Ubisoft’s VR Escape Rooms Have Reached 240 Locations

Whereas Ubisoft’s finest recognized VR content material has been its pioneering work within the client in-home house, one other a part of its enterprise specializing in VR escape rooms has quietly turn out to be probably the most broadly distributed within the trade, the corporate stated this week.

Ubisoft has been investing in VR improvement early-on with video games like Eagle Flight (2016), Star Trek: Bridge Crew (2017), House Junkies (2019), and extra. And whereas their in-home content material is among the many most recognizable of their VR initiatives, one other portion of the corporate has been doing pioneering work of its personal within the out-of-home (AKA LBE) sector.

Spearheaded by the corporate’s Blue Byte Düsseldorf studio, Ubisoft has launched two video games constructed for LBE beneath the Ubisoft Escape Video games model: Past Medusa’s Gate (2018) and Escape the Misplaced Pyramid (2019), each set within the Murderer’s Creed universe.

Making a distinction between VR content material accessible to in-home customers and that which is barely accessible at out-of-home places, Ubisoft Escape Video games Government Producer Cyril Voiron confirmed to Highway to VR that the studio’s LBE content material is operational in 240 places throughout the globe, a “market main” place, he stated.

Picture courtesy Ubisoft, Cyril Voiron

In a presentation at XRDC 2019 this week in San Francisco, Voiron spoke to the studio’s improvement strategy for VR LBE content material.

Designing for the Mainstream

Because the title implies, Ubisoft Escape Video games VR experiences are constructed as digital actuality ‘escape rooms’ extra so than conventional VR gaming content material. Reasonably than being constructed for VR gamers in thoughts, the experiences are designed to cater to a mainstream viewers, most of which have by no means tried any type of VR earlier than. That is performed to make the content material extremely accessible, much like actual escape rooms, which generally may be loved by prospects throughout a variety of ages and bodily skills.

Picture courtesy Ubisoft, Cyril Voiron

The experiences are additionally particularly designed round two or 4 gamers, Voiron stated, and constructed so that every participant should contribute to the success of the puzzle, stopping anybody participant from storming by way of every little thing with out teamwork. This was all a part of the Blue Byte group’s philosophy of designing for “what you are feeling, not what you see;” particularly, the group wished each participant popping out of the expertise to really feel like they made a significant contribution and had a narrative to share concerning the function they performed in fixing the escape room.

One other a part of the core philosophy in designing the digital escape rooms was giving gamers digital experiences of issues they couldn’t do of their house, like mountaineering or seeing environments of huge scale, in addition to designing the expertise to be as pure and intuitive as doable, Voiron stated. Meaning easy mechanics like group communication, bow capturing, climbing, and solely grabbing objects (no different button or thumbstick use).

A large statue in ‘Past Medusa’s Gate’ designed to present gamers an immense sense of scale. | Picture courtesy Ubisoft

All of the Ubisoft Escape Video games expertise are constructed round pure room-scale locomotion (although Voiron added that an optionally available teleport system was added to permit the sport to function in places with smaller footprints). The experiences are designed with transferring digital platforms, in order that they’ll transfer the gamers nearly over a bigger distance than would in any other case be doable throughout the bodily house.

Iterating on Suggestions

Although the experiences are constructed for 2 and 4 gamers, Voiron added that the escape rooms had been initially designed to separate gamers up at totally different factors after which step by step carry them again collectively into a gaggle. This was to facilitate a sense of house and separation between gamers, however in the end suggestions indicated that gamers most well-liked to remain collectively as a gaggle. On that suggestions, the newest escape room nonetheless separates gamers for some intrigue and use of the digital house, however Blue Byte realized that permitting gamers to take care of line of sight (even from a distance) and proceed to have the ability to converse to one another helped them really feel not alone or misplaced; particularly helpful when gamers may also help one another work out what to do in the event that they get caught.

Voiron famous the problem of getting prospects who aren’t aware of VR into the headset in order that they’ll actually perceive what sort of expertise they’re signing up for. To resolve this, he really helpful that the purchasers working a VR escape room ought to avoid presenting it as a online game, and as a substitute give attention to advertising the expertise that gamers would embark on.

Picture courtesy Ubisoft, Cyril Voiron

As many gamers of the Ubisoft VR escape rooms might have by no means tried VR earlier than, the group wished to indicate them immediately that VR is totally different than what they might anticipate from a standard online game. This was performed by giving customers full-body avatars and mirrors proper initially to allow them to see themselves embodying these avatars. Voiron stated this shortly ‘clicks’ with gamers, particularly due to the equipment that they’ll use to alter their look. He urged that LBE purchasers may even arrange a headset of their foyer and let customers briefly have a look at themselves in a digital mirror to grasp what the digital actuality expertise is like.

An vital theme of Voiron’s presentation was that the studio was fastidiously monitoring participant and shopper suggestions and utilizing it to iterate and enhance the expertise. A type of main modifications was lengthening the typical time to finish the expertise in order that gamers felt they obtained extra worth from the price of admission. Within the studio’s first VR escape room, Escape The Misplaced Pyramid, the typical completion time was 44 minutes; within the followup expertise, Past Medusa’s Gate, they managed to extend the typical to 54 minutes.

The Subsequent Ubisoft VR Escape Room in 2020

Picture courtesy Ubisoft, Cyril Voiron

Voiron stated that the Ubisoft Escape Video games group is ready up as a small and agile startup-like group inside Ubisoft Blue Byte. Manufacturing on the primary mission began in early 2017; after the idea part, 16 builders constructed Escape The Misplaced Pyramid which launched in mid-2018. The following mission, Past Medusa’s Gate, had a 20 individual group and launched in mid-2019.

Voiron shared that the studio’s third (and to this point unannounced) mission may have the most important group but, with 23 builders, and is ready to launch in Spring 2020.

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