The Fearless Creativity of ‘Lucid Trips’ is Exactly What VR Needs to Thrive

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Born out of a lengthy period of experimentation, Lucid Trips begins with a novel method of locomotion and follows through with a unique approach to game design and multiplayer interactivity.

Lucid Trips is an excellent example of the sort of creative game design that we’re going to need much more of for virtual reality to emerge as its own medium, rather than a subset of the existing gaming space.

In many ways, Lucid Trips could be called ahead of its time. With developer VR Nerds (also the group behind VRNerds.de) starting work on the title as far back as 2014, the game has been designed from the ground-up for VR controllers. While back in 2014 there were some third-party motion controllers available, neither Oculus or Valve/HTC had shown their respective VR controllers until 2015, and wouldn’t launch them until 2016 (Oculus’ controllers withstanding).

Curiously enough, Lucid Trips largely uses the hand controllers as a replacement for your feet—a novel locomotion system which gives you disembodied virtual arms with which to crawl, jump, and fly around the game’s dreamscapes.

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The fantastical environments are just one hint that the game is inspired by lucid dreaming (the name of course being the major giveaway), a state in which a dreamer is aware that they’re dreaming. As an occasional lucid dreamer myself, the game’s locomotion struck a surprisingly familiar chord. In many of my lucid dreams, I try to run but find that I can’t get much, if any, traction from the ground.

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Indeed, in Lucid Trips, the disembodied arms which you control are at first unintuitive. Your instinct to use them like feet—where high friction allows one foot to be planted quickly after the next—is of no use in this low-gravity dream world. After a few minutes of practice I found myself gracefully skimming along the landscape by learning to gently guide myself with smooth strokes, almost as if swimming.

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And you can do much more than skim; with two arms and an exaggerated shove off the ground, you can launch yourself high into the air. This is useful for ascending difficult terrain. Once in the air, you can also spread your arms out to glide, and even use a special boost ability for brief moments of powered flight. Turning your hands while flying gracefully steers you in a way that is once again reminiscent to how you might fly in a dream.

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See Also: 7 Ways to Move Users Around in VR Without Making Them Sick

The locomotion system is a complete departure from anything else I’ve seen in VR and I was surprised to find that it was a completely comfortable way of getting around a virtual world. And it served purpose beyond simply moving me from one place to the next; while some games use locomotion out of necessity, Lucid Trips’ novel movement scheme is half the fun, providing challenge in learning how to navigate in an elegant, if inhuman, way, and also lending you the dream-like ability to fly unhindered.

So it turns out that locomotion itself can be fun, but what you do you do in Lucid Trips beyond gliding, jumping, and flying? At present, the title presents itself as an exploration game. Artifacts scattered about the environment will lead you along interesting paths, often ending at a high location that’s a great view and a perfect place to take off for a high-altitude flight (with special powerups providing a longer period of powered flying as a reward).

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Developer VR Nerds is also exploring an interesting asynchronous multiplayer idea where one player could visit another player’s dream world and hide artifacts for the first player to find when they return to that world. Presumably, players will be able to place artifacts in challenging areas which can only be retrieved if the other player is able to match the maneuvers needed to reach the location. And while Lucid Trips tends to be a surreal and relaxing game, I imagine speedrunners would love to see how quickly they can race around the various paths as a challenge.

Lucid Trips is among a handful of VR games that are genuinely thinking outside the box and exploring what can be done in virtual reality that simply wouldn’t make sense on other platforms. These are games that can hardly be described as ‘X in VR’ because they’re simply too different than what’s come before. The more developers being fearlessly creative in VR, the faster the platform will evolve into its own distinct medium.

Lucid Trips is currently in closed Alpha, but VR Nerds plans to release an open beta around September. They’re currently developing on the HTC Vive, but also hoping to release on Oculus Touch and PlayStation VR once the platforms become available.

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  • Sam Illingworth

    Oooh, this looks interesting!

    I love the idea of flying in VR, ideally with flapping my wings a bit to get going, as well as gliding.

    I should look into that eagle flying game…

  • rocky

    yes flying by flapping sounds like something i would love to do as well share the Vive experience with others to get them hooked.

  • Ali Abdoli

    Welp. This is gonna make me sick.

    • Pete

      I don’t think this will have bad VR sickness. The locomotion with hands underwater looks like what the brain/inner ear might expect to sense, therefore no nausea. But only getting in the game will tell how well the locomotion was implimented.

