Or, alternatively, start selling arcade machines.
Some of you might know that I work for the Army as a technician in a Mixed/Virtual reality simulation research lab. I work mostly with head mounted displays, but I also get to work on a variety of cutting edge tech, like glasses-free 3D displays, full body sub-millimeter motion tracking, omni-directional treadmills, simulated weaponry, holophonic speaker systems, injury/impact vests, better-than-human strategic AI, etc.
As an HMD technician, I am lucky in that I get to use the simulation stage all the time, strapping into the closest thing to the Matrix on the planet, and running around virtual environments ranging from combat simulation to food bank recreations. Here is a writeup of what it is like that I wrote shortly after I got my job: http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=120&t=13780
Experiencing these things has changed what games mean to me. They don't have to be things you play, not puzzles that you beat. They can be things that you experience
, that can make you feel as if you are actually there, as if the consequences of your actions are real! One of the things that has been driving me is the idea that regular people should be able to experience this in the way I can. Problem is... This stuff is expensive. REALLY expensive. To make a good system can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $300,000 per person, depending on the size and quality of the hardware. That is just not practical for the average person to own... But what about arcades? Motion simulators cost between $40,000 and $100,000, and tons of arcades have them! The last company to try this was Virtuality, in the mid 90s:
The units were $97,000 each, and could be networked together for multiplayer use. The tracking was laggy, the resolution was low (276x372), the field of view was 70 degrees, the graphics were primitive... And it was still successful. The HMD I have designed has 1000hz tracking, a resolution of 1280x800, 120 degree field of view (Could be up to 270 if I had more pixels to stretch out), and integrates well with CryEngine 3, the best looking graphics the world has ever seen... And I think it could be even more successful.
Imagine being able to put on a helmet that immerses you in the game, picking up a realistically weighted rifle with full recoil simulation, and then playing your favorite blockbuster title, with the ability to walk, jump, run, and shoot as you would in real life. Seems like that would be a way better use of a few dollars at an arcade than anything like Time Crisis or Silent Scope, eh?
To try and wrap up this long rant, I want to either start an arcade myself, or perhaps build some systems that I could sell to existing ones. Commercial games like Skyrim or Call of Duty would be entirely possible to use, and you could conceivably have online tournaments with players from arcades, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and other entertainment center across the country. It would also be possible to retrofit Laser Tag arenas into simulation stages pretty easily.
Any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions? This is not just a daydream, I have seen too much to let this go, and I have several partners who are software wizards that can help. I plan on finishing my degree, taking the knowledge I have, and applying it towards creating nothing less than the best gaming experience the world has ever seen.
Some fun pictures:
An early omnidirectional treadmill:
A little kid on a more modern omnidirectional treadmill:
One of the head mounted displays I built being used for an exhibit at Sundance film festival:
"Don't stop, believin! Hold on to that feeeEEEeeeEEeelin!"