AltspaceVR is a small virtual reality company that wants you to use the new virtual reality technology to communicate with friends and family as a virtual avatar. Think Skype but with 3D avatars instead of grainy webcam feeds. Around this time last year, the company decided to take their Skype for VR idea a step further by bringing Dungeons and Dragons to virtual reality.
Now it has.
The rough idea that spawned out of a 48-hour game jam now has the full backing of Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns the Dungeons and Dragons intellectual property as well as popular card game Magic: The Gathering. “It was me and a couple other engineers who looked at each other and said, ‘D&D, it has to happen,'” says Bruce Wooden, AltspaceVR’s head of developer relations.
From there, Wooden says, the idea caught on quickly. To give you an idea of how quickly Dungeons and Dragons VR caught on, testers were unwilling to take off their Oculus DK2 headsets for upwards of five hours.
How does Dungeons and Dragons work in virtual reality? Well, each player is represented by a virtual avatar and plays on a virtual game mat. One panel is a simple browser so players can quickly reference web resources (like how many hit points an angry Beholder has) while they are playing and a bar above allows players to access different dice needed to play. The Dungeon Master, like in the game itself, has a few more superpowers like playing mood music to set the scene or moving tiles for different battle scenarios.
The best part about Dungeons and Dragons on virtual reality is that it makes the tabletop RPG a lot simpler. Anyone who has ever played D&D knows that it’s basically fantasy math with stats, upon stats, upon stats to cross-reference only to find out that your first strike missed horrible. The integrated 2D web browsers makes things simpler. Option menus for quickly setting up a game board and other windows that easily show die rolls to the whole group help make the program less confusing and awkward.
“One thing we want to do is create things you can only do in VR and make experiences people are going to want,” Wooden says. “But the next big challenge will be enabling people to make their own games, to basically take this over from us.”
AltspaceVR sees the current version merely as the first step as it plans to use information and monster art from the tabletop game to make the VR app feel more official.
The Dungeons and Dragons virtual reality app is currently designed to work with the Oculus Rift DK2, so really the biggest challenge to know enough D&D fans with VR headsets so that VR D&D campaign can be played before the commercial version hits in early 2016.
Get your first look at Dungeons and Dragons on virtual reality below.
What other classic games would you like to see be playable in virtual reality? Let us know in the comments.