hungry for more, but at present there’s no clear signs of if or when they’ll receive it.