#621: Balancing Player Control & Authorial Control with “Virtual Virtual Reality”

danny-cannizzaroTender ClawsVirtual Virtual Reality is a Daydream-exclusive interactive story that won the best VR experience at the 2017 Google Play Awards VR, and it’s one of my personal favorite interactive narratives within VR. Virtual Virtual Reality (aka VVR) does a great job of balancing your control as a player with the authorial control of the story. You have the ability to openly explore the worlds, but it’s all within the context of a narrative that subtly guides you through a futuristic world where AI has taken over and is providing you an immersive hero’s journey experience.

The main mechanic in VVR is putting on VR headsets while you’re in VR such that you incept into deeper and deeper layers of simulated reality, and you have to navigate through these worlds and do specific tasks to progress through the story world. It’s a deeply satisfying mechanic, and Tender Claws was able to create an entire story that hinges on this process of going deeper and deeper down the simulated rabbit hole.

samantha_gormanI talked with Tender Claws co-founders Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro at VRLA in April 2017 about their experiential design and interactive storytelling insights from creating VVR. Gorman has been creating immersive stories in VR since 2002, and so there’s a level of polish and degree of elegant experiential design and storytelling that comes through both in VVR, their TendAR AR narrative at Sundance 2018, and their upcoming follow-up to VVR with Scottsdale which had an early prototype showing at Kaleidoscope VR’s FIRST LOOK Market.


VVR is not only a fun and entertaining look at the future of our relationship to AI and immersive technologies, but Tender Claws is also using quite a lot of cutting-edge AI techniques for content generation within the experience. They’re also pushing the boundaries for storytelling in AR with TendAR. Cannizzaro said that Tender Claws is really interested in blurring the lines between the digital and real worlds, and that VR has been an excellent prototyping tool to develop some of the storytelling ideas they hope to apply within AR, which has been started to put into practice with TendAR.

Tender Claws is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking content studios in the VR and AR space, and they’re pushing forward the boundaries of interactive storytelling with each of their projects, which started with an award-winning iPad-based story called PRY. They really got the most out of the limited 3-DoF Daydream controller by using interactive leashes for what felt like seamless gameplay and interaction mechanics within Virtual Virtual Reality. Their writing strikes a great balance between humor, surrealism, and character-development, and they found a great combination of exploration with storytelling in their experience. Be sure to check out Virtual Virtual Reality on the Daydream headset, and I’m looking forward to learning more about their TendAR and Scottsdale projects later in 2018.

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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So on my previous episode, I had Samantha Gorman from Tender Claws, and I had mentioned in that episode that virtual virtual reality was one of my most favorite interactive experiences that I've seen. And I did this interview with both Samantha and Danny Cannizzaro back in the spring of 2017, and At that point I hadn't gone through the experience and it was a few months later that I actually had a chance to experience virtual virtual reality. It was on the Daydream. I highly recommend you to check it out if you get the chance because I think they're doing so many things within this experience where they're really I think pushing the cutting edge when it comes to both Combining exploration and interactivity with the story and the narrative and the plot and I think it as a whole It's one of the most well executed interactive narratives that I've seen so far in VR and the story is great It's great writing and it's just interesting what they have you doing. There's this mechanic of you and going into virtual reality and then you are being incepted within VR. So you're constantly putting on headsets within VR and I can't tell you how satisfying that is to be able to kind of like go into deeper and deeper and deeper levels within VR while you're in VR. It's a great mechanic and they kind of design the entire experience around that. So I'll be talking to both Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro about virtual virtual reality as well as some of their experiential design and storytelling insights. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Samantha and Danny happened on Friday, April 14th, 2017 at VRLA in Los Angeles, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:57.707] Samantha Gorman: Hi, I'm Samantha Gorman. I'm one half of the founder of Tender Claws, and we recently released Virtual Virtual Reality, which is a game in VR about VR, but it also draws from my experiences starting in a research lab in 2002 working in VR storytelling.

