In a previous post, I spoke about the concept of world building, and how it is a crucial component to making games feel immersive, especially in VR. Today I want to build on the idea of world building by introducing the need for VR games to have toys.

If you look around, toys exist everywhere in our world; Chances are, there’s a toy sitting on your desk at work, or a toy somewhere in your living room. It might be prudent, however, to define what a toy is, before continuing.

A toy is something you play with.

It’s simple as that. A toy is an object that can be engaged with, for the purpose of deriving some pleasure from it. A simple coin can be played by spinning it; Or a pen by twirling. It is surprising how often humans engage in play without even fully realizing it. Perhaps it is at the core of human nature to play with toys. Just as it is human nature to wonder what a button or a knob does when we encounter something unknown, we are constantly on the lookout for something that engages our need for play.

There is even an incredible variety of toys for use at locations where work occurs!

I believe the same holds true for virtual reality experiences. A convincing world should have toys; Things that can be picked up, manipulated, and get some sort of feedback. During testing, players are often disappointed when they learn that they can pick up some objects, but not all objects. In a way, this is restriction through empowerment; Once the player is aware of their ability to pick up objects, they are more disappointed at its limited use then if they were not able to pick up any objects at all!

We took the idea seriously, and started adding toys to the world. Some are obvious, such as this beer bottle that spills liquid when turned over (And destroys your computer if you spill said liquid on it):

To making aspects of the world react when the player shoots at it during the game, such as hitting these explosive canisters:

It is important here to separate the concept of toy and game. Although both is meant to be played and hopefully fun, games have the distinction of a goal and can be won or lost. A tennis ball can be a toy because you can throw it around, but a tennis game requires rules, points, another player, and most importantly, creates an outcome where some players win and some players lose.

It may become self evident, then, that although toys are an important part making a game immersive, it must not be so distracting as to muddy the goal of the game itself. Wherever possible, the toy should help tell a story, and used as a way to contribute to the overall quality of the game.

We are getting closer and closer to the release of The Torus Syndicate; We’ve got something big to show everyone!