northway-gamesSarah Northway & Colin Northway talk about the process of converting an open world building game of Fantastic Contraption to a room-scale VR experience with the HTC Vive.

The gameplay is very straightforward and intuitive in that you have a limited set of objects to build things with, but you can use as many of them to build a contraption within a zero-gravity environment. Then you press go, gravity kicks in, and you hope that your contraption is structurally sound enough to get from point A to point B.

It’s a simple premise, but excellently executed in how natural it feels to be in an environment where you can build whatever you can think of with these pipes and wheels. Colin talks about how it’s somewhat disappointing how seamless the two-handed interactions are within the game since he spent over a month writing all of the code to make it happen. Yet his efforts are almost completely invisible due to how intuitive the interactions are within the environment.

Colin and Sarah talk about their approach to minimalist game design, and how they foresee expanding the number of objects and items as well as potentially adding in more social components to the experience.

I had a chance to try out the Fantastic Contraption at PAX, and I have to say that it’s been one of the more fun and compelling experiences I’ve had within VR. I didn’t want to stop playing it, and could have been in there for hours. The fact that you can just let your imagination run wild within this frictionless construction environment meant that I could build a very complex object within a couple of minutes. It had no chance of actually accomplishing the goal, but it was extremely fun and satisfying anyway and I look forward to being able to play some more — as well as watch how other people try to solve the puzzles.

Colin said that the original Fantastic Contraption has had over 12 million contraptions saved, and they plan on allowing people to save and share their solutions so that you can see how others have solved the various puzzles that are in the game.

Colin & Sarah are both looking forward to see what VR and AR has to bring to society, and they think that it’s just a matter of time until VR or AR headsets start to replace 2D computer screens. They’re going to be continuing to solidify and develop this open world building experience with the Fantastic Contraption, and they’re looking forward to other experiences that unleash the potential of their creativity like Tilt Brush and Fantastic Contraption.

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