Rift Harrier : Using PlayMaker to Switch Lighting Environments

So I've been inspired lately by the arcade classic Space Harrier. I think that this type of 'On-Rails' shooter might work very well with the Oculus Rift.

Space Harrier has a special place in my gaming history because I remember vividly the time when, in 1986 or so, a copy of this game for the C-64 came into my ten year old hands in the form of a marker scrawled 5 1/4 inch floppy. The trouble was, it wouldn't load! My trusty 1541 drive would spin and spin until, after about five minutes, it would start making that dreaded "knock, knock, knock, knock" sound that meant all was lost. I did not give up. Finally I discovered, that if I banged on the drive with just the right force, at just the right time, I could help the heads over the hump and be rewarded with another five minutes of touch and go loading, before that game finally loaded and I could play! This was amazing. This was an arcade game. And it was playing on my computer. Wow. I only ever got it to load about three times, but I'll never forget them.

What I like about this game is that the world is infinite. Until now, all of my Rift experiments in Unity have been built inside a box of a fixed size. I want to break out of this box and start exploring worlds that go on for ever.

About two days in and I'm off to a very good start. I don't have any sort of demo yet, but what I present, rather, is just a little slice-of-life coding showing my progress, two evenings in to the project.

Here I am using PlayMaker to wire up a system that will allow me to change lighting environments during gameplay. I'm also using the amazing SkyShop asset for Unity which provides excellent real-time Image Based Lighting. By simply swapping out the HDRI environment, I can light my infinite world in completely different ways. (If you just want to see this part, scrub to the last couple minutes of the video).

I gotta say, this is looking good. I want to spend time in worlds that look like this. I am continually blown away by what is becoming possible with Unity and its assets. I do believe it is the best game engine on earth. Yes, you can show me CryEngine, but I will ask you where is it's Asset Store. In practical terms, for a would-be indy game developer working in the Rift, there is no rational choice but to work in Unity.

Nothing in this video existed 48 hours ago. And I work a serious day job. This is what I did in two evenings. You will notice that there is no Rift support yet. Stay tuned.