On Friday, game developer PreviewLabs released the first online multiplayer game for the Microsoft HoloLens.
Available for free on the Microsoft Store, Buggy Blasters is a real-time strategy game in which players place and navigate armies of virtual remote control cars. Using hand gestures or a gamepad, players can drive cars around the play space and shoot the opposition. The cars that players aren't controlling drive around and shoot the opposing team autonomously, similar to the towers in a tower defense game.
The game can be played between two HoloLens users in the same or separate locations. Leveraging the environment-scanning capabilities of the HoloLens, each player scans their respective rooms, with boundaries set based on a common area that accommodates both environments.
"The HoloLens actually scans the room in order to gain what they call spatial understanding," said Bernard Francois, founder of PreviewLabs, in a behind-the-scenes video. "That means the gameplay can take into account the actual shape of all the objects in the room and the walls and where everything is."
The genesis of Buggy Blasters came through a request from Chronos Group, the parent company of PreviewLabs, to build a prototype app for the HoloLens.
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"The first thing that we started with was taking the idea of having a toy car, like an RC car in your house, but a virtual one, and being able to drive it around," said Francois. "And then, okay, what if you do something similar to maybe a tower defense or RTS."
Based on gameplay footage, it is doubtful that Buggy Blasters will influence many gamers to shell out $3,000 for the HoloLens headset just to play the game. It has the appearance of a first-generation mobile game, with underwhelming graphics. But while the game itself may not be earth-shattering, the game (which PreviewLabs bills as a prototype) does lay the foundation for building other, similar online multiplayer HoloLens applications.
"What we learned from Buggy Blasters is actually really applicable to other experiences using the HoloLens as well," said Francois. "So we really learned a lot from that, so it could be really very useful, for example, for collaborative experiences where people maybe need to work together in augmented reality."
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