[00:02:13.947] Danny Canazaro: And I'm Danny Cannizzaro, I'm the other half, and we've actually been collaborating together for about 10 years now, and we work across media. One of our previous projects was an interactive e-book named Pry, where you could pinch open the text and see video from the character's perspective. So with Virtual Virtual Reality and with all our projects we really try and compose specifically for the medium we're working in. So trying to minimize the conventions we bring over from film or games and just make something that works really well on the platform. So Virtual Virtual Reality is our sci-fi game about virtual reality where you're taking off and putting on headsets to go deeper into virtual reality.

[00:02:49.370] Kent Bye: Yeah, I thought that it was a super compelling mechanic which is essentially like an inception, like you're in VR and you keep going into deeper levels of VR, but also the thing that I think is really striking about what you're doing is that you're doing it on mobile, meaning that you're not necessarily trying to do all the six degree of freedom high agency, but you're using the 3DOF controller in a very efficient way to be able to really focus on the narrative and the storytelling. So maybe you could talk a bit about that process of making those decisions to go with Daydream to tell this specific story.

[00:03:21.154] Samantha Gorman: I think a lot of the effectiveness of a work is how it's designed and thinking about the constraints of a platform and what it can do well and where you can really push it. And I think one of the things we did with the controller is really think about how responsive the controller can be and how it can match with the story. Some of the ways we optimized for mobile was we don't have any textures in the game, everything's vertispainted. In that way we can sort of maximize the stylization of the world.

[00:03:49.203] Danny Canazaro: Yeah, and so other things we did with the controllers, we looked at kind of the, even the Wii and motion controls and what worked and what didn't work. And we found that it was really responsive and really accurate at the angles and detecting what orientation it was. So all of our kind of like grab and pick up mechanics in the game rely on that rather than positional. There's always a leash connecting you to the object you grab. So you get immediate feedback when you turn it because you see the leash bend and that kind of helps maybe let you forget about the fact that you can't like reach out and grab directly with your hand. Instead you have this augmented tool which kind of lets you grab or vacuum up or kind of like affect the world you're in. And then the other thing from a performance perspective is, yeah, what Samantha's talking about with the stylization. Rather than try and go for photorealistic lighting look that would, like, ultimately not look as good as other things because it's on mobile, we tried to just keep it very simple, stylized. And we found that that actually doesn't have a big effect on how presence feels in VR, that you can get away with things being very stylized and still feel the sense of scale, the sense of presence, everything else you get from having the stereoscopic kind of game engine driven piece.

[00:04:59.839] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I really love being transported into all these wide range of different worlds very quickly. It gives me the sense of this rich experience. And you mentioned that you had been working and thinking about storytelling in VR since like 2002. And so maybe you could just give me a little bit of a backstory of what you were doing back then and how that kind of fed into this virtual, virtual reality here.

[00:05:23.659] Samantha Gorman: Sure, yeah. I was working in a cave, a cave automated virtual environment at Brown University for four years as an undergrad taking classes in fine art and storytelling for immersive spaces. And then I ended up as a grad student eventually teaching writing for media in that system. As well as running all the demos for all the visiting scholars and dignitaries and taking them through virtual reality and seeing people's experiences in that space for the first time over and over again. I think the mix of those experiences kind of helped me think about and design for this space and build out this world. both based on the patterns that I had seen in the different trends of VR from 2002 to now, where there's a lot of commentary on this state of the industry, but also thinking about how you create a story world that could surround you.

