The currently ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC), Barcelona, hasn’t offered too many surprises this year. High-end virtual reality (VR) is in a state of re-evaluation right now; assessing the highs-and-lows of a year in consumers’ hands whilst attempting to push boundaries even further. The HTC Vive Tracker puck is an interesting argument for new offering new experiences, and Master of Shapes’ Cover Me!! does just that.
Three different devices working with two HTC Vive Tracker pucks, Cover Me!! is a multiplayer videogame designed to operate with the lowest barrier for entry possible. Don’t have a HTC Vive but your friend does? No problem, pick up your smartphone and join in. Battery need charging on that smartphone? Still no problem! Grab a tablet instead. Or maybe, providing you’ve got enough HTC Vive Tracker pucks, go for three-player with all of these devices.
— NinaVRFocus (@ninaVRFocus) February 27, 2017
The videogame itself is a very simple first-person shooter (FPS) built using both original and prefabricated assets. In the demonstration version at MWC, the tablet player was the host of the match – essentially the ‘dungeon master’, able to customise the colours of the enemies and map as well as taking the perspective of any other player – the smartphone player had their device mounted on a plastic gun, upon which a HTC Vive Tracker puck was also mounted, and finally there was a player in the HTC Vive itself. The smartphone and HTC Vive players existed within the same space, able to move around the roomscale environment and see one another upon their respective displays. The tablet player – also equipped with a Tracker puck – was represented by a camera.
Perhaps more interesting however, was Master of Shapes’ assertion that they have the technology to create real world object-placement within an experience. Simply by attaching four points of detection (similar to when setting up the HTC Vive’s roomscale chaperone itself) an object within the real world can not only be marked, but actually integrated into the videogame. Exactly what the developer plans to do with this technology – if anything – is not yet known, however the comment that ‘it should be a feature in every game’ would suggest that the path of least resistance would be to present the technology to the VR development community for widespread adoption.
Cover Me!! itself also has an uncertain future. Master of Shapes, by the teams’ own admission, are not videogame developers. They typically create a product for a specific market or contractor and then wave it goodbye; continued support for a ‘finished’ title is not their area of expertise. That being said, it’s clear that the team are invested in the versatility of the experience they have created, so expect to hear more from Master of Shapes – if not Cover Me!! – in the VR scene somewhere down the line.