There are many experiments by creators utilizing the VR platform as they try to find unique content that’s either fully interactive or more of a hands-off narrative experience. Gary The Gull is an attempt that floats in between the two styles as a short film with reactive AI. Gary’s interactive elements were made possible by the Limitless VR Creative Environment and, courtesy of a partnership between Limitless Ltd and High Fidelity, everyone will now be able to us their toolset to create their own interactive VR characters. High Fidelity provides an open source platform for creative VR which is the same platform that powered a recent event where fans interacted with the cast of the Power Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see what users come up with and we chatted with the Limitless CEO and Founder Tom Sanocki about the potential of this collaboration.
Sanocki and the Limitless team believe you don’t have to be an AI expert to create interactive characters in VR. In pursuit of that for their platform, they try to formulate questions from the perspective of the creator: How would he or she want to build an interactive character experience? What would he or she want to automate, and what shouldn’t be automated? How can the technology be used to help them tell a story? They don’t stop there, though, continuing to listen to their actual customers to ease the use of things that are found to be tedious. “This means we always have something that is usable, simple, and shippable,” he says.”Our path to improving it always focuses on the needs of the storyteller, not the engineer,” he says.
The Limitless team also put together an interactive High Fidelity character that serves as a tutorial and an example of what can be done with the tools. When approached, the Sphinx kneels down to talk to you and then asks you three riddles you must answer correctly before passing. The text file that controls the character is available to users so they can see how he works and even modify him with new riddles or switch him to a new experience such as a quiz show.
Limitless VR will offer two types of interactive characters to work with: Standard and Premium. Standard characters respond to voice, gaze, gestures, and other input with the only bonus to Premium being that they have better voice recognition but, there will be future premium updates while standard characters will stay the same. Limitless Ltd will share more details on Premium characters in the near future.
“We’d love to see someone build an interactive butler, a spy adventure featuring an interactive James Bond, or an interactive history recreation,” says Sanocki. “All of those would be really cool. But once we look past the obvious, somebody is going to create something unexpected and compelling, something that will only work in VR. That’s what we’re the most excited about.”
He wants people to create freely with the platform but thinks the voice-driven interaction specifically is “a great way to communicate in VR and a perfect way to expand the ecosystem”.
Video games have flirted with voice interaction over the years, from commanding your squad mates on SOCOM: US Navy Seals for PS2 to Xbox One’s voice integration with the Kinect. The immersion of VR provides an intriguing opportunity to make voice interaction stick and this partnership could be the start of such a movement. Having easily customizable interactive AI that can interact with each other would be a logical next step and it is something Sanocki says they have ideas for, but we’ll have to wait for any developments of that kind.
Check out their website for more information on Limitless VR Creative Environment.