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GCC #45 – Virtual Reality // Exploration

** The GCC is Chaos Theory tradition, where each fortnight we pitch a game concept to each other restricted by a particular theme and genre. **

We have been hearing too many awesome things about breakthrough developments in VR recently, so we themed this GCC around creating ideas that we’d love to spend our evenings getting lost in.

Genre: Virtual Reality
Theme: Exploration


Elevator Pitch
Immerse yourself in Chroma, a unique, virtual reality exclusive role-playing experience for PC set in a captivating and colourful world. Follow two protagonists on their journeys for truth and vengeance, wielding the power of light to vanquish your opponents in a beautiful, vertex-lit dreamscape.

Chroma is viewed from the third person, where the Rift controls the camera perspective (that is heavily controlled to remain stable) independent from the player’s avatar. This means that the camera can be used to uncover secrets in the world or view around corners, and provide pin-point accuracy with visual aiming.
Gameplay is a mix of traditional RPG and platforming elements carried along a linear narrative with open levels. A combat system involving learned combos with an intrinsic focus on accurate timing is woven with the game’s magic system that involves drawing colour from the world as a fuel source for your magic. Depending on your current character, you will have control over different portions of the spectrum (male – full spectrum, female – red, orange, yellow) which are fuelled from a limited capacity will or mana source, and mostly from leeching colour from the world. Each colour has its own attributes that are useful in combat, from red and orange being gaseous, aggressive and useful for burning, yellow and green as mostly liquids, blue and indigo as crystalline solids, and violet as an almost invisible, super-string-like substance.
Control over the properties of each colour is essential both in combat and to solve environmental puzzles, where shifting the camera perspective to ensure that there is appropriate colour within your sight is a primary mechanic for sorcery. Wielding the colours is also useful in environment traversal (super jumps, creating ropes, etc.) which contributes to the platforming components of play (inspired by Spyro, Mario 3D, Crash Bandicoot, Wind Waker).
Instead of a levelling / experience / talents system, the main characters unlock abilities at specific points on the story to continue their progression.

The use of a third-person camera in a virtual-reality game, although not entirely unique, is a vastly unexplored area of this new developing in gaming. Furthermore, Chroma’s use of the camera as an important actor that reinforces the mechanics (controlling view perspective to capture colour used in the magic system) forces players to have a dual awareness of their view and their avatars movements that will need to be heavily refined.

– James


Elevator Pitch
Playing as a detective trying to solve a missing person’s case, you must piece together strange visual perspective based clues in order get to the bottom of it – playing with light, lens’s and frames of reference.

The game relies on the use of some form of VR headset to control the way the player looks, and a controller/keyboard-mouse configuration to handle the movement of the player’s body. The game is set in a dark yet realistic 3D world and is shot from a first person perspective, with the camera never leaving the eyes of the player to hold immersion. HUD and hints are kept to an absolute minimum and even the in game menu would probably be some sort of interaction with the world rather than a simple overlay.
The game would place the player in open style landscapes where the direction they are meant to be heading is no clear and their objectives are ambiguous, leaving the player to piece together how to proceed through each area. First person character narration would be used at certain milestones to allow the player to know they have found something of interest.
Each area’s objective would be simple, find the next clue in the breadcrumb trail seemingly being left behind by the victim you are trying to find. Scattered throughout the large open plan and non-linear area’s would be clues that the player could use, things like arrows pointing toward the right door, codes that unlock doors or cupboards etc. However these clues would not simply be lying about, they would all revolve around some form of perspective puzzle. Some examples include shining light through a lens in a certain way so it lights up a path, viewing an area from a certain frame of reference so that words are formed on walls or so that or simply finding objects that would normally be out of sight without the ability to control the player’s neck/eyes.
Going along with the purist style gameplay the player would be able to write notes in their notebook that they carry around with them for ease of continuity. If they decide to take a rest from the game and come back they may have written down a few codes they found or pinned locations of interest. The note taking would be facilitated by some in game system so that the player is not just entering in words from a keyboard screen (because that sucks).
The progression of the player would be simply following the story and the bulk of the game would be trying to piece together the clues in each area.

The game takes the VR headset and runs with its strengths, building the core gameplay around the freedom of being able to move your neck. Like many other games it build immersion by fully encompassing the vision of the player and giving them a compelling reason to believe they are actually playing the role of the in-game character. The real innovation however comes from the way in which the puzzles use the player’s freedom of neck movement to add an extra element of complexity to the puzzle system. In order to solve the majority of the perspective puzzles the player must align their view in just the right way, so that the world lines in the clues for them.

– Will

About James
I’m deeply passionate about the promoting and developing the social, educational, and creative potential of games. Through my work at Chaos Theory, I have only just started a journey to doing exactly that.
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