The virtual reality (VR) title that offers a kaleidoscopic joyride through the highest clouds to the ocean depths titled Museum of Symmetry released earlier this month. Since then, the titles director and animator Paloma Dawkins talked about the experience at SIGGRAPH to the Georgia Straight revealing more around the creation of the title.
“The idea was that we wanted to create these five different rooms,” Dawkins explains at the SIGGRAPH convention. “Each room was based on the elements, a geometric shape, a colour, and an emotion. The journey goes through the Platonic solids. The first part starts as a triangle, and then becomes a diamond, a cube, an icosahedron, and then a dodecahedron. Each one has its own characteristics. Aristotle assigned each shape a feeling—so the cube, for instance, is more earthy and stable and balanced. Its emotional resonance is with the colour green, so the part of the experience associated with the cube is about friendship, love, and nurturing. We wanted to make a story through these shapes.”
One challenge that needed to be overcome with the experience was ensuring that the focus point was always seen by the user. Because VR offers the freedom to view content from any degree or angle, meaning directors need to take that into account when building a scene. To overcome this, Dawkins chose to embrace the freedom of the medium rather then try to direct a user’s eye to the center point of attention.
“I don’t want to guide the player,” she explains: “I don’t want to force you to look somewhere. A lot of games are like, ‘Here’s a glowing ball, look over here’. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make it a sculptural experience—you get as much of the story as you want to, and try to figure out what’s going on. I feel like there’s so much more reality in that. You’re not going to be told what’s going on all the time in real life. You just have to grab what’s going on and figure it out for yourself.”
The Museum of Symmetry was also worked on by The National Film Board of Canada and developer Casa Rara, working alongside Dawkins to build the unique experience. Lasting around 17 minutes, the experience delivers a non-traditional apporatch to storytelling by taking players through earth, fire, wind and water, to witness the unexpected pleasure-positive trip that journeys through nature and self. It made its debut at the MAZE Festival back in April of this year, where the National Film Board of Canada brought it to Berlin.
“There’s a lot of layers,” Dawkins “Something that I accounted for is that for a lot of people who play it, it’s probably going to be their first VR game, and they’re going to be overwhelmed right off the bat. I didn’t want to have to force a bunch of story down your throat while you are just trying to understand where you are. It’s something that we made sure of, that the game worked from simple, intuitive movements.”
Museum of Symmetry is available now for the HTC Vive on both Steam and Viveport, completely free to download and experience. VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on the title in the future, so make sure to keep reading to stay up to date.