[00:06:15.540] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think the other balance that I see here, when you have films that are mostly completely passive, you're not expressing your agency at all. Maybe you can project your own internal subjectivity onto the experience, but you're not actually changing the objective reality of that experience. Whereas in a game, you're able to actually express your agency and make choices and decisions. Express your will into the experience and so I feel like the process of creating an experience and storytelling is that balance between that? Narrative authored story with that ability to express your agency within experience So I'm curious to hear like your thoughts on that and how you approached that kind of dilemma within your experience. I

[00:06:55.396] Samantha Gorman: Yeah, I think we can both talk to this. I began actually thinking about writing in media with hypertext, which was very branching and a very different style of thinking about writing for like a mediated space. And in our current work, especially in VVR, we're very interested in tension between player and author control. So we have a world that in many ways, there's like one major branch at the end, but in many ways, it's very authored in terms of how it unfolds but still we have it try to be very expansive and exploratory at the same time so that the player feels like the world is much larger than it is and that they can really engage with it. One example is there's a large drop of headsets and you know you can feel like there's like so many different headsets you can go into and there are some variations but we sometimes engineer and like author the experience through those.

[00:07:43.583] Danny Canazaro: So yeah, so I think one of our overarching philosophies on this question is making something that lets users have meaningful decisions, but in the exploratory realm. So they get to explore the story more so than they get to craft the plot structure of what happens. Because we want to be able to hold on to the main narrative spot and tell a compelling story. And that's too hard if you have many, many permutations. So what we tend to do in this and in our previous project, Pry, is have that overarching narrative, but let the player follow their interests and really dig into certain parts of it within the set structure. And I guess the big narrative of this one comes from a little bit of Samantha's time in the background of having worked in VR and now seeing its resurgence. The project ended up kind of being both a response to all the hype and utopian kind of like rhetoric you're seeing around VR and a little bit of our love letter to the medium. So it imagines a future in which kind of AIs have taken all the jobs from humans but we are their history and they kind of keep us around as well-kept, well-beloved pets and provide us with enrichment activities. And so we try and imagine like what would AIs value in the human touch and we looked at things like artisanal and craft breweries and the types of stuff that we value, not necessarily for an inherent quality, but for the aura around it. And so that was one of our starting places. And from that, I guess we got the idea of like, if an AI is providing enrichment for humans, they would probably look through all of our pop culture and sci-fi and films and use that as kind of a guide for creating a story. So the project actually gets into The idea that maybe the AIs are creating a hero's journey for you as a human user and that this is your enrichment activity of the week.

[00:09:31.847] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think it's very timely because in my own explorations of VR, I've seen this cross-section of AI and VR eventually coming into collaboration with each other. And the AI really being this glue in order to really have conversational interfaces, to be able to actually express your agency in new ways, and to explore new gameplay mechanics, and I think that In talking to Andrew Stern, who did Facade, one of the things that he points out is that Facade was, to his mind, the first real game that combines this ability to have both local agency and global agency. So all the little small choices that you're making are kind of feeding into a global algorithm that is actually kind of dictating the outcome. And so it's a little bit of contextually keeping track of your behavior over a period of time that is then those small decisions of your local agency are then ultimately changing the overall outcome. And so in this experience, I got the sense where there's certain branches, but yet it also sounds like you're doing kind of like an author drama manager, but yet some of these decisions that I'm making aren't necessarily going to change the outcome per se. But I'm curious to hear your thoughts on that in terms of storytelling of where we're at now and where you see it going.

[00:10:45.318] Danny Canazaro: Yeah, one thing I think we believe is having a player make a choice, whether that choice ends up affecting anything down the road, the act of them having to choose is something that is inherently meaningful or makes you feel more invested or tied to the story. In something like VVR, a lot of the choices do matter, but a lot of the choices ultimately don't, and we play with that. We play with which ones are important for the game to kind of come back and respect that, oh, the player picked, like, the plant as their favorite, like, aesthetic object in the beginning, and so then there'll be jokes and references to the plant throughout the project. Whereas other ones will want it to feel, we might have, yeah, throw a box of 100 headsets in front of you and let you kind of like play around and choose different ones. And which ones you choose will actually be dependent on which ones you grab and decide to put on. But ultimately, we're going to guide you to the one specific one we want that advances the plot. And we can kind of do that behind the scenes. So I think it is what you're saying. some local choices that have meaning with something that manages the overall kind of like flow of the story to kind of guide the player and push them behind the scenes without them feeling like they're being pushed towards the thing. One thing that I think does this well is actually Sleep No More. I had this experience of going to Sleep No More as a play and finding myself kind of at the end, at the finale location, without ever having felt like I'd been guided or pushed towards that. Just all of a sudden, kind of like me and Samantha, who'd been traveling off on our own different paths, kind of reconverged at the end scene. And they'd very smartly done a lot of kind of like things behind scenes and with the movement of their actors to like make it feel like the player themselves was arriving at the location.

