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Magic Leap’s Chief Games Wizard on what defines mixed reality and the 'everyday adventure' killer app

Graeme Devine delves into design concepts for MR
Magic Leap’s Chief Games Wizard on what defines mixed reality and the 'everyday adventure' killer app

Mixed reality is going to change the world, claims Magic Leap Chief Game Wizard Graeme Devine.

Speaking Develop:Brighton 2017, Devine discussed the key differences between augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, and why the latter is set to take over the world.

Devine described VR as a digital environment that shuts out the real world, meaning users are immersed in the virtual world but cannot see their friends or reach for a drink.

Augmented reality meanwhile overlays information on top of the real world, but the technology has no comprehension of the world itself.

Devine said AR is often confused with MR, but he explained that the latter is defined by digital content interacting with the real world around the user.

“Mixed reality is the mixture of the real world and the virtual world so that one understands the other,” he said. “This creates experiences that cannot possibly happen anywhere else.”

MR design

On exactly what Magic Leap is up to, Devine didn’t reveal any details about the technology. He did however discuss an internal game design competition called Pitchfest, in which the company set about discovering exactly what MR is.

Previously the firm had developed a game called ‘Gerald goes Bananas’, in which users had to fire a banana gun into a basket, which would then be thrown back at them. But this was more akin to AR than MR, he said.

So for the Pitchfest, Devine set a few rules that developers had to think about for their apps.

  • The five mile test: Whether someone will return back to their house to retrieve the headset because of that experience, such as they may do for a smartphone.
  • The toothbrush test: Wil the consumer use this application every day and does it offer a good reason to keep coming back and using it?
  • The Halo Test: Like a key IP for a console, will someone buy an MR system to use this?
  • Does it use MR?: Does it use core aspects of MR like world meshing (blending with the world around them), spatialise audio (recognising exactly where sound is emanating from), and does it take into account unique control considerations for MR apps.
  • Can Magic Leap learn from it?: How does the app differentiate MR from all other platforms?

The top pitches from within the company included a game called Vroom, in which users could create a race track around their living room and then drive cars on it.

The problem with this concept, he said, was while it was fun to create a track, playing it wasn’t actually fun and the cars became difficult to control as they were driven in varios directions around a room.

The winning title, called Catastrophe, involved the player herding 20 cats into a carrier with just a few items such as laser pointer and water spray. One of the interesting learnings from the project was how players tried to use their feet to move cats into the carrier, which had no real effect on the game.

Killer app

When it comes to creating the killer app for MR, Devine said this would stem from the idea of an ‘everyday adventure’.

He used the example of a concept called Ghost Girl, in which a ghost called Alice would live in your house and each day could present the player with new interactions and a new adventure.

While just a concept, he suggested this idea could be the basis for experiences based on big IPs like Harry Potter and Star Wars, creating adventures everyday encouraging the user to wear the headset again.