Splaces

While we expect our upcoming game, World Siege: Orc Defender, to stand on its own as a fun-filled, fantasy-themed gaming experience, what’s more interesting to me are some of its prototypical components. The game has a lot of under-the-hood stuff – a cloudy game server, our client engine and bandwidth-friendly 3D character tech, map clustering algorithms, and novel interface components. Although parts of the design come from a lot of traditional game development experience (fighting mechanics and PVE, for example), other parts are based on a lot of research and tail-wagging-the-dog mind-circles. To see some of that research hit the light makes this game a little extra-special.

One of the nuggets in the game is a fundamental part of the platform we’re developing at Kineplay — I call it a “splace” (space U place = splace). The basic concept is easy — it’s simply a location in our physical world where you step into some other space (or arguably some other place — but that’s less evocative and the resulting term is less appealing).

It’s like augmented reality — but not quite, since the focus is not modifying one reality but the relationship between two separate realities (real and virtual — which makes it a bit like virtual realty, but again, not quite. VR is focused more on one-way simulation). One of the key parts of the relationship is the knowledge of one reality while occupying the other — with somewhere to return to in each reality, memory and imagination can ignite the senses (seems esoteric as hell, I know, but go with it for now).

Orc Defender demonstrates splaces in a highly visual way by enabling players to step from 3D real-world to 3D virtual-world and back again, and it’s magical. Like the tents in Harry Potter transforming into a huge room, or the police box in Dr. Who revealing the entire TARDIS, or perhaps just good old multiverse theory, there’s something irresistible to me about the idea of splace.

As it turns out, there are a ton of awesomely cool things you can do once you focus on the relationship between space and place, and I look forward to writing more about them, in addition to thoughts about gaming, location, AR, VR, HCI and other bits that I hope are relevant.