3rd Space Vest Report Feature - The Next Level

3rd Space Vest Report

Virtual realism that packs literal impact.

Article by Valerie Hilgenfeldt (Email)
November 7th 2007, 07:45PM

With a purpose like that, the device had to be effective, accurate, and safe. Pneumatic cells came into play then, as did a fascinating thought: What if this technology was used for more than medicine, and applied to video games? To make it work, a total of eight compression units – four in front, four in back – were designed to create areas of impact. Its real-world functionality currently depends on two things: games with existing damage model programming, and a patch that TN Games provides free of charge.

Call of Duty 2, with location-specific impact sensory, was a perfect fit for the 3rd Space FPS Vest. As a praised WWII shooter that did well in the market, it has built-in consumer appeal, and its engine uses elements from id's Doom 3. That made it easier to program for, and the list of benefits were robust: countless FPS already on the market use an id engine, whether it's modified or stock. Amongst them are Quake III, Quake 4, and Doom 3, and patches will be available for all three of those games when the vest sees release.

As for Call of Duty 2, a modified version of it will come packed-in with the device. Once the player's installed everything, they'll be ready to put on the vest and go. Like any well-designed product should be, the vest is easily adjusted and comfortably worn. You may fear it won't fit you for one reason or another, but its concept was designed with the worldwide medical market in mind, so the straps and clasps have plenty of give and multiple sizes will be available.

There's one caveat: the 3rd Space Vest is not wireless. It has a lengthy USB cable that the user needs to plug into their PC, and a power block that you'll have to set down somewhere. Eventually, a wireless version will be released with a lightweight, battery-powered clip-on (which the on-site TN Games staff related to a gun holster in Star Wars), and people who purchase the 3rd Space Vest at release will be able to purchase that power replacement. According to TN Games, it's going to be as affordable as possible; the very last thing they want to do is burn early adopters.

Those wires don't get in the way of gameplay, however, and that's where the vest shines. The pneumatic cell technology permits fairly accurate feedback, from the slightest touch of a far-away explosion to a BFG blast to your kidneys. If you're shot in the back of your right shoulder, that's precisely where you're going to feel up to ten pounds of pressure pushing into your flesh.

Unlike the Interactor and other gimmicky items in gaming peripheral history, the 3rd Space Vest does exactly what it was designed to do. It isn't perfect, but it's as close as current technology can get without hurting the user. As it is, the unit provides a painless and engrossing experience at under two hundred bucks. It's also indie-friendly, because TN Games has made the C/C++ SDK available via their website, complete with a freely downloadable manual explaining the basics.

They've also thought about those gamers who aren't into first-person shooters. Further down the line, TN Games will release vests tailored to driving (providing a realistic sense of gravity shifts and pressure) and role-playing games. Because the SDK contains the functions for all three vests, one can imagine they'll be universally compatible with a variety of games (at least to some degree), and theorize they'll just have different cell placement. However, that's all speculation; in regards to the future models, the truth remains to be seen.

As for what we know now, the 3rd Space Vest is the perfect investment for the gamer who thinks they already have everything. Coupled with an effective surround-sound system, it's the next step forward into virtual reality.

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