Magic Leap Collaborating with Avatar and Lord of the Rings Special Effects Team, Weta Workshop, on FPS for the Device

by Will Mason • December 18th, 2014

 

When a sleeping giant snores, it can be heard across the planes. The same can be said for the ever-mysterious startup Magic Leap. Since being thrust into the public consciousness in October with a massive $542M funding round, Magic Leap has continued to operate largely in the shadows, yet clues to their plans continue to leak out across the internet; the latest of which seems to give a little more insight as to what we might expect from the device.

“Saboteur 66 – Ultra-Wave Equaliser” one of the replica ray guns offered by Weta Workshop

A recently posted job description by Magic Leap on Gamasutra, says the company is “looking for the world’s best level designers” to join the team in collaboration with Weta Workshop to help design levels for a “truly next-generation Dr. Grordbort’s first person shooter.” According to the job description the game will be “a robot-disintegrating science fiction experience.” This game may well be one of, if not the, premiere launch titles for the new platform (or it may be another “red herring,” but more on that in a second).

Weta Workshop, based in New Zealand, is the special effects house behind films like Avatar and all of the Lord of the Rings movies. They also produce a line of replica ray guns “made by” adventurer Dr. Grordbort which may give us a clue as to what this game’s look might be. It’s clear that the guys at Weta Workshop are impressed by the Magic Leap as a platform, Richard Taylor, Weta’s Co-Founder (who is also a member of the board of directors at Magic Leap) described the product as “a rocketship for the mind.”

"The Hour Blue" might have been just a little... strange.

“The Hour Blue” might have been just a little… strange.

This is not the first time that Weta Workshop and Magic Leap have collaborated either, the two worked on a project together called “The Hour Blue” back in 2011. The project, however, like much of Magic Leap’s early marketing seems to be a bit of a psychedelic joke. In fact, in an interview with the South Florida Business Journal Magic Leap CEO, Rony Abovitz, called the app “a bit of a red herring.” In the same interview, Abovitz also described the reasons behind their relationship with Weta Workshop, saying that “not many people are as creatively open,” and “they are in New Zealand, they are… off the grid in a way – and we want that.”  Beyond secrecy, they are also one of the best special effects studios in the business, having taken home over 30 awards, including 5 Oscars.

 

At the very least, we can take away from this that the device will, in fact, have both a consumer focus and will be involved in the gaming space right off the bat. The device itself, however, still remains shrouded in mystery. Most of the information available to us suggests that the device is essentially some form of perfected augmented reality that they are calling “Cinematic Reality™.” Abovitz offers some clarification (in his own enigmatic way) as to why they have chosen to go with a new term, rather than embracing the established ones:

“Those are old terms – virtual reality, augmented reality. They have legacy behind them. They are associated with things that didn’t necessarily deliver on a promise or live up to expectations. We have the term cinematic reality because we are disassociated with those things. … When you see this, you will see that this is computing for the next 30 or 40 years. To go farther and deeper than we’re going, you would be changing what it means to be human.”

I know I am not alone when I say that I’m ready for them to show the device already, a number of sources I have talked to in the company have expressed similar sentiments. But we have all waited this long, we can wait a little bit longer. Until now, our imaginations can continue to run wild about the device one investor called, “so badass you cannot believe it,” and I think thats exactly what Magic Leap is hoping we do.

 

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