My art teacher said I’d never make it. Dad told me artistic expression isn’t a man’s profession. Mom? She put my drawings on the inside of the fridge. But you know what? To hell with them all; I’ll make it on my own. I don’t need a stunningly expensive work studio, complicated equipment or a shred of talent to make my own art. I have a VR headset and a copy of Dojagi: The Korean Pottery.
Yes, you read that right: Korean pottery in VR. What could go wrong?
Well, turns out quite a lot. Doing pottery is hard, especially if you don’t A. know what you’re doing and B. can’t actually feel the clay as you mold it, let alone articulate your fingers. Those are two kind of essential elements in the whole pottery-making experience. It’s kind of like Ghost except there’s no Demi Moore to actually make something. You’re just Patrick Swayze, sitting in a room by yourself with no one to show your immaculate biceps to.
To make up for the lack of haptic feedback and finger-tracking, you have to come at pots in certain ways, like lowering your hands down onto the top of the clay to form a bowl, or keeping one hand on the side and another on the rim to expand the diameter. At least I think that’s what those actions were doing; again without feeling the clay in your hands it’s kinda hard to know
It’s just an inescapable fact that pottery is a bit out of the reach of what VR can do right now. I respect this attempt, even admire it a little bit but, without a genuine feel for the clay, it’s incredibly hard to know how to sculpt with your hands. That’s why we have things like Tilt Brush and Medium; they’re creative apps designed with VR in mind, not just trying to ape a physical art form.
To be fair to Dojagi this all works about as well as it possibly could with current VR tech. All the expected tools are there (apparently there are tools in pottery) and you can even paint your finely-crafted masterpiece once you’re done throwing it. And developer Venister has gone above and beyond with what it needed to do; there’s an entire campaign (yes a campaign, in a pottery game) complete with unlockables and a story.
Anyway, I’ve learned two things from this experience. Firstly, my parents were right. Secondly, VR can do a lot of things but maybe virtual pottery isn’t the most practical use for the tech right now. Don’t throw out that turntable just yet, Patrick.
Dojagi: The Korean Pottery is available now on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets for £29.99