Could Graphical Simplicity Be the Key to VR Success?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Could Graphical Simplicity Be the Key to VR Success?

That's a strange question to ask, I know, but it's one that's got some real weight behind it. The idea hit me after reading an article about Bill Gardner's upcoming "Perception", a title that shows us what kind of power a game can have even the graphics aren't the best.

"Perception" follows Cassie Thornton, a young lady who's lost her sight, and thus has to survive in a wholly inhospitable world as a result. Cassie's been described as "fiercely independent," so you can tell her reaction to things pretty well. But Cassie's got another problem: she's been seeing things. For a blind person this is particularly unexpected, but Cassie's seeing visions of a house known as the Estate at Echo Bluff, not too far from Cassie's own stomping grounds near Gloucester, Massachusetts.

But given that Cassie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, that might be a particular problem.

So how is Cassie seeing things? She's actually getting visions of the house in an oddish blue cast, which looks a lot like those perceptions of "visual radar" that you see every so often; clear enough to see where everything is, but more representations of objects than actual images. Cassie figures out where the place is, and goes to investigate, discovering that the house in question is haunted by an entity known simply as "The Presence", and this particular entity is not at all happy to see Cassie.

This, meanwhile, is the part where virtual reality comes into play. The graphics are comparatively simple by design, and can thus be more readily displayed in a VR system. This in turn has freed up more processing capability for other things; reports suggest that "Perception" may include what's now as a "GTFO Mode", in which Cassie has to try and escape from the house that isn't interested in letting her go. Featuring procedurally-driven levels, the layout changes every time, and thus finding a way out is different every time.

Simple, yet devious, this might be the kind of thing we see just as often as huge world-spanning experiences like "Skyrim" on VR. The development costs are likely lower, and such things can be used to generate the fodder necessary to make those "big-world" experiences happen. This is VR's truest promise; it can make the simple just as immersive as the complex, and make basic games even better for their simplicity.

Those interested in seeing "Perception" come out can hit up Kickstarter, where the project has raised just under $19,000 of a $150,000 goal at last report. Hopefully we'll see this one hit before too much longer has passed.

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