Oculus - First Contact
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to play around with an Oculus Rift, and although I’d tried out earlier versions of VR previously, this experience really blew me away. I tried a few demo apps such as Bullet Train, Superhot and Oculus’ own First Contact. Although each demo was fantastic in its own right, I really left the experience of First Contact with a real sense of awe.
First Contact is a ‘Toybox’ experience and is exploratory by nature with a slightly linear progression. Oculus describes it as ‘an endearing robotic encounter that introduces you to Touch and hand presence with sci-fi ’80s nostalgia.’
You begin the experience in a sci-fi/retro caravan and the only interface element you see is a representation of your hands. You basically stand there in this made up environment and play around with a bunch of different toys, and as a result you end up exploring different ways to interactive with objects. Unintentionally, as soon as the experience started, I just manically started touching things and trying to manipulate things. I was so pleased to find that not only was the experience built to accommodate that type of exploration but that I was also rewarded for my curiosity.
Not often are you placed in a completely foreign environment and left to your own devices to explore the rules of the world. The experience was so magical and full of surprising and delightful moments.
I loved that there were no instructions or no voice overs to explain what to do. It felt almost as if I was part of an experiment and that people were watching me, interested in how I would react to certain scenarios.
The interactive cues came from a robot character that hands you floppy discs. Being an '80s kid, I was familiar with what the discs were and how to use them, so the environment became quite familiar and intuitive. I would be very interested in watching how a person born post-internet would behave.
From an interactive design point of view, there is a lot to take away from this experience. VR is such an interesting space to play in.
First Contact does a lot of things right. Firstly, I felt like the experience was tailored perfectly to me. Everything I tried to do had an adequate response. The experience was filled with these small moments of surprise and delight and as a result I felt clever for every interaction I accomplished. I also felt like I was in control of the pacing, which was nice. I never felt rushed and basically it just felt like an interesting space where I could spend as much or as little time as I wanted. It was like being teleported to another planet for a little while. That experience is not easy to come by. That is why I think VR can be such a game changer.
Try to check it out if you get a chance and let us know what you think!