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tenderclawsTenderclaws debuted The Under experience at Sundance that features live immersive actors from the Piehole theater troupe. Actors embody different characters within a storyworld that has free roaming, non-verbal participants, who need to use their body to communicate with the actors and each other. Participants can either roam around trying to discover actors to interact with one-on-one and receive fragments of the story of the world, or hang out in the central hub where there are a series of performances.

They’re planning on having a bit of a looping structure to the narrative, but with a twist where participants can time travel to different points of the evolution of the story. It’s produced by Oculus and is slated to be a release title on the Oculus Quest later this year as it uses the affordances of the 6-degree of freedom controllers.

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I had a chance to run through the preview of The Under a couple of times at an offsite location from Sundance in Park City, and then talk with Tenderclaws co-founders Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro and Piehole founding member Tara Ahmadinejad. We talk about how this project came about, some of the backstory of story world they’ve created, the challenges of fusing live immersive theater actors within VR, some best practices for dealing with trolling behavior, and some of the special tools they had to create that gave the actors moderation powers but in a way that concealed the usual body language VR users have when interacting with spatialized user interfaces.

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Here’s the announcement trailer for The Under

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Music: Fatality

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