The Novice Mode

Extreme Virtuality Experiences.

You may already know it, or you may not know it yet – but still, I absolutely want to be able to offer several modes of Virtual Reality experiences.
I put this notion in place almost a long time ago – in a fabulous article entitled: Adept of Sheogorath / Sheogorath is the Daedra Prince of Madness, so, in a word, he is the perfect godfather.

I have clarified my expectations for what I have called the Sweet Mode for children. The Novice Mode is not the same way of feeling.
It’s not the same audience.

It’s about targeting people who are used to seeing real shows, really going to the movies and eating sweets in their beds while watching Netflix.
So people who are not at all prepared to be under a Virtual Reality helmet and who won’t know what to do with that thing on their head – who won’t feel physically at all comfortable and who won’t imagine themselves, for a second, flying through the air like little dragonflies.

It doesn’t sound like anything, when you put it like this: Novice mode, isn’t it ? Seriously, these are the people who will be the most reluctant to try this experience.

So Altair’s goal is to both reassure them about what’s going to happen and offer them content that will delight them -so they’ll come back.

I will start with the most important thing: the content. If I’m interested in the content – I can eventually try an experiment – at home or in the theatre.

At first, I thought I would simply suggest that you put yourself in the best place – for once – without someone too tall right in front of you, or a girl with hair so straight you walk out of the room with a crooked neck.
But that would mean a whole show rendered in Virtual Reality – and the further I go in the project, the more I find it useless. Then : no. I need a better proposal.

I stay/stop on a proposal of 10 minutes maximum.
We’ll have to see if it’s relevant to extend this time. I already find 10 minutes almost a little too long.

What can we propose for 10 minutes?

Well, please, excuse me for not being original, I’m going to offer them something that works every time, in real life, and which is so rare that “it” never happens in a real spectator’s life.

> the spectator will go through the artists’ entrance. You know, the one that’s a little bit behind, which usually looks like nothing at all.

Do you see what I mean?
Let’s give it a try :

I have the helmet on my head.
In the hand – the hands – the joysticks to move forward: straight ahead, left, right. No other actions are possible, the goal is not to play or to jump, roll, pull, move back, climb.
I take a few seconds to familiarize myself with this: I’m under my helmet, I don’t move, I see what I should see in reality (my sofa or the Altair room) and then an infernal and cacophonous miracle: I move forward without moving forward – these are my first steps in the 3D virtual world.
On my right, a Start button.
When I feel ready, I go to the Start button, I get my hands on it.
Black – watch out, it’s starting.

I’m in the street – right in front of a door on the side of which is written: Artists & Staff Entrance.
If I turn around, I “see” the real entrance to Altair as it will exist.
No, I don’t go left or right or back – novice mode, I’m doing something planned. So all I can do is open the door.
Which opens.
I have to move forward – I move forward. Slowly, hola guys, I’m starting.

So I open the door.
I find myself in a corridor – where do I go? In front of me, at the end of the corridor, an impressive pile of huge objects – it’s not engaging.
To my right, closed offices.
On my left, I hear voices – a few steps away, after a glass door, people passing by with glasses and plates. Let’s go and eat. I walk to the left. I arrive at the catering, there are NPCs there – and those once we (Altair) get them, we keep them: real artists, real technicians, real members of the production, real guards… with almost random actions – in short, the whole crowd that presses behind the stage just before it starts.

If I go straight, I will find my way between the elements of decor, sound, light. I arrive behind the stage anyway – at an intermission at least, I don’t know. There are a lot of very busy people: the NPCs.

I don’t really know what to do, where to go – so I move forward – miracle of technology, I’m not hit by a wall running exactly where I am: I’m just passed through this wall of scenery – for example. Then the stage manager comes to see me – and guides me , reassures me: I will enter with the artists on the set
On stage, I’m not allowed to go any further: I spend the rest of the time watching the first actions from behind the scenes.
At the first blackout, I go down to the room – by the way indicated by the stage manager – and I finally land in the first free seat, quite in front of me indicated by a virtual usher.

When it’s time to sit down – the light comes back on – I’m back to my real starting point and I can take off my helmet.

