Adventure laboratory launches virtual reality experiences that allow you to experience an adventure with your friends accompanied by a human host. These experiences are like guided escape rooms, but you can play remotely over the Internet with the Oculus Quest VR headset. Although the San Francisco-based studio was founded in January 2019, it turns out that this type of social game is exactly what many people need during the pandemic ban, the founders say.
Oculus Quest VR headsets let players plan 40-minute adventures with up to four friends at the same time. Each session can be different thanks to the human host who can exit the script or change things for returning players.
The first adventure is Dr. Crumbs School for Disobedient Pets. In this VR adventure, your human team takes the form of various pet avatars in a co-op experience. They put their thoughts together to solve a puzzle as if they were in a physical escape room, except that this takes place online in a connected VR room. And you have a human host played by an actor / actor who is either trying to help you or you on your way through Dr. Crumb's lab foiled.
Adventure Lab's founders are Kim Adams and Maxwell Planck, who serves as CEO and is a 10-year-old Pixar veteran. He was a technical co-founder and chief technology officer of the groundbreaking Oculus Story Studio, where he won an Emmy for his VR story work Henry and a Peabody Award for Dear Angelica. At Pixar, Planck worked in technical film teams such as Above, WALL-E, and cars.
Adams, who is the chief operating officer, was a producer at Pixar. She also led creative technology teams at Google Spotlight Stories and Facebook, and was production manager at Oculus Story Studio, where she and Planck worked together to become thought leaders in VR.
"I was really fascinated by working with new technologies, working with artists and engineers to solve problems and doing things that we had never done before," Adams said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I was working at Google Spotlight Stories back then. We worked with Justin Lin and some other really interesting directors and asked them, "What would you do with this new tool? How would you tell a story? "And I really fell in love with VR and new technologies."
When Oculus Story Studio closed in 2017, Adams switched to Facebook on the portal team to work on augmented reality. But she and Planck thought about the right time to get back into VR. They believed that they would make a comeback after their lackluster start.
"We have seen the market bring out more haunted experiences, haunted theaters, escape rooms and even the increase in board game sales," she said. “We had this longing to make things more haunting. And when the Oculus Quest came out, we felt that this would be a game changer for VR, and so Max got this idea of live events. "
This idea became Adventure Lab.
"I am very proud of the work that we have done in Oculus Story Studio," said Planck. "But we had to create an adventure in which the people in the headset are the heroes instead of the people who follow a journey." He added: “You can work together. It's cooperative, much like … escape room. And when you show up, there is someone like a hint master in an escape room or a dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons. They are there to make sure you have a great time. "
The host can give you clues as you solve the puzzles, or act as your antagonist or secret agent handler. "The idea of being there with an artist makes this experience unique to us and something that is exciting," said Planck.
How it works
Players can jump into their first mission to Investigate Crumb's disobedient pets school after following in the footsteps of newly hired virtual intelligence agency secret agents. Players are connected online to the live host who puppets a robot nemesis figure and follows a script, but can improvise if necessary. Disguised as animals, agents find themselves in an unexpected labyrinth of puzzles and games that put their brains and muscles to the test.
The virtual platform offers performances for actors and other performers, and Adventure Lab has already trained some of these hosts. More will follow as demand increases. Guests buying a session can join at the scheduled time and are greeted by the live host. The host is a guide, a clue master, and an actor who embodies different characters and guides players through a series of time-based puzzles.
Support for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index will be available soon. A 40-minute show costs $ 100 for up to four players. For a limited time, the company offers a 50% discount when guests use the coupon code OG-LAB-RAT.
The team booted Adventure Lab with friends and family and raised money from Boost VC in January. The company currently has three full-time employees and other contractors. Axion Studios, a team in Singapore, helped the company build its VR assets. Two more episodes for the Dr. Crumb franchises are in the works.
More than 300 guests have already gone through the adventure, which has helped Adventure Lab to optimize their experience.
"It was interesting to see how practical a host should be," said Adams. “At the soft launch, we found that the standard response for the audience is to sit back and not interrupt when the performer is really engaged. But that's exactly what we don't want for a cooperative game. "
Planck and Adams believe that virtual is the new normal. During the blockade, people had to overcome technological barriers and are desperately looking for ways to feel closer – beyond a virtual meeting. And with the closure of cinemas, theme parks and family entertainment centers and the cancellation of concerts and events, billions of entertainment dollars are waiting to be claimed.
In addition, an unprecedented number of performers are looking for work and opportunities to connect with their fans and followers. Adventure Lab can get these performers working on live performances again. Performers can generate some of the revenue and advertise their seasons on their social networks, and famous actors and other celebrities could even charge more for their appearances.
"We are excited to create a new artist marketplace to bring hosts and guests together," said Adams.
"In the long run, we want to prove that this is a new way of entertainment," said Planck. “We think this is a great idea and are optimistic about where the VR market is going. We want to create this form of entertainment that people love and that brings our guests and hosts together. "