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Gamers make deep sea exploration a virtual reality

22 May 2013


A team of final year students from Teesside University are making waves around the world after their passion for virtual reality led them to develop a deep sea exploration game for a cutting-edge gaming device.

The students, who are studying courses in the School of Computing, pooled together their varied expertise to create UnderCurrent for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Oculus Rift is a head mounted display which is revolutionising the way video games are played. Recognising the strange delights that lurk in the depths, the 14-strong team set about building the under-the-sea exploration game specifically for the Oculus Rift. It immerses the player in the underwater world and tracks head movements so that they can experience the deep sea in a natural way.

Three levels have been assembled so far which all take place in the iron graveyard of the Bermuda Triangle.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and UnderCurrent has already received press coverage in France and Holland, mentions on countless gaming blogs and websites, a news feature on NBC and 10,000 YouTube views in four days.

All of this has given the UnderCurrent team a platform to develop their game further and get it ready to release.

Christian Frausig, who is one of the designers, said the game was originally developed as part of a final year group project.

He added: 'Virtual reality has the ability to take us places we can only dream of. The ocean is a perfect example of a real location that we all know of, but know very little about.

'The response to the game so far has been really exciting - especially since we didn't do anything to promote it, other than release a quick video play through. Since then we've been in contact with the games community and listened to suggestions and criticisms to get a better idea of what people want from this game.'

Christian, who is studying BA (Hons) Computer Games Design, acknowledges that the final game will change dramatically from the version they have at the moment but he is looking forward to the challenge of producing a game for the high profile Oculus Rift, which is at the cutting-edge of virtual reality technology.

He added: 'We are all pretty obsessed with virtual reality and what can be achieved. The summer will be an exciting time as we develop UnderCurrent further and look into releasing the game.'

Gabrielle Kent, Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Development at Teesside University, said: 'The students started working on the game as part of a final year group project – it is fantastic to see them getting so much attention and it demonstrates that our students are working with ground-breaking technology.

'It is always gratifying to see our students and graduates gaining industry success and this is a project that certainly has the potential to be developed further.'

The full UnderCurrent team is:

Designers > Christian Frausig > Carlton Gaunt > Michael Pattison

Programmers > Sean Chapman > Michael Charge

Artists > Ben Armstrong > Daniel Taylor-Jones > Lee Parkes > Paul Huthison > Simon Went

Animators > David Sarkisjan > Richard Tongeman > Will Harrison

Sound Designer > Mark Glough

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