Daniël Ernst has been working with VR since the early days of the Oculus Rift, but he’s soon to bring his wonderful series of diorama’s into the spotlight in a much bigger way. For the past few years, Ernst has been working on a series called The Shoebox Diorama, which highlights the power of VR by placing viewers in a series of magical, often impossible setpieces. These include Blocked In, set in a world in which Tetris blocks are invading, forever raining down from the sky, and Der Grosse Gottlieb, in which you find yourself on top of the world. In the past, you’ve had to go digging to find his work, which is listed on his own website as well as Oculus Share, but with the consumer launch of the HTC Vive this week the developer is also releasing some of his creations on Steam with support for the first SteamVR HMD.
Currently, Blocked In and a brand new Diorama, The Marchland are listed on launch for Steam tomorrow, April 5. You can see the trailer for this third piece above, though it only offers the slightest hint of what to expect. The Steam listing offers another scrap of info, describing an experience in which users will exist ‘inbetween worlds’ as an invisible being. It’s going to support Room-Scale VR and even the tracked motion controllers, suggesting that this will have a bigger degree of interactivity over past entries.
Blocked In will also now support room-scale, having previously restricted viewers to one of three camera views. Ernst hasn’t confirmed if Der Grosse Gottlieb will also be coming to Steam, nor has he announced an Oculus Home release for the projects. That said, work on what he describes as a “full length diorama” named The Pigeon Man is also still underway.
You may well be diving into full room-scale video games when Vive launches tomorrow, but we’d still fully recommend taking a look at Ernst’s work. Even on the DK1 Blocked In was a fascinating space to simply exist in, inviting you to sit and gaze out of a window as giant versions of the iconic blocks endlessly tumbled out of the sky. To be able to explore these scenes once more with room-scale support is an exciting thought.