You’ll hear the mantra time and again “you have to use virtual reality to understand what it’s like.” And for the most part that’s true. VR is so new and different that using old media like text, photos, or videos to explain it is extremely challenging. That said, this mixed reality video from Fantastic Contraption might yet be the best non-VR example of what it’s like to be inside virtual reality.
Point-of-view VR videos make sense to people who have used virtual reality, but for those who haven’t, it just looks like any old video of a player using a controller to look around. It doesn’t really ‘click’ until you can somehow show how the VR user steps into the virtual world entirely.
This mixed reality video, which combines real footage with virtual footage, shows exactly how the virtual world encompasses the player and better yet, how the player interacts inside VR. This is the best video I’ve yet seen to show what it’s like to be in virtual reality using a headset with tracked controllers like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
In the video we see the world of Fantastic Contraption. This is the world of the player wearing the headset. He sees all the green ground and the blue sky around him. He also sees all of the objects he’s creating and interacting with, as though they’re right in front of him in his actual space. The guys on the couch, as they don’t have headsets, don’t see this world. They’re sitting in the same room, watching on a TV screen. They can see what’s happening, but they don’t feel like they’re inside Fantastic Contraption.
So what are they actually doing? The goal of Fantastic Contraption, developed by Radial Games and Northway Games, is to move the pink ball into the pink goal area. As the goal is too far away from the player, they’ll have to construct some sort of… contraption… to get it there. The tools are basic—rods and powered wheels mostly—but with a little imagination and ingenuity, you can conquer some pretty challenging puzzles.