#969: Retrospective of “The Devouring” Epic Horror Adventure, New Social Gameplay in VRChat, & Prefabs Community Tools

The Devouring is an epic, 5-6 hour horror adventure game within VRChat that launched on August 14, 2020. It quickly went viral in the VRChat community because it was a unique, shared experience that had a vast world to explore, an evocative soundtrack, enemies that catalyzed unique reactions, a recursive map that allowed groups to split up and reconvene, and other technological innovations like late joiner capability that facilitated new social dynamics and group gameplay. Overall, it was a unique bonding experience as users had to commit to the full 5-6 hours of the experience as there was no way to save progress, and it ended up being a very satisfying and memorable journey.

The Devouring caught the attention of Raindance curator Mária Rakušanová, who created an a new category of Best Immersive World so that VRChat worlds like this could compete in the Raindance Immersive Festival. I was invited to be a juror, and after going through the 5-hour experience, the jury awarded The Devouring with Best Immersive World, Best Immersive Game, and runner-up for Best Multiplayer Game. We were all impressed with the novel social dynamics, game play innovations, and level of polish and interaction that went beyond anything else we had seen from a VRChat world.

4poniesThe Devouring started off as a much smaller project for Spookality Halloween worldbuilding contest in 2019, but the 4 Poneys Team blew through the initial deadline and the project soon expanded in size and scope over the course of an epic, 10-month production timeline. This volunteer team includes CyanLaser, Legends, Lakuza, and Jen Davis-Wilson (aka Fionna) who all met each other from the VRChat Prefabs community of worldbuilders. It started on the VRChat Discord, but it was spun off into it’s own Discord channel in order to share knowledge, keep track of free worldbuilding assets, and explore the newest worlds through the community meetup.

After watching CyanLaser’s Devouring Tech Overview at the Prefabs TLX conference on December 5th, then I reached out to The Devouring team to do a full retrospective of their creative journey and launch of one of the most impressive and successful VRChat immersive experiences yet. It’s not only an epic recap of this project, but also a window into the mission-driven, Prefabs worldbuilding community that’s pushing the edges of innovation and knowledge sharing within VRChat.


Here’s the trailer for The Devouring:

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

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 this year in VRChat, there is a world called The Devouring that was made by a team called The Four Ponies. And it was a really epic five to seven hour horror experience within VRChat. So lots of really interesting innovations when it comes to social gameplay and just a real sophistication when it comes to world design, world building and music integration and all these emergent social dynamics, really quite an innovative piece. And it's actually through experiences like The Devouring and other worlds that have been created within VRChat that Maria from Raindance created a whole new category of the immersive worlds in order to explore these experiences that were happening across these different platforms. And so she asked me to be a juror on the immersive worlds And so I had a chance to see all these different experiences, and I was really quite blown away with the devouring. It was one of those things that felt like being initiated into a whole experience, and I wanted to talk to the creators of this experience, Fiona, Lacusa, Legends, and Cyan Laser. They were also a part of this Prefabs community within VRChat, involved with creating a lot of different tools and sharing resources and sharing knowledge. trying to create a support group for a lot of these creators that were within VRChat wanting to actually make and create worlds. And they're all just helping each other out and just providing a lot of resources to each other. And so after attending the Prefabs TLX conference and seeing Sian Laser talk about some of the coding side, I wanted to get the whole team together because there's lots of different aspects of world building and the social dynamics and the culture of VRChat and what's it mean to be able to have an epic adventure within that context. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Fiona, Lacuzza, Legends, and Cyan Laser happened on Saturday, December 12th, 2012. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:57.686] Lakuza: Hi, I'm Luke. I build worlds in VR chat with a preference for like adventure outside of VR chat. I'm an animator that works for a VR company, building simulations for train companies, uh, police, so they can do like training simulations. I work as an animator there. Although I only started working about a year after starting VR chat. So I think VR chat was kind of the catalyst for getting me into game development stuff. Yeah, that's pretty much me.

[00:02:27.158] Jen Davis-Wilson: I guess I'll go next. I'm Fiona in VRChat, Jen in real life. So along with these guys, I'm also a part of the Prefabs community. I call myself the social director. So I organize a lot of the events and things in that community. I'm also a world creator. I work a lot with Cyan Laser. I tend to focus on the tech art side. So I do a lot of the modeling, and I'm going to say the low-level logic that's not worthy of Cyan's time. In real life, I'm a mechanical engineer and product designer. So I spent the majority of my career at IDEO, which those of you in the business world know what that is. And currently, I actually do work at Facebook in the AR hardware division. And I started working there a year or so after getting into VR because of VR, hoping to sort of like get in where stuff was happening. I do not speak for Facebook at all. I should preface that. That's me.

[00:03:23.520] Legends: All right, I guess I'll go next. So I'm Legends. I'm a 3D environmental artist. I started making Railton VRChat and I got myself into Blender. It's become my career now. I'm also a self-taught composer and I create many genres and themes. And yeah, that's me.

[00:03:42.423] CyanLaser: I'm Cyan Laser. I'm a software engineer who was very enthusiastic for VR, but took a long time to find a creative outlet where I could express that enthusiasm. Eventually I found VRChat and decided to make content for them, which was just creating worlds. As Fiona had mentioned, we often work together where she does tech art side and I tend to do like the programming and logic side. after The Devouring, having been focusing specifically on worlds, but more towards creating tools for people to help build their worlds.

[00:04:15.086] Kent Bye: Nice. Well, so this whole team, the Four Ponies team built The Devouring, which came onto my radar from Maria from Raindance. She asked me to come be a juror on the immersive worlds, as well as the best multiplayer experience. And so I had a chance to actually play through it what ended up being five hour experience for myself and Mike Salmon and Joe Hunting. And it was a really amazing experience. Probably one of the highlights of this year, just in terms of the, I guess, differences in innovations and social gameplay and the whole immersive world building. And I don't know, it was unlike any other experience I've had before. And so as I look back to see how this came about, I see that obviously the prefabs community was a big part of that. And also that you've been working on this for a long time, at least 10 months or longer. And then you have the launch on August 14th, 2020, and it's been a huge hit in the VRChat community. So maybe you could take us back to the beginning for how this project came about and where it all began.

[00:05:15.333] Lakuza: So should we talk about how we first met, I guess? Yeah. So I guess in terms of how we met, it would have been 2018, I think. Yeah, January 2018. Yeah. And it first started off with me and Fiona. We were part of a generation of WorldCats that just joined VRChat at the time. And we were very active on the Discord for VRChat. There was a single world development channel. And we essentially just lived on that channel. used it as a social hub as well. And then within the next sort of month or two, Legends and Sionaze joined in. And then, yeah, we just, I guess it's because we were like learning Unity and VRChat stuff together that we kind of began to like bond, I guess, over it. And there were a lot of other people that were in a similar position as well. And because we used that one world development channel as a social gathering, we decided to make prefabs community. And that's how that came about with the idea to kind of like make these assets for new world creators. So like, if there's something complex, someone else shouldn't have to go through the hassle of making those. So that's how that came about. But the four of us, we just became really great friends. So we had our own little mini private server where we could just talk about stuff. And then Fiona and Sion are always like collaborating, whereas me and Legends were often doing our own solo projects. And last year for the Spookcality contest in VRChat, which is basically a Halloween world creation contest, we kind of came up with the idea to like, let's all team up for the first time and make this small horror world. We had about a month or a month and a half. And then, yeah, it kind of exploded into a 10 month project from there.

[00:06:53.816] Jen Davis-Wilson: The original concept was very different. It was very silly, almost a joke, really, which is, you know, like, I think one concept was a spooky mansion that you walk around, nothing actually happens, just Cyan would narrate it in a very creepy, intense voice. And that idea was just gone at some point. Like, I'm not even sure, like, how we got to where we ended up after that. But the ambitions got a lot further than the original concept, for sure.

[00:07:20.150] Lakuza: Yeah.

[00:07:22.531] Kent Bye: Yeah. What about your perspective, Cyan, Laser and Legends as you take us back to what your orientation was as you were entering into this project.

[00:07:29.360] CyanLaser: So I guess being the only programmer, I kind of assumed I'd be doing a lot of work on the project and then. where there's a lot of ideas that are just being thrown around and it was getting to the point where it's like, well, we should got to start on something. I remember, I think the Kooza had given us a couple of like directions to work with, just ideas to like start building. So I started working on those and thinking, oh, these are going to take some time. I can't actually, you know, help with the direction of what the world would be. I think Legends was also working on, I guess, modeling some things in Fiona too. And so we kind of asked the Kooza, it's like, hey, can you just like come up with the overall design for what this world will be as we just keep working on it? And at that point, all of the original ideas of our parody world were like thrown out the window and the Kuzu like came up with an amazing story and universe for this entire project.

[00:08:14.560] Lakuza: I think to add to that really quick, because Sian's being too kind there, I asked if I could be in charge of planning because I wanted the least amount of work on this project because I had my own will to do. And I was like, this is going to distract me too much from my actual project. I was like, can I just do the planning? Like secretly I was hoping I'd do the least amount of work. And yeah, that concept went out the window and I ended up working on this. It was pretty much working on this every day for the next 10 months. Yeah.

[00:08:42.275] Legends: Yeah, so we were in the horror world, and I remember that we were like talking about, hey, what if we made our own horror world? And, you know, we came up with the idea of sighting laser narrating. And it just kind of like, like, we had a plan, we started off with a plan, and it kind of drenched off into like, this big giant mansion and you know we were just kind of going to be like it wasn't going to be really spooky it was just going to be like fun and kind of like not really serious you know what I mean and it just kind of got like we kept thinking of ideas and then just pretty much every month was like we're going to be done this month we're going to be done this month we're going to be done this month it's just like it just kept happening all the way until like 2020 it's like you know here it is 10 months later we're still working on this so Yeah.

[00:09:24.803] CyanLaser: I think you jumped a little steps there of like, it sounded like you kind of went to the idea of like, we were making the parody and then it eventually became this. I think everything was decided on it being like not a parody, like within the first month.

[00:09:37.810] Legends: Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't exactly a parody, but it was more like, it wasn't as grand as it's turned out now, but it's definitely like much more smaller in scale. I never expected this size.

