Fury VR - located in Limerick City and one of the largest virtual reality arcades in Ireland - wanted to put together a short, immersive experience showing the 1690 Siege of Limerick Castle from within the castle walls and utilising the full 5 x 5 meter play space at the venue. Rather than a complex, interactive experience they wanted something that anyone could experience with relative ease.
We discussed a number of ideas with Damien, Fury VR's owner. Keeping the experience mostly non-interactive meant we had to rely on cues such as where the player stood or where they were looking, and a lot of visual and audible effects to give the most immersive experience possible while also ensuring we keep things authentic - this was after all, a heritage-focused project.
One of the key focuses when developing the experience was to ensure we included certain important elements - such as a draft copy of the treaty that ended the Williamite War, a miniaturised version of the Treaty Stone that now takes pride of place in Limerick City, and the distant view of the battle on the bridge which can be seen from the towers of the castle.
The final experience shows the view from within the Captain's Quarters of the castle. Surrounded by various heritage pieces such as the Treaty Stone, a map of the castle and a painting of Patrick Sarsfield (the 1st Earl of Lucan), the user can see and hear the battle outside from a small window at one end of the 25sqm dome-shaped room. Through the thick fog and pelting rain, the user can view the flickering lights of torches and lanterns from soldiers fighting for their country on the castle bridge that spans the River Shannon - just as a large, flaming cannonball* flies past their window and impacts the walls with a thundering crash.
* Some creative license may have been used for dramatic effect. As far as we know the cannonballs at the actual siege were not actually on fire.