Virtual reality (VR) ‘experiences’ are the new entry point. There are many small indie teams developing standalone titles that last only a few hours, some that take the player to a place they otherwise could not go and yet others that promise to deliver action so far removed from daily life that it could only be possible with VR. All of these VR experiences have one common thread: they are all influenced by the conventions of videogames. Vertigo Games’ World of Diving is no different.
Developed by a small team based in Rotterdam, World of Diving is the first of it’s kind. It’s a simulation of an experience that is accessible to all in the real-world, and yet far from an everyday occurrence. With World of Diving however, it can become just that: an event or interaction that can take place on your couch without the need for training, expensive equipment or even getting wet.
Vertigo Games insist that the entirety of World of Diving has been designed with the Oculus Rift in mind, and bar some minor technical hiccups it’s easy to believe that this has been the case. Though World of Diving is perfectly playable without a VR headset the experience is immeasurably more absorbing when you can suspend disbelief beyond the point of a rectangle in the centre of your vision. World of Diving comes into it’s own when you wholeheartedly step into it with the Oculus Rift.
World of Diving mixes the creativity of it’s community with the conventions of videogames from the very start. A small number of missions will allow the player to become accustomed to the control system and the environment in which they will reside, but beyond this it’s up to the players to create objectives for their friends. Whether it be photography or exploration, players are given the freedom to share unique experiences of their own doing on procedurally generated maps. Of course, given the open nature of the design it’s just as easy to get lost in your own personal goals as it is those that are laid out for you with direction indicators and targets; what’s wrong with simply enjoying the set aside world under the ocean?
Vertigo Games have of course taken this into account, as well as other requests from their already committed community. As of right now the team are asking their fanbase to vote on what they view as the most important stages of development – areas, items and other add-ons – and when finalised these will be automatically downloaded to your existing build via the videogame’s client. World of Diving will include microtransactions, but Vertigo Games promise that these will be limited to vanity items; unessential objects that are purely cosmetic.
Further to these additional bonuses come in-game upgrades such as real estate that allows for personal swimming pools or docking stations for a submarine. VRFocus wasn’t able to witness any of this during our hands-on time with the videogame, though arguably it will be a secondary aspect of the experience for many. It’s the multiplayer that will sell World of Diving – allowing up to 16 players in one area – as ultimately it’s an experience that is influenced by established videogame convention, but not hamstrung by it.