[00:12:28.545] Samantha Gorman: Yeah, so I think like what you said about where I think storytelling is heading, especially in media, I think more and more, I also help like curate for festivals and I see a lot of festivals, I think that as more people get into it, there'll be a sea shift towards more sophisticated models, right? So, you know, if you, sometimes if you put on a, in the film world, people are still trying to figure out how to make, you know, cinematic VR more active. So they'll be looking at like, oh, if you look right, you can follow one character. If you look left, you can follow one character. And I think that's a really great place to get your feet wet. But I think where you'll start to see the storytelling change is more sophistication for like under-the-hood models, like Danny was saying. You know, where like you still, you're guided without so much feeling like manipulated, but more just like how, you know, the design unfolds that the authors have created. Where you both feel agency but you're also guided along to have an authored experience.

[00:13:21.539] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think one of the things I really appreciated was it felt like when I did make a decision, it felt like it sort of interrupted whatever the robot was saying and it sort of threw me into it. And it's like, oh, well, he wasn't really quite finished, but I felt like, well, I guess that was my choice. And then I felt like more empowered in that way that the narrative wasn't being kind of shoved down my throat in a way that was kind of bracketing me from stopping from doing that. Now, I guess when you think about constructing and writing a narrative in this future, I think that we're in a phase right now, if you have an authored experience, it's still pretty linear script. But yet, I feel like we're moving into this world where it's a little bit more of like creating this non-linear knowledge graph with all sorts of different variables and more of a spatial environment that's kind of spread out over different physical locations. And it's a little bit less of a linear narrative script, but more of a nonlinear kind of interactive script. I'm just curious if as you start to think about that, how do you use a mental model to then create that in different metaphors that you use to start to actually author something, but yet give that emergent feel to it?

[00:14:28.412] Samantha Gorman: Yeah, I should see our documents that are shared. I think one of the things I do is do a lot of mind mapping, like visualization and diagramming. I think I've seen a lot of VR projects that are a script and then they poured it into VR. But in our case, what we believe, because we design with the technology and with the development process simultaneously, it's a lot of iteration. So we go back and forth with maybe prototype that leads to a story idea or some ideas or draft and mock-ups that lead to enhancing the prototype or start with a story idea or vice versa. But it's a very symbiotic process of writing and designing these things with the media.

[00:15:06.161] Danny Canazaro: And that, yeah, in our dev cycle that actually does lead to some back and forths where we'll write something, we'll record it, we'll put it in, it might not feel right, so we leave ourselves the flexibility to change it, to go back and do re-recordings or shift around where one scene might happen. Just because it is almost impossible to plan everything out perfectly on paper and have it actually work in the interactive medium, so you do need to be playing it in the experience, composing in the experience. And so yeah, so we definitely go back and forth and try and have the story inform the interactivity just as much as the interactivity informs the story. One thing on that is we always want the gestures and interactions you're doing in our projects to not be just the way that it conveys information, but to be part of the story itself. So a project like this where you're putting on and taking off headsets becomes about putting on and taking off headsets and just trying to make sure that the interactions marry nicely with the story.

[00:15:58.696] Kent Bye: Yeah, another thing that I really appreciated about this experience was that it was funny. It made me laugh. And I'm curious to hear, like, your process of writing comedy and, you know, how you decide to go through that process and kind of test it and actually see if it's funny for the wider audience.

