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Blair Renaud // LOW-FI ๐ŸŸฅ๐ŸŸงโฌ›

Blair Renaud // LOW-FI ๐ŸŸฅ๐ŸŸงโฌ›

Aug 3, 2020
30 tweets

#VR Design Manifesto AKA holodeck program guidelines [a work in progress] - no fail states - minimize user frustration - maximize user empowerment - maximize user awe - allow user to set their own goals - don't put words in user's mouth - don't push the user around

#VR allows us to experiences scale, texture and depth in ways other mediums can't. Looking up at the superstructures of a dystopian cityscape can inspire awe. Reflections in a puddle of a dirty street. Light beams sweeping through dust filled rooms. The mood of dirt and grain.
Kitbashing assets is frowned upon by some game developers, but it's valuable tool for #IndieGameDev and adds to believability. Taking something directly from concept art to reality loses something in the process. The real world is dirty and cobbled together. There is no plan. #VR
Creating believable characters is a huge challenge for #VR. While motion capture is good for gross movement, there's need for nuance in practice. Eyes dart to points of interest, but fix on the player's when appropriate. Procedural subtlety, blending performance and code.
#VR can evoke mood in a way that only the masters of film and literature could achieve in the past. Pulled into a tangible world of light and shadow, dust and grime, you can almost feel the thickness of the atmosphere. You can wade through film grain... be inside the frame.
We shouldn't be frustrated with #VR, or stuck on difficult puzzles. You wouldn't need a walk-though or a tutorial for the holodeck. There's always another option to explore, or another solution to the problem. The user should be empowered, not confused. Give us agency.
#VR isnt headphones for the eyes. It's a rich medium that compliments the mind. It's a place, a mood, a story, even a person. To boil the medium down to the hardware does it a disservice. Is literature just ink and paper? Is imagination just electric meat?
One of the beauties of cinema is that every frame can be a painting. We can apply cinematic principals to #VR. Lighting, for instance, doesn't need to have a source or be realistic to be beautiful. We can use it to convey tone and mood... to paint a scene and step into the frame.
Don't tell the user who they are, let them decide. Backstory is the enemy of mystery and imagination. Don't put too many words in their mouth, or in their head. #VR should be the user's fantasy, not the writer's.
The majority of players never "finish" games, so why make that the goal? Give users things to do that they enjoy. Reasons to come back; interesting characters, rich environments to explore, mysteries to uncover, minigames, achievements. Don't push them to a goal. Let them play.
We crave the feeling and atmosphere of a piece, rather than the intellectual property itself. We want it to feel like Star Wars, have a Blade Runner vibe or remind us of a scene from Robocop. We can have that without the brand. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
A gun isn't a gameplay mechanic, it's a weapon. There's no reason to artificially coddle an NPC for the sake of the story. Murder doesn't end the game in the real world, why should it be so in the virtual? Maybe they deserved it... maybe not. The show must go on.
We gamify life, so why not lifify games? No one asks, "How do I finish this life?", or "How many hours of lifeplay are there?". Money, knowledge, fun, excitement and fulfillment are scoring systems. We want to come back each day in pursuit of them. We can do the same with games.
It's been said that variety is the spice of life. This applies to virtual worlds as well. AI generated NPCs, seasonal and procedural content, randomized events and chance all add to believability and replayability. A unique experience for each player.
A believable world needs more than good graphics and sound. It needs to be filled with all that comes with life. Ubiquitous advertisements for products, radio stations with real songs, comic books, all varieties of donuts. It needs richness and depth. All the flavors of reality.
#AI is enabling creativity. It's writing copy and dialog. It's programing. It's generating art and sound. It's breathing life into our world. Rage against the machine if you wish, but resistance is futile. Its utility and beauty are undeniably. Don't get left behind.
"Sound is 50% of the experience." Especially true for #VR. Audio needs to be positional, accurate and plentiful. A club's bass thumps, a train in the distance, PSAs echo above, cars pass overhead, rain on the roofs, shuffling footsteps, a fly by a dumpster, rolling thunder. ๐Ÿ”Š
"The medium is the message" Is more true of #VR than any medium before it. VR seeks to encompass the senses, to replace physical reality. It can be used to share our most sacred dreams or to lock us into unholy nightmares. Scrutinized its architects, for they control the dream.
"Good artists copy, great artists steal." Art is as much a product of its environment as we are. Artists are inspired by and build on the works of other artists, musicians and works that came before them.
A game, -even one set in a dystopian world, can be a cozy experience. A place to escape from your troubles and feel in control. Sit and read a comic as rain trickles down the window... listen to some music as you fly high above the wastelands. No pressure, just true escapism.
Art isn't created in a vacuum. We ruminate on everything that came before us. A recipe mixed in our minds and baked in our dreams. Memories of a foggy night... an R-rated film glimpsed as a child... a smoke filled arcade. #VR imitates reality, art and life.
Don't let what #VR is today get in the way of what it can and WILL be. Push past the mobile chips and rhythm games. Ignore the quick cash and low hanging fruit. The corporate art and influencer hype. Strive for the holodeck. Share your dreams.
Most people's lives aren't even as exciting as a walking simulator. They feel like their dialog wheel only has one option. #VR and eventually the holodeck, will give them freedom and agency. To have control over something. To feel empowered. To fulfill their dreams and desires.
#VR and the #Metaverse will not be defined by Oreo or Wendy's. It can't be forced into existence by Meta (no matter the name), nor Microsoft. It will emerge on its own, when the time is right... when the need has arrived... free of corporate sponsorship and cash prizes.
Many games tell you "choice matters". Maybe the variety of choices is more important. Not so much that they matter. Life is morally grey and full of ambiguity. Often no right or wrong answers. Agency and unique experiences are what separate games and VR from books and film.
Once of the most powerful features of a holodeck program is its completely unscripted nature. Being able to walk away from a crime scene to go fishing if that's what you feel like doing. Like a lucid dream you don't forget when it's over.
Eyes don't just track, they glance, gaze and meander. When staring into the eyes of an NPC, they stare back at you. They have depth, they microsaccade. Looking from eye to eye, glancing at your lips, moving to points of interest. They're the portal to the soul of the machine.
I'm not doing this for the money... it might not come. I'm doing it because I know that VR can be more than just games on your face. It can be rich worlds dripping with art, passion, mystery and atmosphere. It can empower the user, inspiring awe and providing escape. Conveying mood, scale, emotions, and even memories in ways other mediums cannot. I'm doing it because I love it... I'm doing it because I can. I'm doing it because I have to. I'm doing it because if I don't, then who will? I've been given the opportunity to share my darkest and most beautiful dreams with others. To allow you to wade through my mind in vivid colour, and listen to my thoughts if you so choose. To engage and interact as you see fit. It's a gift. For me, and for me, but also from me to you. "Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams."
Our minds are plastic and willing to accept the inputs given. They fill the gaps, like the reader of a book, creating experiences that resonate deeper than pixel perfect lines alone can achieve. Haze, grain and shadow add more to believability than higher resolution devices.
For a VR user, a blank loading screen is digital purgatory, a limbo between worlds, leaving them abandoned and disrespected. As custodians of time and controllers of the senses, our duty is to fill these voids with engaging content and sparks for imagination and wonder.
Blair Renaud // LOW-FI ๐ŸŸฅ๐ŸŸงโฌ›
Award winning #indiegame developer Working on LOW-FI #VR for #PC #PS5 Previously @RockstarGames Co-founder @QuantumCapture @OccupiedVR
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