Feb 11, 2016 | By Kira
There's currently growing trend of reviving retro, 8-bit video games via modern technologies. 3D printed NES controllers and even a 3D printed video game fashion line have proven that even the most realistic game graphics can’t replace the comforting simplicity of an 8-bit universe. This latest ingenious fan project, however, has taken retro-gaming to the next level: a Virtual Reality version of Nintendo’s classic Duck Hunt made possible thanks to a 3D printed head mount and some excellent gamer intuition.
21-year-old computer science student Joseph Delgado is currently the man of the hour, having put together this awesome Duck Hunt revival in less than a day! It all began with Global Game Jam 2016, an annual meeting-of-the-minds for game developers, where Delgado decided he wanted to experiment with Virtual Reality. So, he picked up his old and unused Oculus Rift DK2 and “sat down for about 24 hours,” as he says, to bring his vision to life.
Duck Hunt, originally released in 1985, is considered an all-time Nintendo Classic, a relic from the golden age of 8-bit games. The premise is simple yet addictive: you are a duck hunter, and your job is to shoot as many ducks as possible as they fly across your screen using your trusty NES Zapper.
For the VR version, Delgado had to start with converting the 2D sprites into 3D voxels. “I've always really liked the way that 3D voxels look with pixel art! It's a unique look, and really stands out in VR,” he said. “I wrote a quick Python script that converted a sprite into a 3D model with some amount of depth.” So far, so easy.
A voxelized Duck Hunt Dog in UE4
He also had to make some changes to the background elements to account for “performance implications” that, in VR, can all-too-easily lead to nausea or worse. “It's pretty important that some things were billboards instead of voxelized sprites. The ducks, background mountains, and some of the trees that are further away were either billboards or non-camera aligned planes as opposed to voxelized sprites,” he explained.
Next came the task of incorporating VR. He started with the Razer Hydra, a PC gaming-grade motion sensing controller that connects with the Oculus Rift, but had to modify it so that it could be mounted onto his head as opposed to left on its fixed-position base station.
“Leaving the Razer Hydra base station on a desk leaves a lot to be desired. As you get far away from the stationary base station, it really messes up the accuracy of the device, making the gun jump around and jitter in places it shouldn't go,” he explained. To solve this, he 3D printed a special head mount based on a Thingiverse model, so that the sensor could follow along and move with his body.
The 3D printed head mount Delgao obtained from Thingiverse
A bit more tweaking, which involved adding the Oculus Rift’s rotatation to the Hydra’s rotation, resolved some residual, nauseating sensations, and Delgado was ready to shoot some ducks in all their 3D, VR glory within the highly-improved, 360-degree shooting range. Though nowhere near as realistic as some of today's video games, the gameplay video below shows him ducking, turning in all directions and firing quick, precise shots as if he were really inside the Duck Hunt universe.
While the original version of the NES game is perfect as-is, Delgado also decided to modify his VR version for the Global Game Jam’s “ritual” theme. He thus turned it into a seven-day challenge, with each day getting progressively harder.
The VR version of Duck Hunt has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention, and Delgado has already promised to release a free version. He’s also as keen as ever to develop even more Virtual Reality games in the future—especially with the upcoming release of the HTC Vive VR platform. “I’m buying an HTC Vive day one, and I’m going to continue developing for VR,” said Delgado on his personal blog. We really hope he does, and can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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