The annual PAX West video-game convention kicks off Friday in downtown Seattle and will host tens of thousands of eager video-game fans. There will be live musical performances, guest speakers, tournaments, and plenty of demos for upcoming games.
One of those demos will be from Uforia, a Seattle-based company specializing in virtual reality gaming, which will be showing its latest VR adventure, Hero Showdown, at the event. Along with some fellow geeks, GeekWire met with Uforia owner Nathan Blair to get a sneak preview of the game using a Samsung Gear VR.
Hero Showdown is a “unique first person experience – to step behind the eyes of a super hero and see what they’re seeing,” said Blair.
A pair of headphones and VR gear is all you need to transform your living room into an alien world. Hero Showdown drops you right into the action. After jumping out of a plane for a crash landing, waves of enemies come charging. Gamers, in the form of the aptly named character Laser Face, are tasked with their elimination — armed with lasers that shoot out of their eyes in the virtual reality world.
After the demo, we sat down with Blair, who in addition to owning the company is one of the game’s architects.
What do you see down the road for the future of VR Gaming: “I’d say the absolute future of VR in general is that it will be without headsets. Somehow, some way, we’re going to figure out how to make it fully immersive, whether that be through contact lenses or something like that. It’s going to be amazing.”
What about the future of Hero Showdown? “If this game does well, we’re making lots more, we’ll be making a Hero Showdown 2, 3, 4, 5, however many the audience likes. It has its own universe, its own super-hero. There are tons of different heroes in the world we’re creating. You’ll have ice powers and fire, you’ll be able to push stuff with your mind – real telepathy! We’re actually working right now with an EKG machine, so possibly in the future … we’ll be doing demos where you’ll be able to move stuff in the game with your mind.”
How are you funded? “We’re basically self-funded, technically bootstrapping. We’ve been around for quite awhile now and we’ve worked with other companies and helped them make games for a long time freelancing.”
Blair took ownership of the company in 2008. Correction: An early version of this story misidentified Blair’s role at Lake Washington Institute of Technology.
After the demo, I asked some of my fellow gamers what they thought of the experience.
“It was really cool to be inside the game. I’m not much of a gamer but this is definitely something I would do again. It’s very realistic, you get thrown out of a plane and really feel like you’re falling which was kind of scary. I liked how immersive it felt.” – Jessica Schwartz
“It was pretty cool. At first I was like, ‘OK, this is chill, I could play it sitting down or when I’m bored,’ but then things started picking up and it got really crazy. What I liked about it was the attention to small details. I remember it starts you off in the airplane and I was shooting around in there, and the captain was like ‘for God’s sake stop shooting in the plane you’re going to blow us all up!’” – Ronald McGrew
“I was surprised! This was my first VR experience, and I didn’t believe people when they said you feel like you’re falling but I actually did! I’m not a gamer so I probably wouldn’t do it often but I had a lot of fun and I would definitely be interested. It felt real.” – Leah Osnis
The game’s release is currently in the works, and it shouldn’t be long before it’s available on Google Play to download. It will cost $6.99 for the Oculus and Samsung Gear VR compatible versions, and $1.99 on Google Cardboard.