Progress on Beta 1

Finally, sun lit my house too. We started writing the plot and ark of our game. Before that in the team there wasn’t much focus on storyline. However, now we have the arc.

The story line has been shaping very well – it is a dystopian futuristic space colony plot. The Earth has been left behind, along with all of its surviving citizens, and now has an enemy in the face of the galactic colony that started from the old world.
The characters are the Phoenix Empire, the space station manager, the player, the scientist from the old Earth, the radio broadcaster.

About 300 years ago on Earth there was a war that has unclear origins and sides, in which nuclear weapons were used that damaged the planet and its atmosphere. Moreover, because of the radioactive fallout big portion of the population died and the future of the living was marked by genetic mutations and famine. At that point humanity had advanced enough to have started slowly colorizing the near planets and had space home in the orbits of different planets. There were inhabitants of the space-home which had taken permanent space residency, but it was still an expensive way of living so they were only the chosen few. The story told to the citizents of the space nation about the happenings on Earth is that because humans were divided they fought against each other which brought destruction to the planet, made it uninhabitable and unescapable, so it is supposed there are no survivors. In reality the war wasn’t because of division on Earth. It started as a conflict between the powerful and rich inhabitants of space didn’t want to comply to the motherland’s law and didn’t want to share their extraterrestrial resources with the poorer population left on Earth, so the nation which started the galactic project helped them to wipe out the Earth and it’s population. Planning took years, the last valuable resources from Earth were taken to space and then masking it behind a political agenda they destroyed their brothers.
The Phoenix Empire is the new intergalactic human nation that has started from the orbital colonies around Earth. In the last 300 years they have been drifting away from the Solar System creating stations in further planets even galaxies. The government is run by computers with human intervention by a board of directors, chosen by the population every 10 years. After they left Earth, many were doubtful about the events on the planet, so the story about the divided humanity was fabricated by the then-people in charge in order to keep peace on the colony. Although, it is not a totalitarian government in charge and the free media is one of the major ways for the citizents to have a voice, the story about Earth echoes through time. With the advance of technology and civilization interest in the origins of the human kind wasn’t present. However, the newly elected government is worried that such interest can arise and thus decides to go back to Earth and finish what their ancestors have started by diminishing the planet.
The space station manager sends the player, or first human satellite on a pretend mission of space exploration that will be broadcasted and added to history books in the Empire. However, unknowing even to the manager, who is in contact with the player, there is a bomb attached to the spacesuit that is to be detonated once the destination Earth is reached. There is no knowledge available to the mission control and player that they are in the Solar System from which their kind originated.
In the orbit of Earth the player and the space station which is receiving the recording, see a satellite and hear a recording that is playing from it. The recording and the satellite are proofs that humans have survived on Earth and have continued to develop after the attacks. They also proof that they don’t know the attacks were organized by the colony and think that they have been left behind and are searching for the others if they have made it.
The player knows little of this in the beginning of his journey and has to go through challenges in order to get to the final destination – Earth. On the way he sees artificially created objects, which hint at the survival of the old world. Once he gets to Earth she/he starts to realise what is happening and recalls a speech made in the Empire about the origins of humanity and the old world and realizes that there is a discrepancy between the reality and the stories told. Then he there is a malfunction of the trajectory of his path and he uncontrollably starts going towards Earth’s atmosphere. Then there is a message that pops up and asks if he wants to detonate the bomb that will be the end of Earth.

Up is Down and Down is Up

The unlimited possibilities of VR turn out to be a problem from me rather than a liberation. As times passes and I have to come up with more and more ideas about VR I am realizing how limited my mental space has become. Although, I have always been on the creative side in writing, coding, creating in any possible way, my brain has become limited by the limited resources that I have (I guess that is just growing up and facing reality does). And now this new VR opportunity presents a mind-bothering issue.

I mentally went through any superpower and magical thing that I can think of and then on my own found them all to be already existent in one video game or another, not necessarily in VR. So, I set out to think of something which would engage more senses in VR and would thus make use of how real it all seems once you put the headset on. Seeing and hearing have been engaged for decades now, movement is engaged in HTC VIVE as well. But I wanted to dig deeper, engage the unseeable – our sense of spacial position and balance.

Readily in my mind came the movie Inception and how by manipulating spacial position the characters were able to do many things. And then into mind came the concept of the impossible staircase.

Relativity
July 1953
Lithograph
27.7×29.2cm

The only way to go through this maze is if you are able to rotate your space according to the position of the next staircase. “Up” and “down” become not something set, but something you have control over. In this manner one becomes more aware of their vestibular sense. In real life almost no one (except of aeronauts and people using fly machines) pays much attention to this sense because special equipment is needed in order to affect it. For us the sky is always up and the Earth is down. However, like everything these concepts are subjective and not set, but for evolutionary purposes we have gotten used to calibrate according to these two big objects that are always in sight.

Thus, a game that makes you break the tradition of up and down can cause some trouble for most people. It is incredibly important for coordination and balance to know which is where, so when this certainty is removed many people might feel sick. But just like any other sense or muscle you have to go through the pain and trouble in order to improve. So, I feel like this has an application in body training and also poses a challenge.

It is also a challenge to make. For the past week I have been trying to create a level of impossible staircases and it is very hard for me to imagine everything in 3D while imagining to change my spatial rotation. Using other softwares like TiltBrush allows me to better imagine how it might look like, but it is still a struggle to open up my mindset to remove the usual concepts of up and down. Which makes me believe even further that having a way to learn it (like in such a game) will bring us closer to unravelling our full human potential.

As a second interaction me and my group discussed scaling of the world, similar to the beginning of Alice in Wonderland. This makes the design of the level even harder; however, it also works very well to present an “out-of-the-box” way of thinking. It is an interaction that again messes with one’s mind-set about position and control over the world that they are in.