Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, with its iconic red and gray gun controller, was the perfect synthesis of an arcade shooter and a console game—an experience that anyone could play and enjoy. A memorable blend of Nintendo’s 8-bit graphics, mindless repetition and quirky electronic music, Duck Hunt was always going to charm, but never really blow minds with its gameplay. That is, until now: in competition at the Global Game Jam, 21-year-old New Jersey-based developer Joseph Delgado not only adapted Duck Hunt for virtual reality, he did it in about 24 hours.
In this VR version of Duck Hunt, a player is not limited to one position as in the original NES game. As Delgado demonstrates in a video, the player can move through fields, and turn around in 360 degrees to shoot the ducks wherever they may spawn and fly.
“I think Duck Hunt is a really good medium to show the state of motion controls and VR in general,” Delgado tells The Creators Project. “And it comes with a healthy dose of nostalgia that makes it more fun to play. Plus, you don't have to move around too much. Right now locomotion is a big problem in VR games—designing an experience around the issue is a better solution than trying to fix it at the moment.”
Delgado, who has had an Oculus Rift DK2 for some time but never really got around to using it, wanted to give his Duck Hunt VR a 3D voxel look. So he wrote a Python script that converted a sprite (a two-dimensional graphic) into a 3D model with depth.
“With some performance implications (not hitting the 75 fps frame budget in VR can really hurt the experience, i.e., nausea or vomiting, at least with the DK2), it's pretty important that some things were billboards instead of voxelized sprites,” Delgado explains on his website. “The ducks, background mountains, and some of the trees that are further away were either billboards or non-camera aligned planes as opposed to voxelized sprites.”
For hand tracking in Duck Hunt VR, Delgado used Razer Hydra motion controllers, then 3D-printed a head mount for the Razer Hydra base station, which sits atop the Oculus Rift headset. As for gameplay, Delgado wanted the game to be difficult, so the ducks spawn and fly fast, and players only have two shots per duck.
“Ducks spawn at random spawn points placed behind bushes and tree branches so they can't be seen spawning, and then fly around in a radial pattern around the field the player is in,” Delgado explains. “Shooting a duck nets you 50 points, and each remaining shot at the end of the round nets you another 50 points.”
“Each day you have a goal for ducks shot. If you miss that goal, it's game over,” he adds. “If you manage to last all 7 days, you win the game. Pretty simple. Your score is always visible in the hub level, along with the current day and duck goal.”
On the suggestion of a friend, Delgado also added a skeet shooter to his Duck Hunt in the final hour of the game jam. This addition was inspired by Duck Hunt’s “Game C,” which has the shooter blasting away at clay pigeons.
Delgado plans to release the Duck Hunt VR game this week on his website.