[00:09:48.624] CyanLaser: Yeah. We honestly expected like most of the work that we had planned, or I guess came up design wise, we actually expected to be able to do in October. And as October finished, or really the first deadline, I think was the 21st of October, 2019. We're like, we cannot make this deadline. And so it's like, okay, we're doing the 31st. The 31st came. It's like, we clearly cannot make this. And so this is where legends was coming in with the every month. It felt like it was still like a one month left of the project. And that went on for 10 months. And it's like, yeah, yeah. It became a huge project.

[00:10:17.885] Lakuza: Yeah, I think the moment we decided that we were going to completely skip the Spookality contest that year, that's when the scope, we kind of felt like, okay, we can go all out with this now and do an actual bigger world. I think that's when it really shifted in that direction. Yeah. So the parody version was literally gone the moment we decided to skip the Halloween contest. Yeah.

[00:10:38.456] Jen Davis-Wilson: The overall tone, I think, of the project. So I lean very heavily into whimsical and ridiculous when it comes to world creation. And Saiyan, I think, also, when we make things together, they tend to be on the bright and happy side. Lakuza is very much the epic side. And Legends does a little bit of both. But when Lacuzza took the direction of the project, he's also probably the most gamer one of us. So he's played a lot of worlds that inspired him in terms of like what the overall design and gameplay was going to be. So he kind of like drove the tone of it. I do not play horror in general, certainly not single player horror, never. So mostly I was like, I'm not modeling gore. And any monsters that we have should be very vague. We had a lot of VR worlds where the monster is revealed, and it's so obviously a 3D model that it takes you away. So that was one of the other early things that we decided was like, Shroud things in darkness, or you only see like little bits of it. And so I think that was some of the early design decisions that we made. And then kind of it got defined fairly early as we went along. I think when look who's laid out the levels, which I think was in the first month or two that we had completely laid out the levels.

[00:11:50.743] Lakuza: Yeah.

[00:11:52.123] Kent Bye: I was going to ask about the music. Cause I think a big part of the devouring experience is the soundtrack is so evocative created by legends that I think it really has like a character that really is transportive in a deep way. And so I'm just curious to hear about that interplay between the sound design and the music. And at what point did that start to come in? If that was like an iterative process or if you came in at the end or how soon did you start to be working with these soundscapes?

[00:12:19.210] Legends: Yeah, so I never created horror music before. I never done a soundtrack before. So this was an entire new experience for me. when we started the project, I was like, hey, I do music. I could do this. I can make a soundtrack for this, you know, and it's like, let's tackle it. Let's try it out. So, you know, I did a lot of studying of like different horror genres and how they do the music and the feel and the atmosphere and the mood, because horror music in general has a lot of emotion in it. And I feel like it's really important, especially in horror games. So I really wanted to convey a lot of emotion in the music that, you know, like you're in this mansion and you're you're not safe. Except for one room, there's one room where you feel safe. And there's one game series that does this really well. It's called Resident Evil. I'm sure you've probably heard of it. they really paint a picture with the music like when you're in this room it's really safe it feels like you're safe it's very comforting and I wanted to take that and put that in our map so I really studied that and the feels that comes with the emotion that's in it and I was able to put it in my own soundtrack and it's like it really added to the atmosphere but I'm getting back to like how this all started I didn't expect to make a soundtrack for this. It just was like an idea that kind of popped up, like, hey, I want to do this. I think I can. And I was really nervous, but it came out great. Honestly, I got a lot of feedback from it. I wasn't expecting for people to really pay attention to it, but I'm really happy that a lot of people did notice the music, the ambience, and they really did enjoy it. So definitely was surprised by that.

[00:13:58.287] Kent Bye: And the other part that I think is really interesting about how this project came about was this whole Prefabs community, which I had a chance to attend the Prefabs TLX conference that happened like a week ago. just to see the amount of people that are, like the way that I describe it is that Unity is like a program that already has a lot of technical debt. VRChap's built on top of this, that already has its own sort of issues of technical debt. And then on top of that, you have the Udon scripting language, which is another layer. It's like a layer on top of a layer on top of another layer of abstraction. And that, I honestly think it's a miracle that anybody's done anything on that. And that there seems to be a number of people from that Prefabs community that have created different levels of frameworks like you do on Sharp. And I know that Cyan Laser, you created your own testing framework and there's a number of different key components that seem to come together that even allowed a project of this scope to even exist. And so I'm just curious to hear a little bit more about that Prefabs community after you sort of broke off from the VR chat discord, and then you're doing these world hops and you're exploring the worlds. And then you're at the same time wanting to not only just create the worlds, but want to have what I imagine would be a deeper level of interaction and interactivity in those worlds. In order to do that, they needed to have The Udon or I guess the SDK 2 is what you ended up using on this project. So maybe the previous iteration of their scripting language. So maybe just talk about that general context of the prefabs community and how that was able to play into how the devouring was able to unfold.

[00:15:23.860] Lakuza: So I think I can talk a little bit, the prefab side of it. Yeah. It was just like, it was about maybe six, seven of us that were active in the world on the VHF Discord. And we were just using that as a casual chat. So we made this separate server to act as a social hub, but also to build these sort of free prefab systems, like some simple stuff, even like a door that opens or like a mirror button. And we'd start forming a database of these. So that was the early goal of it. And then. We started to keep an eye on new and old roleplayers that are active on the Discord that we see that are helping other people. And then we'd then invite them in. And then the same was extended towards like, there's an event that was separate from Prefabs called the Community Meetup. And it's where world creators come in and they show their worlds off. So that was already a thing separately from Prefabs, but we started using that as a way to bring people in. So over the course of the past two, three years, there's a lot of systems that have been added to the database and it's helped quite a lot of people in the community, which is great.

[00:16:22.636] Jen Davis-Wilson: I would like to point out, so prefabs on the Discord, we actually have written down what our official mission is. And that's pretty much not changed. Over time, it is, I think, evolving into more of a professional organization, even. So the mission is basically creating and collecting public prefabs for the database. The database is literally just a Google spreadsheet that started off as one page and is now, I think we have five or six sub tabs. And then those are anywhere from a single model to an entire software system, to a tutorial, like anything that would help people. Contributing to overall knowledge sharing. So, we had a wiki at one point. VRChat when we first started had no documentation or the documentation it had was old and very misleading. So, trying to help on the documentation side. being active and helpful in the VRChat official Discord, being part of collaboration projects, making tutorials, stream events, being awesome, and posting to the canny. And so the canny is the way that VRChat learns about bugs and addresses them. It's their website where they collect that stuff. And all of this is to make VRChat better. The dev team really does rely on our community to reproduce bugs and create examples and test worlds for them, feed info back to them in ways that your average user just experiencing the content doesn't even know how. So all of those are part of our mission, which is basically building a community around knowledge sharing and creating content and helping others create content. So that's what Prefabs is about. Now, the four of us making the devouring, and how did that influence that? Well, I think as that community grows and people get to know each other and their skill sets, the collaboration has really increased. The first year, almost everyone was pretty much one-off working on their own things. This past year, we have seen more collaboration between the existing members than we have before, and there is so much more planned for the next year. It is more common now, I would say, for people to have collaboration projects. than single projects in some ways. So it leads to a lot of the like old time community members.

[00:18:21.642] Kent Bye: Yeah. It's really quite impressive to see the scale of this project, you know, you four coming together and yeah. So I'm just curious if you can maybe speak to a little bit of your different either frameworks. I know that you gave a talk at the Prefabs TLX where I find it quite fascinating that you have like a background in competitive coding, which is like, I don't know, it seems like a very like, hardcore thing to do to just like go in and try to make stuff. So you have quite a coding pedigree, I'd say. As you were describing everything you had to do and all the different workarounds you had to do, working with a system that's an abstraction on top of an abstraction on top of another abstraction, you're having to try to make all of this work. So I'm just curious to hear a little bit your perspective as a coder, as you're coming in and trying to Assess the situation, make it a little bit better for not only yourself, but the entire community. And yeah, just sort of your general strategy as what was really motivating you to sort of dive into this.

[00:19:14.203] CyanLaser: I think the answer to that question kind of goes with similar to how I ended up joining Prefabs. So it's like in the very beginning when I started VRChat, I wasn't very like social, I guess. But at some point I decided I'm going to like start talking to other creators to learn from them. So me being a programmer, I think is one of the things that's different than VRChat because most people are just hobbyists or they're more artist background. So in that beginning, I was looking for how to do things. There was like no resources. And so at some point I realized like, okay, there are no resources. I don't want people to go through the struggle of just figuring out what to do. So I'm going to make my own tutorials so that people don't have to go through that same process. When I started doing that, I guess people noticed the tutorials as well as I got introduced to Prefabs as well as the community meetup. And that's where I started getting to know the other like founding members there. So I was not actually a founder of Prefabs. I was brought in like two months later. But while going through all that, I was just kind of like going through VR chats, as you said, different layers of abstraction there, just kind of like what can possibly be done and finding where the limits are. And so, as Jen said, at one point we had a wiki and so like I was trying to like help spread the knowledge of being like, hey, if you do this weird thing, it causes this other weird thing, which you can abuse it to do this other thing. And so I would say my first two years of messing with VRChat was just researching to find what you could and could not do. And so people would ask questions like, can you do this? And it's like, I don't know. Let's find out. And so from that, I guess going into the devouring, as I said during my TLX talk, VRChat's old SDK had no real way of testing it inside Unity. Everything was like you had to make a build and then go play it in VRChat. If something broke, good luck figuring it out. I saw this as an opportunity of being like, this is a bad experience. Let's improve that. I need rapid iteration time as an actual programmer. And so I looked through what their SDK provided and saw a few, I guess, links that made it so that I could just add in my own behavior into it. And I just expanded it enough to completely implement, I guess, their old SDK. I think going over the other ideas of just kind of their old SDK was not exactly that powerful, but it allowed networking situations. And thankfully, I guess I can say thankfully, VRChat had at one point whitelisted their Unity's standard asset scripts. These were never meant to go in official games, but because they were whitelisted, it meant we could use them and, in my opinion, abuse them. All a lot of stuff that we were doing in the devouring is really just being like, what are these standard asset scripts? And like, how can we make it do things that were never meant to be? A really dumb example is like something called like protect camera wall from clipping, which is just a script that was meant to make a camera for a third person game, not hit a wall. So you see behind geometry, but we just use that for how do you recast to any location and not go through walls.

