Meta now has three mixed reality headsets, but still not a ton of mixed reality content to go with it. To remedy that, the company worked with veteran XR studio Magnopus to release an open source Unity demo it hopes to showcase some of the most compelling things you can do in MR.

Called Cryptic Cabinet, the escape room demo was designed to highlight the capabilities of the company’s MR Presence Platform on Quest, which Meta and Magnopus say can transform any room into a unique and immersive gameplay experience.

Anyone with a Quest 2/3/Pro can download it now and play the new immersive escape room, which warps a mysterious cabinet and a host of cryptic puzzles items into your room.

Above all, Meta says in the announcement blog post Cryptic Cabinet was built to showcase “how developers can create an MR experience that is tailored to each player’s room,” noting that the room layout provided during the MR space setup gives developers the ability to deploy items on the user’s walls, floor, ceiling, and furniture.

You can check out Cryptic Cabinet in action below:

Like how the company seeded developers with VR demos in the early days, the company worked closely with Magnopus on Cryptic Cabinet to show off best practices when using the whole gamut of its MR software features, including Scene API, Shared Spatial Anchors, Colocation, Passthrough, and Passthrough Color Mapping. To boot, the full source code is available on GitHub so anyone looking to make their own immersive MR experience can take a look under the hood, and modify it too.

Granted, Meta has provided a good amount of developer resources on the matter, but why showcase something as engaging as Cryptic Cabinet now, and not in late 2022 when it launched Quest Pro, or a few months ago when it launched Quest 3?

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That’s not entirely clear, although here’s some conjecture anyway: it seems there just isn’t a glut of compelling MR content out there right now, as many at this stage either come as experimental mini-games attached to regular VR content, or simple passthrough versions of the VR game. MR mini-games seen in Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord (2023) and Stranger Things VR (2024) are fine freebies, but nothing to write home about. Being able to see your dog as you play Demeo (2021) and Broken Edge (2022) in your living room is also cool, but neither of them really use the player’s room to its fullest extent.

That’s not to say there isn’t any MR content that doesn’t lie outside the binary of ‘aliens breaking through your walls, and regular VR game but with passthrough‘, although there are very few at this point. Still, it’s difficult to knock developers for not going all-in on mixed reality content. As with any new medium, the first thing to fall is the low-hanging fruit, which we hope gets eaten up faster than not.

Update (February 28th, 2024): A previous version of this article mentioned only Meta as the creator of Cryptic Cabinet, however the original blogpost didn’t mention the experience was also developed by veteran XR studio Magnopus. We’ve corrected this in the body of the article, along with some wording to further highlight the studio’s work.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • g-man

    why release something like Cryptic Cabinet now, and not in late 2022 when it launched Quest Pro, or a few months ago when it launched Quest 3?

    I love that there’s a link to an AVP article right after this question :D

    The fact is if someone asks why they should pay more for Q3 over Q2 almost all of the answers relate to the hardware. Software-wise there’s not much reason. Conversely AVP ships with the answer built-in: apps

    • Dragon Marble

      The reality is that Apps are extremely lacking and boring on AVP right now. Anything you can do in AVP you can do better on your phone or tablet or laptop. I don’t understand why someone would practically want to open a floating Twitter window next to a floating spreadsheet — as if your phone is not a distraction enough.

      What about the immersive apps? Well, where should I begin? People who have been complaining about “mobile apps” on Quest should buy a Vision Pro and have a taste of the real, literal mobile apps.

      So my reason for having a Vision Pro right now is actually very similar to why I replaced my Q2 with a Q3: the same stuff looks much better on the new, shinny hardware. And, of curse, the new hardware has much untapped potential, such as illustrated in this MR demo.

    • Octogod

      This comment will not age well.

  • another juan

    why release something like Cryptic Cabinet now, and not in late 2022 when it launched Quest Pro, or a few months ago when it launched Quest 3?

    heh. maybe they’re releasing it very early for quest 3 lite?

  • Andrew Jakobs

    The reason why they release it now might just be very simple, the software and demo just weren’t ready back then.

