• Roger Matthews

VR - Conceptual Multiplayer VR

Last week I got to play a multiplayer Escape Room type game. What was appealing to me about the experience was the potential to socialize in a different way than non-VR multiplayer games. Actually seeing another avatar in front of you in VR gives a gravity that makes another player feel more 'real', even if they were a basic avatar. It was also interesting to see your environment impacted by others in realtime.

My favorite multiplayer VR experience was at an event where each of us stood in a rectangular area with motion sensors on our limbs. It was an open ended experience where dancers in the background would implicitly encourage you to move your limbs around, but ultimately it was up to you to how you interacted with each other. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a game I heard about that also requires more user interaction as part of the game.

I did not find this multiplayer experience that enjoyable because, at least for our playthrough, each player was ultimately playing their own part of the level by themselves. Very little interaction was occurring, so the game did not seem to at least actively facilitate multiplayer interaction.

The most fun was in unintentionally amusing moments - i.e. bumping into other players and being 'inside' them, watching other players getting lost/confused. The meta component of observing and talking about the game was more fun than the game itself, IMO. And that moment of walking inside of players is what led me to my idea.

Multiplayer Idea

My idea for a multiplayer game centers around the idea of exploring a low poly world full of abstract shapes. The minimum number of players is two, as you must work in teams of two - i.e. 4 players would mean 2 separate two player teams.

The reason that you need a team mate is because the objective of the game is to reach objects that are too high for one person to reach. One player must hop on top of the other, so that the player on top can grab various higher objects, while the player on the bottom navigates and runs through the level.

In order for players to team up and join forces, they need to give each other a virtual 'high five' using their hand controllers. When both players' hands make contact, they hold their grip for a moment, and then whoever lifts their hands up in the air first will get automatically lifted on top of the other player.

The gameplay is very simple - an item is successfully 'grabbed' if the player on top waves their hand controller towards a target object and grabs it by pushing a button. The challenge is for the player on the bottom to help navigate to the right spot, as this can get progressively tricky as the levels get more complex.

There is a time limit, as well, so the goal is to grab as many objects as possible within that time limit. When the timer resets, players can change levels, and start over with new teams.

The game is in an abstract low poly style because the idea is for the world to feel more like an older fast paced arcade game than a realistic VR experience. Many VR experiences have minimal movement and are very conscientious of avoiding nausea (rightly so), but my favorite VR experiences are ones that make me slightly uncomfortable - such as one where I am floating in a dangerous space ship that is exploding around me and sending me flying.

I also like the low poly style because I think it could be interesting to allow players to make their own levels for the game, where they can place basic shapes like rectangles and squares around the level, and move them around using their hand controllers. There could be other ways to play with physics in the game that go beyond grabbing objects - such as having to push away cubes that are in your way, or more sophisticated ways of moving higher up in a level using platforms. I ultimately like the idea of a malleable world where players are encouraged to play with their environment.


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