[00:22:09.160] Jen Davis-Wilson: I'll point out that science is very valuable in that someone like myself, I want to learn the tools so I can use the tool. Science learns the tools to build other tools. So he will see like, okay, this trigger can do this. And rather than just figuring out, okay, here's how you use it in the way that was intended and how you make it not break. he will think three steps ahead to be like, OK, what are all the implications of the edge cases that this enables so that I can do very strange things that no one thought was possible? The climbing system, I think, is one example of that. So, Zion, if you'd like to talk about your climbing system and the genesis of that, I think that's a little tangent that is very interesting in terms of what we went through to add functionality to the VRChat.

[00:22:53.916] CyanLaser: So a long time ago, this is kind of a multi-part story. I guess six months after I'd started VRChat, I'd already created an interesting world, but then VRChat gave me access to their pre-alpha of their SDK 3 system. And so everybody was super excited for it. It was pre-alpha though, so nobody could know it was existing. And so from that, I thought, okay, I'm going to build something that we couldn't do before in SDK 2, and that ended up being climbing. This was a really weird experiment, but nothing came from that back then because that version didn't get released. I think a year and a half later, one person in our Prefabs community said like, hey, I discovered this weird mechanic. If you do this, it was called seamless teleporting. It allowed you to walk through an area and not know you were teleported. I saw that and thought, can I do this every frame? If I can, that means I know where the player's position is, which then means I can build off that and pretty much build the climbing system I did in their actual scripting system into the weird Unity behaviors that were allowed. From that, I built a climbing system, spent a month polishing, I guess, a UI for it, and then distributed it out to our Prefabs community. We then had a game jam for like one week, and then we just had, I think it was 18 climbing worlds. And I guess 2019 is like the year of climbing for BRChat.

[00:24:15.588] Jen Davis-Wilson: That's right. Anyone who was around for that time was like so sick of using their arms. That I think was one of the first biggest, most successful Prefabs game jam slash collaboration events was the climbing jam. It was really well subscribed and people made some really amazing content for that.

[00:24:31.044] Lakuza: Definitely.

[00:24:32.600] Kent Bye: I'd say one of the other striking characteristics of the Prefabs community is the gathering to be able to do the world hopping and exploration. Cause I think there is a key part of seeing what other people have created, seeing what's possible, but also getting inspired or upset or angry to be able to like, no, no, no, you should not be doing this. You should be doing this. And I think seeing what is out there, you know, the Bowering is anywhere from you say it's a five hour, it took us five hours, but Joe hunting had figured out a lot of the stuff on his own and saved us maybe an hour or two off of the, our own experience. That would have been probably seven or eight hours if we hadn't had him there. But you have this big, long adventure experience, which is unlike anything else that I've seen on the platform. And so I guess maybe talk about that initial inspiration as to what was already there. Cause you're really creating something that hadn't necessarily existed yet, or if it had, you were doing some modulations on it. So what were some of the inspirations for either VR chat worlds or other games, or if you just wanted to push the limits of pioneering into something that had never really been done before?

[00:25:32.446] Lakuza: So I think in terms of inspirations, we didn't really take direct inspiration from other VRChat worlds. If we did, it was more of what not to do. So we set like rules.

[00:25:44.410] Jen Davis-Wilson: When you see something done badly and you want to do it better, the like motivation from spite.

[00:25:51.028] Lakuza: Yeah, so a lot of the rules that we set, like we mentioned earlier, is stuff like no gore and stuff. But the big one for us was also not having image-based jumpscares. So before we started Devouring, when you say a horror world in VRChat, people usually think you got in the corridor and a still 2D image will flash in front of your face, maybe some screen shake, and then a really loud, obnoxious sound that blows your ears out. That was basically horror in VRChat. I know at least me, I wasn't a fan of it and really wanted to push for a horror world that didn't rely on those kind of jump scares. So we wanted to focus on like ambience and kind of like the situations where you start building up the fear in your own head, like nothing necessarily happens there, but it's just that anticipation and how we deal with the stress and tension of things. So like early on, I always wanted this to be a stressful horror, which I think we Hopefully nailed. And if we do have jump scares, it'll always be kind of directly in the world and there'll be like foreshadowing. It won't be kind of like a sudden, like you turn, you open up in the wrong door and then something like a Google image screams in your face or something. So that was probably the direct inspiration we took from other VR chat. We'll just avoid doing those kinds of things. And in general, Devouring was really our attempt at wanting to show the community that you can actually do a horror world like this and totally inspire more worlds like this. We didn't know if people would actually like this. So that was one of the biggest fears we had. We were quite nervous about it, is that we're doing something very different and people might not be receptive to the idea of a horror world. Obviously, they proved our fears wrong, which is great. And then in terms of other games, we definitely took inspiration from games. So we looked into, like, games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Amnesia was clearly a big inspiration because we really wanted to do our own interpretation of the water ghost from that section. So that was probably the biggest inspiration of all is just taking that water ghost element and seeing if we could replicate that in VRChat. It was something that Cyan Laser literally did like so quick. I think it was the first tech demo that he had made for us to test out. And we were just completely blown about the possibilities with this. So yeah, it's like with science magic, we were able to get that in pretty quick. And then obviously with the music as well, which Legends can go into detail with, it's like, yeah, so many games were an inspiration for that and how they make you feel.

[00:28:08.274] CyanLaser: I think there was one other like inspiration in this of looking at other VRChat worlds, there was not very much interactivity. I guess, honestly, there's nothing that would be considered a real game. And so while we were not actually making Devouring to be like the most indie game style, we obviously originally intended to be one month, so it wasn't expected to be big. But I guess during the development of it, I got to a point of being like, let's make this one of the more polished things that we can. And so we actually made some design decisions that was just kind of like, if it could be perceived as jank because everything in VRChat is considered broken or janky, like we tried to like move away from that. I know there was like one thing in the intro that we had to like move away because like it wouldn't make sense otherwise. But it was just trying to like, how do you polish this within the limitations of what we were given? And so trying to go all out on polish there.

[00:28:59.915] Jen Davis-Wilson: I think The Devouring hit us at a particular time in our own journeys. Pretty much all of us have been doing this since early 2018. I think Legends had been around even longer than that. And we'd all been amateur hobbyists. And VRChat is still a very user-generated content place. You know, lots of people who are just diving into 3D asset stuff for the first time. So it's very much a space of amateurs and hobbyists. After we'd been doing it for a while, we felt like we were hitting the top of the hobbyist area. You know, it's sort of like you feel like, oh yeah, we know a lot. And then you start to see the level above. So you start to like follow actual indie game devs on Twitter and see what they're doing. And you realize, oh shoot, like our standards are way too low. What is the next level of standards? And so for example, Legends maybe can talk about his modeling journey. So he was the master pro builder. ProBuilder is a asset that Unity provides that is meant for white boxing, really. You can do some basic models in it. And he really squeezed every bit out of that tool and made some amazing worlds. He made the original parts of the Devouring in ProBuilder. And then over the course of the project, he graduated to Blender. So I don't know, Legends, if you want to talk a little bit about your experience there.

[00:30:19.365] Legends: Yeah, ProBuilder is a Unity asset. It's basically for whiteboxing, but I took that and I took it way further than it actually is able to do. And actually, I've been using it for like a year, I think already, before I restarted the devouring. Yeah, it's about a year. And it's like, I wanted to improve. And so I wanted to learn Blender, but I was really intimidated by Blender because of the UI interface and like, just all the functionalities that you can do. And it's just like a lot to learn about Blender. So I slowly got into it and I'm glad I did because I've improved so much. And it's like, now when I look back at the Devar and it's like, wow, like I did that with ProBuilder, you know, it's just so funny to look back and see your growth. It just gives you so much confidence and that you can become better at what you do. And this is one of those things that you just see and you're just like, wow, like I was there and now I'm here kind of thing, you know.

[00:31:13.315] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think one of the other big aspects of The Devouring is that it is in VRChat and it's a social game and you have progress that you're going through, but people can be like joiners and then still benefit from those global variables. A lot of times when you go into these VRChat worlds, there's all these like local solipsistic things that you can only see and you can switch if it's night or day, but it's only switches for you. But there are global variables, but this is a, I think a unique case where you're able to allow people to kind of drop in and join in, which I think is probably pretty unique in terms of a mechanic that started to catalyze some unique or different social behaviors, because there is like an existing social graph and behaviors that happen in VR chat. And this is a social game that's pretty long that actually becomes much more enjoyable when you're doing it with other people. I'm just curious if you could talk a bit about that aspect of here you are on VR chat. You want to create an experience that actually takes advantage of those social dimensions. And what are the considerations for the game design? My experience of it, at least, was that there was parts of it that was like so hard that it was like, I was glad to have someone on my team that could actually finish some of the parts so that if it was just me, I think I told the No Pristinian podcast, I probably would have raged quit at some point just because like, all right, I'm done. I'm not going to like sort of do this, but there was other people on my team that had already done it and they were good enough to be able to do that. was a level of skill that you needed, but there was different social dynamics like that, that I think were unique or different where it was unlike any other social multiplayer game that I've played before. So just curious to hear a little bit more about designing a game for VRChat and all the different considerations you had to do and how you approach that type of game design.

