Virtual reality adventure games

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Virtual reality adventure games

So if virtual reality truly is the holy grail of gaming then how will this new reality look and feel. In an occasional series I will try to imagine where this new adventure is going.
First up is an exploration of how this new immersive technology could breathe new life into what was my first beloved computer gaming genre, the adventure game.

Text adventure such as Zork had the lone adventurer exploring incredible textual environments with the goals of exploring, finding and manipulating objects and solving puzzles. These later developed into graphic point and click type affairs such as those from Sierra Leone and entered the 3D world with the likes of Tomb Raider. At each stage of their evolution these games gained better graphics and gameplay but lost some of the richness of detail that only the imagination and a well chosen adjective can provide.

I imagine that these humble adventure games could develop into something really breathtaking. Imagine the old text adventure Colossal Cave rendered into a real 3D world. The lone explorer armed only with a short sword and a dodgyoil lamp is now free to lose themselves in the canyons and crevices of a life size world, manipulate objects, scour a room for shiny objects. A frustrating, repetitive text maze of twisty little passages  becomes a  terrifying, claustrophobic nightmare.

This new lifesizeness ,which is one of  the most stunning differences beween this new technology and traditional gaming, could lead to some incredible gaming experiences. Imagine playing a version of Alice in Wonderland where partaking of the supersizing snacks would lead to a real dizzying shift in perspective. The rift might be a doorway to some truly psychedelic experiences.

While many might be drooling at the prospect of frenetic 3D warfare or the gang member experience of MMORPGs, some will be seeking a more serene experience. Text adventures were a solitary pleasure. To be alone, immersed in a mysterious new world, free to uncover its secrets at your own pace. One of the reasons for the popularity of the original Tomb Raider game was it offered a similar solitary experience, the goals are again exploring and puzzle solving. There is the odd monkey or tiger to dispatch but the shooting is only ever a distraction. On the rare occasions when something really threatening does appear (imagine that T-Rex lifesize) it is a jolting experience.

As well as poking about in damp dungeons, another much loved environment for text adventurers is the deserted (except for the occasional paranoid android) spaceship. Spaceships were always ideal for text adventures due to their restricted geography, and this closed offness will work well in a VR world too. In  a restricted, sterile environment it is possible to almost completely realise the world, render every button and fill the pockets of every spacesuit. The stranded astronaut would wander the passages accompanied only by the ambient chirping of the ship’s systems slowly uncovering the mystery inherent in the situation and occasionally pausing to gaze out of the giant screens at the passing starfield, aware that somewhere aboard the ship there almost certainly awaitesa silent horror to jog you from your reverie.