Human Interact’s Alexander Mejia has a hard time describing what exactly Starship Commander: Arcade is. For movie lovers, he says it’s a choose-your-adventure narrative where your the main character of your own movie. For gamers, he calls it a cinematic narrative with some story choices driven by language and voice. In the end, the vast adventure game was scoped down to a 12 to 15-minute sci-fi, arcade experience that uses your voice to interact with a repository of nearly two hours of pre-recorded video clips of Sergeant Sarah Pearson (played by Human Interact VP of Business development Sophie Wright) answering your questions. It’s a very unique combination that explores how you can do worldbuilding for an experience by just using your voice, and it sets the foundations for what it could be like to become a character within a cinematic, immersive experience.
Starship Commander: Arcade came out on September 10, 2020 after 4 years of working on it. From original idea to 2016, to prototype demo shown publicly at GDC 2017, to re-scoping it as a location-based entertainment, arcade experience, and then to it’s eventual release on Steam. Included in the purchae of this experience includes a very well-produced documentary called Passion at All Costs where Mejia documents his whole journey as an indie VR developer. It really captures the early days of VR, and will prove to be a valuable historical document of this time period that tells a larger story through the lens of Human Interact’s struggles and successes over the years.
There’s quite a bit of innovation and experimentation that’s contained in this experience, and I hope that folks will check it out. Despite the fact that AI voice services have been available for quite a while, then there haven’t been a lot of commercial VR releases that really explore and utilize the potential of using natural language processing technology to deepen your sense of social presence and immersion within a world.
So if you’re interested in the future of interactive narrative, then I’d encourage folks to listen to the first half of our podcast if you haven’t already decided to try out Starship Commander: Arcade. Go have the actual experience, check out the Passion at All Costs documentary, and then come back and listen to the last half of this podcast to get the full story. We are moving into a world where we become protagonists in our own interactive & immersive experiences, and there’s a lot of key insights that Mejia and Wright have figured out here.
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