One of the most iconic and popular video games of all time, Nintendo’s 1984 NES title Duck Hunt, might be a bit outdated, but who is to say that the classics can’t be reborn with a little help from emerging 3D technology? After attending this year’s Global Game Jam event, one 21-year-old developer from New Jersey named Joesph Delgado became inspired to take Duck Hunt, now over 30-years-old by the way, and reformat it for Virtual Reality.
I’m sure there were a lot of elements of both VR and Duck Hunt for Delgado to consider, implementing the classic Nintendo gun controller, tracking hand motions and ducks, and just making the VR experience as enjoyable as possible, for instance. But in just a matter of 24 hours, Delgado had completely recreated Duck Hunt into a functioning VR game using his Oculus Rift headset and a Razer Hydra DK2, one of the top motion detecting game controllers currently on the market.
But in order to succeed in creating a true VR experience out of Duck Hunt, Delgado needed a way to mount the Razer Hydra controller on his head. So, he turned to 3D printing technology to help complete the project. After discovering that the Razer Hydra DK2 head mount was already available for download on Thingiverse, Delgado 3D printed the mount and got to hunting.
The developer was also interested in using 3D voxels, which Delgado himself defines as ‘meshes consisting of polygonal cubes’, in order to add an aesthetic element of 3D pixel art to the gameplay, instead of just having the game appear as a flat VR screen. And so, a perfect fit for the VR setting, 3D models of the Duck Hunt Dog, along with other game props, were implemented into the game as a (literally) standout feature!
“I’ve always really liked the way that 3D voxels look with pixel art! It’s a unique look, and really stands out in VR,” Delgado posted on his blog. “I wrote a quick Python script that converted a sprite into a 3D model with some amount of depth.”
I still remember this being one of the first video games I ever played on my old SNES system, and, although I remember it fondly, I could never have imagined it would be reborn into the 3D world. Delgado even went so far as to create a VR Hub world in order to select levels and game modes, designing and implementing all of the assets into the VR world himself. In order to make the VR version competitive and challenging, Delgado set the game up with a daily goal for duck hunting. If you are able to meet the goal everyday for a week, you beat the game. If not, then game over.
Although the project is unofficial and made mainly for a gaming ‘jam’ event, Delgado’s VR version of Duck Hunt foreshadows a future where even the classics can be recreated within the emerging 3D world of VR. “The most important thing about VR, in my opinion, is lively. Music, moving things, interactive things,” Delgado writes. “It just feels so much better.”