You Should Try AltspaceVR
This isn't specifically about a game, or even a gaming experience. But until I feel like I need to create a specific section for 'Experiences' I'll keep putting these here.
When a lot of people got started on the VR thought-path, it's pretty apparent that they were thinking about gaming. It's logical, too. Gamers are early adopters, as a scathing generalization. They buy new consoles, better hardware, more sophisticated peripherals, the works. I count myself happily among them, and I am blissfully ignorant of how much money I've spent on peripherals to date.
So when Mark Zuckerberg announced the purchase of Oculus it surprised some of those game-centeric thinkers I suspect. Not me, though. You see, in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and Ernie Cline's fantastic Ready Player One VR (and some AR in case of the gargoyles in Stephenson's case) is used for so much. It becomes a means of commerce, socialization, entertainment, everything. So I'm not surprised that people are investing time, money, and energy into social VR.
I'm just frustrated that it's taking so long. Let me explain. I have experimented with quite a few social VR platforms, and they're all pretty good. I will even warrant a specific mention for Janus VR's social approach to web browsing, especially with their (albeit simple) avatars. But as my friends move to farther places and acquire different schedules I find myself yearning for Aech's basement. Somewhere custom built/designed that reminds me of the basement I used to hang out it as a youth.
AltspaceVR is the closest I've gotten so far, and they're getting closer. In fact I have written some of my thoughts from inside of a gorgeous luxury condo's high-rise office, and managed my twitter account. In a cloud city. While some IDM kept me pleasant company. It was such a wonderful, relaxing experience. With my DK2 firmly attached to my face I was comfortable, and when I ventured from the more private space to a public hangout I was able to talk to people from all over the planet. All without leaving my home office (in RL.)
I haven't had a chance to experiment with their LEAP motion integration, but I'm looking forward to that as well. I found myself gesturing with my hands in space while talking to others in Altspace, even though they couldn't see my hands. They seek to remedy that with LEAP integration (and their new avatars don't hurt things either.)
My last point about them is in regards to customization. This is, by no means, a complaint. I know that they're still developing their platform and I've simply been lucky enough to try it. But I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to build a custom avatar (and especially a custom environment.) They have nailed the sense of feeling, the sharing, and the conversation. I know that if they stay on this trajectory they'll get the customization and communal gaming/experiences right, and probably plenty of other things I didn't even realize I wanted.
Watch my twitter for the next time they have a beta, because you know I'll be talking about it. It was fantastic, is fantastic, and I'll be watching them carefully with excitement.