Chronology is a beautiful thing, is it not? Tying us all ceaselessly to a perceived reality? The unrelenting passage of time? Unfeeling as it barrels through every aspect of our days, brutally ticking our lives away, while we can but watch as every passing second turns to dust before us? Good fun. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I’m doing my flurry of long-overdue EGX articles in chronological order. So, here’s the first. Enjoy! (And try not to think about the very finite nature of our existence.)
Speaking of reality (about 50 words ago I mentioned it very briefly and in passing, please keep up) my first foray in EGX’s sprawling show hall this year happened to be one that took me away from ‘real’ reality, and into ‘virtual’ reality. Moreover, it offered me my first go with a VIVE, at long last.
Having used an Oculus and a PSVR in the past, and knowing the harking and harooning around the VIVE, I was enormously intrigued to use the Valve/HTC headset in any capacity. Fortunately not only does the headset indeed feel a step ahead of its counterparts, but the game I got to try it on – this Uni-borne project, was enormous fun.
Honeypot Espionage is a first person stealth shooter, and a multiplayer one at that. Or at least, it’s meant to be. In my playtest I was outwitted exclusively by bots, while the final version will require both VIVE owners in the country to play together.
The premise is simple – you’re invisible until you move; stay silent, move quickly, shoot your opponents. You walk around in your little 4ft of squared space, as is tradition with the VIVE, and when you want to go outside that which you will constantly, you shoot to teleport – much like the movement in Budget Cuts. Identical in fact. When you do teleport, you leave a little light trail behind you, helping you to spot your enemies and helping your enemies to spot you. And your careless inability to remain hidden.
I found this to be immediately tense. You stay rooted to the spot at first and peer around corners, eyes darting around the room, swivelling wildly on the spot to check behind you; always listening for the sound of an enemy teleporting, or straining your eyes to see their trails.
The VIVE’s controllers are beautiful for this sort of thing, at last gifting players the tactile feeling of pointing and shooting, together with meaningful looking, moving, feeling. So involved did I get that in one particularly heated moment between flailing about recklessly and getting shot, I clobbered the stand’s monitor while reaching out to grab some ammo. I am adept at social inadequacy in all areas of my life, don’t forget.
The game, developed by Scottish studio Pocket Sized Hands who were birthed into the world by the conduit of the much esteemed ‘student project’, is visually threadbare, with most assets still very clearly in production. There’s a stigma surrounding VR games at the moment, seated in the fact that pretty much every one of them feels like a tech demo, and of course, this small developer’s ambitious indie project isn’t going to change that. The core mechanics of this project though, are most certainly alive and full-bodied, and had I any hope of owning the massively impressive VIVE any time soon, I’d certainly be watching out for this. I had a brilliant time on the stand chatting to passionate, friendly developers, and whenever VR is finally made accessible to the average, everyday pauper like me, Pocket Sized Hands could be sitting on something very successful indeed.