We of New Technology Walkers are happy to announce that our game HitMotion: Reloaded has got back to its mixed reality roots! You can now play a special version of its in passthrough MR on SideQuest at this link: https://sidequestvr.com/app/5367
You know that we are big fans of passthrough AR/MR, and we created ourselves the plugin to use the Vive Focus Plus as an augmented reality headset. This technology attracted the interest of HTC, and together with it, we developed HitMotion: Reloaded, which has probably been the first mixed reality fitness game and for sure the first complete game in mixed reality for the Vive Focus Plus. Passthrough MR gave us many satisfactions, and with it, we developed not only HitMotion, but also various other experiments (like Beat Reality, Enter The Maatrix, or Flood Your Room).
That’s why when we discovered that Facebook was going to unlock Passthrough APIs, we got immediately excited, and as soon as we could, we started experimenting with it. Unluckily, Facebook APIs are pretty closed, and we found no way to hack them to apply some special effects to the image seen by the user: Vive Focus Plus was more flexible in this sense. But notwithstanding this, we discovered it is possible to create interesting AR/MR applications with these APIs, and we worked to push them to their maximum limits. For instance, in the video below, we show the work we have done in porting Beat Reality on Quest 2, where the sound perceived by the microphone of the headset is transformed into pulsing colored visuals of the passthrough, plus vibrations of a bHaptics haptic suit. A full synesthesia, unique in its genre, that can be amazing for musical artistic installations.
We worked hard to bring HitMotion: Reloaded back to its mixed reality roots, and we managed to port the game in augmented reality again, deleting all the environment, and activating the passthrough. We had some little issues in performing this operation, but we solved it brilliantly, also thanks to the help of a tutorial on Passthrough APIs of the always great Dilmer Valecillos (thanks, man). We tried the game this way and it immediately clicked with us: finally, we restored one of the features we had always been proud of about our game: that you can play it safely inside your room, because you see your surroundings, and so you don’t risk to punch the walls and the people around you (and cats, of course).
But we thought that it was not enough, we wanted to innovate the sector, and so we asked ourselves if we could do something more, if we could really exploit the passthrough in a way that could be useful for the game and not let it only be a background. Given the limited possibilities with Passthrough APIs, we could not do much, but Facebook at least offers various possibilities of coloring the background or highlighting its edges…. so we had an idea: what if we use the color of the background to give feedback to the user? Coloring the whole background would feel too distracting, so we just show its colored edges after every punch, with the color meaning the result of the punch itself:
- Green: Perfect punch
- Azure: Ok-ish punch
- Yellow: Hit after a wrong punch
- Red: Wrong punch
Testing it this way, we found it amazing: the user immediately understands what is the result of the punch without even reading the written text, just by seeing all the environment lighting with the feedback color. It is immediate, it is cool to be seen, it’s perfect for HitMotion. To our knowledge, we are one of the first games (if not the first) to use the passthrough to provide feedback to the user, and since we found this strategy very effective, we hope that many other titles will copy our example.
Unluckily we couldn’t publish the MR feature as an update of the current version of HitMotion: Reloaded Demo that is on App Lab, because Facebook considers the Passthrough APIs as experimental, so no title implementing them can be published on the Oculus Store. We have so proceeded in the same way followed by other game studios (like our friends of Crazy Kung Fu): we have made a special build and we have published it on a dedicated page on SideQuest.
If you want to try HitMotion: Reloaded Passthrough MR Demo, you have to:
- Configure your Oculus Quest 2 for sideloading
- Install SideQuest on your PC
- Find HitMotion: Reloaded Passthrough MR Demo on SideQuest (link) and install it on your headset. Don’t worry, your VR version from AppLab will stay untouched on your device
- Activate Experimental Mode on your Oculus Quest 2 via SideQuest settings page (this is important, or the passthrough will appear all black!)
- Put on your Quest 2 and look for HitMotion: Reloaded Passthrough MR Demo in the “Unknown sources” list.
- Launch it and enjoy fitness in mixed reality!
We are really proud of this achievement, and we really hope that you will enjoy it like us. Don’t forget to share this news with your friends to help us in spreading the voice… and if you try it, also get in touch with us via e-mail to let us know your impressions!
Are you ready for the MR fitness battle?