Colosse: A Story in Virtual Reality
‘COLOSSE’ is a real-time virtual reality storytelling experience, with a stylized, character-focused visual language. While the viewer has no direct control over the action, the progression of the narrative will be gaze-based. The viewer’s gaze – things they pay the most attention to – will direct the experience around them, giving them a subtle influence over events as they unfold. The story of the long lost Great Spirits known as the COLOSSE explores themes of fear, power and respect.
We’ve set out to create a highly-stylized aesthetic that will immerse the viewer in a visually impactful environment with appealing characters. The art design is engaging, but also seeks to maximize the graphic potential of mobile hardware. Our team is creating hand-drawn 2D art and building it into a 3D, real-time rendered VR world around the viewer. This approach is one that we feel creates a very unique environment for the story to develop.
VR storytelling is no easy feat. We set out to create an experience that requires no direct input from the viewer and yet allows them to experience a story crafted for real-time VR. This is quite a challenge, and elements of the scene – animation, audio design, ‘set’ design – will guide the viewer’s attention toward important story elements.
Additionally, we have implemented ‘gaze’ driven mechanics to control the pacing and action, ensuring that story beats and important moments are carefully played out in the field of view. This innovative approach goes beyond simply waiting for the viewer to ‘trigger’ events by looking at them, and also factors in the duration and periphery of the objects they are viewing. Additionally, we can change the events themselves to best suit the viewer – moving events to where the viewer is looking, rather than having to ensure the viewer looks the ‘correct’ way.
Sound design and music is critical to the atmosphere of the experience, working in tandem with the viewer-driven direction to draw attention to the important story elements. The procedural narrative also introduces complexity with the musical score as the audio needs to mix at the appropriate times to best suit the action.
We also experiment with innovative transition mechanisms and methods to change perspectives. Vection is a key contributor to sim sickness, and traditional camera movement is challenging in virtual reality. By exploring discontinuity and abstraction, we hope to recapture some of the cinematic beauty of traditional camera techniques while maintaining viewer comfort.
We’re really excited by the project, the possibilities of VR storytelling and can’t wait to show a world and characters that people will love.