As a child, most people are enamored with space, spaceflight, and space travel. The wonder of the stars, the envy of astronauts is there in so many children. In the end, only part of a percent of them will work for NASA, and even fewer will see space first hand. This can change with Earthlight, a Virtual Reality simulation from Opaque Media. Opaque has been working directly with NASA themselves, in an effort to create the closest thing to space travel as possible.

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Wow Factor

As soon as Gamer Assault Weekly got a chance to take a look at what Opaque Media had been cooking up, we were in awe. Initially, we just discussed their history and plan.  Immediately, we began to learn about how the Australians got their start and where they want to go. In the end, their biggest goal is to “push the limits of visual fidelity” and to understand what can be seen with consumer VR. They work directly with NASA, but also with Nvidea’s VR Works. Norman Wang and Emre Denniz, two of the leads of the project, even stated that they maxed out a brand new Nvidea GTX 1080 Titan. Once I finally was able to view the tech demo they presented, I could understand why. The graphics of Space, the International Space Station, and Earth are beautiful. As Emre directed the demo, I could see how fluid and seamless the world was. There was some great visual fidelity and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the demo.

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Accurate Simulations

During my time with Earthlight, Gamer Assault Weekly got to experience two demo’s. The first was in space on the International Space Station. It was here that the first taste of Space was given, and was immediately intoxicating. The beauty, the freedom, and the range of motion was incredible. As I looked about, I could see the hand holds around me which allowed traversal of the station. These things had been seen on TV and movies, but having it literally right in front of me and in my hands was something else. The idea of Virtual Reality was epitomized here. When I think of what I want a true Virtual Experience to be, this is what it is. Hanging on to the station with one hand, but looking out and about to see the Earth below was a sight to behold.

If there was any way to wow even more, the demo of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab found it. With this demo, it was about a 15 minute experience should you progress quickly. As I got comfortable, Emre gave me a brief explanation of how to navigate and manipulate myself in the environment. While watching him play, I noticed how quickly and seamlessly he moved about, even going so far as to sort of fling himself from place to place. I particularly noticed how he moved down a rope hand over hand, as a monkey would do. Naturally, as soon as I got in the role of an Astronaut, I attempted the same. While not nearly as proficient, the opportunity to move in this freedom of motion was incredibly enabling.

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Devil in the Details

Every detail has been taken into account for recreation of the labs. Everything from the whole space station which must be accurate for the training astronauts, but even the lights above. Some lights are powered by outdated halogen bulbs, which generate a more yellow and wider breath of light. When the halogen bulbs die, they are replaced by square units of LED panels. Earthlight made sure that as I observed the ceiling, the more defined LED panels and the halogen floods were both evident and obvious to the differences.

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Availability

While there is still plenty to do, have no fear. In Q4 of 2016, the demos are slated to be available to download and play. With the HTC Vive, it will be available without issue, but for the Oculus it will require the handhelds to be released. The Oculus Touch are currently released to developers, but has not been approved by the FCC for consumer release yet. However, for full release, Earthlight is expected for Fall of 2017. This means that there is a long  wait time for the full game, but also for the Oculus Touch.  Keep on the lookout here and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!

About The Author

Bobby C
Director, Editorial/Reviews

Bobby C is a veteran FPS and adventure gamer, starting with the NES and Super Mario Bros. The game that really started his love for the FPS Genre was Goldeneye for the N64. Since then, the love grew. From casual, to semi-pro COD with Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and back to casual, it’s a bad week when there isn’t at least 15 hours of games played.