One concern about the virtual reality experience, is it’s potential to isolate players from the real world or from real social interactions in-game. Where the only human within the virtual world is the player themselves. Of course, if the VR industry goal is to be successful, then developing and implementing social experiences within VR content is going to play a very crucial part in mainstream adoption. This brings me to one studio that makes it part of their development process to implement social interactions within their VR experiences.
Triangular Pixels was first a hobby project of John Campbell (Technical Director), until it became an official company in 2014, with the help of Katie Goode (Creative Director). They’ve both have impressive experiences in media and gaming. John is a seasoned coder with a background that includes development for PlayStation hardware and various immersive interfaces. Katie Goode plays an important role as a member of the UK VR community and has spent the last few years refining the Virtual and Augmented Reality experience. With their combined knowledge and expertise, they’ve created fun and unique games to play in.
Double Destruction was one of their earlier games they’ve developed that implements strong social elements within it. It takes place within a dungeon, where the VR player is shrunken to a miniature doll. In order to return to normal size, the player must find all the Runes within the dungeon, with the help of their non-VR human companion. The only thing is, they’re are being chased by ghosts.
Through the accomplice app downloaded on the tablet, the non-VR companion is tasked with refueling and operating the lamp held by the VR player. They also can see the ghosts that are inching towards their miniature pal. The VR player is tasked with obtaining the Runes and being caught by the ghosts. This means it is important to have a steady stream of communication to return the miniature player back to full-size. The game was designed for the Gear VR.
Another one of their games that involves the non-VR player within the virtual world is Unseen Diplomacy. Within this fictional world, you are “an elite member of The British Espionage Tactical Initiative, defeating the plans of evil-doers around the world.” The VR player is not solely reliant on the external player to maneuver throughout the environment, but the non-VR player can definitely provide valuable insight into the game, such as where a hidden key may be or alternative routes.
Besides the social factor, Unseen Diplomacy can be seen as an exercise simulation. Well, for the fact that you’ll need at least 3 meters squared of room space. While trying to hack in and stop the plans of maleficent powers, you are literally crawling through vents and shimming across a ledge with lasers testing your timing skills. Even though the game is designed around this limited space, the virtual world itself feels enormous.
One unique aspect about Unseen Diplomacy is that it takes into account that their are disabled people living in the world. They wanted a game that’ll be enjoyable for those with color blindness and limited physical movements. That means if you are confined to a wheelchair, you wont have to worry about levels that requires you to jump, as well as widened out space for your wheelchair to fit through. It also means if you’re color blind, you wont have difficulty with opening doors that may be color coded, since they’ll have other visual cues to hint at whether it’s locked or not.
Triangular Pixel put a lot of work into allowing different people to be able to play Unseen Diplomacy. It can very well be seen as an pioneering game that showcases another benefit and functionality of virtual reality with social interaction. Katie Goode herself “has been described as a VR ‘pioneer’ by pushing the technology forward to what it’s really capable of.” Overall, Triangular Pixel achievements will definitely be looked back at as one of the foundations of the Virtual Reality experience. You can check their full portfolio or contact them on trianglarpixels.net.