Virtual reality opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for developers, with the opportunity to create truly immersive experiences, whether new and original, or recreated from familiar material. Of course, porn usually springs to mind when people consider how VR might transform experiences, but when it comes to storytelling and world-building, sci-fi seems like an area ripe for virtual exploration.
And as Engadget reports, one 3D artist has seen this opportunity, and aims to bring delight to Star Trek fans around the world, with a stunning VR recreation of one of the series' most iconic spacecraft.
Artist Jason B aims to digitally build a complete recreation of the Federation starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, which featured in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 'Enterprise 3D Project' is being built using Unreal Engine 4 - and the good news is that it will be ready for use on the upcoming Oculus Rift VR headset.
As Jason B explains:
The goal is to be able to walk the entire length of the ship, without interruption or load times. Previous virtual tours have not gone far enough. They usually are 360 degree panoramic, without actual movement or immersion. The virtual Enterprise should feel seamless and like you are actually on board the ship. Because of the sheer volume of what needs to be created, a modular approach to the ship construction will be taken. But each and every room will be accessible, and unique in some way. This means filling in and creating rooms never before seen on the budget-restricted show.
And here's a bit more about what he has in mind:
The Enterprise would serve first and foremost as a virtual museum. Every deck and room can be explored. Fans would be able to visit engineering via the turbolift, or walk from Deck 36 to Deck 5 to see the Arboretum. What does Worf’s quarters look like? What about the large forward windows on Deck 3? What kind of communal areas exist on the ship? Malls? Markets? Gardens? All these questions will be answered.
The artist has been working not only from the source material provided by broadcast episodes, but also from other materials created for the show, including the complete set of blueprints of the mighty Galaxy-class starship. The fictional vessel measures 642m from bow to stern, and Jason B aims to recreate every one of its 42 decks in unprecedented detail.
He said that he's been a fan of the show since he was young, and originally built the bridge of the Enterprise-D in Unreal Engine 3 as a side project. But when Unreal Engine 4 was released, he said: "I decided to port over my bridge, and go all in on making the rest of the ship!"
At the moment, the project remains a labor of love with only Jason working on it. However, he says he's considering bringing in other developers to help, and he's not ruled out the possibility of crowdfunding to accelerate development, and perhaps even to expand the scope of the project further.
But he's also the first to point out that this isn't his intellectual property to be playing with - and you can certainly bet that if there's a whiff of money being made, CBS' lawyers will want to have a word with him. But Jason says that if there's enough interest and community support, he'll "seek CBS' blessing to continue to create this".
So far, Jason has done much of the exterior detailing work on the Enterprise's hull, along with interiors across several decks, but there's plenty still to do. For now, you can enjoy a quick video tour below of what he's worked on so far, and be sure to visit the project site to find out more about his efforts.