VDA Q&A: Fantastic Contraption
Congratulations, you’ve just been nominated for a Viveport Developer Award. How do you feel?
We're super honored to be selected! I hope awards like the VDAs help bring attention to all the diverse and wonderful VR experiences coming out this year.
Where did the idea for Fantastic Contraption come from?
The idea for the original 2008 2D Fantastic Contraption actually came from a dream! It was to turn a Rube Goldberg machine inside out: instead of creating a complex environment for a simple ball to roll through, you create a smart ball (eg a car or contraption) which has to roll/walk/tumble/smash its way through each level.
We first conceived of adapting it to VR just a few days after trying the Vive for the first time. Our minds were blown by experiences like Tilt Brush, and we wanted to create something that would use roomscale to its fullest potential.
How big is your team and how long did it take to develop?
Our team is 4-5 people, Half from Radial Games and half from Northway Games. The game took roughly 9 months to make, although we're still working on updates.
Tell us something about Fantastic Contraption that we wouldn’t know from just experiencing it on Viveport.
We've put a lot of effort into developing tools to help film and stream mixed-reality footage of Fantastic Contraption, because we believe this is the best way to explain roomscale VR to anyone who hasn't tried it. We ran a mixed-reality development Twitch stream for much of the game's development.
During the development process, did anything surprise you along the way you didn’t expect?
We were thrilled (and surprised!) to have Fantastic Contraption bundled with the HTC Vive when it launched.
What do you hope people take away from Fantastic Contraption overall?
We want people to enjoy existing and playing with the world of Fantastic Contraption as much as they enjoy beating the puzzles.
Are you planning future updates and adding more features to Fantastic Contraption? Or what’s next for Northway Games?
We have two major updates in the pipe: one adds support for standing scale and smaller play spaces including seated. After that we'll release a level editor, so that players can create their own challenges and spaces to play in.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen built?
A walking beast, designed after one of Theo Jansen's wind-powered Strandbeests. They look surprisingly organic and lifelike. (See an example of Strandbeests in action below.)
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other developers?
If you're getting into VR, now is the time to experiment. In many ways this is an entirely new medium, and there are a lot of things that haven't been tried yet (or even thought of!).
Fantastic Contraption is available to download on Viveport.