Review Fix chats with David Haynes, one of the creators of “OS Virtual Reality- Ben Nevis,” for an inside look at how the app was created and how it bridges the gap between reality and VR.
About “OS Virtual Reality- Ben Nevis”:
The spectacular setting of Ben Nevis provides the backdrop for an Oculus Rift game created by Ordnance Survey developers, in which players race against the clock to find a hidden trig pillar. The recreation of Britain’s highest mountain has been constructed by OS in 1:4 scale using OS data and covers an area of 10km x 10km. Britain’s mapping agency, with a 224 year history of collecting and using data in imaginative and useful ways, has today also released today a virtual reality tour of the same rugged Ben Nevis mountainscape featured in OS’s Oculus Rift game. The virtual tour is available for both iOS and Android devices to be used with Google cardboard.
Review Fix: What was the development process for this game like?
David Haynes: We began by establishing a process for translating OS elevation data into a format suitable for import into Unity. To do this, we used a combination of custom scripts and open source GIS tools.
Review Fix: What other games inspired it?
Haynes: We were inspired by the OS Minecraft project and several VR demos that have been created in the past 18 months. Lunar Flight comes to mind as another VR game made with Unity 3d that makes heavy use of terrain.
Review Fix: What makes Ben Nevis special?
Haynes: Ben Nevis and the surrounding area was chosen for several reasons. Firstly, it is the highest peak in Great Britain; secondly this area contains the widest possible range of elevation from sea level to the top of the mountain. Finally, the geological features of mountain make for some spectacular terrain.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?
Haynes: The game appeals to anyone with an interest in VR, and especially people who take an interest in walking or the Ordnance Survey in general. Recently we had a ‘bring your kids to work’ open day at OS, and the children had a great time climbing the mountain. Because of the nature of the experience, it has fairly wide appeal. Who doesn’t like climbing mountains?
Review Fix: Why should someone check this game out?
Haynes: Because it uses real world data that is incredibly accurate. If you’re wondering what it’s like to climb the highest mountain in the UK, you can experience that with this.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Haynes: We don’t have any immediate plans to take this project forward, but it may well form the basis of future software OS produces, both for the public and for businesses that may have a use for 3d visualisation.