Loading Human’s development journey is a story of passion and creativity. Flavio Parenti, a long-time fan of video games, followed his interest in storytelling when he became an actor in theater and film, and this love of storytelling, coupled with enthusiasm for new technology, led him into virtual reality. Alongside his company, Untold Games, he is forging ahead with this ever-evolving technology and tackling the unique problems the medium presents. Parenti’s passion and drive are the heart and soul of his upcoming game, Loading Human, as he works to create a compelling story within an immersive environment.
We sat down to talk with Parenti about Loading Human‘s road to development, discussing the unique challenges of VR and how the game has grown from idea to fully realized product.
Gamers come in all shapes and sizes.
We all have our own strengths and our own weaknesses, and for the most part, video games are a great unifier which can help us forget the stresses and burdens of our everyday lives.
Some peoples’ challenges are more difficult to overcome than others – physical, mental, and emotional difficulties can be a hindrance in the real world, though they’re often easier to transcend in a digital world. Now, the advent of virtual reality brings an opportunity for gamers of all backgrounds to use games as an outlet to explore and overcome the challenges of everyday life.
How close you are to the world in a VR experience — both physically and emotionally — depends on how a virtual reality game represents reality. While it might seem like more photorealistic graphics will mean a better VR experience, that’s not quite true; even in traditional gaming, missing the photorealistic mark by even a small degree can lead to a serious case of the uncanny valley. To keep immersion at its most effective, developers play with a few different ways of bending reality. Though it might seem counterintuitive, these methods actually help keep players grounded in the game world without slipping toward the disconcerting.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the world from the viewpoint of a bird?
Ever wanted to explore the bottom of the ocean and watch in awe as enormous whales pass you by? Or enter a computer world, as if in Tron or the Matrix? Companies are even looking to launch VR camera satellites into orbit, providing an otherwise impossible real viewpoint that’s accessible from your living room.
One of the great strengths of virtual reality is the capability to make players see the world around them from a new perspective. When used well, VR can deliver one of the most paradigm-shifting experiences possible in gaming.
Jumping into a virtual world can sometimes mean having to learn on your feet. A game character will often have established relationships with the various non-player characters that players interact with, and that needs to be conveyed quickly.
The backstories determine how friends and foes should interact within the narrative, which is why games need to quickly convince players to care for (or loathe) particular characters, as they’re brought up-to-speed on the long-term relationships that their character has had before the start of the game.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Votypka argued that “As game developers we have a responsibility to be considerate about the types of experiences that we’re doing because it now feels that much more realistic and you feel that much more connected to it.”
VR is an intense experience, and the emotional impact that VR games can have on the player need to be carefully balanced to make sure that audiences don’t react negatively or end up feeling overwhelmed.
But how can developers get the perfect balance in their games? How can they tell a powerful, emotionally impactful story that doesn’t go overboard?
This year at the Tribeca Film Festival, thirteen movies were showcased which were filmed entirely using virtual reality cameras.
The lineup of VR animated movies, documentaries, and graphic novel adaptations were designed to showcase the potential for building narratives in VR, and touched on a variety of interesting concepts, including meditation and the sensation of blindness.
These experiences were generally well received, with audiences expressing an interest in the future of narratives in virtual reality and how the experiences that storytellers can create will differ from what’s come before.
VR sickness—the tendency for some players to become nauseated or disoriented after using virtual reality headsets—is a real problem for developers. VR’s exciting technological promise is great, but if users are stumbling around and feeling sick after its use, its staying power is reduced. Any technological problem is only a few innovations away from improvement, however, and game developers and other experts are actively trying to work against VR sickness, pioneering new augments and techniques to cut down on some of the potential for nausea.
It should come as no surprise that some game genres work better in virtual reality than others.
Also unsurprising, the best genres for VR are the ones that use the player’s position behind the camera to increase the emotion and excitement that a player experiences within the game. Some of the best fits are a natural evolution of existing game genres which already provide this kind of experience.
Here are five game genres that will particularly excel in virtual reality, and a few games to keep an eye on within them:
Everybody knows what it’s like to invest emotionally in fictional works, whether they be books, movies, or games. What eleven-year-old hasn’t waited impatiently for their Hogwarts letter or dreamt about what it would be like to train as a Jedi?
With virtual reality, the opportunity to disappear inside an imaginary world becomes more concrete and believable than ever before. Gamers the world over are able to lose themselves in a narrative in a way that, thanks to the immediacy and presence created in VR, feels realer than any storytelling medium that’s come before.