[00:32:52.529] Lakuza: So I think in terms of design, because I'll let Sion handle that because that's completely his work with making that possible. But it did come in the middle of development, I think maybe around December, January, where we kind of realized that maybe we could push this. But before that, just design the world in general. Yeah and a lot of the multiplayer like social features we didn't really anticipate at all. They absolutely surprised us like watching people play these on streams and how they were handling it. So in my head I always had the idea of like you know everyone goes together and then if someone does die off they can maybe wait in spawn. You have to like make a decision do you go back for your friend or do you go forwards. It's that kind of dynamic of like almost like a the movies in survival horror where someone has to just leave their friend behind and continue running. So I did have those kind of things in mind and I was kind of interested in how that would work. But honestly, the player base really was amazing with what they did. Like I saw some people that were like almost role playing the Scooby-Doo gang and they were splitting off intentionally. to tackle different parts of the manor, which I thought was amazing. And then they would come back, ring the bell, and then share the stories together. Like, one team would be like, these mannequins are moving, oh my god, it's so scary. Another team would be like, we were in water hell, essentially. It was just great to kind of see these kind of people talking. And yeah, we did get a lot of people who couldn't handle, for example, the skill cap in the basement, and they would just wait. in the guest room and then wait for their friends to come back and then you know they can carry on. So a lot of these things honestly blew me away with just kind of made me realize how important social players in VR and higher end what it can do. And we did see this with Phasmophobia as well of how amazing that is as a multiplayer experience. So I do think like with Devouring, multiplayer is absolutely the best way to go, like way better than it would be solo, in my opinion. Just the kind of dynamic storylines that emerge, that are completely the player's own story. It's great. And I think it adds a lot of replayability as well. But yeah, I'll pass it on to Cyan for like the crazy amount of work done on making late-join sync possible. That was, that's probably, in my opinion, that's probably the biggest feature of Devouring that we can kind of like boast about is that

[00:34:57.518] CyanLaser: I think Lacuze is not taking enough credit on this one because part of the design that we had early on was basing it off, as you call it, Dark Souls, whereas more of as you go on, you unlock shortcuts to decrease the size of the map. And that alone, I think, helped with multiplayer because it's like, It also makes it such that when you spread out, it's easy to quickly find other players again. But another piece that we haven't really mentioned yet is like there's other game worlds in VRChat, ignoring the idea of sync, which is just kind of when you go through them, they're kind of very long and linear and they never repeat locations. And so because of this, if you were to have somebody join in late, you would have to like go through the entire long sequence again. but because of our devourings layout, it was very closed and close together. So when you join in, like you're at the same location as if you died. So it's like, there's no difference to like, once that was part of the plan, it's like making late joiners think it was just kind of, I'm not going to say it's simple, but it just kind of makes sense to do it that way. Cause like everything else is like already there. You just got to know which things were on or off. Okay. I'm oversimplifying that description, but yeah.

[00:36:02.861] Jen Davis-Wilson: I think also building for an established platform that we're very familiar with. We took a lot of things for granted, all the locomotion and the UI and all that thing. We assumed that players already knew, so we didn't put any tutorials in. Someone like you, Kent, who may not have been as VRChat native, would probably have a lot harder time with some of the locomotion stuff. And one of the things we did do is we brought in some external play testers that were not used to playing in VRChat just to see what they did, because VRChat players act one way, especially our friends who are world builders and understand the tech will act another way, then people who have never been in VRChat at all actually surprised us, I think, with a lot of their behavior. But we were building for VRChat players and the VRChat culture. So we had a lot of prior knowledge about how people act. We knew that we don't have the ability to save and VRChat is unreliable and you crash. And can you imagine going through the devouring for three hours, losing your internet or VRChat servers go down and then you come back and you have to redo it? Like, that'd be a terrible experience. So as long as there is someone still in the map. you could come back and all your progress would be there for you and that was built on our own experience in VRChat and knowing what the limitations were I think as well.

[00:37:19.258] Legends: I wanted to add in that another aspect that I really love that I saw in the community playing The Devouring was The fact that the Lacuza and the shortcuts that he designed for the map and like the layout, it was really interesting to watch the players find the shortcut after going through like a harrowing journey of mannequins and darkness and stuff. And then they find this shortcut and there's like a shortcut noise and you're like, oh, finally. And it's just fun to watch that and feel that with the player. and is actually tied in well with the immersion of the map, like of the world, because it felt like everything was connected, like everything was seamless, you know, there was like the only teleport in the game was when you die, it teleports you back to the guest room, but it really played well with the immersion, and it could really immerse the players, and they're like, oh I think there's a shortcut, oh no this door is locked, and then you find another shortcut, and it's like, oh hey, this is that one room, this is the ballroom, you know, it's just really cool to see that. So that's another aspect that I really enjoyed.

[00:38:18.650] Lakuza: Yeah, keeping it all physically connected was something I really, really pushed for really early on. Not something I'd advise every project because we did come into a lot of difficulties because of it. but it's something I'm definitely proud of that the entire manor is physically connected and it just helps with making a mental map of it. Like one of the things I wanted to see people do was draw their own maps whenever they get to the guest room. I thought that idea would be really cool, like they're making like a note, okay this corridor connects to this one and Just kind of like very old school kind of like gameplay maybe. So yeah, just not like doing any kind of cookie crumb trails or anything. You're just kind of thrown in. So I think that definitely helped with the social aspect as well. Like people working together to kind of figure things out. And yeah, it was fun to watch.

[00:39:00.972] Kent Bye: Yeah, I mean, it was a long experience and there was a lot of different puzzles and having to unlock things. And there was certain points where it felt like adversity or like a thrashing where like, I'm glad that I was with other people because if I was just by myself, I wouldn't have wanted to play it as much. And it reminded me of a quote that I heard from Athena Deimos, who helped to create the Burning Man VR of the Black Rock City VR Burning Man with an alt space. And what she said is that like Burning Man It's all about a bunch of people coming together in really harsh conditions. And it's in those harsh conditions that adversity, that actually bonds people together. And I felt like it made me think of The Devouring where as much of I was annoyed at different points of like the sort of repetitive nature of it or how long it took. that if it was by myself, I would have just been upset. But because it was a shared adversity, it was actually this very unique bonding experience with the other people I was with. It was almost like getting initiated into this devouring, like going through that experience was like, now I feel like I've had a rite of passage that I've gone through that. And so I don't know if you find that a similar experience with people that because it was this adversity with other people, if they felt like it was like this unique social bonding experience that they had with other people.

[00:40:11.347] Lakuza: Oh, absolutely. I've got a server for the Devouring that people can come and talk, ask for help, and post their end screenshots. And I've had a couple of people say that they've made friends because of Devouring, which that's probably the best compliment whenever someone says that about our world. Because obviously with VRChat, you can have public instances that people can just randomly join in. And this is where the late join sync really helps, because someone randomly can come in and help you. And through that, like you said, you'll end up bonding. So people have made long-term friends now because of this, where they're still in touch with these people that they randomly met on this journey. So I just think it's amazing. It's probably one of the best things about social VR, just because you have that kind of, like, it's easy to get attached because of just the way tracking and everything works. You actually, like, you're physically there almost. So, yeah, obviously, with something divine, which is kind of like, torture in a way by the end of it. And you come out and you've kind of been on this crazy adventure together for maybe three hours, maybe seven hours. We've had people that have spent, I think there's one group that spent, I think two days. So they had to leave VRChat running two nights. and they'd come back to it and continue. So that meant that they never left that world for those three. So they were stuck. Whenever they came back on the PC, they had to continue the devouring. We've had people that have slept in VR with the headset on in the guest room. I don't know how they managed that with that rocking chair, but they did. So just the thought of someone waking up in that bed and then continuing on the journey. It's, yeah, it's, it's really mind blowing. And I've really enjoyed seeing the stories that people have been posting about making friends and like the experience that they went through. For some reason, people have gone on like date nights to the library. So they've taken like their partner to go through it and post about that. So, okay. If that, yeah, if that's what makes it work, that's great.

[00:41:49.178] Jen Davis-Wilson: Then actually, I thought, when we were making it, we were assuming that you would go in with a friend group you already had, because that's how we experience VRChat. The thing that was very surprising to me is that people who would just make a public instance and sit there and wait for strangers, and then people who have done the devouring before like to go and join public instances to help people. And those two, I guess I didn't really think of those use cases when we were making the game. And like Lucas was saying, people who have actually like bonded with strangers over it. I think that's one of the best experiences you can possibly have, I think. It's kind of neat.

[00:42:29.640] Kent Bye: What about you, Cyan Laser or Legends VR, any sort of observations of the different types of social dynamics that you saw emerge from The Devouring?

[00:42:36.824] CyanLaser: Most of them already covered it, of just saying like, during development, we never actually expected people to make good friends through this, because as Fiona was just saying there, we expect people to go in a group together. But I also heard people on Twitter saying the same thing that the Kuzu was saying, of just like, they made new bonding friends with it. But I never thought about it during development, but thinking back towards just me and other apps, I remember a time I was playing Rec Room and they had their laser tag game. It took 30 minutes, but at the end of it, I felt like, hey, I bonded with this guy enough to send him a friend request. And it's like, I don't think I ever played with him again, but I assume with VRChat, after experiencing a seven-hour world where you cannot save and you have to complete it then or else you'll never complete it, It's like that experience alone makes a much deeper connection than just shooting a robot. Stuff that we never expected from this.

[00:43:30.554] Legends: Yeah, I think another aspect of it, this is more on design and enemy, but one of the enemies, which is called the Stalker, at first was like a local monster but Cyan Laser had made it in sync so that players could see it when it's like appearing under you and you could see it rising up and I think that was really cool to see because it really had a lot of funny moments of players just freaking out like, watch out, watch out, there's something coming under you. It's just super hilarious to see that. And I really think that tied in really well with the immersion. It's just like all of it being in sync and being like, you know, multiplayer and you're with your friends and you're seeing these things popping up under you, you're being chased by the monster and like, don't go that way. Or you're, you know, I've seen people like bait the lurker, the ghost that goes around the ground floor. they bait him like, I'll leave him over here and stuff like that. It's just a lot of methods that people have done that I didn't expect. That really is just like, wow, I didn't see that coming. So it was really great to see.

[00:44:31.508] Lakuza: It all kind of feels like if this was a real life situation, like you would still stay in contact with the people that you went through this ordeal with in a way. So it's almost like, yeah, it kind of feels super immersive, like just how dynamic everything is and how people handle it differently and like, you know, making the friends for it. So yeah, it's been amazing to see that develop over the couple of months.

