Fantastic Contraption Coming To The Vive VR Headset

Fantastic Contraption [official site] is returning as a room-scale VR game built for Valve and HTC’s Vive headset. The original game was a 2D browser-based puzzle game about creating a device to carry a ball towards a goal, but creator Colin Northway is now re-building it as a virtual reality experience in which you build similar devices in 3D. There’s a trailer below.

When I used the Vive at GDC, it seemed perfect for exactly these kinds of experiences. Its twin motion controllers can be seen in-world and it quickly becomes second nature to use them as whatever tools they appear to be, whether simply hands for picking up, rotating and throwing objects, or a paint brush and paints, or a device for inflating balloons.

In the video above, Northway describes the game as a group activity, which also seems important for VR. One of the things that worries me about the Vive and Oculus is that they isolate you from the real world, which can be an uncomfortable experience if you’re in a room with other people. Making those other people part of the fun seems like a grand idea.

Fantastic Contraption will be at PAX this weekend, on show in Vive demo rooms.


  1. TechnicalBen says:

    I am not sure I see what VR gives to this that cannot already be done on the Wii…

    Still, neat tech and all. But it’s more like 4K or Electric cars. Certainly has it’s benefits, certainly “better” than existing options, but still priced out of most peoples reach and still has teething problems.

    • potatoesy says:

      Sense of space and dimension are so much more realized in VR. I’m not saying this isn’t premature, but it definitely is one of those it’s not even remotely the same.

    • Mctittles says:

      With the wii you have to guess where your hands are in 3d space by looking at the screen. In VR your hands are where your hands are and the 3d world surrounds you. You pick up objects just like you do in real life, by grabbing them from the area in 3d space your depth perception tells you that they are. It is much much faster and easier to work in with this kind of game.

  2. Chorltonwheelie says:

    “Making those other people part of the fun seems like a grand idea” Yes!
    The Wii did very well.

  3. Person of Interest says:

    Oh dear. This is the first time I’ve seen a Vive video showing the player’s feet and… it made me realize how often folks are going to destroy their VR headset when they step on the trailing cord while moving about, and either damage the connector or yank the whole thing off their head.

    • Harlander says:

      I watched the video in preparation to respond to this, but I was distracted by the ginger guy’s amazing facial hair.

      But yeah. Wireless, possibly with some kind of ungodly huge battery-pack belt, is gonna be a must if these things are to progress, particularly if you want to get two people in the same space.

      • Person of Interest says:

        It shouldn’t need a huge battery as it’s essentially a cellphone screen in a box. I assume the wires are less for power (it uses USB) and more because there’s no consumer wireless technology capable of transmitting 2160×1200@90Hz without artifacts/latency/judder.

        Maybe they could display the trailing cord in-game as a water hose, or a snake…

        • Harlander says:

          All we need is wearable 802.11ad transceivers. Come on, I want a 60GHz transmitter right up against my eyeballs already.