"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away", Philip K. Dick had to say this about Reality. He also said, "I, in my stories & novels often write about counterfeit worlds, semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds inhabited often by just one person." Boy, would he be profoundly happy to experience Virtual Reality had he been alive today.
If you’re not already blown away by Ridley Scott's atmospheric sci-fi classic, put on your Oculus Rift, because we're entering a new level of cyberpunk experience. The smoggy noir dystopian world of Blade Runner beautifully captured through the lens and practical miniature sets has found fans, admirers and cult followers over the years. There is a reason why Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as his most personal and complete film. Post 1982, many films have come and gone that have borrowed Scott and Syd Mead's aesthetic designs trying to replicate nostalgia et al. Only a few among the fewest has set such an exemplary example in nailing science fiction, technology, architecture and master class film-making. There is a strange beauty in films, video games and art where the artists defy opinions, suffer, endure, piss off subordinates and persevere in their endeavor to bring life to their feverish vision of a dream. This is one of the main reasons why I love Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now', a 'studio' director's journey into the unknown with suicidal thoughts, Marlon Brando and a huge ass cast/crew.
Now, someone has tried to create a faux- Blade Runner VR scenario through L.A.2097 : Precipice.
L.A.2097 : Precipice is a VR project by first time VR developer E’van Johnston who one day decided to buy a second hand DK2 and make his first step into VR. It resulted in motion sickness. Since the very beginning, the New Zealand based developer had zeroed in on a particular idea for this hobby project. The idea was to focus on one scene. Just like in Hitchcock's Rear Window where the audience is watching things unfold, L.A 2097 is a view from the balcony - a tiny blip in a high-rise for the viewer to stay & relax. While the setting is just a single re-imagined scene of a movie with thousands of beautifully sculpted screen caps, the level of detail is stunning. Reminds us of interiors of Deckard's room with all the square concrete wall carvings.
Before I parse the video to my complete cyberpunk-y fulfillment, Let's all pretend to be Rick Deckard sippin' on Coca Cola, practicin' origami for the thousandth time, listenin' to Vangelis or vaporwave (my recommendation), reading Blade Bummer while waitin' for a new batch of andies over-dozed with existential philosophy to run amok. It's a bummer that this personal hobby project is only a fragment of what we want it to be. Some want it to be a cyberpunk game where you drive a taxi while I want it to serve as a prelude for Cyberpunk 2077.
L.A 2097 is not a virtual tour. It emanates from the need for an epic cyberpunk atmosphere and delivers it through the high altitude view, 3D sounds and ambiance. You can even hear the distant buzz of cars flying by and electricity outages. Focusing on a single scene allows more attention and keeps the developer busier with more additions. What makes this VR routine even better is the absence of interaction. It allows the player/viewer to stand and rejoice the moment than actually move around and get lost in the abyss of millions of polygons. If you're lucky enough, you could feel a fervent dose of vertigo as you lean from the balcony ledge. Movement is neatly restricted to appreciate lighting, steam pipes, the rain and all those countless distant vehicles.
E’van Johnston is currently testing on multiple gadgets, trying to tweak software settings and add textures here and there. He doesn't really know where this is going to go or when it might be considered complete. He wishes to add more buildings adjacent to the balcony and cute shadows of people trawling through the rain drenched city and occasionally passing through apartment rooms to bring more life. More neon signs and transport vehicles will arrive in the next version. It's only a matter of time before a triad of artists get together to create Jodorowsky's gigantic world of Dune.
Feel like drivin' to Night City or signing up for residence on Mars, L.A 2097 is a neon filled private getaway. I don't know about you, but I'm slowly getting a 'jump onto a Spinner from the balcony' impulse here. Off-World is a great place to live in thanks to Vaporwave, Vangelis and VR.