virtual reality

In which I pen a small piece about Transistor (with spoilers)

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WARNING: Major plot spoilers for Supergiant Games’ Transistor follow. If you haven’t played through the game yet, don’t even think about reading this. Go play it. Form your own opinions about how it goes together. See the ending. And then, come back and read this post.

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First Flight

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Two days ago, I flew as a dragon in immersive 3D. As otherkin, this satisfied a personal goal of mine, and it was wonderful.

This bears some explanation: I recently acquired a copy of the Oculus Rift Developer Kit 1 from a good friend of mine. Hooking this up to a copy of the CtrlAltStudio’s modified Firestorm Viewer for Second Life, I then proceeded to buy one of these to fly around in:

dragongheader01
Image Credit: Seawolf Monsters Wiki

Seawolf Dragons have a bit of personal history for me. Specifically, they’re based on (and were eventually endorsed by the developers of) the dragon models from Horizons: Empire of Istaria (now Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted). Istaria was where I flew as a digital dragon for the first time, albeit while watching a third-person render of my dragon protagonist moving through the skies as I played via mouse and keyboard.

At the time, Istaria was important enough to me that I had gotten in on its initial closed beta nearly a year prior to its official launch. When the first Adult Dragon Rite of Passage went live on all shards on March 12th, 2004, I pulled an all-nighter to be among the very first group of dragons to attain flight on the Life server cluster.*

The Rite of Passage succeeds as a soaring spiritual experience for fledgling dragons, and that tradition continues even today, as YouTube attests. For the young dragon, it’s a graduation ceremony to (literally) bigger and better things. I, of course, immediately used this to fly up along the game’s trademark sheer cliffs and jagged mountains to surprise crafters whom, alarmed by seeing a huge dragon flying towards them for the first time, cheered me on once I’d landed in their midst.

By contrast, this flight was quiet and personal, but just as moving. I watched through my avatar’s eyes as I flew, looking down on a tiny facsimile of the Istaria I knew and loved a little over a decade prior. As I twisted and tilted my head to see the digital equivalent of a rising sun, I could crane my neck to look and fly wherever I wished to go. Even though my primary controls remained mouse and keyboard, the verisimilitude was beyond incredible.

To fly as a dragon has been one of my goals for most of my life. It’s why I chose to program in the first place, why I’m a technologist and computer scientist, and why I pursue 3D and game design as my occasional trade and hobby. Being able to achieve it in such a simple and mundane way elates me, and makes me wish for VR to only continue to succeed. Not bad for a tiny video monitor and accelerometer connected to a set of fancy goggles.

I just hope that Facebook doesn’t ruin this for everyone. I am convinced that everyone, otherkin or not, should be able to experience this.


* Technically second; our party leader ascended first.