Walking the Plank on HTC Vive

VRFocus gets hands-on (and feet-on) with Richie’s Plank Experience ahead of its Viveland debut.

 

HTC’s concerted effort to court developers to use the HTC Vive in new ways has not gone unnoticed. The short vertigo-inducing experience, Richie’s Plank Experience, has often been noted as one of the ‘scariest’ virtual reality (VR) creations currently available despite not involving any kind of horror or videogame mechanics. HTC has noted this, and will soon be rolling the experience out to Viveland venues in China.

The Plank Vive Demo 3

Ahead of that public debut however, HTC brought Richie’s Plank Experience to Mobile World Congress (MWC), Barcelona, showcasing the format in which attendees of Viveland will be able to experience the software. While Richie’s Plank Experience is already available via Steam as an Early Access title, a small installation makes all the difference.

As can be seen in the images on this page, the MWC installation of Richie’s Plank Experience featured a platform representing the elevator in the experience and a long walkway for the titular plank. The user would stand on the platform as they ascend 160 metres through a skyscraper, only to have the doors open and reveal a wooden plank stretching out in front of them, high above the tarmac below. As might be expected, the experience from here on is simply to walk out onto the plank.

The Plank Vive Demo 2

‘Simply’ might be a confusing word, as there is nothing simple about keeping your cool in Richie’s Plank Experience. The walkway used in the MWC installation had some noticeable give, meaning underfoot vibrations with each step offer genuine haptic feedback. The user was encouraged to take things slowly, but few would need such advice.

Being the daring VR aficionados that the VRFocus team are, we assessed the experience further by measuring the width of the walkway through running our feet along the edges and the flexibility by varying the pressure of footsteps. It may seem like such a simple way of presenting a familiar real-world experience – walking on a wooden plank, that is, not being 160 metres in the sky without a safety net – but the addition of tangible feedback underfoot genuinely took Richie’s Plank Experience to an entirely new level.

The Plank Vive Demo 1

No confirmation of timing for the debut of Richie’s Plank Experience at Viveland venues has yet been announced, though it would be coming in this format to China’s official HTC Vive installations ‘soon’, VRFocus was informed. Richie’s Plank Experience is one of many software and hardware titles on show from HTC at MWC this week, and VRFocus will bring you hands-on assessments of the rest of the line-up very soon.

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