The Trials on Tatooine are Just the Start of ILM’s Virtual Reality Plans for Star Wars
For nearly as long as Star Wars has been a pop culture phenomenon there have been video games trying to give us the experience of being there with Luke, Han and Leia during the galaxy's most troubling times. Advances in gaming hardware have gotten us pretty far some thirty years after the release of Star Wars, and last year's Star Wars Battlefront is arguably one of the most beautiful games to ever take place in that galaxy far, far away. But as gorgeous as the landscapes are to look at, you're still just looking at them on a 2D plane via your television or monitor. The outside world still creeps in around the edges, even if you're playing in the dark.
That's where virtual reality makes all the difference. With the release of Oculus Rift and Valve/HTC's Vive coming this year, VR is set to have a massive impact on the gaming landscape. It's already started to actually, with developers having teased titles and experiences for the past year in the lead up to the consumer release of these new headsets. At this week's Game Developer's Conference, Lucasfilm and ILM debuted a new experience set in the Star Wars universe that finally puts us on the sandy wastes of Tatooine like no game ever has before.
Earlier today a trailer for Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine leaked its way onto the web, but was quickly taken down. It's since been reposted (by VRScout via Polygon), giving us a look at the brief first-person experience some attendees at GDC got to test out this week. The short teaser doesn't offer many details, but it does show off some familiar ships, weapons and enemies. According to Gizmodo, Trials on Tatooine puts you right on the titular planet's surface as the Millennium Falcon lands, drops of R2-D2, and tasks you with helping to repair the Corellian cruiser. It isn't long until you get to battle it out with some Stormtroopers though, and thankfully Artoo has a lightsaber ready for you. It doesn't look like any of the personal models we've seen in the films, but that's okay; they all work the same anyway.
The demo for the Vive was crafted by ILMxLab, Industrial Light and Magic's experimental VR development team. There's even a recruitment video for the team that shows off a bit of what it's been working on, including some augmented reality experiences and different VR demos that look like they'll allow for even more exploration of the Star Wars universe. None of the content, including Trials on Tatooine, has a definitive release date, but the ILMxLab developers have more in store than just gaming content. Interactive story moments are also something being tinkered with, and the developers even worked out some virtual sets for Rogue One director Gareth Edwards so he could see where he'd be shooting before the locations were even finished.
ILMxLab already released Jakku Spy for Google Cardboard last year, and it's likely whatever VR content is created will find its way to multiple platforms, especially in the early stages of at-home virtual reality. Hopefully more details will be released ahead of the releases of the first two headsets. Based on the recruitment video below, there's a lot of potential for ILM's plans. The prospect of being able to walk the halls of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, to sit in the Millennium Falcon's cockpit or even the get lost in the swampy jungles of Dagobah from the comfort of a couch is exciting. Now I just have to hope it happens.