Only a few weeks into owning an HTC Vive developer kit, Otherworld Interactive brought a colorful Risk-style real-time strategy standing experience called Nimbus Knights to VRLA at the Los Angeles Convention Center and offered demos in a corner of the busy show floor. I went hands-on with the Vive and what the developers have already built is fun and cute, showing remarkable progress for such a short period of time.
In Nimbus Knights I stood between floating islands with a SteamVR controller in one hand. The controller became a flat wooden platform — it felt almost like a skillet in my hand — that allowed me to pick up knights spawning on one of the islands. If I moved the controller through the island the platform turned into a cloud. I raised the controller up through the island to scoop up my knights. The moment the controller passed out of the island it turned back into a wooden platform and lifted the knights up so I was holding them in mid-air.
There’s no lip to the platform so there was nothing keeping my knights on the wood except for how well I could keep it balanced as I rotated my body to move them to one of the islands surrounding me. Some of these islands were already occupied with skeleton minions so the goal of the game is to catch enough of my knights on the wooden platform and transport them to another island by lowering the wooden platform through the island so they can do battle with the minions.
The goal of the game is to gain control of all the islands from the minions. Pressing a button on the controller transforms the platform into a stick to aid in knocking the minions off an island. Nimbus Knights basically made a fun VR game mechanic out of the sublime joy many primates seem to feel poking things with a stick.
The demo did not make use of the full Vive tracking volume so it kept me rotating to different islands in a small space. This should make the game playable for people with even the smallest room size. I’m excited to see how the game develops and what kind of challenging level design might be constructed in this cloudy world.
Otherworld is the Los Angeles-area company responsible for a number of VR projects including mobile horror title Sisters, available in mobile VR viewers on both iPhone and Android (App Store and Google Play). Otherworld is planning Nimbus Knights as a multiplatform VR title. They are planning a multiplayer mode for head-to-head battles and they expect to re-do the art for the final release.