This week was Festival, the Entertainment Technology Center’s annual celebration and showcase of everything we have accomplished in the past semester. Industry professionals and family gather to see what we’ve built, and we finally got to show off our finished piece, which we have since named “One of the Family.”
What was especially interesting about this event was that it gave us an opportunity to have a serious debate about whether 3rd person VR is truly possible. Intense discussions were had, to the point where two industry guests emailed us after the fact, saying that they discussed the possibilities of it the whole way home. Some guests fundamentally felt that they could not enjoy our experience without being assigned a character. Others jumped into the possibilities of being a cog in the story’s machine.
This got us to thinking about our original question: whether we can create an experience where the player has no role. Now that we are on the other side of this process, we do not think it is possible. Players need a role. However, role itself can be defined as being “myself” in the space. We will discuss this more in our post-mortem and documentation, but we do believe that we successfully created a narrative experience where the player has permission to be themselves and engage with the story to the same degree as a player taking on a character.
As we prepare for our final presentation, we look back at what we have made, and although we would do some things differently if we could start over, we are very proud of the work we have accomplished.