      • VR Cat

        It’s not vestibular (inner-ear) stimulation that would help sim-sickness with this control scheme, but proprioception – your body’s network of nerves that provides your own positional tracking. Ideally, you want to have proprioception in your legs, leaving your hands free to manipulate virtual objects.

    • Steve Biegun

      I spoke to a few people who played it. They said that it is a fantastic and beautiful game, but it is very easy to get nauseous with this one. Maybe that was just them.

  • Pete

    I love games that push the envelope like this to have a new experience like no other game.

  • I love flying, hang-gliding, parasailing, and roller-coasters, but whenever I try it in VR it makes me wanna puke. The motion sickness is just unbearable. I hope the technology fixes this.

  • W Van Landingham III

    This looks dull and boring, it’s the kind of artsy crap that will VR if people think this is what VR is all about.

    • Rainabba

      You have my pity because clearly your dreams aren’t nearly as fun/interesting as mine (or the developers). If you did, you would have a different opinion so perhaps this is more like a particular flavor and you just don’t care for it. I cannot wait to try it …. and find out if it’s going to make me sick or give me the ability to experience what I’ve only done fleetingly in dreams.

      • W Van Landingham III

        This is the Kinect, it’s the stuff people won’t buy in mass because they never want to be scene with it since they’ll look so stupid. Also people play games to relax, certainly when headgear is involved. Do I really want to be exercising and getting my head all sweaty with my $600 Oculus stuck on it? No, I want to sit my chair, game controller in hand and play video games. I don’t want to be bumping into my desk which is 18 inches away and tripping over a cord and face planting into my paper shredding thus being the first person to die using a Rift.

        • Rainabba

          Your definition of “gaming” is narrow, you make a lot of assumptions projecting your opinions on others. You really ought to actually go try real VR and give yourself a chance to like it rather than suffering your own bias. My pity stands and offers itself to you ;)

          • W Van Landingham III

            I’ve owned a DK1, DK2 and now a CV1. I’ve also owned every type of motion gaming that has been available over the years, way before 99% of people out there. Motion gaming is a gimmick – if you don’t have resistive feedback you’re just flailing around your limbs and look like an idiot. That does matter, and it matters a lot. For pure exercise if they can get those 360 treadmills going and mix it with VR, perhaps that will be something if they can install some sort of cooling into the head unit (not kidding on that). I’m not against motion gaming, but I am against people thinking this is mainstream stuff that will sell VR to the masses. It’s not. The masses will buy VR because gaming and software makes activities they already do amazing – such as games and movies, also stuff people never thought they’d find entertaining like touring virtual cities (like recreating ancient Rome) and true 3D recreations of museums and such. People don’t even understand what VR really even is yet if they haven’t used it, so trying to convince them to put on a headset and look like an idiot hitting stuff around their desks, it’s a losing formula and nothing but a niche market.

          • Everything is a gimmick until it’s not. Maybe you are right, we’ll all be let down and the tech will fall away for a while. Then again; the hunt for VR has been on for literally decades. Motion controllers have been evolving and getting more and more common. AR is making huge waves (and what is AR if not everything we’re discussing, but with a see-through display and then real-world context.)

            Only time will tell of course, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying myself :)

          • Jeff Knox

            People thought 3D in movies was going to go away because it was gimmicky. Now 3D is very immersive and not just, “ah! a yo yo is coming out at me”.
            Stop being pessimistic about exploring cool ideas. It makes you sound boring.

          • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Stupid I’ve used VR for longer than you and done much stuff than you – I love VR, it’s awesome. Try reading what I wrote and comprehending it you dolt.

    • JustNiz

      Yeah because what we really need is just another formulaic, predictable FPS *!!! Now with even moar gore !!!* right?

      • W Van Landingham III

        Or sports, or racing, or RTS or role playing – you know games people actually buy. Anywho have fun playing this… alone. Always alone.

        • Jeff Knox

          You act like nobody is interested in this game. And the reason those other games are more popular and people “actually buy” them is because this is unique and hasn’t really been done before. Your logic is pathetic.

          • Muhammad Jihad ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Hey kuck, where is this game on the bestseller list? Anywho go watch some french indie money and tell everyone how meaningful it was to see a gay cowboy eating pudding.