[00:16:16.589] Samantha Gorman: I think I remember even, like, a year ago on panels that people were talking about how, like, they weren't sure if virtual reality could do comedy or could be funny. And I'm like, of course it can. You know, it's really up to, like, the design and writing. So I wanted to, like, try it out and, like, I think a lot of the thinking about virtual reality that I had kind of witnessed over this time was just building and building and needed sort of an outlet to come out. I think that the process of writing and figuring out what the characters were were tied to things that I found conceptually amusing, so then just sort of spun out from that.

[00:16:52.990] Danny Canazaro: We also had some pretty specific constraints, being a small team making a two hour narrative, fully fleshed out game in about six months. And so some of those constraints, we knew we weren't gonna have tons of elaborate, fully animated out characters. And so we tried to lean into that and play with a robot that is entirely physics driven, that can stumble around like one of those Boston Dynamics robots, so that the actual way things move are also just kind of like clunky but charmingly and endearingly clunky and that fits totally with the writing.

[00:17:25.811] Kent Bye: Can you talk a bit more about the kind of incepted history, deeper messages that you were trying to take from your own personal experience and then put into this VR experience?

[00:17:36.793] Samantha Gorman: So even the way that the AIs evolve into your understanding as you go through the project of who the character is that you meet, like the robot manager at the beginning, is based a little bit on our relationship with how I see AIs filtering into VR now and in the future, where like, kind of as office assistants, right? Or like, sort of like, you know, a Siri add-on. But then there's a sort of more reliance on them so that it becomes a system where, like, more and more they are the main players in this space. You know, so much so that they sort of miss the interaction of the human. And that evolves through different VR startup phases. One is a travel agency where, like, you know, your AI is just your, like, kind of, like, suggested manager of, like, you should try the volcano simulation. And then it goes into an office, a shared workspace environment where like then there's like more and more onus on like, you know, needing the AI assistants to help us guide through the different like workday placements. And it kind of evolves into a point where in the future, you know, you are putting on a virtual reality headset for the share point of like, that is like how you access labor. And that is like what is left to you to do is to like do emotional labor for these organisms that were once like your assistant.

[00:18:52.317] Danny Canazaro: Yeah, it all kind of comes out of some of our tongue-in-cheek responses to what we're seeing in the VR world today. The main character is the uploaded consciousness of a VR evangelist from present day, and as you get deeper in the game, you ultimately get to hear his TED Talks, and you get to hear the moment where he attempts to be the first person to upload his consciousness in a big PR event. and it all goes bad. And so we tried to envision, yeah, what does VR look like today? What might it look like in five years, in ten years, and in the point where it's kind of just around as human entertainment. Yeah, that was some of the guiding of the VR narrative of the project.

[00:19:30.914] Samantha Gorman: And also the rhetoric at the end, there's like two different endings, but that's the main part where it branches. The rhetoric of like immersion and kind of the utopian promise of VR is, there's a kind of nice wrap up where it also lends on a positive note at the same time as it's exploring these topics critically. So yeah.

[00:19:50.267] Kent Bye: And so what do you each want to experience in VR then?

[00:19:53.481] Samantha Gorman: I want to see things that really like push the boundaries of what has been thought of. I guess what I mean is like it's easy to like port previous work into VR or to think of like oh this would be really great for first-person shooters but I want to see things that are like natively made for the medium that are thinking about like how to actually like what it can do you know outside of like the obvious constraints of like video playback or be like a game and I guess just really like well-designed thought-out projects.

[00:20:24.574] Danny Canazaro: I know you've also talked a lot about like performance and like projects that involve multiple people or ways in which some of these experiences can be not necessarily social as in social networks but as in there are other players interacting with you or one of the things we're also excited to see is kind of What happens with that divide between the Hollywood side of it and the gaming side of it? And we're playing and trying to make projects that use video in maybe ways that aren't just a video sphere around you, but are video combined with a Unity engine, and not just volumetric video, which to me has, like, some great advantages, but a lot of the same limitations of on the interactivity side, because we definitely do see interactivity being one of the key advantages and features of the medium. So playing with how we can take the amazing performances or documentary aspects that you are able to get with film and video and also combine it with the interactivity that you can achieve with VR in the game engine side.

