Getting Goofy in The Playroom VR

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Getting Goofy in The Playroom VR

Hello again. I’m Nicolas Doucet, creative director and producer of The Playroom VR. Today, we’ll talk a bit about something unexpected that emerged while our team experimented in virtual reality and that was carried into the final game: the aspect of performance.

As you know, PS VR wasn’t designed only for single-player experiences; there are games that make use of the TV screen as a second display as well. Utilizing the TV screen means that TV players are able to see the VR player inside the game from a totally different viewpoint. In an earlier post this week, we looked at how we approached the design of these VR characters to have a certain presence on the television screen.

Today I would like to dig a little into an observation we made while playtesting. We noticed that some players, when they knew they were being watched on the TV, began acting differently in the game, often exaggerating their body language for the purpose of comedy.

And since the tracking of the headset is so accurate, even the most subtle of head movements are accurately transposed and this can create some really funny situations. For example, in Cat & Mouse, some VR players pretended to be a puzzled cat, sniffing objects franticly in the room.

In Monster Escape, you can add drama by coming nose-to-nose with the TV heroes with a menacing look or peek behind a building and come out screaming “Peekaboo!” (which earns you a Trophy, by the way). It instantly adds a fun and theatrical dimension to the way these CG characters move. The player becomes an actor or a puppet master, of sorts.

We also noticed that people who enjoyed performing in such ways had a tendency to make a lot of noise! So we made sure we used the on-board microphone located under the front of the headset, so the voice of the VR player could be captured, distorted, and played back on the television in a silly way. That added a fun aural dimension to the acting. We made sure we pitched the voice up so they sound really silly, too. Of course, we also made the mouth of our VR characters move roughly in sync with the voice of the players, for added comedy.

The interesting conclusion to this discovery is that, while VR would normally be seen as a very personal immersion, looking at someone goofing around inside a “virtual character costume” is also part of the immersion, one where the VR player and their VR costume become one of the benefits to their audience.

The Playroom VR could be considered as a VR party game, where the dimension of performance is no longer limited to what happens in the digital world, but also to what happens in the room. A different way of breaking the fourth wall in future games, perhaps?

So, when you try The Playroom VR, be sure to give your best performance!

Don’t hesitate to drop us your ideas for funny multiplayer VR situations in the comments below — we will read and discuss them all with the team. Thank you for reading!

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6 Comments

  • October and November are shaping up to be fine gaming months.

  • I saw an example of this voice altering on PS Access. I couldn’t stop laughing. I would only suggest an option menu for Audio so you could choose the type of monster SFX you’d like to employ. Oh and of course and “cinematic mode” where you could record a greeting video as a monster or robot in altered voice and send it to a friend.

  • I love local multiplayer, and with one person in VR the opportunities are even more interesting. Some ideas:

    + A road-crossing game where the VR person tries to cross the street while couch players try to steamroll them

    + A version of hide & seek / flashlight tag where the couch players try to hide their characters, while the VR player tries to find them. If they sneak up and tag them before being spotted, they win and get to be the VR player next round.

    + A game show where the VR player is the host. They stand behind the podium and get to choose the questions, see the answers, and make the game fun. If they stump the contestants they get to keep the points :-)

    + Business sim where the VR player is the manager and the couch players are the employees. The manager gives advice (or orders) using data only they can see, and the employees try to improve the bottom-line. After every round you give raises and promotions to your best employees. Employee of the year becomes the manager next game :-)

    I’m curious what others might come up with!

    • If these were added, I may go and purchase VR just as a party device. This sounds like it would be an absolute blast to play with my friends, just like the quirky Wii party games that everyone used to play.

      I hope that each game is given multiple ways it could play out, though (especially the current Monster Escape), because the Ninjas minigame in the original Playroom was very fun, but unfortunately it got tiresome due to only having one map to play on.

  • Slightly unrelated, but I’d love to see support for the old Playroom continue as well. The PS Camera has the chance of becoming another great party device, and some new games would undoubtedly spruce it up, especially if incorporating some of the ideology behind the VR version. Some quick examples:

    – Temple Escape: Up to four bots are running to escape a temple as a boulder ominously follows (bonus points if themed after Crash Bandicoot), each controlled by a DualShock 4. Stomping the ground, though, will cause a boulder to fall at that point, so a fifth player (or any of the others) could try to stop them from escaping. Using the Smartphone app (or Vita second screen functionality) would also work well.

    – Balancing Act: Up to three players control an AR Bot as one controls a precarious log that they’re all balanced on with the gyroscope in their DualShock 4. Last one still on the board gets to control it next time.

    If more fun party games are added, then I could see the old Playroom being as fun as this looks to be. Of course, adding a second map/route to that old ninja game would always be a welcome addition (perhaps through a cavern, or up a mountain?) to make it a more appealing choice for my friends…

  • Please bring VR chat rooms or VR poker

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