Earlier in the year VRFocus reported on the news that Australian developer Opaque Media would be showcasing a tech demo for The Earthlight Project, a new virtual reality (VR) astronaut experience at the 2015 Game Developers Conference. Since that event – which took place in March – the developer has been working on a full version of the experience. Today, Opaque Media is announcing Earthlight as a full videogame that’s on its way to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR head-mounted displays (HMDs). The first trailer for the experience can be seen below.
Created using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, Earthlight still keeps the player as an astronaut, allowing them to experience both the wonders and dangers of space exploration. The first-person title will be utilising the Oculus Touch, SteamVR Controllers and PlayStation Move position-tracked input systems of each respective HMD, though support for gamepads will also be included. Players will get to perform everyday tasks from actions as simple as undoing a screw, eventually coming to face more complex physics puzzles.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Operations Laboratory (OpsLab) has had its hands on a copy of Earthlight since May 2015 and the developer has been updating it for their use while also working closely with cognitive psychologists and researchers to create an authentic experience.
“When we first released the screenshots, the community did not realise they were rendered images. And when they figured it out, the interest exploded.” Emre Deniz, the principle environment artist on the original Earthlight demo team, said of the news. “We were all very proud of our work, but when we started receiving emails from NASA simulation engineers, we realised we have created something quite extraordinary.”
The title will be on display at PAX Australia on 30th October – 1st November 2015 and is aiming to release alongside HMDs in Q1 2016. VRFocus will continue to follow Earthlight closely, reporting back with the latest updates on the project.