Fantastic Contraption Video Mixes Reality And Virtual

It’s hard to demonstrate virtual reality games in video, because most of the good ones depend upon them being viewed through a headset and not via a flat YouTube embed. This latest footage of Fantastic Contraption [official site] finds a good route though by alternating between video captured in-game, in-headset and via a secondary camera looking at the room which blends real and game footage together.

Which sounds confusing, but in practice it’s remarkable for both how seamless it looks and for what a good job it does conveying how fun and natural it looks to construct the game’s weird machinery.

Fantastic Contraption is a virtual reality successor to one of Colin Northway’s old games, which had the same name and premise but was 2D and ran in your browser. That premise is that you must build a physics-animated moving machine that can accomplish a goal, which is normally getting from A to B while navigating any obstacles in its way. In the example above, the obstacle is a pile of primitive shapes scattered across the track. The player tries to build a machine to overcome it by clicking together spinning wheels and struts with different kinds of properties and connections. When finished, they click a button, the simulation comes to life, the wheels start turning, and the machine either conquers the objective or – more likely – folds itself into a small ball and falls into the void.

There are a lot of games about much the same thing – including Northway’s own Incredipede, in which you had to construct living creatures of muscle and bone rather than mechanical objects – but Fantastic Contraption seems to be gaining as much from its motion controls as it does from VR. I like towards the end when a new plan prompts Sarah Northway to pull out a giant pin and start popping all the different parts of her existing work.

I like also that her in-game avatar is a weird lookin’ duck.

We cover virtual reality a fair whack, but it’s not that often we get to write about an actual game that’s coming for VR. I hope this is good.

14 Comments

  1. Dr_Barnowl says:

    Her avatar appears to be a sheep wearing a VR headset.

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    Oh man, I can’t wait where this will get in the future! I think that in 15 years all of this right now will look like we’re in the 90’s getting our minds blown by the simplest 3D graphics.

    • Faxanadu says:

      I had the same exact thought, but instead I found it rather depressing. We’ve got so far, and suddenly we’re at the “bottom” of progress again. Goddangit! I’m gonna have to wait YEARS till this turns into something great.

      • Sakkura says:

        As an old guy: The bottom of the last ladder of progress was already a lot of fun. I’m excited for a bit of a reset with new stuff.

    • apa says:

      In 15 years we’ll be moaning the loss of innovation and lack of ambition in then-current games, compared to the good old times.

  3. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Bloke with hipster beard put me off.

  4. Shazbut says:

    Do we never see her machine get over that stuff? This video is making me stressed.

  5. Slackar says:

    Can the two guys on the sofa be any more excited?

    • Somerled says:

      They’re showing off the level of excitement you’ll feel when you’re forced to sit on the couch and watch your friend have all the fun. Honesty in advertising is commendable.

  6. IonTichy says:

    IKR, a nice girl showing of freaking VR technology and they are sitting there as if forced to sit through some uncle’s holiday slide presentation

  7. jaronimoe says:

    what is she using to control the game?

    • Sakkura says:

      The HTC Vive controllers. Motion tracked wireless controllers.

  8. monkeyonstrike says:

    This was all broadcast live on their twitch channel, by the way: link to twitch.tv