Private Eye Room-Scale

An update!  It sure has been a long time, way too long a time.  Apologies all round that the blog hasn’t kept up to date, there are no excuses, there have been plenty of interesting things to write about but for whatever reason the blog was neglected.  Sorry that effort hasn’t been put into this but it is now a top priority to keep any movements going on with Private Eye reflected here.  Will do my utmost to post as frequently as I can!

Casting my mind way back to the start of the year, we were hard at work finishing the vertical slice of Private Eye intended for both the Gadget Show Live conference (thanks to some friends at Freefly) and our Kickstarter campaign.  The reaction to the demo was really positive and it felt like we were close to our long postponed Kickstarter campaign.

Following the gadget show I returned home to more good news, a HTC Vive waiting for me!  Eager for my first my first taste of room-scale VR I hastily threw myself into the Budget Cuts demo - it was a moment that changed everything.  

I instantly felt that this is what VR will be.  

The level of immersion, the feeling of presence, the effortless intuitive interaction with the world using motion controllers - room-scale with motion controls blew me away.  You feel grounded against the virtual floor beneath your feet, you can explore the space by crawling if you wish, there are no constraints and it powers a new state of immersion.

This experience was fascinating, inspiring, exciting while at the same time completely dispiriting.  Private Eye was designed around the constraints of the original VR experience.  The VR experience that had you seated in your chair with only a gamepad to interact with your new world.  Suddenly the rules of the game had totally changed and suddenly Private Eye just wasn’t the perfect fit like it used to feel like.  

We could plow on and stick to the seated VR + gamepad medium but it was already feeling like an outdated experience - how would it feel further down the line when the game was actually finished?  No matter how involving a story or how moody an atmosphere we could create, room-scale VR would always triumph with the greater sense of presence and immersion.  Ultimately, isn’t that what makes VR so special?

We made the decision to change course, we were going to re-develop for room-scale and motion controls.  It meant that things were going to take a lot longer and a lot of our core game design would need to change but we hoped the step back would deliver a leap forward.

So skip forward to the present and we have a new room-scale motion controls demo running (for both Oculus Touch and HTC Vive).  It still has a little bit more work to really nail down the interactions but we think we are most of the way there.  What began life as a small test room has morphed into a neat little escape-the-room type demo.  

This past weekend we took the demo to Brighton Digital Festival and had an incredible reception.  It easily surpassed what we were seeing with the seated, gamepad version of Private Eye.  It felt like affirmation of the decision to move to roomscale VR and made everyone on the team incredibly proud.  

Although this new demo hasn’t been integrated with the original Private Eye project it captures the mood, atmosphere and what we are trying to do with Private Eye very nicely.  We are toying with the idea of releasing this demo as part of the Kickstarter campaign so you can get a little contained experience of Private Eye and decide whether to back us.  Speaking of Kickstarter, we have finally began recording interviews and gathering footage that will eventually be woven together to form the Kickstarter video so we are finally on our way.  We expect the campaign to be launched soon!

We aim to bring you some more details soon on what changes have been made to the original design and how we plan to keep with the wheelchair while still making the most room-scale VR.  

Thanks for reading and we hope we still have your interest!

Thanks, Jake and the team.