    • alxslr

      Yeah, that’s the problem with small startups like this one ;-)

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Because it’s a big company doesn’t mean this department is large and has enough employees to create this specific content. Also this demo depends on features that are only now publicly available in their firmware.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          MRL at one time had 10,000 employees burning through USD 10bn a year. With Meta really wanting to sell MR as a main feature on Quest Pro and Quest 3, not having a useful showcase and toolbox ready on launch for a technology that no doubt was in development for years, is not a sign of lacking resources, but a sign of lacking project management.

          Many of the features used in this new demo have been around for a while, and people have been questioning the practical use of MR for a long time, with it being more confusing to new users than a motivation to buy. But besides added comfort, some mostly puzzle games integrating it and otherwise mostly gimmicks, its main purpose so far still seems to be “but we have spatial computing at home.”

      • philingreat

        the bigger the company, the longer it takes, that’s not a surprise

  • Poze Ar

    It’s quite possible there is some good MR content, but it simply hasn’t reached public consciousness. For example, I’m having a really hard time getting exposure for my MR app, PozeAR. Perhaps other devs are having the same?

  • MR’s been around wayyy long enough now
    where we *should* be seeing compelling enough stuff, NO EXCUSE!!!

    • alxslr

      They obviously justy don’t know what to do with it, at least in a way that there is a decent return of investment. Passthrough is a cool feature to have. MR… maybe for some particular cases it’s ok, but mainly it’s just the next big “metaverse” idea. Just not enough to sustain the XR industry. And in this form factor, not enough to replace the smartfone either.
      VR is going to continue to be the driving force. Passthrough will be cool for som media consumption cases.

      The rest are just annoying distractions.

    • philingreat

      the issue with MR is that it is a ton of work for developers but that is not experienced by the enduser. you need to make sure that every room shape is taken into account and works for the game. but then the user will mostly play in one room so will only see one setup. So much work for so little variety for the enduser.

      Compare that to a procedural generated levels in a game where you develop it once but gamers can experience every time they go in a new level.

  • timothytripp

    Speaking as a developer AND a Quest 3 user, my assessment is that the primary reason to release this now is that the main problem with MR experiences right now is that they have used the spaces to show boundary interactions like windows and pieces of walls or ceilings breaking down, etc. but to dynamically position interactable objects within a custom space is quite difficult. This particular app will show developers how to randomly position objects of various size within a space, avoiding furniture and maybe more importantly, utilizing tables to place virtual movable objects on. Not that developers couldn’t have figured this out on their own, but it’s nice to have some guidance of the way (or at least ONE way) to do it.

  • Frankly I wonder if there isn’t a “Compelling bunch of AR games” because AR isn’t really compelling.

    And it’s Augmented Reality, not Mixed Reality. There is already a term for it.

    These companies keep pushing AR like it’s the Next-Step. It’s not. It’s a minor distraction with some minor use-cases, like maps, translation, maybe some business uses. Just because it’s different and difficult to do doesn’t make it’s the “next big thing”. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

    There’s pretty hard limits on what you can mix into reality (it’s still Augmented!). You have room size limitations, which are getting smaller for most people all the time. Less home ownership, rising rent on apartments, we’re all getting squeezed. And I am very certain most people play their VR games sitting down, as it’s comfortable. Gaming is a seated thing.

    This whole thing reminds me of Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The people that make movies design their movies around this very high-end sound system, but most people just have the two speakers built into their TV. So the sound in movies is always hard to hear, dialog is too quite, music is too loud, it’s hard to hear the important parts.

    We have the same thing with alot of VR, and now this AR junk. People are building these apps and games around a large, open room, that most people don’t have. Their Test-Rooms don’t factor in pets and kids, or clutter. Companies don’t know how the consumer is really using their hardware and software. So they get all of these bizzaro ideas in their heads about use cases that are rare, or even nonexistent.

    Gaming is a seated affair. Wii Sports was a neat distraction, but Xbox and Playstation rule the roost from the COUCH. It’s all about chilling out. And it’s also about immersion. Why augment your crappy reality when you can surround yourself in another?