One awesome aspect about getting into VR this early is that you get to witness the so-called “birth pains” of this new medium. Developers are still figuring out how to optimize immersion, and create truly unique experiences.
Let’s take Anyland, as an example. It’s a virtual reality sandbox, an open universe in which you can create anything you want using polygon objects. In it, you can also visit others’ creations, and virtually socialize. The premise isn’t all that new. In fact, its 8-bit style predecessor, Manyland, has been hugely successful. The opportunity that Anyland presents, though, is that users are given the experience of developing virtual reality assets in virtual reality. So someone can come in and use the application casually, and eventually tap into something that could very well turn into a career in VR development. While the probability of that happening could be as low as one in a thousand users, the intimidating thought of giving development a crack certainly crossed my mind.
Let There Be Light
The Anyland universe is a blank canvas. You start out with nothing, quite literally. What you get is a menu pad on your left controller, which gives you a couple of main options: create things, or change things. From it, you can also choose to chat with friends, or visit other user-created areas.
The first thing you’d want to do is manipulate the direction of the sun to adjust the lighting. You simply hit the landscape button at the bottom of the menu pad and adjust the direction, as well as the size of the light source. Then, you’re off fulfilling the rest of your own genesis.
To create a thing, which could be one big shape, or a composite of shapes, you start with a list of basic 3D polygons. Pick a shape and change its color, resize it from every dimension, or clone it. And of course, you can always destroy it. Next, put different shapes together to form whatever it is your heart desires — a spaceship, robot, palm tree, furniture pieces, there’s even a laser tag arena somewhere in the universe — the possibilities are endless!
See more here.
Let There Be Movement
Now, for the most fun part of the game: you can program movement and sound into each object. It’s a list of basic “when-then” scripts, as in, “when touched then play munching sound.” You can add functions so that you can interact with “things” and make them come alive. This is what makes Anyland absolutely exciting.
The learning curve for the controls and functions could be steep, but there’s a handy tutorial section to help you ease into the process. After only a few minutes into my first try, I wanted to look at what other users had already created. I was curious as to how much people have done with it, and I wanted to be inspired. I even took some objects with me and brought them “home.”
The next natural step was to create something in my likeness, my avatar. This gave me a real kick, being a huge Sims fan. However, it would take countless hours to make something as complex or remotely “human” in this case. But the creative process is well worth the time.
As for the social aspect of Anyland, it has one of the most active in VR. You can talk with others in-game, represented by your avatars. Even the developers have a known presence inside its universe. It’s also one of the few that have gone as far as establishing gameplay etiquette. It gives users the option of adding friends, reporting unwelcome behavior, and even locking others out of your area.
Anyland was highly recommended to us by our friend, Bill_Dance (steam username), who’s been enjoying the application immensely. Here’s what he has to say about it:
“Anyland is a game where you can create things, characters, and places from simple shapes and colors, combined with a simple-to-learn scripting feature that allows you to animate, or tell an object how to behave when someone interacts with it.
The most interesting aspects of Anyland to me are the unexpected benefits of virtual reality, being social and creative. Anyland is the best social experience I have ever found in a game. Players from all around the world come together to show off what their imagination is capable of. If you’re not into the “being creative” aspect of the game, there’s plenty else to do — talking to people or visiting locations made by other users. Simple -to-use animation features allow for easy movements in the “things” you create. Coupled with an interface that allows you to create almost anything you can imagine, it enables users a unique environment full of entertainment and endless possibilities.”
Get it here for $11.99, and let us know what you’re planning to build!