Patrick Harris is the lead game designer at Minority Media where they’re developing a sci-fi adventure game called Time Machine VR. The premise of Time Machine VR is that humanity is facing a deadly plague from ancient times, and that best way to eradicate this disease it is to travel back in time to find the cure within the DNA of underwater dinosaurs.
Time Machine VR takes place within a submarine probe, and part of the reason for this is that Minority Media discovered that this a great way to move around within a VR space that isn’t as nauseating as moving around on the ground. Part of it could be our expectations of what it feels like to move underwater from the perspective of our vestibular system. Or it could be that there are less objects on the ground that are moving by you quickly, and so floating around in the water tends to not have as much motion that you’re detecting while moving.
Patrick talks about the how they’re prioritizing Time Machine VR as a game experience, but also trying to be as accurate as they can be with the dinosaurs by consulting with a paleontologist. He also discusses the different game mechanics available to interact with the dinosaurs including baiting, scoping, tagging, and a fun time freeze that allows you to swim inside of creatures for a closer look.
They also have an interesting approach where there will be two ways to experience amy given level. The first will be in the more linear and story-driven narrative mode. But then after gaining more tools, then you can revisit levels in a more exploratory context to gather more clues from the environment in order to solve the higher-level puzzles.
Overall, there are some pretty stunning graphics and the underwater movement was fairly comfortable but it wasn’t 100% free of motion sickness for me. I’m fairly sensitive to sim sickness, and so the yaw rotation was still a bit nauseating and it varied with how far away I was from the sides of the ocean walls.
Time Machine VR is available via Steam as early access, and so it’s worth checking out what they have so far if you’re into the idea of interacting with underwater dinosaurs, especially big ones with really sharp and pointy teeth.
Be sure to check out Patrick at Oculus Connect 2, where he’ll be talking about “Game Design Un-Rules: Examining Design Failures in Time Machine VR”
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Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio