Augmented Virtual Reality Games: Clash between Partial & Complete Immersion
Without a doubt, augmented virtual reality games are exciting. Who wouldn’t want to experience his/her favorite game in an immersive dimension? Maybe Amnesia players couldn’t handle the tension, but I am positive that WOW enthusiasts would love to become the characters themselves or that Call of Duty players would be thrilled at the thought of holding a riffle with their own two hands.
The good news is that all of these things are possible now. Tech feats that virtual reality literally could not achieve 20 years ago are now possible. The gaming community is a whirlwind of excitement at the thought of bringing virtual reality games or augmented reality games into the home. And as is the case with anything that produces excitement, augmented virtual reality games have also resulted in heated discussions between tech aficionados.
Which VR headset is the best, what game offers the complete immersive experience, and so on. But the real question on every gamer’s mind is which type is better: augmented or virtual reality?
The Gaming World Says VR is better than AR
Let’s get this out of the way: we are only judging augmented and virtual reality from a gaming perspective. Although the uses of AR in fields such as education, exploration and every-day life are undeniable, gamers believe that its performance in gaming environments is limited. VR vs. AR became a conversation when HoloLens showcased its adapted version of Minecraft.
In my opinion, once you have recovered from the WOW-effect induced by the “Holy Expletives!” augmented reality becomes sort of a bore, at least for games that rely heavily on dynamism and vast 3D universes. The first problems with augmented reality games arise during development, when the game dev has to work with a specific environment.
Unlike virtual reality, he can’t simply create a world from scratch that is not dependent on the objects around it. When it comes to augmented reality, the developer must take into account real-life triggers (examples: lighting, objects in the house, walls, doors etc.).
So if you’re trying to play an open-world battle arena and your mission is to go from one check-point to another, you might find yourself in the situation in which the house ends before you can beat the final boss. Kind of frustrating, isn’t it? The rules of space do not apply to virtual reality software but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take into account real-life environment. A perfect example for this situation is Dreadhalls, a virtual reality game where each level is defined by certain parameters. We will be discussing later in the article.
Furthermore, while lightgun games are interesting, how long do you actually imagine yourself playing one? Probably not very long. That’s because you won’t experience any real progression. Sure, it’s cool to use the furniture around you to dodge monsters, but there will never be more than 10-15 spots in your house from which they spawn.
Microsoft’s HoloLens was also slightly misleading because it only displayed the capabilities of the system in a specific set of circumstances. In many ways it was similar to the demo of Kinect: very cool, but the product you buy is a completely different story.
As a conclusion, we are not saying that augmented reality games have no future on the market, but they can only be focused on a very specific niche, where the environment doesn’t play a big role. Games like Minecraft or PacMan should be extremely enjoyable and this is exactly why we will only mention virtual augmented reality games that aren’t impaired by lack of control within the real space. Here are our top games:
Augmented Reality Games
Let’s get started with some of the best augmented reality games.
#1 Minecraft Creations Enter the Real World
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience Minecraft’s virtual reality blended with the real world? iOS made it happen through Minecraft Reality, an app that enables the player to place Minecraft worlds in real-life surroundings with the help of augmented reality and advanced computer vision. With Minecraft Reality you can create new models and share them with the rest of the world.
In the following video you can see a few examples such as a Mustang, a plane and a pirate ship. Following the initial success of this indie game, developers decided to bring it to augmented reality. We couldn’t be happier. In its purest form, Minecraft is a virtual lego set. With augmented reality it can be built on a bed, a street or coffee table. Minecraft doesn’t care where you choose to play it because it is a toy box.
#2 Project Spark
Although it isn’t exactly a game, Project Spark turned out to be the most intriguing presentation that Microsoft had at E3. Project Spark is basically an augmented reality toolbox where users can create their own games and share them with others. According to developers, the project has been in the making for the last couple of years and it is as interesting as it is simple.
“The game is designed to give everyone the thrill of making games by walking new players through the steps of creating a simple action-adventure game.” PCWorld and Saxs Persson, Project Spark Engineer
The first time you boot the game you will be introduced to a blank world with various characteristics (arctic, desert, forest and time of day etc.). Despite the fact that games do not change dynamically, the gamer can switch between times through quests or other triggers. Basic commands include pausing and un-pausing the game to add vital elements or controls (you can assign what button does what, where health bars will appear etc.).
The best news regarding project spark is the fact that it will be free for Xbox One, Windows 8 and Xbox 360. After you are done with the game you can start playing it. If you encounter a big you can pause and fix it. Microsoft hasn’t talked about the economics of Project Spark yet. At the moment it will let talented gamers express their creativity.
An interesting game app which can be found on the iOS and Android markets is Paparazzi. This is Qualcomm’s number 1 rated augmented reality game. The concept is simple: you will turn into a paparazzi and your objective is to make money by snapping photos of celebrities in the Augmented Reality world. As you can probably already imagine, celebrities hate getting photographed, so you will have to run after them like a crazy person. The game has some bugs, but it’s definitely tons of fun.
Virtual Reality Games
Very few virtual reality games were released in the past three years. We’ve mostly seen demos of games or trailers for future releases. A few notable examples include the re-working of Half Life for virtual reality environments, EVE: Valkyrie which will be released around the end of the year and some previews for Blizzard’s favorite games.
In the mean-time you can have fun with Don’t Let Go, a game where you basically have to stand still and hold on to your control buttons while the game tries to scare you. As long as you manage to hang on to your wits you will win.
Another quirky game is DreadHalls, a VR game developed exclusively for oculus Rift. It is inspired from Dungeon Master & Eye of the Beholder. In it you will have to explore a procedurally generated dungeon in order to find the exit. Yes, there are scary creatures in it and your only chance of escaping is stealth. Be warned that this game is not for the faint of heart.
We have already discussed some of the best virtual reality games in a previous article. You can check it out here.