Owlchemy Labs have been pioneering VR experiences exploring hand presence and embodied gameplay in VR since the release of Job Simulator and Rick & Morty VR, and they’re releasing their next experience in this sequence called Vacation Simulator where you get to explore a robotic living history of the present moment. It’s what reductive robot overlords of 2060 might imagine what leisure would be like for humans today, but from the perspective of this speculative future looking back through the lens of algorithms.
I had a chance to unpack the design process with CEOwl Devin Reimer and CTOwl Andrew Eiche where they had to balance the tradeoffs between non-linear, open world exploration and the linear, goal-driven puzzles that are spread out through the three different vacation worlds. We talked about the extensive play testing, the different categories of embodied game play and how they try to balance that for different personality temperaments, the different metrics for success and “win conditions” that drove their development process, their rapid iteration process of dialog creation, world building, and humor, the difficulties of detected the large variety of different types of hand waves to trigger interactions with the NPC robots throughout the experience, cross-platform design considerations for Rift, Vive, PSVR, & Oculus Quest, working as an autonomous innovation studio while being owned and supported by Google, and dealing with the complexity of having a dozen different ways to combine and blend objects together across the entire experience.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.