Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The Void are collaborating to bring a new multiplayer hyper-reality arcade experience, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, to Void Experience Centers at Disney World for the holiday season.
The untethered VR experience is being developed using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 technology. It’s the second Hollywood IP for The Void. Previously, the Lindon, Utah-based franchise worked with Sony Pictures on a VR experience called Ghostbusters: Dimensions at Madame Tussauds in Times Square.
The Void co-founder and chief creative officer Curtis Hickman spoke with AListDaily about the collaboration with ILMxLAB and Disney Parks, and The Void’s tech, which blends tetherless VR headsets with haptics, sounds and other senses.
“Guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story,” Hickman said. “We work hard to make sure it’s not just your eyes, but it’s everything.”
The Ghostbusters experience is designed for four players and is 10 minutes long, with a few minutes before and after to put on and remove the gear. Star Wars will also be a multi-person experience, but while Ghostbusters involved a 3.5-pound portable desktop computer disguised as a proton pack, Star Wars will be tether-free, absolving the need to hide a computer.
“We’re trying to improve on what was done in Ghostbusters,” Hickman said, “and that includes new technology that improves the social interaction. Guests can talk [to] and see each other in The Void experiences.”
Hickman said that as a general rule of thumb, four is a great number to work with because it allows two pairs of people to go through the experience and have a nice dynamic interaction. By working on Ghostbusters, Hickman’s team learned that people are looking for a rich experience and wish fulfillment when they step into a movie universe they love.
“It’s important that a VR experience delivers on those dreams and desires people have from those properties and the worlds they love so much,” Hickman said. “We also learned about flow and experimenting with space and we’re applying all of those things to Star Wars.”
— Star Wars (@starwars) August 6, 2017
The Void’s Star Wars experience also uses a technology called redirected walking, which gives the user the illusion of exploring a much larger virtual reality world. “In home VR, you can stand in one place and look around at a perceived landscape,” Hickman said, “but if you take two steps you run into a wall. In a Void experience, you can keep going.”
The exact length of time for the Star Wars VR experience is still being determined, but Hickman said it will take place in a similar-sized space as Ghostbusters. The bigger-picture goal for The Void is to create spaces that can be built across many locations around the globe featuring multiple hyper-reality experiences.
“We’re designing the template that we can reuse for many different experiences,” Hickman said. “That’s what we’re looking to do here in Disneyland.”