[00:21:26.197] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:21:34.627] Samantha Gorman: I sort of have this feeling that, like, you know, cell phones, like, where they came out and then they became sort of, like, almost trickled into the culture in a way that, like, it wasn't surprising anymore. You know, like, I think people are like, oh, this is going to be a big bang and then VR will be everywhere. I think it's going to be a more natural adaption that, like, soon, like, people, years out, won't really notice a remark on it too much. But actually, I think that's positive because it will enable a lot of, I think, access to the technology and just like being able to, like, I feel like the current hype kind of actually limits what's possible and what can be designed for various reasons. So when that sort of fades is like when after I was working in the cave, you know, past the 90s, like exuberance on VR, that's when the most productive things were developed. That actually led to Palmer Lucky USC headset collaboration of today.

[00:22:27.861] Danny Canazaro: I think I'm most excited right now for VR as being the way of prototyping future interactions with the digital. I look at AR and some of these other ways that maybe are more natural combinations of digital and everyday life and see that. as probably being where things are heading in the future. But all that technology is pretty clunky right now from a development standpoint. But in VR, you can create the perfect augmented reality interface right now. And so I like it as a space to explore the ways that the physical and digital can work together from a UI and interaction standpoint that we can do now and then take those into the future as augmented reality or like brain computer interfaces or whatever that version of the future becomes, I think you can kind of basically prototype those interactions today in virtual reality. So that's what has me most excited about it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

[00:23:22.436] Samantha Gorman: Thank you.

