The Wonder of It All
Oh, the places we'll go!
Half Life Alyx was released just a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to digest what could be the first leap of entertainment into the Virtual Reality space. I say the first leap, because most of the games or entertainment on the VR platform to date weren't maximizing the truly immersive nature of the platform.
I know many of you will disagree with that statement and I look forward to the debate in the comments below, but from my perspective titles like Beat Saber, Tetris Effect, Star Trek: Bridge Crew, and even Arizona Sunshine never fully grasp what VR should be or could be.
From the first moment I put on a VR headset my world was transformed. I realized that stories were no longer meant to be seen, to be passively observed. Virtual Reality was transformative, meaning you were transported to another place, another world and could interact with that world accordingly.
In the early days of VR the interaction wasn't more than stand somewhere and look around, or perhaps interact with a couple objects that didn't really heighten your understanding of the experience. In fact it was just a means to show that you could interact.
This is where the early years of VR storytelling was lacking, and largely what is missing from the platform today. Yes, I've been able to don the cap and cowl of the Dark Knight and see myself in Batman's costume, but it wasn't my face, it just moved where I did. The rest of the experience was pretty forgettable and after experiencing it once I never felt a need to do it again.
I found many of the experiences that way. The Lab by Valve was probably the most fun and the most time I spent in VR on a routine basis. I was more interested in becoming a better archer, while shooting walking paper hoard dolls then trying to find the best graphics. That's because the feel of the string as I drew an arrow was mesmerizing. The UX was on point and it made me smile. It made me feel like I was actually improving my archery skills - that's what kept me coming back for more.
It didn't take long for for me to tire with the explosion of new titles. Ported-over games from other consoles never did it for me. I had a vision for what I wanted to experience in VR and nobody was providing me with that opportunity.
So I got to work. With the help of my partners Mike and Dave.
Dragon Federation was born and we began world building akin to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Avatar. A world that is ever expanding and allows the user to choose how they interact with the world; isn't that what being transformative is all about?
On our creation journey just months before we plan to release our experience, we always kept up-to-date on the new releases and largely yawned at the use of the platform until...
Half Life Alyx.
I've never played the Half Life games before so I didn't know what was good or bad, or what to expect. All I knew is that I felt unnerved immediately. The post apocalyptic world was rendered very well and there was no typical game menu or navigator to help me feel my way through the world.
The soundtrack immediately put me on edge and made me think I was not safe, even though I was in the safety of my own home.
I won't provide spoilers to the experience, but this is one I've had to take in doses.
I am enervated with each passing minute and need to be recharged every 30 - hour of playing time.
Living in a post-apocalyptic world is exhausting and the fact the UI doesn't allow my hand to float through digital walls only sells the reality even more.
Half Life Alyx is bringing me closer to the vision of VR I always dreamed, but the fact I felt compelled to use my voice to communicate within the game is very exciting and, in game, texturally "real", but my words fell on a deaf UI and only exploited that VR still has a way to go.
However, our Dragon Federation design board is full of the UX and UI needs that will draw even closer to the reality we've always envisioned.
The Dragon habitat is changing and coming to life in extraordinary ways. The dragons are reacting to the unique control system that will bring your thoughts and emotions into alignment.
And the eggs! The eggs are on version 2.0 and moving along with our iOS integration.
If you've been on the fence, or waiting to jump in, now would be a good time. It is no longer a question of if but a question of when, and we may already have that answer. We are planning another crowdfunding campaign this summer and will be discontinuing the pre-order pricing that is currently available.
Oh the places we'll go. It is still a very great time to be alive.
Living in the moment and planning for the future.
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