[00:44:51.500] Kent Bye: Yeah. Yeah, for me it was interesting just to see also how each of the enemies that are in The Devouring have a certain logic and process you go through to sort of learning what that logic is and this ambiguity as to the lurker that's sort of moving around and that kind of starts to chase you. And like the AI is sophisticated enough that there was moments where we like go and hide behind the bar and being crouched down and making sure that we weren't in the line of sight of it. And sometimes, you know, even going high and like Joe Hunting had done it before. He's like, Oh yeah, if you go hide in the closet, then you'll be safe. And so then we have these three people like in this virtual closet, all like, you know, trapped in there together. And so like these behaviors that the context that's around us is forcing us into do things that we wouldn't normally do. And so these emergent behaviors that as you are learning the logic of the stresses that are happening, that you're behaving in these group dynamics in a way that I thought were also quite unique as well, that just within game design and the enemies that you have, how you get a bunch of people there together and start to do things that you would normally never do unless there was that threat that was there.

[00:45:53.225] Jen Davis-Wilson: I think one thing that's great about the Sync and the multiplayer, like you're saying, the Lurker AI is sophisticated. It is built on a very dumb system. Cyan just magicked it to appear to be pretty intelligent. But because it is Synced, you get a lot of very funny moments, as well as the fact that we have two monsters that are very much in conflict. You have the Lurker, which you need to hide from, and you have the Stalker, which punishes you for hiding. Right? So, like, you know, there's so many moments of, like, somebody's hiding in a closet and all of a sudden this doctor comes and they burst out of the closet and the lurker is, like, right there. Or, like, someone will aggro the lurker and run to their friend who's hiding, open the door, and now they have killed their friend. Right? And so there's lots of multiplayer things where, like, the one player's behavior will affect one of the monsters and either help or, in a lot of cases, hilariously hurt the other people that they're with. And I think that was intentional. And one of the things I think Lacoza always really liked about the closet mechanic, especially, was that sort of, like, opening and shutting the door on your friends, and, like, you think you're safe, and then the stalker comes up. Lots of good moments on streams and that kind of interaction.

[00:47:04.247] Lakuza: We had a lot of good moments in playtest as well, like so many laughs from that where we burst out the closet because of the stalking and Lurker just flies from the corner and yeah, just legends would just be in stitches from those situations.

[00:47:16.733] CyanLaser: You did kind of mention one thing that was interesting there of you had a lot of laughing moments. So I think one of the reasons we kept on going for this whole multiplayer thing was for those laughing moments as much, even though it is a horror world, And so Kent, one point you were saying that you didn't want to go there alone. In fact, today we're doing a world hop. We mentioned the devouring at one point when someone was saying like, Oh, I don't want to go play that alone, but I want to go find somebody to play it. And it's just like somebody else in the world that would be like, Hey, I can go with you. And it's like, you just made a new friend right there. It's like that increased our like multiplayer part of it, but having everything be synced and everybody like point out other things, like made it both scary, but also fun, even if it takes away from the horror itself. So it's interesting design there.

[00:47:59.017] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's a Robert McKee quote that says that character is revealed when human beings are put under pressure and they have to like make choices. And so I feel like this is a type of experience where you can be put under pressure and see how you react. And then there's this question as to whether or not that's like a part of your essential character, if that's just a part of your character in that context. you know, what's local and what's global. I was surprised just in being in that situation. And I think there's a couple of choices you can make as a player, which is to completely immerse yourself and to be completely afraid of all enemies. Or you could do what I did, which is a little bit of the Leor Jenkins and just like charge forth and like risk it and like just try to speed run it. And of course that's a whole other thing that you have in this community, which is a speed run. But, you know, for me, it was interesting to see how there's a bit of an improv aspect there, which is that like, If everybody's like yes anding and consenting to play in a certain way, then you can deepen that level of immersion. I imagine that if we use the military signals of like, okay, stop or go, because there's a bit of having to peek around corners to make sure that the lurker is not going to see you and chase you down. but that as you're going through the game, you have a number of choices. And also depending on how much immersed you want to be, like there's a risk of me playing in that charge force, like fearless warrior. Like if I keep dying over and over again, then that could also change the level of immersion of my teammates. There's a bit of like interesting trade offs there between if people want to be fully immersed in the fear, or if by the fact that people are together, then it becomes so much less scary, especially after you kind of learn the basic mechanics that you're no longer immersed into that fear of dying. And you just sort of like, Oh, well, if I died, what's the big deal? I'll just respond and come back. I'll find you guys again. So I sort of found that tension of impatience on one side of just wanting to get through it versus the take things slow and allow myself to really feel that immersion of that fear.

[00:49:52.870] Lakuza: Yeah, we chose four people for that reason. We felt having a large group, like the larger a group gets, the less scary it gets. Unless it's something, for example, like a Slenderman game where it's kind of fun seeing people get picked off one by one. In those situations, it's completely fine where it's like these short experiences. But for this kind of experience, we set out to have only four people from the very beginning. We felt like that would be a small enough number where it wouldn't get too out of control or silly. in terms of the mechanics around it, we tailored it to fit that group. So you could play solo, you could play up to four players. And with death, so this was kind of something that we kind of went back and forth on quite a bit. I was very adamant of having that sort of, if you die, you come back into the guest room mechanic. And we did have a lot of discussions of whether we should have checkpoints or not, especially in the basement, which is something quite common in VRChat worlds where you'll die and then you'll respawn about five seconds away from where you died. And for me, there's no tension in that. There's no fear of dying. So you'll get people brute forcing something or just charging at something until they solve it. And I didn't want that. So the penalty is that you get back to the guest room. And depending on that, if you've activated the shortcuts, that penalty can vary. if you haven't found a shortcut and it's like a really long way back and you have to redo large sections and then there's obviously the penalty of like getting split up from friends as well so we felt that would be fair and one thing we didn't want to do was something like permadeath which some VRChat worlds have attempted and for a game like VRChat it kind of just kills the experience if you die once and you're kind of like removed completely from the experience so that's something we didn't want to do because that's splitting up groups too much as well.

[00:51:32.247] Kent Bye: Yeah. Yeah. Just going back to the, how the, the enemies and those rules that you've made, you know, modulate these different dynamics. But I wanted to go to also how you launched this world, because I know that you had a launch party. You had also like a hall of fame hall where people would put their times there, but also how you launched it. You had this whole ballroom area that you can open up this portal. So maybe you just talk about launching this because it seems like a. I think a fairly unique way of launching any experience actually, but especially in the VR chat world, I don't know if there was a precedent for that to have like almost like a release party or this gathering of folks together to officially launch into this. So maybe you could talk about how that came about. Cause you've been working on this world for 10 months by that point, and you went into presumably have a big launch and on top of that, build another world to modulate the existing world that you had to be able to launch into this whole experience.

[00:52:22.210] Jen Davis-Wilson: There's a lot of things that went into the launch, and I think this is something that is not common for video chat world creators to think about. Lucuza is our social media mastermind. And so he worked with streamers about... We had one streamer that knew that they were going to have a Twitch front page, so he coordinated with them to make sure that that was also around the launch time, as well as planned out our Twitter schedule ahead of time. As far as the party goes, that was, like I said, I'm the prefab social director. I wanted a big party, you know, and I knew that we could draw the crowds because, like, we've been doing big parties and events. Like, we've had big New Year's Eve events, prefabs birthday party, and then a weekly Friday party. We always get pretty big crowds for that. We still didn't assume that it would be that big. We thought it was going to be, like, you know, 30, 40 people, our friends, who've been looking forward to this. When we actually launched it, we had somewhere between 200 and 300 people come through over the course of the night. And it actually felt very much like a big red carpet event. And that was sort of a fun thing that I wanted to do is to take the ballroom and take out the scary and just make it into, it was actually like from the world, just completely redecorated.

[00:53:35.647] Lakuza: I think I want to just add to that as well. It's a little story thing. Probably one of my most favorite memories in VRChat is the kind of rehearsal that we had for that party. And just the four of us standing on a stage and talking about how ridiculous this party is in terms of just how grand we're going with this. And this really felt like a one-off event. And we were like nervous, proud, excited. There was so many feelings going on. It generally felt like rehearsing for like in real life. You're about to do a stage play or something. Those kind of butterflies you're getting. Yeah, I'll cherish that moment forever because it was so good. And then the party itself was amazing, but that was completely Jen just working throughout that whole week. It was like a massive crunch. So I was spending that week crunching on the Hall of Fame and Jen was doing the ballroom. So we had that one week before launch and we were just focusing on that.

[00:54:24.233] Jen Davis-Wilson: Talk about the Hall of Fame and your experience with that.

[00:54:27.837] Lakuza: yeah so the hall of fame originally so i had a world i released back in 2019 which was my first world and it was like a big seven hour adventure world it was more kind of like jrpg style so it's like you get quests from characters and you do boss battles so it's very like final fantasy ish But there was a hall of fame for when you complete the world. You send in the screenshots and I add the screenshot. I would add all the names of the people plus a quote of their choosing. So you'd get a lot of like funny quotes that people did or like memorials for the friends who got disconnected or like quit the world. So I would add this into like a companion world and people could visit this. And over the course of a year, I had about 150. And I thought, OK, it's going to be something similar. I can handle this. So I started making the Hall of Fame world for Devouring. And we had the whole screenshot system set up at the end so we could take screenshots. Did it a bit better this time by having all the stats in the screenshot, which is something I didn't do the first time. And that worked out great. We even had like an icon saying if you late joined or not. So yeah, people started sending these screenshots in. And the Hall of Fame, I kind of had the first hold about 90, I think. I was like, this is probably going to take maybe six months to fill up, or maybe a year. We had so many screenshots in the first 48 hours that, looking at the numbers, I would have had to create about four or five copies of that haul. So at that point, it was like a, oh my god moment. I just saw the amount of screenshots coming in, and I was like, the realization that I was now gonna have to manually put these into the world dawned on me and I was really hoping for a break after Devouring to just rest for a bit the next two weeks from launch. Massive lack of sleep balancing like real life work and then spending all my free time to put these screenshots in. It took me two weeks to put in most of the submissions from week one. of the launch, and I had to put a stop there. I can't put any more in the Hall of Fame, because this is going to take forever. And I think Cyan mentioned that if we ever do anything like this again, we need to find a way to automate it. So it's not like it's one person having to put these images in. But yeah, it's like, wow, that experience. I was definitely burnt out, but so grateful at the same time. The amount of screenshots coming in completely blew me away. I completely underestimated the activity on that. And then over time, we had speedrunners coming in. I've already had like a couple on my server that did speedruns on my previous worlds, but for Devouring it just blew up. There were so many people taking part. So I had to put in, I had like a really small speedrun section in the whole event to begin with, but due to the amount of people doing it, I had to create like a whole separate hall just for them. And there's like eight different league tables now. So it's like your desktop, there's VR, there's out of bounds. Like if you find holes in the environment, you can clip out and then you can complete the world faster that way. There's all different speed runs right now. I've learned a lot because I don't really have that much experience with the speed run community in general. So I've got to learn a lot from them about what the rules should be, what they shouldn't be. So something I'm definitely looking forward to like incorporating for future worlds.

