Stress Level Zero resurrected the classic Oculus Tuscany demo from the days of Oculus Rift development kits and launched it as a sandbox environment for Boneworks.
At the time of this writing the rebuilt environment with all of Boneworks physics and sandbox tools is available in the Oculus Store version of the game. That means you can launch it on an Oculus Rift or an Oculus Quest via the Oculus Link. The Steam store version of the game should add the environment in the next major patch which may come in March. You might be able to access it in other headsets from the Oculus Store version via a tool like Revive, but we haven’t tested that method.
A Trip Into VR History
The “Tuscany Demo” was an early Oculus Rift project that introduced many developers as well as their friends and family to VR from about 2013 onward. It features a serene landscape and a Tuscan villa with butterflies fluttering through the air. Now that it is rebuilt by Stress Level Zero in Boneworks, you can move the furniture around and climb up the trees outside. You can even jump the fence and explore the countryside.
The sandbox environment in Boneworks is interesting in the context of how VR hardware and the things people do with it has changed since those early days. The bright environment made the screen door effect impossible to miss on Rift development kits like DK1 and DK2, and Facebook didn’t ship to consumers tracked controllers for hands until late 2016. Still, the environment and hardware was compelling enough to create a sense of “presence” in some people. That’s the feeling of actually being there in the digital environment. For some, that feeling hooked them on the idea that VR might truly be the next great medium for computing. By now it is a bit of a joke when people reach out and try to touch something in VR without the system tracking controllers or hand movements, but back then it was a sign that a low-cost headset was actually doing what it was designed to do. Experiencing presence in Tuscany helped convince some folks that VR was worth their time and money, and inspired some to realize its vast potential to collapse space and bring faraway people together.
Of course, when I went into Boneworks and tried the sandbox environment this week instead of trying to reach out and touch the butterflies I took out my gun and used them as target practice. Just like the real world, I guess, you don’t have to use the virtual environment that way. That makes the Boneworks version of Tuscany — weapons or no weapons — still a powerful showcase of VR’s power in 2020.