Home / Gaming / This Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise-D VR tour is a killer Unreal Engine 4 demo

This Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise-D VR tour is a killer Unreal Engine 4 demo

As VR headsets like the Oculus Rift move closer to production, we’ve started to see more software showcasing what the format can achieve. In some cases, that’s been courtesy of expensive tech demos from existing studios — but sometimes, it’s dedicated fans that produce their own impressive work. A recent tour of Star Trek’s Enterprise-D is making the rounds, courtesy of Unreal Engine 4 and, in the future, the Oculus Rift.

The goal of the project, according to the author, is to “Place you on board the ship. Walk the corridors. Explore the unseen rooms and communal areas. Hear the engines. See the screens. Fly the shuttlecraft. Exist as a member of the crew.” As the 12-minute YouTube demo makes clear, this is no idle boast — the tech demo takes you from landing in the main shuttlebay on a tour of multiple areas of the saucer section, including a theorized “Two-Forward” lounge and the bridge itself.

If you ever wondered how some of the sets on the ship connected together, or, more pragmatically, where the actual bathrooms were, this tour answers it. There are no loading screens or other immersion-breaking issues, and while the current version of the project isn’t running on Oculus hardware yet, the author intends to bring the project to VR hardware as soon as its available. As he notes, “Previous virtual tours have not gone far enough. They usually are 360 degree panoramic, without actual movement or immersion.”

Enterprise-D

Work in progrses

Source material for the project include Rick Sternbach’s official blueprints, Ed Whitfire’s unofficial blueprints (these are, some apparently argue, more in line with some of Andrew Probst’s original designs), as well as some minor creative license on the part of the author to model things in-game that may have been inconsistently modeled or approached on-screen. That last isn’t uncommon — Ex Astris Scientia has a huge section on inconsistencies in Star Trek models and designs errata.

These are the voyages...

These are the voyages…

The long-term future of the probject could be complicated, since it’s not a licensed production and the appropriate legal powers that be haven’t agreed to allow this kind of creation. At the same time, however, Paramount has shown precious little interest in actually creating new licensed Star Trek TV shows or games that would actually revisit this space. Once upon a time, ST:TNG was a trailblazing franchise in digital entertainment — the Next Generation Technical Manual CD-ROM was an early CD-ROM title, and Star Trek: Borg made heavy use of then-popular FMV sequences. With the exception of some awful movie tie-in products, the last decent Star Trek video games are a decade old or more.

Hopefully projects like this get treated with a light hand. If it proves successful, any chance we could get a Defiant and DS9 version?

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