[00:57:29.308] Jen Davis-Wilson: I think that was a couple of things that world creators are starting to do more. It's very common for worlds that have an ending to have an area where people would take an in-game selfie, for example. And Lacuza and Science set up a system in there that almost enforced it. So when you get to the end, you have your stats, you have the logo, and there's a camera system that will make a consistent screenshot for VR and desktop people, as well as doing a very strong prompt. to put this on social media. And, you know, the more people that put it on social media, the more people see people playing it, the more it brings in people who may not have heard of it. And so I thought that was really brilliant. And seeing more people implement that kind of thing of like, not just like, here's a nice place where you could take a picture, but like, you're taking a picture now. That's part of the end experience, right? It's a prompt for social media sharing, which kind of metagame sort of thinking multiplayer is now more than just the game experience. is part of the entire digital ecosphere. And so I think, you know, especially incorporating Twitter is an assumption that people playing the game would engage with that.

[00:58:40.835] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know that when I finished it, we took that photo with that automated system. And then I was able to post it to my social media and it was a little bit, I'll write a passage of like, Hey, I finished this, you know, and it's a satisfying ending. I must say, you know, it was worth it. If anybody's questioning whether or not they're going to be finishing it or not, as you're going through all of it, I do think it does have a satisfying ending. And to be able to have those stats and to be able to capture it and share it was also, I think a good completion of that because. You know, the hero's journey is all about being in a mundane space. You get into this whole other realm. And then once you finish that realm, you come back and you want to tell your story. And so this is just a part of being able to tell your story of saying, okay, I went through this, but I'm curious to sign laser or legends, what your reactions were of watching people play this or anything as you were at the launch party. And as you worked over 10 months on this project and then launching it into the world. And then what your reaction was with watching people go through it.

[00:59:36.093] Legends: I wanted to add really quick with the Hall of Fame, but Kooza wanted a soundtrack for that. And I originally was going to do like the guest room music for that, but I felt like maybe I could try something different. So I wanted the players to like feel like they've accomplished something, you know? And so what I did was I took the guest room music and I kind of made kind of like a remix of the guest room and it's like more longer. grand and drawn out. It was like a six minute track. So this soundtrack, I wanted to convey in it that you've completed something that was huge. You know, you've been through this nightmare and you've made it. And like when you're in the devouring hall of fame and you're just like, you just get all these memories and the word that I could say that just like says the meaning of that entire song is nostalgia. you know, because it's also the experience for me, like, every time I'm going to hear this song, I'm going to remember the journey that we went through making The Devouring. So it's really cool to see, like, a lot of players, like, I really love this song. It reminds me of the time we played it. And it actually reminds me of the time we made it and we were creating it. It's just like bring back tons of memories. And it's like, It was really great to see that and it's actually one of the most popular tracks along with The Guest Room. The Guest Room is really popular. People really love it. People sleep to it and all kinds of things. So it's like, it was really great to see.

[01:00:58.220] Kent Bye: I saw that you just launched the whole soundtrack on Bandcamp. So if people want to listen to it, I was re-listening to some of the tracks as well. And yeah, I think you're right in terms of how the music is able to evoke these memories and these emotions that take you back to these different scenes. So yeah.

[01:01:13.146] Legends: Yeah, that's definitely what I was going for. I just wanted to paint a picture of these emotions that you experienced during the playthrough with the devouring, because it's a huge map, six to five hours. So it's like, there's a lot to remember. It's a heck of an experience that we were able to give. And I'm just really happy that a lot of people loved it, because we were really nervous about how people were going to feel about it, because there was a lot of things that were different and new, and a lot of things that we knew that the community haven't seen before, like the shortcuts and stuff like that. just the overall map and the design of it. As far as the launch party, I felt like I was there. When I remember this right now, it feels like it happened. I was dressed up in a suit and everything. I'm telling you, it feels like it was an actual memory. And it's like, that was in VR? What? That's how amazing that was. It was so big to see players just flooding in. we had Vyarpya, one of the developers of VRChat, he was like on the side in a corner just taking pictures and he just had his own little thing going on he's like taking pictures of everyone and photos and he ended up setting like a line and everyone's in a line it's like I just at one point just remember standing there like what is going on like like I can't believe this is all happening. I was completely blown away by all the support and just everything that was just happening, you know, the whole 10 months in the journey, the amount of growth. It was a really, really massive ball of emotion that just hit me at once, like boom. And I was just sitting there like, man, this is incredible. And Fiona did an amazing job, amazing, amazing job with the launch party world. It was really incredible. And just the moment we were on stage and we were just giving our speech, I was so at loss of words. I didn't know what to say because I wanted to talk about everything, but it was so much to come out at once. I don't know, I blanked out. It was just like, wow. But it was a heck of an experience. And when I think about that and that time, it felt like it actually happened. I'm never going to forget that, for sure. Ever.

[01:03:24.169] CyanLaser: So as for my experience from the launch party, one nice smaller piece from that is that two weeks before the launch party, I guess overall from the launch itself, I think that was my overall deadline for working on the project. And so it's like, I had been crunching on just like general optimizations. Cause at first we were really bad, but I was making sure that we got to a point where I could be happy with that. So then once we got to, I guess, I think the beginning of August, I was like, all right. This is how much is going to be done. Like now we can launch the world knowing that everything was feature complete and good enough and optimizations. And so I was kind of resting while watching both Fiona and Lacoza kind of building the launch party world as well as the hall of fame. During all of this, it was kind of like. I didn't know what to really think because it's like, it's finally over in a sense of we did it yet. Obviously the world hadn't launched yet, but then on the launch party night, I've kind of was used to having our general like event parties through our community, like once every week that Fiona has our like community party. So like, I thought that was like something similar, but overall, like as legends, or I guess we've all pointed out was that we had no idea what people were expecting from this. Like we had built 10 months of hype and not telling anyone what this project was. We only showed them the trailer, I think it was like two weeks before. And so then that trailer exploded from, I guess, our point of view. And people were even building up even more hype thanks to Lacuz's plan on Twitter. And then it's just kind of, we're sitting there in the launch party. It's like, we're about to see the experiences that everyone has. As Legends was pointing out, it definitely felt like a real memory, even though it was actually VR. And pulling the lever at the very end just to reveal that the world is uploaded, you can go try it now. So all the 300 people that had gone through our launch party world, It just kind of like disappeared. Like the bustling night, it was just like, okay, people are now going to play it. And so then we look at our menu and it's like, I don't remember the exact numbers, but it's like, just the count kept going up and going up. And it's like, that was unexpected for a VR chat world, let alone our VR chat world. And so, yeah, it was a lot there. One of the things that I ended up doing was that whenever somebody completed the world and had their ending screenshot, I would like retweet it. And then it got to the point of, I didn't count how many times I did this. And somebody said to me and be like, Hey, can you stop? It's like, you're spamming my timeline. It's like, Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't think about this. How many people would actually be solving this map on the first day? And it's just like, I should stop retweeting. Just put it on everyone's timeline when they hadn't even gotten to the map yet. Cause they were waiting on their own friends. It was a big moment for all of us there.

[01:06:04.198] Jen Davis-Wilson: It really was. When we released Swirls in the past, it's fun to go onto Twitch and like look at the thumbnails and see who's in a world of yours and like watch them experience it. So we were going to do sort of the same thing. So we started like copy pasting the links to people who were streaming. We had to stop. There was about two weeks in which We lost sleep because we were trying to watch everyone play it. And like multiple screens up at once are like, you know, you finally got to like, look, who's a little watch them and just tell us which ones are good, you know? And it's stressful watching other people be stressed. I had to stop. It was actually too much trying to watch everyone experience it. And there's like, there's no way that we could ever watch every stream that was made of people playing The Devouring because there was too many. And that was sort of unexpected as well.

[01:06:53.470] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I know that as part of the deliberation process at Raindance, it was consensus to be able to award it for the best immersive world. You know, Raindance has been going for 28 years, I think now, but since 2016 or so, they've had like a VR portion, but this was a new category to have immersive world. And I know that. The Devouring was up for a number of different awards. It got a runner's up for the multiplayer game experience. Also won the best VR game and best immersive world. So yeah, I thought it was nice to see Raindance looking at independent VR creators and what they're doing just to see how this isn't like a paid project. It's like a free community project on VRChat. And then just to see the level of quality of those experiences, but also just how well received it was from that community itself. I think it's probably the reason why I wanted to have you on just to tell the story and to get a little bit more context about that. Just cause as I look back on my year of 2020, that was definitely one of the highlights, just in terms of something that was a surprise in terms of it was like a new social dynamic. And I expect to see perhaps more of that, although how many other folks are going to like go through all the trouble of the, you know, If you look at all the things you had to overcome to be able to do this, it certainly wasn't an easy thing to do, but I'm glad that for whatever catalyzed you to sort of push through and do it and still be able to make it, I think that's part of what is so amazing is that it even exists. And I say this a lot about all VR experiences is that it's still so early within the industry that anybody that finishes anything in this industry is a miracle. But on top of that, to sort of have this peer-driven community effort to come together to make something I think is also quite extraordinary. So yeah, just congratulations for those awards from rain dance. Cause I think it's nice to highlight what's been happening in the overall industry. Thank you. And so, yeah, I don't know if you have any other thoughts about, you know, experiences at rain dance or anything else of, of what that was like to be honored in that way.

[01:08:41.976] Jen Davis-Wilson: Um, I guess we didn't really know what it was about when Maria first contacted us because it's kind of unheard of for people outside of VRChat to recognize anything VRChat does.

