ILMxLAB has put a lot of work into Trials on Tatooine, the developer’s Star Wars demo for the HTC Vive. While the amount of blood, sweat, and tears put into the project are completely evident, I’d like to take a moment and look at the viability of the project, and why I believe it’s too little, too late.
Let’s get something straight right off the bat; Trials on Tatooine is not a bad virtual reality experience. It looks great, it runs amazingly well, and the feeling of having a lightsaber in your hand is unparalleled to anything else VR has to offer, in my opinion. But Trials on Tatooine is just a tech demo, it’s a small piece of the pie that is being used to prove just how cool Star Wars can be in virtual reality. But, let’s be completely honest, is that really a question that people have had to ask?
So how does Trials on Tatoonie fall short? The answer to that question is pretty simple. There just isn’t enough there. In a time when virtual reality experiences are starting to take off, with games like Raw Data, Out of Ammo, Vanishing Realms, and The Brookhaven Experiment. The industry has proven how strong virtual reality can be, and Trials on Tatooine just doesn’t fit in with what’s being offered today. Of course, the biggest argument I’m going to get to this line of opinion is ‘It’s free’. Of course it is. It’s a tech demo. It isn’t meant to be this super long experience that just keeps you on edge for hours at a time. It’s meant to be short and sweet. But, we’re past the point of virtual reality experiences being short and sweet. We’re past the point of needing tech demos to show us how much virtual reality has to offer.
We’ve reached the stage where VR applications are becoming more and more viable options for entertainment. Games like Raw Data, while incomplete, offer up insane amounts of content, and are really well polished to the point that they almost feel like complete offerings. Because of the strides that we’ve made in the past several months, Trials on Tatooine feels out of place. Had it released when the Vive first hit the market, this article would be praising it endlessly, just as Ozzie did in our first hands-on experience at GDC 2016.
But I can’t do that. It’s almost August now, and the Vive has been out since April, with Trials on Tatooine having been in a playable state since March, when it was shown to attendees of 2016’s Game Developer Conference. Sure, things take time to really polish and complete, but it feels like ILMxLAB took just a little too long in the bullpen for this one.
While Trials on Tatooine is an intriguing experience that anyone with a Vive can experience, it feels like it was released far too late for it to really take the spotlight and shine the way that the developer’s intended.