Something's Coming is a prototype of an interactive virtual reality experience that has been designed for the Oculus Quest 2 headset. This project represents a culmination of all of my skills acquired during my Integrated Design & Media masters program.
The project is a Virtual Reality Experience/Art Game that explores existentialist principles through a modern lens. The project goes into a number of different methods of coping with an impending societal collapse, occuring in a very short amount of time. This collapse is brought on by a nameless faceless force that is unknown to the player, all while they are still expected to go to work. The project exhibits how one might deal with things like death, creeping dread, and stress when faced with forces outside of their control, adapting concepts that are often present in similar existentialist literature.
The project is an interactive sequence of events, with some game elements. While the game is interactable, ultimately there will only be one way that the sequence can go, with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end to the experience. The bulk of the experience is the player doing very simple tasks in VR, moving with their hands and body. The sheer pointlessness of these tasks is evident, as the real point of attention in the game is the giant ever counting-down timer ticking down from behind the player. Neither the player nor the non playable characters know what the counter is counting down to, and while they will eventually find out, the ‘what’ is going to be far less important than the ‘why’.
The game is divided into four sections, (taking place at 10:00, 7:30, 5:00, and 2:30). These sections represent a scale of how “bad” things are becoming within the world of the game. Exactly what is happening outside of the office walls is left intentionally vague, such that it could apply to a number of real world occurrences. While the timer represents tragedies such as natural disasters, systemic discrimination, resource inaccessibility, the rise of fascist governments, etc., it is not meant to apply to just one of these things alone.
The timer itself is meant to elicit feelings of mild background paranoia, and exploiting our fear that one day some nameless faceless Something could come out of nowhere and change the course of our lives forever.
A big inspiration for this project was observing the divide in resources. I found that many people who had the privilege of not being affected directly did not even think about these things on a daily basis. To be clear, I understand the importance of stepping away from the constant tragedy of our world for one's own mental health and sanity. It's both unfair and unrealistic to expect a person to be in complete anguish at the abysmal state of world affairs 24/7. However, there is a clear distinction between stepping away to avoid being overwhelmed and blatantly ignoring injustices happening right outside your door, with the latter being what this project intends to critique.
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” -John Donne
Complete Game Playthrough
What I Learned + What’s Next
This project greatly improved my skills with working both in Unity and in VR. While I was already familiar with working with both tools from previous work, each new project deepens my skills and understanding in these areas.
In the coming months, I plan on using what I learned in building this project in my work as a game developer and XR designer. I also plan to continue to work on projects that promote social change and spread awareness of the issues that inspired this project.