[01:08:52.622] Lakuza: Hmm. Yeah, just the whole experience of Raindance was amazing. Yeah, I think Jen put after the award ceremony of just a realization of the next step that we now have to aim for and how motivated she was from it. It was really cool to see actual industry developers coming in and talking with us. Yeah, very eye opening. Cause I guess we were very close now via chat bubble. So it was very nice to kind of like meet people who are in the industry and making those networks. So yeah, definitely inspiring. So I'm definitely looking forward to like the future now, like just constantly pushing more and more.

[01:09:31.365] Kent Bye: Hmm. Great. And, uh, and finally, I'm just curious if each of you could tell me what you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be and what it might be able to enable.

[01:09:44.464] Legends: I just want to say that I think, especially this year, with people being indoors and stuff like that, I feel like virtual reality is really important and that people are, like, if you can't see your family members or your friends, you'll be able to still see them, you know, in virtual reality. And you can go through experiences with them and things like that. And I think that is a really important aspect of VR. And I can see huge potentials of it, like just the experience and the growth and all of it and the friends you can make. Because honestly, like Fiona LaCouza and Cyan Laser, I, you know, met them through VRChat. And I met Sian and Fiona in real life already. And it's like, I didn't expect that to happen, but it's amazing. You know, I'm kind of speechless about it because it's like, I didn't think that that would happen. It's like, now they're my close friends now. And it's all because of VR, because of VR chat and, you know, virtual reality. And it's like, I think that it has a lot of potential to get really big. I'm really interested to see where it's going to go. I feel like I'm on a new train, and it's just going to this place, and I don't know where it's going to go, but I know that it's going to be quite a journey. It's going to be an awesome journey, and I'm just really happy to be a part of it.

[01:11:00.131] Jen Davis-Wilson: I see VR being a future, not the only one. We'll have other platforms. AR is definitely one of those that I truly believe will transform the way that we currently do communication computing in the way that the smartphone did a decade ago. But VR itself, I think, has a lot of opportunity for not only changing the way that we remotely interface with people and do our own work, do our own socialization, and eliminate logistical barriers of being in meet space, the real potential of VR is actually changing the way that we interact with other humans. And I think this is one of the things that I, the biggest failing I see in a lot of people who are trying to implement VR right now is they are trying to just turn it into a digital version of real life. So you are you, but you're a digital version of you. Whereas VRChat, I think, is a great place to see how it's actually changing the way people present their identities, their physical form, their size, their voice, how they interact with other people. It takes away a lot of barriers that when you meet another human in real life, You have made thousands of micro assumptions about them and already decided they are someone that you are probably going to continue to interact with or not. VR takes away many of those. And that I think is really fascinating. These three guys are not guys that I probably would have ever met in real life if I had met them. I may not have connected because of all of those assumptions, because of different location, or jobs, or age, or whatever. And yet, VR lets you get almost to the core of personality of other human beings. That's, I think, where a lot of the real power is. And it will break down some of the barriers that we've sort of built up around ourselves if we let it happen.

[01:12:54.788] Lakuza: That's hard to follow. Well-worded.

[01:13:01.102] CyanLaser: I suppose the future of VR, I guess, from my point of view, is just it's the next extension of reality, because it's just the virtual form of it. From my point of view, I can tend to be not very social in person. But one of the things that I found is that it's strange how social I can be through virtual reality. I don't know the full details of why, but it's like, I have made more friends in VR and VR chat than I probably have just like meeting people normally. Because, well, right now VR chat in the VR community is like so small. It's just kind of, once you meet one person, like the worlds are like really small. So you just meet all their friends and it's just like all small communities coming together. And so from all of that, it's just kind of helping people who are not as able to, I guess, socialize in real life can now have a different form of life that they would otherwise.

[01:13:50.934] Lakuza: So I think for me, I was never really into stuff like Second Life. I was more like desktop console apps. And I'm also a bit of an introvert, so I don't really go out much in real life. So I think it's similar to Simon, like I've made more friends in VRChat than I have in real life. But there's something about VR and the way we communicate, like just the body language as well. which allows you to connect so much more. It's a lot more easy to communicate as well. So I'm really fascinated by how VR is going to develop and improve those kind of ways of communication. I mean, one example which I think is amazing is the deaf community in VRChat. They actually do sign language using the controllers, which It's something I would never have imagined before starting VR, but seeing it in VRChat is just mind-blowing. It's amazing how it's enabling so many people who might find it difficult to just do standard voice chat. They can communicate in different ways. Yeah, it's been a real eye-opener. I mean, I'm already on board with VR anyway. It's always hard to explain it to someone who hasn't tried VR, so I just take the leap. But it's made it harder for me to enjoy non-VR experiences now. 80% of my time is in VR, and then the rest is just doing non-VR stuff. Yeah, it's for me, VR is the only way forward. And obviously the AR side as well, which is going to be amazing with like how it augments just everyday stuff. So yeah, it's really exciting to be part of the kind of generation figuring things out as well and meeting people who are learning as well. So yeah, it's exciting.

[01:15:24.497] Jen Davis-Wilson: I just want to point out that none of us said gaming as the future of VR. We're all very focused on, I think, the social aspect. And that's something VR still has to overcome is the idea that VR is a gaming platform. And I think that is so much more than that.

[01:15:39.479] Kent Bye: Hmm. Yeah. And is there, uh, is there anything else that is left unsaid that any of you would like to say to the broader immersive community?

[01:15:48.593] Legends: I definitely have something to say, I'm just trying to get the words out. But I guess that would be, it's about growth and about having confidence in what you can achieve. Because I, like the devouring, I look back at those 10 months, I have grown, like we've all grown. And, you know, a lot of things that I thought I couldn't do, I was able to do. And I have a newfound confidence. And I believe that, like, the passion that you have for something, it's like, go for it, basically, because there's going to be a lot of roadblocks, there's going to be a lot of challenges that you're going to face. But in my experience in my journey, like, if you keep trying and you keep going and you keep learning what you need to learn and things like that. You'll just look back and you'd be like, wow, I'm here now. And then you look up and you're like, oh, I still got some more climbing to do, but you're making progress. And I think that's a huge thing that is a big part of my journey of VR and stuff in general, because I didn't have a background in any of these things at all. Unity, Blender, modeling, 3D modeling. The only thing I did before was just music. But I didn't have a experience in unity or things like that. I was always interested in environmental design. But now that I've gotten it's been about what three years, I say three years now that I've been doing this. So the growth that I see that I've done is incredible. And it's like, there's so many others that are doing the same. So many others that gotten to VR chat, and they're literally learning code, you know, 3D modeling and things like that. And it's really interesting to see like, wow, you know, there's so much growth that this platform is giving everyone and that people are finding their passions and stuff like that. It's really interesting to see.

[01:17:29.323] Lakuza: I think from my side of it, especially thanks to Raindance, it's so clear that a lot of these kind of like small innovations are coming from small teams rather than like the bigger teams. So yeah, I would recommend people absolutely check out as many different indie experiences as possible. Like I was recently introduced to immersive theater in VR, which absolutely blew my mind with the possibilities of that. And I think that's probably one of the things I'm most excited about for the future is how something like immersive theater can develop with VR, because there's so much potential with it. And it's something that I think enhances and does things better than what a real-life counterpart could do. There's just so much you can do with VR, because you have the whole world that you can just transform in ways that you couldn't do with a real-life set. So yeah, definitely I recommend people to keep an eye on the indie scene as well, because there's a lot of cool stuff happening there that I don't think big companies would take the risk with. Even on the gaming side of things, you see a lot of big companies who make assumptions of what VR should be. And often they're just people frowning at you, like, why is it only teleport? Why is it not locomotion? Or why is it just a simple mini game? And then you get these indie projects which are just completely blowing the bigger companies out of the water with what they're pushing. So yeah, keeping an eye on the industry for sure.

[01:18:50.035] Jen Davis-Wilson: I'd say to build on that, it is easier now than ever to create stuff. Going from mechanical engineering and hardware to digital stuff and how fast you can make things. I think that's one of the things that drew me to it. A lot of people, I think, have a creative side, and they don't know how to express it. And the wonderful thing about where we are now in digital creation is there's so many different ways to do it. If you're a physical performer, you can do that now. If you're an artist, you can do it. If you're a musician, you can do it. And so be inspired by others. Don't be intimidated. You know, take what other people are doing and build on it. Everyone has started from zero. So just keep going, make more. We need whatever is in your head that you think is too weird. We need it. That's what I would say.

[01:19:34.023] CyanLaser: There are still very early on. So like one of the things I'm thinking of is just like stick with it. All the people like learning about this now, all the developers just starting out. It's like we're the beginning of a new platform. Just keep going and create what you think.

