Currently at CemtrexLabs VR we are working on an internal exercise to further refine our VR skills while exploring new mechanics and overall experience paradigms. We laid some ground rules for this exercise in particular and made some decisions in line with those rules. The first rule was that we wanted to create an experience that would heavily borrow from surreal qualities. The second rule was that we wanted to execute this surreal environment in a stylized low-poly art-style (there was no particular performance reasons behind this decision – rather we are really digging low-poly art right now and kind of wanted to pig out – it also helped that we felt we could use this to our advantage to further establish a surreal feel).

Lo- Poly Lore Monolith Concept by CemtrexLabs VR Team

With our baseline rules we sought out to begin to design some of the basic mechanics and interactions of the experience. Through our brainstorming sessions around surreal environments we kept coming back to the Hallelujah mountains from James Cameron’s Avatar. We kept on thinking about how interacting and getting lost among such a group of floating islands and all such an environment could offer would be interesting.

Hallelujah Mountains from Avatar. Trippy.

Building upon the environment, we wanted any additional mechanics to be easily graspable by all users including those who are more used to a casual game. Additionally, we wanted much of the gameplay to revolve around getting around the islands in a logical and progressive manner. Additionally, we wanted to really highlight and successfully convey the following qualities and feelings to the user: (1) Isolation (2) Being Lost (3) Mystery (4) Exploration (5) Familiar, yet, alien world. We looked to some of our favorite games for inspiration during these early design stages, including Gone Home, Journey, No Man’s Sky and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter to name a few.

We began to prototype:

Early CemtrexLabs VR team prototypes establishing some spatial, aesthetic and mechanics aspects of the exercise

As we prototyped and tested we begun to establish a core game loop that we liked – we like it because it was simple, straightforward and fun.

The basic gameplay premise will be the player exploring these mysterious islands, collecting items and solving puzzles to cross and traverse the islands while learning more about the story and history of the world. Simple interactions such as picking up and dropping items, as well as, solving simple puzzles will serve as the primary interactions beyond actually exploring and crossing through the world. The simple puzzles will require the player to leverage items they have picked up to unlock them, which in turn, will also reveal more bits of the overall back story – within the puzzles will lay lore monoliths, which will also aid in the process of revealing more of where the player is, how they got there and how they will get out.

We have additionally isolated Unity Engine 4 to be the technology upon which we code this yet [Untitled] experience.

We are working on our next prototype and will be sharing progress on where we are in the coming days.

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