It’s such an amazing thing to see storytellers finding their own niche in virtual reality. One underlining question that all storytellers who are experimenting with VR is: “How do we truly allow people to feel emotionally connected to the story, rather than being a spectator?” One solution to this, is actually allowing the experiencer to become the protagonist and as the protagonist, ultimately decide where the story goes.
This is exactly why Wevr, Reality One and Jon Fravreau(Director of ‘The Jungle Book’) teamed up to produce “Gnomes & Goblins.” If you don’t know, Wevr is a community of creative and technically capable artists/developers who have been pushing the boundaries of VR’s potential. Reality One is at the same level as them, with such experiences, like ‘TheBlu,’ demonstrating the scale in which digital content can thrive in VR.
In an impromptu trip with Andy Jones to Wevr studio, Jon Fravreau had the chance to experience ‘TheBlu‘ in the HTC Vive. Jone recalls, Jon “seemed surprised at how immersive it was. I think it really touched him. He called me the next morning and said he woken up at 4 am and started drawing images of these characters he wanted to explore in VR.” Hence forth, ‘Gnomes & Goblins.‘
This immersive story-adventure takes place in an fantastical forest filled with gnomes, goblins and magical creatures. As you explore the world, you’ll forge relationships with the forest inhabitants and learn about their communities and sole existence. To accomplish this aspect of the story, Jake Rowell(Creative Director of Reality One) explains, “We spent a lot of time discussing the idea of lucid dreaming, enchanted moments, a storybook feel to things and how we capture these moments in VR.”
Another situation they were confronting, when trying to understand how to accomplish true ‘presence,’ is how the characters will respond to the protagonist(you) in an natural and organic manner. Which means delving into Artificial Intelligence and since VR puts the player face-to-face with these creatures rather than looking through a ‘digital window,’ they were also confronted with how these fictional creatures will respond to unforeseen human actions, such as jumping, glancing away or staring deeply into a goblins eye.
Jon Favreau “hope is to make the creatures likable and fun for them to be spontaneous and engage the player in a way where you feel like the character knows you and you guys understand each other. If we achieve that, which is extremely difficult and ambitious, then I think we’ve won.”
‘Gnomes and Goblins’ will be available Sept. 8, for the HTC Vive on SteamVR and Wevr Transport. It will also be available to other major VR headsets later this year(2016). This will only be a preview, but as a stand-alone title, more pieces of the story to this magical world is planned to be released. You can get the full scoop on Wevr’s blog or follow them via Twitter @OnWevr.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your take on ‘Gnomes and Goblins’ with a comment below:)