Back to reality: all this was just an illusion, due to new technologies.

As a result: I wasn’t so scared – a little – I saw what I never see and will never see again in the same way & I was able to see a show from a ‘professional’ point of view – a point of view that I don’t normally have access to as a spectator.

This is, in 3D, the principle of the additional contents of the films, which present the making-of. Here, we go a little further, inviting the viewer on the set for 10 minutes “uncut”.

I don’t think it’s too nerve-wracking – it’s just a matter of moving forward – at the pace you want.
We can play with this mode by changing the “maze” behind the stage, which would give regularly different experiences. You remember the technique known as Procedural Generation, which makes it possible to never experience the same adventure twice in the same setting. By changing the appearance of the NPCs we have an almost infinite flow for this mode.

The idea is to propose 4 different places to see the show: backstage on the right or left – or above – for the adventurous who will try the experience with the ladders – or from below, with the stage floor becoming transparent – and also a small ladder to go down through the trapdoor.

On the hardware side for the spectator, no foolishness: one helmet, one controller – and that’s enough.
A specific room doesn’t seem relevant to me: for the Altair premises, this can be done in a place with sofas and it will be fine –

In concrete terms, on the Altair side it looks like this: having programmed a certain number of non-player characters – who will form the crowd into which I – a fraudulent spectator – will slip. These characters are infinitely reusable – all the more so because to transform them later, it is “only” a matter of transforming their appearance (their skins).
Having programmed the backstage – the descent to the hall – the free seat and the parts: the stage manager / usher, who will help my novice spectator.
Then present in a very neutral way the excerpt of the show that will have been taken and digitized for the virtual part of the experiments – knowing that my novice is not allowed to move, he is on the stage, the stage manager prevents him from moving forward.

After that, the spectator-novice can leave his helmet and come to buy his ticket.

No, in fact, he won’t be able to do that – barring a technical miracle, there will normally be a gap between our virtual proposals and what happens on stage – because we have to prepare these excerpts in Virtual Reality.
For the moment, I’ve only planned a very few “underwater” moments to have everything in sync: the show and the virtual proposals
.

On the question of time, I plan to add time for the presence of the companies targeted for Virtual Reality, in order to have material for the contents. But as I’m not absolutely crazy about it – I prefer to foresee that this material will be used with a time delay on the performance – it will be proposed at another time – with – yes I don’t forget what I write myself – a close but short show complement ( it’s my famous “trap” of temporality – come to Altair for 20 minutes in total? I won’t do it. Come for 20 minutes plus a short show? yes I will).

Of course, if we manage to get the equipment and the pros so “strong”, so good, that they will be able to prepare and build everything before the performances, we will do it. But I won’t make an obsession of it at all – already because it doesn’t leave enough “life time” for these contents and I want them to be thought of as off-hooked from the performance times, so that I can really exploit them.

We can also choose between having the company come in to create the virtual content and having them come in full for the performance – so we can have it all for the performance days.
It doesn’t suit me too much, because it implies a lot more additional costs, more organizations, more schedules to manage and therefore more possibilities of cracking one or the other.
And since these technologies are constantly improving, it will surely be possible, in the near future, to be able to carry out catches in real time – live – and there no more worries at all – but with good production teams employed full time.

But, then, above all: this experience is absolutely perfect to be lived “at home” – it makes you want to see the show – it’s not terrifying – it makes you want to have the right equipment at home – and at the same time it allows us to work with the manufacturers of this equipment – since we will offer new and original content for a segment of the population that is not too excited about Virtual Reality.

To resume: this mode will require a set up of the entrance in the back of the theatre – a creation of series of NPCs – and will then be able to “roll by itself” according to the shows taken up in Virtual Reality.

And by the way, these NPCs, once created, once well specified, with several ‘random’ action modes, will be perfect to animate Altair Twin and give flesh to this 3D virtual theatre.

A little song ?

Novice – (feat. Emkej, Pižama, Saxida, Nipke, Jose & Zlatko) – Repki

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Featured Image : from Sea of Thieves – by RareCalm sea, calm quest – novice-friendly time

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