Fantastic Contraption coming to Vive is going to change what you think of VR multiplayer

Gone is the idea of isolation and pricey equipment - virtual reality can still be the co-op game of your living room with ideas like Fantastic Contraption.

Fantastic Contraption is a 2008 Flash-based physics game based on building and puzzles. While official server support ended February the creators have announced something much greater - it's coming to virtual reality.

Raising the bar to a whole new dimension (three dimensions, to be exact), Fantastic Contraption is going to be a full, room-scale game for the Vive headset. Developers Radial Games and Northway Games are partnering for the project, which will be revealed at PAX and be available for demo.

Why Vive? And the assumptions of multiplayer

Fantastic Contraption isn't just another game riding the hype of the incoming VR revolution. According to the trailer, the Vive headset was necessary for FC because the game requires hand interaction for building. The people in the trailer help the main player and have a fun time watching the screen.

What's seen in the trailer is different from the usual imagery surrounding multiplayer in VR. When people imagine the future of virtual reality, they tend to go to extreme media examples. They envision downloading consciousness into a digital body or isolation inside a bubble. Or, they think of bumping into household objects, being unable to hear danger, or generally becoming a hazard.

The difference in the FC trailer compared to most other VR game trailers is the inclusion of friends helping each other; in other words, physical interaction with players.

These are legitimate concerns. With every new technology, there are unknown factors and unique problems. But, all these are on the basis that there are no physical bodies around.

The importance of human presence

With the influx of VR game development, it's easy to get caught up by the idea that VR is a single-player experience unless you're playing with or against other users. Fantastic Contraption is a sigh of relief in that it not only encourages local multiplayer, but in a low-stakes, casual environment - not like the more ambitious VR projects that need extensive space and equipment.

Encouraging human presence, notably human presence that isn't equipped in expensive VR gear, is far more likely to make it into everyday homes.  Fears about taking the next step of introducing VR into a home can be alleviated if family-friendly ideas like FC become commonplace.

To crush precaution is to crush the idea that VR is an isolated beast reserved for hardcore gamers. Instead, envision as a multiplayer experience that is still appropriate for the living room. There's not always a need for graphic realism and concentration in gaming. Sometimes, the best games are the ones anyone can have fun in.

Take it from the trailer:

"Building things is the most human thing you can do."

Published Aug. 27th 2015
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