Looking for a way to celebrate Star Wars Day but already mastered Vader Immortal’s lightsaber dojo? Check out this great fan-made app for free.
Project Stardust is developed by Dylan Stout as part of a research project for the University of Utah. Starting life in 2018, the piece was developed as a means of studying simulation sickness in VR, where the motion we perceive inside headsets makes us feel nauseated. A fast-paced flight through space serves as good ground to measure those effects.
“In order to test this supposition we needed an infinitely large environment that we could incrementally add reference points to and test a player’s VRS [virtual reality sickness] symptoms periodically throughout a high-speed experience,” a blog post explaining Stout’s work reads.
Wouldn’t you know it, Star Wars makes for the perfect backdrop. Project Stardust recreates the climactic battle of A New Hope, in which Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance take on Darth Vader and the Death Star in the iconic Trench Run scene. It’s a scene fans have longed to live out for years, and it’s been recreated in VR before, but this is the best-realized version I’ve certainly seen.
What makes Project Stardust so much fun is its commitment to the source material, paired with fun easter eggs for Star Wars fans. Ever wondered what all the buttons in the X-Wing cockpit actually do? Stardust produces a fun approximation, getting you to poke and prod at the dashboard with intrigue. Switching aiming configurations and wing formations, changing radars and camera angles; it’s enough to make you feel like a genuine pilot.
Project Stardust is great fun to play too; skimming the surface of the Death Star, shooting down guard towers and flinching as TIE Fighters race overhead remains a compelling case of pure VR wish fulfillment. The mission is split into three stages, including an opening space battle away from the space station, an assault on the Death Star’s defenses and then heading into the trenches for a last-ditch attempt at victory.
If you want to see some gameplay from someone that clearly knows how it’s done, check out Stout’s latest run-through.
“The results for VRS symptoms showed increased vertigo and nausea on Phase 2 (Death Star Surface) which many users attributed to the flight controls not responding as they expected,” Stout’s work concludes. “Surprisingly Phase 3 (Trench Run) showed the least response to VRS symptoms even with the encompassing environment and many reference points.”
You can download Project Stardust here, though a new version will be on the way soon. Stout also plans to add a survival mode to the experience to pad it out even further. Don’t let the abundance of official Star Wars VR experiences get the better of you; this is definitely worth a shot.
If you like Project Stardust, don’t forget to check out the Star Wars X-Wing VR app on PSVR, available through Star Wars: Battlefront. It’s shorter than Stout’s work and doesn’t recreate a movie scene, but still a thrilling experience. We also just got word that the excellent Star Wars: Vader Immortal series is coming to PSVR soon, too.