‘Spellbound’ Lets You Cast Virtual Magic with your Real Hands


Spellbound is a new made-for-VR game which uses Leap Motion and the Oculus Rift DK2 to allow your actual hands to perform some nifty spell-casting in the virtual world, amongst other things.

In this intriguing new title from Seattle based developer Eric Nevala, you’re placed into the magical shoes of a wizard who, in the process of dabbling with dark magic in an effort to re-animate his dead wife, has managed to wake up all the corpses in the neighbourhood – as well as his dearly beloved. Cue much magic fuelled zombie slaying.


Narrative premise aside, the game caught our eye thanks to it’s use of naturalistic hand motions in order to cast spells within the game. Using a DK2 front-mounted Leap Motion peripheral, the development team have integrated a gesture based spell-casting system through which you can conjure magic. Not only that, but depending on the cut and thrust of your hand motions, you can also determine the speed and trajectory of your magical salvos.


Nevala of team tells me that the team have been hard at work on the title for over a year now and plan to hit a launch date of March / April to coincide with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive projected release dates. On that note, once the team have their hands on Oculus Touch and SteamVR controllers, specific implementations of the spell-casting systems tuned to those motion controllers should find their ways into the game.

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Our main concern is the first person perspective may be a recipe for VR sickness for many, especially given the speed at which this Wizard seems to hurl himself around the place.

I suspect there are a fair few of us for which the idea of conjuring and launch fireballs with our bare hands holds some considerable interest, who the hell wouldn’t want to do that? We’ll keep you up to speed on the title’s development.

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  • Dotcommer

    Really rough around the edges, but I can see the potential. The issue they have is figuring out where the hands are when you’re not looking at them since the Leap Motion is mounted to the front of the headset, you’ll always lose tracking on your hands if you look away from them but can still see them out of the bottom of your eyes. The touch controllers would be perfect for this though.

    Hope they fix that doofy walk animation though. That’s gotta go or that’ll take me out of the experience immediately.

    • totozo

      no problem with the walk animation, fix your brain

      • Dotcommer

        No problem with my brain, fix your attitude.

    • Zach Gray

      Gotta agree on the walk/idle transition. It is so prominent that it is a constant distraction. There is an attempt to apply a cartoony walk in the tradition of Richard Williams with big overlaps and drag on the fingers, but it’s too much for first person.

      • Dotcommer

        But Zach! totozo believes that we have something wrong with our brains and that there is nothing wrong with the animation! What are we to do?! /s

      • Eric Nevala

        Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It’s much appreciated. I’ll put some time into polishing up the run/walk animations (particularly the hands). The hands should also blend from the default hand position to the players hand position rather than instantly snapping.

  • Jack Sparrow

    If I may ask, how do you walk while cast spell since your hand is needed for the leap motion. Did the developer use another controller or by hand gesture?

    • Eric Nevala

      Right now, we use an xbox controller for movement and rotation. We’ve been trying to come up with an intuitive, clever way to move by using your hands… but nothing seems to quite work perfectly. The problem is that as humans, we’re used to using our feet! We’re very keen on getting the movement and rotation done right so that it feels natural, easy and fast and not gimmicky. We’ve got some ideas we’re still waiting to try out though, so hang tight :)

      • victor

        Idea for you. Use axis on leap motion(that is if leap motion has an axis slider of some sorts) for movement speed and gaze for direction/rotation!

  • Hungle Jut

    Aaaah, ever since I saw some hand-tracking, this is what I hoped it would be used for. Hopefully in 20 years time I finally get to play a VR MMO sword and sorcery on my omnidirectional treadmill. I see the usefull application of VR all the time, but in my heart of hearts, this is what I hope I live to experience.