I attended Double Fine’s Day of the Devs on Saturday and got to play the virtual reality version of my good friends Colin and Sarah Northway’s game, Fantastic Contraption.
Fantastic Contraption is a game about building working machines and my assumption was that the experience would be initially exhilarating, but ultimately the ability to build machines would become frustrating without a keyboard or mouse.
The second I put on the Vive helmet I realized Colin and Sarah had made something magical. The game was instantly natural and intuitive. I immediately forgot I was walking in circles in a warehouse in San Francisco and felt like I really was walking around a cartoon island in the sky. I picked up wheels and beams with my real hands and built self-powered machines that worked. The thrill of being in a foreign world combined wonderfully with the thrill of building stuff. I would have played for hours if I had the time.
I’ve long thought of VR as a thing I want to do in the future. A dream of mine has been to create alternate versions of real world cities for people to walk around in. There will come a point where Google Glass equivalents can map new imagery onto buildings, trees, people, etc… It would be amazing to decide that today on your way to work you’d rather walk through a psychedelic alien world than past the ugly concrete buildings you pass every day. I want to make those worlds.
Fantastic Contraption is my second mind-blowing virtual reality experience. The first was Robin Arnott’s psychedelic, meditation/freak-out simulator Sound Self. We’re past the point where virtual reality is going to be amazing in the future. It’s amazing now. For the past few days, I’ve been flooded with ideas for never before explored games and experiences that current VR tech makes possible. All I’ve ever wanted was to be inside a surreal, cartoon world and we can do that and so much more now. This is all so new, the limits so untested. Every new game is a new frontier and I want to be an explorer.
Come back on November 25th for the next page!