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Getting Zen with Augmented Reality

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Orbu is an ARKit game that transforms your surroundings into a relaxing Japanese garden.

 

There seems to be a trend in VR gaming towards using the immersive properties of the medium to induce relaxation and facilitate something of a meditative, Zen-like state.

There is a trend in VR gaming towards using the immersive properties of the medium Click To Tweet

Flutter VR was one such title we looked at just before Christmas, where players are transported to a forest where they can unwind after a stressful day by observing and cataloguing a range of pretty moths and butterflies, guided by a friendly capybara and the sights and sounds of the Amazon.

Orbu is an ARKit game that transforms your surroundings into a relaxing Japanese garden Click To Tweet

Tech Trends VR Tech Apple ARKit Augmented Reality Game Orbu

The game’s surroundings transform as their journey progresses not only over space, but also across three different seasons Click To Tweet

There’s no question that it’s nice to escape from the hectic, mundane, and often harsh reality of these post-Christmas winter months (I live in England, so excuse the downer tone, I haven’t seen the sun for months). But there is something even more satisfying about being able to transform and embellish that world. To instantly add a bit of magic and adventure to your surroundings.

This is the first AR game from London-based independent game studio Dream Reality Interactive Click To Tweet

And that’s what Orbu does. By using Augmented Reality, it turns your home or office environment into a magical garden full of fun and games. Developed using a combination of ARKit and Unity, this is the first AR game from London-based independent game studio Dream Reality Interactive (DRI).

Orbu uses Augmented Reality to turn your home or office into a magical garden full of fun and games Click To Tweet

DRI’s CEO and Founder Dave Ranyard was the former Head of Sony’s London Studio, where he led the development of several of the companies VR and AR titles. Most of the company’s team also worked at Sony on PlayStation VR Worlds, Singstar and many other titles, so although this is technically the studio’s first AR game, they are hardly newbies in that space.

The first question the Orbu team asked themselves was what could they do besides shooting Click To Tweet

Tech Trends VR Tech Apple ARKit Augmented Reality Game Orbu

The game uses engaging and intuitive slingshot mechanics to let players guide their Orbu creatures back to their spiritual home Click To Tweet

Which is why Ranyard tells me they were keen to do something different. The first question they asked themselves when coming up with a concept for an AR game was “what can we do besides shooting?” Quite a lot, as it turns out.

 

“Augmented Reality has enormous potential to offer new experiences for players, especially on mobile,” he says. “We wanted to make a game where people could step out of their busy lives and relax in beautiful Zen gardens. Guiding the Orbu creatures through obstacle courses is a fun distraction from modern life.”

Like in Flutter, you can engage in the ever-popular pastime of finding butterflies, or feed cute and friendly fish to your heart’s content without worrying about pulling a Trump-style gaffe and endangering the precious Koi.

Guiding the Orbu creatures through obstacle courses is a fun distraction from modern life Click To Tweet

Orbu’s art and sound design have been inspired by Japanese Zen gardens, and it can be played indoors and outdoors, adapting itself automatically to different environment layouts and lighting conditions.

Orbu’s art and sound design have been inspired by Japanese Zen gardens Click To Tweet

Tech Trends VR Tech Apple ARKit Augmented Reality Game Orbu

It’s like watching a magician do a trick for the first time but instead of pulling rabbits out of hats we make fish jump out of the floor Click To Tweet

The game uses engaging and intuitive slingshot mechanics to let players guide their Orbu creatures – you get the choice between a Tanuki (raccoon dog), Noko (turtle) and a Konkon (fox) – back to their spiritual homes, via a series of intricate obstacles. The game’s surroundings transform as their journey progresses not only over space, but also across three different seasons, or chapters (three are currently available with a fourth one due to be released soon).

And it’s that sheer joy of exploration, and the ability to see your world in a different way that captivates Orbu’s Creative Director Albert Bentall, who compares working with ARKit to opening up doors to new dimensions. “It’s like watching a magician do a trick for the first time but instead of pulling rabbits out of hats we make fish jump out of the floor.”

You can try Orbu out for yourself if you have an iPhone 6s and above, iPad Pro (1st and 2nd gen) or 2017 iPads. The first three fame chapters are available available for download from the App Store for $2.99.

This article was originally published on VRScout

 


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Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

 

 

 


Also published on Medium.