Evolution! Oculus Rift Demo

Posted July 31, 2014 by in All

All Demos: ,
 
 
 
 
Developer: Tyler Rhodes
 
Demo Release Date: 01-05-2014
 
Version: 1.0
 
Type: Experience
 
Platform: PC
 
HMD: Oculus Rift
 
Download: Click Here
 
Control Schemes: Xbox Controller, Keyboard & Mouse
 

Best Part:

A clever and adorable art style makes for a compelling exploration experience
 

Worst Part:

Bug with the day and night cycle. Could do with being bigger
 
Bottom Line

The art project that Evolution represents is clever and creative. The end result of this Rift demo is enchanting, and it begs to be developed just a little further. At the moment it is held back by a major stereoscopy bug and limited scope.

Rating

Graphics
 
 
 
 
 


Sound
 
 
 
 
 


Controls
 
 
 
 
 


Gameplay
 
 
 
 
 


Comfort Level
 
 
 
 
 


Immersion
 
 
 
 
 


Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

3/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Evolution! is an adorable little exploration demo by animator Tyler Rhodes. The Oculus Rift demo is really just the end product of a fascinating creative process that acts as a study of evolution itself.

This process is actually a game to be played by a classroom or small group. It involves Tyler drawing a creature in crayon and having a class of students attempt to copy that creature. All of those copies are collected and most are then subject to an extinction event. The remaining creatures are then copied by the group again and the process repeats for several generations. By the end there is a wide variety of flora and fauna that can all trace their ancestries back to an original plant or animal drawing. A more detailed description of how to play this game yourself can be found on Tyler’s website. Initially, he used the resultant stacks of creatures to make animations. These are pretty cool in and of themselves, and are well worth a look. This Rift demo takes it a step further, allowing you to walk around a world populated by these crayoned critters.

The hand drawings do make for really striking and enchanting art style – and certainly a world I enjoy spending some time in. The vegetation is extremely varied and scattered around the landscape in a believable way. One moment you’ll be strolling through some short grass, the next beating your way through the dense undergrowth of towering plants. There isn’t as much animal life as you might hope for but it becomes something of a game to try to see them all. Sometimes you will be on the top of a mountain and spot something moving on the other side of the valley below – so you’ll race across the landscape, trying to keep your eyes on it as you make your way through the brush.

I think I counted about 8 different species of lizards, birds and bugs in total. Evolution! would really benefit from challenging you to try to photograph and catalogue all of the biodiversity of its world – perhaps unlocking short descriptions of the wildlife as you go. This would help to structure the experience and transform it into a casual but compelling game that I’m sure many would enjoy.

The landscape you have to explore is not vast, and it is quite easy to find its outer edges –breaking the illusion somewhat. However, it is still large enough to get lost in, and beautiful enough to make you wonder what’s over the next ridge.

The biggest problem with Evolution! is the day and night cycle. During night-time, the stars for the left eye do not match up with the right – making the skyline painful to look at for half of the game. This is a shame because the day and night effect is otherwise really lovely and without this flaw would probably be considered one of the stand out visual highlights of the demo. Hopefully this will be fixed in an update at some point.

Evolution is a fantastic example of a bold and unusual art style working brilliantly in the Rift. It is made all the more lovely by knowing the inventive way its world was created. Unfortunately, the visual bug during the night portions and a limited world size hold it back from being the experience it can be. I don’t know what Tyler’s plan for this project is but I would love to see it continue to grow – by adding more animals and sound effects, and perhaps wrapping a ‘safari’ theme around the experience. Even now, it’s a sweet distraction and will surely bring a smile to the face of Rifters young and old.

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About the Author

Edmund

Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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