Daisuki service of Anime Consortium Japan posted a 10-minute video of IBM’s “Sword Art Online: The Beginning” virtual reality demonstration on Monday. Eri Maruyama walked through the entire experience, from orientation with lab-coat-wearing techs and 3D-scanning of players for their avatars, to slicing monsters and even hugging other players’ avatars.
Participants were able to scan their bodies, which were then rendered as 3D avatars for the demonstration. They were able to manipulate their in-game avatar using a variety of hardware, including an Oculus Rift (Developer Kit 2) for head-tracking and VR visuals, Leap Motion and Ovrvision for hand manipulation, a Microsoft Kinect 2 for body movement, and special footwear to detect foot movement. The hardware was labeled “Nervegear Prototype” named after the NerveGear in the Sword Art Online Franchise.
The beginning of the demonstration placed users in a “bazaar” environment, allowing them to test their ability to manipulate world objects. Later in the demonstration, users were able to fight The Gleam Eyes (from the 74th floor of the game in the original story), alongside three other users. Pre-registration for the “Alpha” of the demonstration reached 99,800 people, although only 208 applicants were chosen. The test took place in Tokyo from March 18-20. IBM Japan refers to the project as a “virtual reality massive multiplayer online game (VRMMO).