PAX Australia day zero: VR, zombies, and... other odd things

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PAX Australia day zero: VR, zombies, and... other odd things

'Twas the night before PAX, and many gamers were stirring...

PAX Australia kicks off today, and once I'm done writing this I'll be donning my new Star Trek uniform and heading along to the show. But in many ways, the show has already started.

Last night there were any number of events, informal gatherings of like-minded geeks, and parties all around town. I made it along to a couple; after hitting my favourite Melbourne bar of course, and my God, Gin Palace, I love you more than ever.

The night started with an event hosted by Alienware, and held at the expansive premises of Zero Latency. We've written about these guys before, but to catch you up, Zero Latency is a VR experience that puts you firmly in the sights of a massive zombie outbreak. It uses Oculus Rift headets, headphones, a very cool custom assault rifle hooked up to a PlayStation Move controller, and backpack mounted Alienware systems to create a completely immersive experience.

And boy, is it awesome. Alienware's systems are small enough that you merely feel like you're wearing a reasonable pack, and the restof the harness simply adds to the mil-spec feel. And even though, at the moment, the set-up uses Oculus Rift dev-kit ones, it's still something you really need to try to understand - the admittedly low res doesn't take away from the experience at all, and when higher-res versions are employed - as Zero Latency plans to do - it's only going to get better.

I got a chance to see the control center of the game, and the backgrounds you explore - abandoned car parks, gritty military facilities, and so on - are already rendered in a far higher res. Playing the game in a large open space lets Zero Latency effectively create anything that wish, and the sensors on the headset pick up whenever anyone's getting too close to walls and out of bounds areas.

Of course, you do look a little daft, but you also don't give a damn. The recreation of combat is detailed even down to seeing the virtual magazines you eject from your rifle.

From that rather high-end experience, a crowd of us wandered on to something a little more intimate - a basement house party with a range of incredibly unique indie titles to play, from the cream of the local indie dev scene: Intimate Party3.exe, hosted by the Wonder Consortium.

And when I say unique... well, the hit of the night was likely a game called Magnetic Arseholes. It's an ever so slightly problematic game - four players controls a penis and, um, bottom, and the aim of the game is to penetrate the other players without being penetrated yourself. 

And the controllers are floppy rubber dildos.

But it's also a hell of a lot of fun, thanks to bright colours, bowties and other accessories to differentiate your, er, member, and the sense of playing something quite apart from the AAA run of the mill. 

To continue the penile theme, Dick Pic was also popular on the night. It's a game that pretty much says what it does on the tin - the aim is to create the most outlandish dick pic. Fu Ball was a more abstract game that I didn't get to play, and there were quite a few others scattered around the house. It was a marvelously informal setting, and though it does seem I left before things got really interesting.

Apparently it was the first games night that's been shut down by the cops, of which Wonder Consortium is kind of proud.

All in all, it was a pretty good start to the show.

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