Arcturus Studio is all about the experience.
When Arcturus Studio were approached to create a virtual campaign for Brandon Sanderson’s “Way of Kings” book series, the world that they had to play in was huge, but the section that they had to share and live within was compact. The goal of their “Way of Kings” experience is similar to that of a demo – things that could be: an eventual open-world game, or maybe a chapter-by-chapter game, released in segments.
“’Escape the Shattered Plains’ is an interactive narrative experience,” explains Ewan Johnson, Chief Creative Officer at Arcturus, “What we are trying to do is give people a real chance to step into the world of Roshar and experience the magic and wonder that lives there, and get people excited about who Kaladin is, and the adventures that they could go on.”
The beginning-to-end experience is, in a way, and easter-egg path for those familiar with the series or open to folks who like to find every interactive corner in a room. But for those with endgame fever, used to playing for a few hours rather than 15-30 minute experience lose the glow in the at-home endgame.
A History of Immersive Moments
Arcturus’ history before this falls into 360 video production. “So imagine the best session musicians in LA coming to your house to perform, and they are jiving, and improvising. You are surrounded by music, watching the performance, taking it in. We’ve done a number of installations in New York, music video installations as a part of our virtual presence.” The musical work that they have done with Bjork will require a visit to one of her live shows that features “Bjork Live Digital”.
The “Way of Kings: The Shattered Plains” virtual experience was just launched this weekend on Vivport and Steam just this weekend, and, although it hasn’t been tested by Arcturus, there have been some reports that people have been able to run it on the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. It is playable on tethered headsets as the visuals need to be PC driven due to the rich visual experience.
“There are so many stories in the Stormlight archive that would be amazing to visualize,” Johnson said. “I like the combination of narrative and interactivity, so we would probably continue along that route. It kind of depends on what the fans gravitate to out of getting a chance to experience this. We’ve been working with DMG entertainment that is developing the Stormlight series for feature films.”
A few final thoughts post-experience from me:
The experience is a corridor, in many ways, but this actually has a bit of a genre that others have seen before: there was a similar visual novel experience for The Walking Dead that was released in chapters. It is a beginning-to-end sequence that touches on what could be a bigger “GAME”, but also, being released on Steam and HTC Vive. For those who find it on Steam, it will be hard to take it out of the box of a “game” for most people that come across it – but what IS a game except a series of narratives that you accomplish tasks within. Even though they are cautious not to market it, it’s the platforming itself that lends itself to the concept of being a game.
That said, for those who have been curious about VR and are looking for a light experience, or for those who are looking for about 15-30 minutes to check out of our world and check in to a fantasy space (as long as you KNOW that’s what you’re signing on for), there are definitely worse ways to spend a half hour than throwing rocks in a boss battle and listening to a fairly companion teach you how to wall-walk. (I kid you not, I kept looking at my “hands” and grinning.)
If you want more after trying it, please, PLEASE, tell them. If you want open world after trying it, please, PLEASE tell them. If you want more interactivity, or side quests, or announced quests (instead of subtle hinting at things that you should consider doing) say so. If you want them to release full games in general, TELL THEM (warm and encouragingly, if possible).
Arcturus, we at The Geekly Grind look forward to seeing what you share with the world next, whether it’s another visual narrative or a broader playing field.