Adventure Lab throw virtual reality experiences that allow you to go on an adventure with your friends, accompanied by a human host. These experiences are like guided escape rooms, but you play remotely over the Internet using the Oculus Quest VR headset. Although the San Francisco-based studio was founded in January 2019, this type of social gaming turns out to be exactly what many people need during the closing of the pandemic, say its founders.
Players can plan 40-minute adventures with up to four friends at a time using Oculus Quest VR headsets. Each session can be different, thanks to the human host, who can exit the script or change things for returning players.
The first adventure is Dr. Crumb’s school of disobedient animals. In this VR adventure, your team of humans takes the form of different pet avatars in the cooperative experience. They came together to solve a puzzle, as if they were in a physical escape room, except that it takes place online in a connected VR space. And you have a human host, played by an actor / performer, who can either try to help you or thwart you in your quest to cross Dr. Crumb’s laboratory.
The founders of Adventure Lab are Kim Adams and Maxwell Planck, who has been CEO and Pixar veteran for 10 years. He was a technical co-founder and chief technology officer at the revolutionary Oculus Story Studio, where he won an Emmy for his work on the history of virtual reality. Henri and a Peabody award for Dear Angelica. At Pixar, Planck worked on technical film teams such as Up, WALL-E, and Cars.
Adams, who is the chief operating officer, was a producer at Pixar. She also led creative technology teams at Google Spotlight Stories and Facebook and was production manager at Oculus Story Studio, where she and Planck worked together and became thought leaders in the VR space.
“I became really fascinated with working in new technologies, working with artists and engineers to try to solve problems and do things that we had never done before,” said Adams in an interview with GamesBeat. “At that time, I went to work at Google Spotlight stories. We were working with Justin Lin and other really interesting directors who asked them, “What would you do with this new tool? How would you tell a story? “And I really fell in love with VR and new technologies.”
When Oculus Story Studio closes Down in 2017, Adams moved to work on augmented reality at Facebook on the portal team. But she and Planck were thinking about the right time to return to VR, which they said would make a comeback after its lackluster start.
“We have watched the market produce more immersive experiences, immersive theaters, breakout rooms and even increasing sales of board games,” she said. “We wanted to do things more immersively. And while the Oculus Quest was coming out, we thought it would be a game-changer for VR, so Max had this idea of live host events. “
This idea turned into Adventure Lab.
“I am super proud of the work we have done at Oculus Story Studio,” said Planck. “But we had to create an adventure where the people who are in the helmet are the heroes, instead of those who follow a journey.” He added, “They can work together. It’s cooperative, a bit like … escape rooms are. And when you introduce yourself, there is someone like a clue master in an escape room or a dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons. They are there for you to have a good time. “
The host can give you advice when solving puzzles, or use an antagonist or secret agent manager. “The idea of being there with an artist makes this experience unique and something that is exciting,” said Planck.
How it works
Players can jump on their first mission to investigate Dr. Crumb’s school of disobedient animals after getting into the shoes of newly recruited secret agents for the Virtual Intelligence Agency. Players are connected online with the live host, who puppets a robot Nemesis character and follows a script, but can improvise as needed. Disguised as animals, the agents find themselves drawn into an unexpected labyrinth of puzzles and games that put their brains and strength to the test.
The virtual platform provides concerts for actors and other artists, and Adventure Lab has already trained some of these hosts, with more to come as demand increases. Guests purchasing a session can arrive at the time indicated and are greeted by the live host. The host is a guide, a master of clues and an interpreter who embodies different characters while guiding the players through a series of time puzzles.
Support for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index is coming soon. A 40-minute show will cost $ 100 for up to four players. For a limited time, the company offers a 50% reduction if customers use the promo code OG-LAB-RAT.
The team started Adventure Lab with friends and family and raised funds with Boost VR in January. The company currently has three full-time employees and other contractors. Axion Studios, a team in Singapore, helped the company build its VR assets. Two more episodes of the Dr. Crumb franchise are in the works.
More than 300 guests have already experienced the adventure, which helped Adventure Lab to refine its experience.
“It was interesting to see how practical a host should be,” said Adams. “In the smooth launch, we found that if the performer is really engaging, the default reaction for the audience is to just sit down and not interrupt. But that’s exactly what we don’t want for cooperative play. “
Planck and Adams believe that the virtual is the new standard. During the lockdown, people have had to overcome technological barriers and are desperately looking for ways to feel closer to each other – beyond a virtual meeting. And with the closure of cinemas, theme parks and family entertainment centers and the cancellation of concerts and events, billions of dollars of entertainment are waiting to be claimed.
On top of that, an unprecedented number of performers are now looking for work and ways to connect with their fans and followers. Adventure Lab can once again put these artists to work on shows. Artists can get a share of the revenue and promote their sessions on their social media, and famous actors and other celebrities could even charge more for their performances.
“We are delighted to create a new market for performers to bring together hosts and guests,” said Adams.
“In the long term, we want to prove that this is a new type of entertainment,” said Planck. “We think it’s a great idea, and we’re optimistic about the direction of the virtual reality market. We want to create this form of entertainment that people love and that brings together our hosts and our hosts. “