Stewart Smith — Space Rocks (Hero)

Escape through space on stolen plasma engines while slinging photon bolts to vaporize spaceship-crushing rocks in this Web-based virtual reality tribute to Atari’s 1979 classic “Asteroids.”

I created and launched Space Rocks as a fun personal project back in 2017; very early days for WebXR. Since then the browser APIs for virtual reality have matured quite a bit—which is a great thing—but sadly, it means that Space Rocks is no longer functional. (But it’s open-source and documented, so if you’ve got a hankering to do the port yourself, please do!) This was such fun to create and it’s one of my handful of tributes to early Atari games that I have adored.

How many asteroids can you vaporize? Don on your virtual reality headset and pick up those hand controllers. You’ll need them if you want to survive.

Atari’s “Asteroids” situates the player inside a geometric spaceship, providing a third-person view of the action. VR presented a slightly different challenge; nearly demanding a first-person experience of the action. Being a lone developer, rather than create the interior of a spaceship to manipulate, it seemed more expedient to take inspiration from the exosuits in Transformers The Movie (1986), which acted as “personal spaceships” employing thrusters in the elbow—and occasionally firepower in place of hands.