[00:23:23.017] Kent Bye: Thanks. So that was Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro. They're the co-founders of Tender Claws, and they were talking about their virtual reality experience called Virtual Virtual Reality. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, to me, what Samantha and Danny have created with Tender Claws in both Virtual Virtual Reality, what they were able to show at Sundance with TendAR, and they had another experience at the First Look Market by Kaleidoscope called Scottsdale, which was a sneak peek of their next experiences within VR. I think some of the work that they're doing is some of the most exciting and interesting work that's being done when it comes to pushing what's possible within storytelling within virtual reality, as well as just their experiences. I think they're just really thinking deeply about the process of experiential design. So for anybody who hasn't had a chance to check out virtual virtual reality, definitely try to check it out at some point. It's on the Daydream, so if you don't have access to a Daydream headset, try to find somebody with a phone or get a hold of the headset. Just try to find a way to actually go see it. I think you'll be happy once you've actually been able to go through it. So first of all, they've been able to do quite a lot of really impressive things with the 3Degree of Freedom controller. You're really kind of constrained with what you can do with the 3DOF controller, but their whole mechanism of extending a leash gives you so much more control and agency within an experience. made it such that I didn't really actually think about that I didn't have six degree of freedoms like I was able to do all the Actions that they were asking me to do with the three top which I think is a huge testament for their own Design capabilities for me to not even really even think about it and that in some ways having an interactive story experience on a mobile VR is actually really great because you do have a little bit of a limited agency and it gives you just a more opportunity to kind of sit back and take in the story that they're telling and They also did a really amazing job with blending this process of like open world exploration by subtly guiding you in ways that you don't always necessarily are able to discern. For example, you're able to kind of explore this world, but then when you have an opportunity to put on a headset, they're kind of bounding then how the story is going to unfold from there. So to me, you get this feeling of like you're able to really have a lot more of control and agency in this world, and you're able to actually make choices, even if those choices that they're making are still kind of like subtly on rails, you don't really necessarily know that or not. And I think that that was one of the things that Danny said is that Once you make a choice, when you make those choices, you're actually much more invested and immersed and engaged within the experience, even at the end of the day, if those choices weren't actually meaning anything in terms of changing the outcome of the story. It's just the process of giving those opportunities that can allow you to feel that much more immersed. And that one of the things that Turner Claus does is they find some sort of compelling gameplay mechanic and interaction. In this case, it was a process of putting on VR headsets, as well as, you know, kind of being able to explore around in a world. But they kind of design the entire experience around that. And you get this sort of iterative process where you kind of create a mechanic that feels satisfying within its own right. And then from there, you start to kind of expand out the story. When it comes to actually architecting and designing out this story, I get the sense that they do a lot of diagramming and mind mapping and actually kind of like creating of those spaces so that they go into those spaces. And then once they're immersed within that space, then I think there's this process of kind of listening to where the story wants to go from there. And I think that's like vastly different from a lot of the other types of experiences that you see that kind of feel like they were authored or created in separation from that iterative and symbiotic process with engaging within the environment. So I think, you know, one of their intentions was to create an experience that had a balance between player and author control. And I think that the way that they were able to do that with an experience, I think is pretty masterful. And it's an experience that has great writing and great characters. And it's also the process of you time traveling into the future to be immersed within this world where AI has evolved to a certain point. And then it's, you're kind of looking back to see that in terms of the history of how things kind of evolved and, Developed which you know is a number of different commentaries both on the virtual reality technologies But also like our future relationship with AI and our current relationship with AI and you know where that's going on in the future One of the reasons why I was waiting to put this episode out was that I wanted to really launch the voices of AI podcast and that first episode is out and I've actually both produced the next four episodes and I'll be releasing those here sometime later this week and But the whole concept of artificial intelligence and AI and AI driven interactive narratives, they're not only just talking about AI, they're also including all sorts of really interesting sort of AI generative types of things within their actual experience. So there's different parts of virtual reality that are actually using AI technologies. And I think in the future, some of their other experiences, especially with TendAR is also using a lot of AI. And I expect that Scottsdale, their prototype that they showed, which is kind of like the next iteration of virtual virtual reality in terms of, you know, you're now kind of going inside of some of these AI robots, and you're kind of like behind the scenes looking through the eyes and kind of controlling things, but then you're able to be able to have people kind of visit within your brain, so to speak. It's kind of like your private room. But the whole inspiration of Scottsdale kind of started from the initial failure of AltspaceVR, which, you know, eventually was picked up by Microsoft. But there was this moment in time where you have this social VR experience where it goes under and then, you know, what happens to all those worlds and what happens to all those people. And that's kind of where Scottsdale picks up is picking up the pieces in the aftermath of looking back at some of these virtual spaces that have close their doors and looking at the ephemerality of all that. So the gameplay mechanics of that though are super fascinating and interesting and I'm excited to see where they eventually take that as well. And that one of the things that Samantha said is that there's gonna be much more sophistication with some of the under the hood models for interactive storytelling. And I think that in some ways there's these both aggregation of taking those small decisions that you're making and then maybe that is changing what is actually unfolding within the experience. And then the next episodes on the Voices of AI are going to be really diving into some of those under the hood models in terms of the deep simulation, modeling of social structures, and being able to create both the state of the different social information and cultural information and facts about the world and how that changes over time as people are interfacing and interacting with each other. And also another experience called Elsinore, which is looking at Hamlet and say, what if Ophelia, which is one of the minor characters in Hamlet, had the ability to kind of go around and be a little bit of a Cassandra figure, where she's a time traveler, where she gets information about what's going to happen. And as you, as a character, you're trying to go and change the fate as it's unfolding within this experience. In order to do that, they have to have some pretty sophisticated AI constraints and planning types of algorithms running underneath the hood in order to actually drive that level of interactive narrative where you're actually trying to change the fate of a story that you know is going to happen. So that's some topics and issues that'll be going into some of those deeper under the hood technologies that are developing within the AI space, but that'll be some of the initial deep dives that I'll be doing with on the Voices of AI podcast coming out later this week. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member to the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. And I hope to have a little bit more Q&As, and there's a Discord, and being able to do different VR events as well. I'll be planning out some of those different gatherings and meetings and just be having more events here coming up over the next couple of months. So look for that on the Patreon this week and yeah, just get involved and any support that you can give me will just help me to continue to bring you this type of coverage. So you can become a member today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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