The lights are on
Vander Caballero and his team at Minority are best known for
creating emotionally-charged games like Papo & Yo, which detailed
Caballero's struggles with his alcoholic father. Caballero still speaks about
the game very passionately, saying that to this day he still receives plenty of
letters from people that it touched. While Caballero isn't abandoning using
games to address difficult topics, he's trying something completely different
for his next venture: a sci-fi, time-traveling adventure called Time Machine.
This may seem like a huge departure for Minority, but
Cabellero has been fascinated with virtual reality and its potential since the
'90s. He went to VR conferences sure it would be the next big thing, but sadly,
it never took off. Cabellero was left wanting, and he wasn't about to let
another opportunity pass him by. He saw a chance arise once again as VR came
back into the spotlight in the last few years, gaining even more traction with
Facebook acquiring Oculus Rift and Sony getting in on the action with Morpheus
- not to mention the various other companies betting big on the technology.
Caballero says VR is all about the experience, which is why
he wanted to do something imaginative and atmospheric. Time Machine takes place
in the year 2070, a few years after human gain the technological capability to
go back in time. You're part of a research team documenting pre-history, and
this assignment takes you back to the Jurassic era to scan dinosaurs in the
Entering The Time Machine
I strap on the Oculus Rift and begin my demo. After being
briefed on my quest, I'm shuttered off in a flying machine almost akin to a hovercraft.
Being released into the landscape is immediately mesmerizing; for a moment I
just take it all in as I soar through the atmosphere, glancing every which way.
The VR accurately tracks my movements and positioning, allowing me to feel a
floating sensation. It's not long before I submerge myself in water to take on
my first task of tracking down some dinos.
Time Machine isn't about harming animals, but you can
think of your scanning device as your weapon. As you get up-close and personal
with different prehistoric species, you must slow time to allow yourself enough
time to scan them fully. I come across my first foreign breed, the dakosaurus, which
looks like a cross between a dolphin and a dinosaur. I take to my scanner,
which activates at a click of a button. The hard part is getting the timing
down, which I struggle with at first. Your initial reaction when you see a
dinosaur is to immediately press scan, but you have only a small window for
slowing down time before you blow your chance to scan it. Not getting trigger
happy and timing it right as you draw near is your best bet.
Getting up close to these mammoths is absolutely stunning;
staying on task is almost difficult because I just want to zoom up close and
watch them. However, that'd blow my
cover. Part of your job in Time Machine is staying safe. Every creature has
different A.I. patterns. Certain species are aggressive and travel in packs,
while others are loners and non-aggressive. Your biggest threat is the predators.
Sneaking around them and finding hiding places is essential, because as soon as
they spot you, they charge. I learn this quickly as I try to scan a pliosaurus,
but don't time it correctly. The creature comes charging at me; I jump a bit in
real life as he zooms past, and try with all my might to swim to the rocky ocean
floor to get out of his path.
Caballero says water-based dinosaurs may not be your only
pursuit; the team is also exploring land-based and flying pre-historic
creatures. In addition, hunters have extra tools at their disposal, such as
stun guns, tracking grenades, and a holographic bait to draw enemies away from
packs. You'll want to use the stun gun on super-fast creatures and tracking
grenades can help you see distance enemies through objects, allowing you to get
the upper hand. Scanning gets more complicated as the game goes on; Cabellero
said in one case you'll need to scan inside the mouth of a gigantic beast and
escape before your ability to slow time runs out. As your progress, you'll also
be able to upgrade your scanner with better capabilities, such as the x-ray
vision, magnifier, speed, and range.
While we only saw a brief version of Time Machine and
Cabellero is still keeping the grander story under wraps, it remains one of the
more promising VR experiences I've encountered. Caballero says Minority hopes to bring it to as many VR systems as
possible and plans to release when most VR devices finally launch. So far Minority
has been working on the project for about a year. At the very least, Caballero's
finally making his dreams of making a VR game a reality; now to see how far his
imagination will take him.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Seeing this game reminds me of how excited I was when I saw Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle with a pack of domestic raptors; damn do I love me some dinousaurs and time travel.
Very intriguing idea for a VR game. Ideas like this incorporate my favorite potential aspect of VR: virtual, historic tourism.
This sounds amazing. If you can also get the game projected onto a second screen you can also have kids enjoy it too, dad gets to have the fun of chasing dinosaurs while the kids watch. Win win