Building Relationships in VR with Buddy VR

The director of The Nut Job spin-off Buddy VR talks about how to build a relationship with a mouse.

Virtual reality (VR) is often called ‘the empathy machine’ as being immersed in the reality of another world and how another person lives builds a bond. This is easy to do when the player is literally inhabiting the body of the character, but what about other characters when seen from a third-person perspective. Chuck Chae, Director and Story Architect of Buddy VR discusses this problem.

Nina Salomons of VRFocus caught up with Chae to discuss the VR spin off that the studio is making based off successful animated property ‘The Nut Job’.

Buddy VR

Buddy VR is described by Chae as a ‘virtual relationship experience’. The basic idea is that the player need to befriend and build a relationship with a lonely mouse. Interactive storytelling is employed, which allows the player to change the course of the story.

Chae explained how he and the other developers were concerned about how much freedom to change the narrative should be given to the player, and much experimentation was done to find the right balance between telling a cohesive story and letting the player explore and change things.

There is a perception that though people often cry at sad or heart-wrenching scenes in movies, TV shows or even books, videogames are stereotyped as not producing this same reaction. Chae believes that Buddy VR might be able to change this.

Buddy VR takes a character who appears in The Nut Job, an animated film which was released in 2014 and tells the story of a selfish squirrel who finds himself helping other residents of a park to raid a nut store, which also happens to be hideout for a criminal gang.

Buddy VR

Chae and the Buddy VR team decided on the mouse character as he doesn’t talk, which offers different avenues for communication, which forces both developer and player to be more creative and pay attention to body language and expression.

The full interview is available to view below. For further coverage on new and upcoming VR titles, keep checking back with VRFocus.

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