When Secret Location released The Great C—a cinematic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi story of the same name—for PC VR headsets late last year, Road to VR heralded it as “an early triumph in VR storytelling.” Today, we’re excited to share that the developer behind Blasters of the Universe and Transpose is bringing The Great C to Oculus Go and Gear VR !
“It was exciting, humbling and definitely a little intimidating to make the first VR adaptation of a work of an author as renowned as Philip K. Dick,” says Secret Location Director Steve Miller. “The Philip K. Dick estate were fantastic collaborators and supportive as we shaped our take on The Great C. We experimented a lot with interactivity early on, from branching narratives to a question and answer style game, much like the premise of the original story. Given Philip K. Dick’s rich history of adaptations in the cinema, we ultimately chose to lean into an adaptation that allowed us to explore how far we could push the cinematic experience in VR.”
We sat down with Miller to learn a little more about the team’s creative process and their thoughts on the potential of immersive entertainment.
What productive overlaps do you see at the intersection of art and technology?
Steve Miller:I think each can and does push the other forward in interesting and exciting ways. I grew up watching movies like Jurassic Park andTerminator 2 push the technological envelope in service of being able to tell fantastical stories. And now technologies like VR and AR have opened up whole new landscapes for game makers and storytellers to explore.
The Stuntmaster and the Cybermaxx. The 1990s were huge for the development of VR, even though the devices didn’t truly capture the market the way they did now. However, they were nonetheless extremely immersive for the time. Two of the most notable head mounted displays are definitely the Cybermaxx by Victormaxx and the Stuntmaster. They basically had an LCD screen embedded in a visor, that had a head tracking system, colorful stereoscopic 3D with a price tag that was a bit below $1000. Both devices also had huge support from games on both console and PC, but they didn’t achieve the huge success the industry needed.
As the technologies behind VR (and AR) continue to evolve, what would you point to as the most exciting opportunities?
SM:VR and AR have so much immersive potential for people to exist inside storyworlds. It’s a bit of a Wild West situation in these early days, which is equal parts exciting and daunting. Sometimes we’ll want to put in this or that bit of interaction, but find it could confuse or frustrate someone new to VR. Conversely, a player might want to do something that wasn’t intended as part of the experience, and feel disappointed or limited that they can’t.
As time goes on, I think expectations and conventions will become better defined for both creators and audiences, and as our familiarity with the format increases, we can push the richness and refinement of those experiences further and further.
Did you draw upon any lessons learned from your earlier work in VR for this project?
SM:We’ve done a variety of VR projects ranging from narratives to games. But I’d say as much as we draw on previous experience, we also try to challenge prior assumptions. Certain things like the art direction or blocking that fills out a volumetric space and feels rewarding in VR are helpful starting points to pull from previous work, but we also wanted to push the needle forwards a bit on what is possible with viewer camera movement, editing, and pacing.
Any advice you’d share with new creators and artists looking to build for VR?
SM:I’d suggest trying to build from a point of strength. VR certainly has a lot of new opportunities and challenges, and you’ll be best equipped to tackle them the better you know the overall experience you want to create. We engaged in a very traditional script writing and storyboarding process on The Great C, and that really helped establish a storytelling benchmark that we could always look back to as we went deep into the technical aspects of making a VR movie.
Militaries are now using virtual reality to train soldiers in ways that will help better prepare them when they are actually deployed in combat.
If people take one thing away from The Great C, what do you hope it would be and why?
SM:As much as the premise of The Great C pits humans against technology, I hope that the fascination with technology also comes through. There is so much we can do that’s positive and exciting with technology, especially in the world of entertainment.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Steve. We can’t wait to see what Secret Location concocts next!
Experience The Great C on Rift , Oculus Go , or Gear VR today.
— The Oculus Team
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