[01:19:51.988] Kent Bye: Hmm. Awesome. Well, Jen slash Fiona, Lacuzza, Cyan Laser, and Legends, I wanted to first congratulate you on finishing this project and getting out into the world. You know, I think you've got quite a collaboration between all your different skill sets and to be able to kind of push through and to be a part of helping also steward this Prefabs community and to be contributing back all the knowledge and to facilitate all these different meetups and everything. I just was really quite inspired. I've been sort of diving in into checking out what's been happening within that Prefabs community and also has been happening in the VRChat world, but also what you were able to create and cultivate for the VRChat community and achieve within your own constraints within the VRChat platform and how to kind of push that envelope to see what's even possible. So yeah, and like I said, as I reflect back on my year, this is going to be one of my highlights. And yeah, I think something about the social dynamics coming from an existing social graph of a critical mass of a community of what's happening within VRChat and to see how that is going to continue to be modulated in unique ways that with the addition of many more collaborations as we move forward, moving beyond just sort of these solo indie projects into more complicated worlds and that. There's something about having a community to be able to actually witness those experiences that then catalyze more people to create even the next level. So I think it's just a part of the evolutionary process. And yeah, just congrats for the whole journey and thanks for coming on and sharing your story. So thank you. Thank you for having us. Yeah. Thank you. So that was Lucuzza. He's a game designer and world builder within VRChat, as well as Fiona slash Jen Davis Wilson. She works at Facebook as a mechanical engineer as her day job, but working here as a technical artist and community organizer of the Prefabs community, as well as Sion Lazer. He's a programmer as well as makes different tutorials for the Prefabs community, as well as different developer tools for VRChat, as well as LazarusVR as a 3D modeler, designer, as well as the composer of the soundtrack for The Devouring. So I've been a different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well I'm just really impressed with the prefabs community and everything that's coming out of that and you know this project within itself so prefabs really trying to support each other help each other and Fiona talks about how This is really an opportunity for people to learn and teach each other, but also to go from being a hobbyist and amateurs into becoming more professional type of collaborations, where the first year it was a lot of these one-off demos and experiences, but now there's a lot more collaborations and more sophisticated projects that are coming out of that as a result. And for me, it was really interesting just to see how a lot of this started with the different contests that happened. One was this vocality contest just to get folks together to create a scary experience. And so that was really a catalyst for them. And they realized that they weren't able to hit the first deadline. They still went on and expanded it out into this big epic adventure and spending 10 months on it. yeah, this real community-driven collaboration where it's not like they were getting paid for anything. They just wanted to provide something back to the community. But I think more than anything else, it was a process for them to be able to learn and grow from their own skills and to really push the limits as to what's possible and to give back to the VRChat community. So it was really quite interesting just to hear about their own creative process and their evolution as they were going back and forth and really using each of their different skills with Lucusa coming in and really having a vision of the game and designing the map and having the central hub where as you go off to these different rooms then you have these shortcuts to come back and so As you die, you have this dynamic where you can go back and find your friends without having to go from the very beginning. And so that was quite an interesting dynamic and also created a little bit of a stake in the experience where when you did die, there wasn't a teleport that would take you just from where you died. you'd have to go all the way back to the beginning. And so there's like this consequence of having to do all that stuff again, but also that if you were with your friends, then you would be penalized in that sense as well. So some really quite interesting dynamics there. And also because of VR chat and these public instances, then people who have gone through the barring before can go in and help people or people that do it with strangers, then they can have this shared experience and potentially get connected to become friends as a result. So some really quite interesting social dynamics in that sense. And, you know, as a game, there are certain aspects, I was like, wow, this is, you know, getting to the point where I have to sort of do the same thing over and over again. But because you're doing it in a group and you can distribute the load in some sense, but also just share in your own frustrations or the adversity that you're going through, that that ends up being a bit of a bonding experience, which I had cited the Athena Demos from Burning Man, who said that the harsh conditions of the desert of Black Rock City in Nevada for the actual Burning Man creates that shared diversity. And in that context of shared diversity, that's the ways that can really allow people to connect and bond to people in a cauldron in that sense. And so they're really creating this contrived pressure and have your character revealed and really start to build and release the different aspects of tension in order to give you that type of experience. And just how the monsters were dialectical opposites in terms of the stalker, if you didn't move, then this thing would come up from the ground and start to attack you. So you'd have to keep moving and always be moving. You can't just stand still. And the lurker is like moving around and you're trying to get away from it. And sometimes you have to like hide in a corner or something. But if you stay there for too long, then the other enemy will also get you. So there's this nice dialectical relationship between the keep moving or go hide and stay in one place. So that was an interesting dynamic to see how that played out over the course of the experience as well. And how on the backend, there was quite a lot of tools that SignLaser had built in order to make the development of this easier, just to be able to emulate it and to do different testing and just the late joiners as a dynamic so that people could come in late and still join into the experience, which, you know, creates a whole other dynamic. Also the fact that you can't save and you have to like commit to doing it, it creates an experience that has like this beginning and middle and end as well. That I think is also quite interesting to really commit to that shared synchronous experience with one, two or three other people. So up to four people at a time. And as you're with other people, then there is this tension between having the social interactions makes it less scary, because it's not like the other people that are there are also a threat to you. So you mitigates a lot of the initial fears that you may have with the environment itself. So that was also quite interesting to see. There's still moments of tension where, you know, you're getting chased by these monsters. And it was, you know, like they said, they didn't want to like, have you see the monsters because seeing a 3d model is not scary. And so just have the things that's either occluded by this cloud or as you're running through the water, it's behind you. And so you can't see it and you just hear the water as it's chasing you. And so that's a very good use of the virtual reality technology. Use that type of spatial audio as you're locomoting through the space and to feel like something that's chasing after you. And I think more than anything, there is a sense that from all of them working on this project, they were all growing and expanding their skills and learning how to work on this team as the four ponies really using each of their skills to be able to produce a project at this scope and this level. And yeah, just the motivation to be able to actually show it to people as well. And to know that after they had completed this, then they started to do this whole other realm, which was to like promote it and to advertise it, which I think they did a great job of getting the word out. sending out the different tweets, but also creating this whole launch party world where they took a scene from the actual world and transforming that ballroom into this big party room. And yeah, just to gather the community together and then to pull a lever and open up a portal and then to launch into that experience. And so the amount of theatrics that that was is also something that is, I think, new within the VR chat community. And so I expect to see more people potentially adopt that if they do have these big worlds to have that big launch party and to really. Get the word out, have the streamers coordinated with that as well. And, uh, have that hall of fame where that once you do get through, you get to the end and you do have this screenshot that has your statistics of like how many times you died, how long it took and whether or not you're able to find all the journals and all the other special items. And so that's a lot of the, like, to what degree did you explore all the different dimensions of this experience and how. Long did it take you and how many times did you die? And just to be able to take a screenshot with the other people that you went through, because it is a bit of this like memory that you've created together. And so it's nice to have that artifact to be able to look back upon. And in the hall of fame, legends was trying to cultivate the music, to be able to invoke the memories of some of the different theme songs that they had, but also that Lucuzza thought that he was going to take a while to be able to fill up all those different hall of fame halls, but it actually took like just a week to be able to follow them up and he had to actually create extra ones. And so that got cut off and, you know, in the future they may start to automate that. But yeah, thinking about other ways to be able to have that ability to share something back into the community or to create an artifact that you can say that, okay, yeah, I did this. It was like an initiation, a rite of passage. I want to have some artifact. I want this to be a part of this hallway with all these other people as well. So yeah, just the different dynamics that I'm seeing within VRChat is quite interesting just to see that as Jen slash Fiona was saying there at the end, just the ways that people are really exploring their identity and playing with their identity and having people create a context that allows them to overcome a lot of their existing social anxieties and pressures. And so it just creates completely new dynamics that are based upon like what your avatar is or what kind of worlds you have access to and just creating new ways to have people to really connect to each other. And how the world hopping, I think, is also a key part of being able to actually see what stuff is out there being created, to have a big group of people go out and to see and to give that opportunity to give the creators that feedback. I think for me, when I think about the communication medium, I think of it as these four pillars as to the affordances of the technology of whatever is possible. Then the artists come in, they make something that push the limits of that technology and to explore the unique affordances of how that modulates someone's consciousness to be able to tell a story or to give someone a very specific experience. And then having some sort of distribution platform to give you to get that experience into the hands of people. In this case, it's VR chat, making it available to the world, but also it's these contests focusing attention to be able to have people like say, Hey, we're going to focus on this theme, having those deadlines and producing an opportunity for people to go. see what other people created. And so a game jam that they had also created in the world hop, I think all of those things within the prefabs community are small ways in which that you start to be able to have things be featured and rain dance coming in and now being able to feature some of those worlds could also create a new deadline for people to be working towards for next year. And so the final aspect of that communications medium is to actually have people to experience it. And because VRChat is a social medium within its own self, then you're able to get that real-time feedback and to potentially watch people stream it or to drop in different instances or to have people check in with you later. But just to be able to have people see it and provide some way of getting feedback, whether it's on Discord or Twitter or in real time in these different social gatherings, I think that's a key part of creating this feedback loop that is within this community of people really supporting each other and showing these different worlds going these different tours of these different new worlds and these world hops and yeah just a chance to be able to see what people are doing to give critical feedback to get inspired of something of what not to do but also to compliment people when they're really nailing it and getting a lot of stuff right as well. So yeah, just to see how community driven that prefabs community is, and to see how much the influence of what they're doing is having into the rest of the community. When I go to something like the virtual market five, I see Lacuzza created a whole poster of people that had created experiences. I know Lacuzza's world has a really epic 20 minute adventure, and then Cyan Laser and Fiona had collaborated on showing all the different tools that make it available, different prefabs, different tutorials and whatnot, different models that they are making available. Legends also had a piece there, but there's something that on the Vket side or Legends latest build wasn't uploaded properly or something. So there's some either bug where it didn't get shown. It may be updated here shortly to be able to see the final art that he had. But Lucuzic put together a whole list of different people that had created different experiences within the virtual market, and you can go check out some of those as well. This is an experience where I would recommend you to check it out at some point, if you want to commit to, to the whole experience, you know, I actually had Mike salmon and Joe hunting and Joe had actually gone through it before. It was actually very helpful because it's a big enough world where you kind of forget different aspects, but it was also like, he was kind of standing back and helping us. If we ran into something, he was trying to like really prevent us from going down a path that would like. Waste an hour. So there's a, there's a couple of red herrings that are embedded within a devouring that are designed to kind of throw you off. And so if you want to get through it and get to the end and not spend hours and hours and hours in there, then it's nice to have someone who maybe knows some of that as well. So. Yeah, but overall, by the end of it, it did feel like very satisfying and it felt like it was worth it. Although when I was doing it, I was like, I don't know if I'm ever going to do this again. And I could see like, maybe as time passes, I might revisit it. And if I want to do it with other people as well. And it's something that Joe said to me, he's like, yeah, I didn't think I was going to do it again, but here I am. So. Um, yeah, quite a unique experience and I'm personally looking forward to see where this community continues to grow and evolve and the different types of innovations that are starting to happen out of there. And, you know, New Year's Eve is coming up here and there's going to be a lot of different gatherings and parties that are happening within VRChat. It's one of the biggest days of the year in terms of just people coming in and being able to celebrate the New Year's and having a whole range of different parties as well. So. I know that there's lots of different stuff that's in the works and you can find more information on Twitter. And yeah, as things are getting announced, there's different concerts and different parties and different gatherings that are happening all across the entire VR chat spectrum. 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 of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can pick up a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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