Today begins the crowd-funding campaign for Powergrid, a virtual reality club and gallery created by developer Astrogun and intended for Oculus Rift users.
Astrogun™ Powergrid™ is an ongoing virtual reality art gallery club for the Oculus Rift on PC (Win / Mac), a showcase of the latest works-in-progress and past work of studio Astrogun™ and founder Xander Davis, as well as a place to build experimental VR design, collaborate on new art with guests, and simply hang out in designer reality. A standard non-VR version is included for those without the Rift.
Powergrid is the brainchild of Xander Davis, the man behind Astrogun, an independent game studio. Davis wants to create a multiplayer “electronic fantasies club” where users can meet and collaborate in virtual reality. Powergrid promises a virtual reality gallery, hangout, and interaction space. Davis tells me that Powergrid is not so much a game, but more of a place that will develop over time.
Powergrid is ﬁlled with impossible ﬂoating neon-holographic architecture and signage, futuristic graphic design and overall art direction style to the environment and virtual patrons, including a packed bar hangout. The lighting reacts to the original music by Astrogun™ (Xander Davis), pulsing loudly throughout the virtual gallery, creating a music-visualizer effect that will expand in scope over time
Davis tells me that Powergrid is inspired in part by the private hangout rooms in the popular VR novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
Ready Player One was like a reboot of 80′s VR for the current online culture global zeitgeist that celebrated the Internet’s nature as an archive of everything, combined with modern game development sensibilities, a sort of digital pop art orgy. It all felt immediately inevitable. A lot of us involved with Oculus and the Rift, including founder Palmer Luckey and many engineers there, are big fans of the novel. I’ve been reading it and re-reading it, taking it seriously actually as a roadmap. Because this all used to be science fiction up until very recently, and it’s still sinking in that this is all very much here now. Best of all, with Astrogun being among the first developers to design for it, we can help shape the first steps actual consumer-level VR takes. I’m especially interested in the idea of not creating games with it, but focusing on the profoundness of creating vivid places. Impossible places. And just as the novel explores, a common VR theme is that the place is a wrapper for real experiences, regardless if they are held virtually or not.
Astrogun has created a demo of the Powergrid space, but multiplayer, the key component of the experience, is not yet integrated.
Astrogun notes that, “We are investigating adding multiplayer functionality (shared space, avatars, voice chat, etc…) in the future as a free update so we can all hang out in the same virtual space together.”
For that, and other development, the studio is raising funds through crowd-funding to take the Powergrid demo from from prototype to reality.
The Astrogun crowd-funding campaign is being hosted independently by the studio. There are seven backer tiers available:
General Admission: $10
Get Instant Access to Astrogun PowerGrid for Oculus Rift (PC: Windows / Mac), with regular updates as the gallery expands and evolves.
VR Artisan: $20
Previous Tier + exclusive desktop wallpapers (PC / iPhone / iPad), original single “Stereo Sight Seekers” by Astrogun multi-formats (MP3 / WAV), & The Making of Powergrid PDF (updating over time). Get rare insight into Astrogun’s processes on VR design!
Club Wall: $50
Previous Tier + get your name on the Powergrid Club Wall in-world for all to see.
Club Fame: $150
Previous Tier + get your picture featured on the Powergrid Club Wall™, plus send us a scan of a handwritten message / drawing / your signature and we’ll laser engrave it on the wall in glorious holographic neon. Kilroy was here.
VIP + VR Design Talk: $500
Previous Tier + access to a special talk by Xander Davis on the future of VR design, in a private Powergrid room exclusively in virtual reality. Plus, your name and holographic image will be labeled as VIP.
VIP Club Producer: $1,000
Previous Tier + your name and holographic image will be labeled as VIP CLUB PRODUCER. You will also have the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for the club with its designer Xander Davis of Astrogun via e-mail or Skype.
Powergrid Legend: $2,500 (limit 6)
Previous Tier + your likeness will be added to the gallery in a work of art, designed with a unique futuristic outﬁt and ﬁctional backstory for your character in the Powergrid universe. Become a virtual reality legend.
Powergrid isn’t the first shot at an interactive multiplayer VR space. Back in June Virtua View took to IndieGogo to try to raise $50,000 to produce a very promising virtual reality lounge. Unfortunately, Virtua View didn’t hit a critical mass of funding support. Maybe Powergrid will capture the VR community’s imagination. I for one am eagerly looking forward to a virtual reality lounge space to hang out with the greater Oculus Rift community! We’ll keep a close eye on Powergrid, good luck to Astrogun!