An Epic day of Unity with the Seattle VR scene

I just had an unforgettable day of VR here in the Seattle area. It started off at Envelop VR's office to discuss an upcoming VR event they organize called SEA VR and then my buddy Greg and I got to visit both Unity and Epic's local offices. I can't thank Nick and Pete enough for letting us see their VR rigs and try out their VR demos.


I had a great chat with Pete at Unity's office where I got a chance to see their setup and try out the HTC Vive unit. So far, this headset is by far my favorite HMD.

Next up was a visit to Epic Games' office just a few blocks away. While I am not a game developer, I am a big Epic fan. Epic's Unreal Engine is responsible for a variety of games I have loved playing over the years so this was a fan boy dream come true.

I also got a chance to see the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay demos that I never stand in line at conferences to see. First up was the super cool demo 'Showdown' that takes the user on slow motion trip through a street battle between futuristic cops and a giant robot (see the video below).

While this was among the best demos in VR I have seen to date, nothing has prepared me for what I experienced next. I got the opportunity to see a VR demo Epic did with Weta Studios, the company behind all the special effects for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

The experience started with me in the mountain chamber of gold from the Hobbit movies. This alone was a 'WTF' experience as the scene looked exactly like it did in the movies. It looked so real and truly 'epic', that I was screaming into my hands to mute the sound of how awesome the experience was.

 The demo features the dragon Smaug swimming through mountains of gold looking for the thief (my character) it senses. Voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug speaks directly to the user with his daunting size on full display; 500 feet of red-scaled dragon. This demo is the kind of VR that I can put anyone in and they will automatically get why virtual reality is going to be a whole new level of media experience. Hands down this demo is the best I have ever seen so far.

I am so grateful to the guys at Epic and Unity for the truly fun day and I look forward to future visits to the Pacific Northwest to get my VR on.


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