Epic Dragons & Air Hockey: Proving the Concept
Agharta Studio is a small indie team located in Lyon, France. Their unassuming adventure series, 1112, brought them success in market which is dominated by one-more-go time-passers and instant gratification. It’s this change of pace, resolutely eschewing the ‘norm’ that has brought Agharta Studio success, and it’s this same intentional avoidance of the beaten track that has lead the studio to virtual reality (VR).
A keen supporter of the Oculus Rift headset, Agharta Studio has already released two playable demos of VR compatible titles. The first, EpicDragon VR, was based on a prototype built during a three-week VR Jam organised by Oculus VR and IndieCade. The final version is still a little rough around the edges but certainly performs well as a proof of concept. The second, Shufflepunk Cantina Deluxe, is a VR demo that is bundled with the retail edition of the videogame via Steam. Here the player is able to experience a small portion of the videogame that they are already familiar with in a whole new way. VRFocus takes a more detailed look at both of these titles below and will be sure to keep you updated with all the latest VR titles from Agharta Studio.
The life and times of EpicDragon VR have largely slipped by under-the-radar for anyone not intimately involved in VR. The demo is freely available via Agharta Studio’s own website, and within the player will find a very simple prototype in which they mount a dragon. A limited area populated by mountain peaks and a smog filled depths plays host to a number of dragon eggs and it’s your job to collect them all. Do so with haste and you’ll earn a combo modifier.
This simple experience is controlled entirely with the Oculus Rift headset. There is no keyboard input nor any need for a controller. Instead, the player just fixes their gaze on an area and their mount will automatically turn and travel towards that destination. The system works akin to the vehicles in Halo – point and they will follow – but given that you remain in a first-person perspective at all times flying low and dashing through a cavernous troth is a far more adrenaline-pumping experience.
Click here to download the EpicDragon VR demo (18MB) (http://epicdragonvr.aghartastudio.com/download.php)
Shufflepunk Cantina Deluxe
A small slice of Shufflepunk Cantina Deluxe reworked for VR, this demo is a wonderful example of how an otherwise uneventful videogame can all of a sudden become an dramatically different experience. Shufflepunk Cantina Deluxe is an enjoyable videogame in it’s own right – a cartoon vision of a futuristic world in which the player engages in bouts of virtual air hockey with the extra-terrestrial residents – but in VR it’s so much more. All of a sudden the player isn’t limited by the scope of their screen; Shufflepunk Cantina Deluxe‘s wacky world of tentacle-limbed aliens and science-fiction sheen suddenly becomes an environment within which you reside. You’re no longer looking in through the window: you’ve stepped in the door.
The player’s head movement is tracked perfectly as they scan the subtly colourful environment. Clicking on any character within the area will allow you to engage with them, either discovering something about their personality or challenging them to a game of air hockey. It’s a deceptively simple construct, especially when actually playing against an AI opponent. Your viewpoint is never locked, allowing you to survey your surroundings mid-game. It may seem like a small asset forming part a much larger experience, but in VR it’s exactly these revisions of established convention that make all the difference.