VRscosity Dev Blog #1: Not Minecraft

Many years ago, when the internet was only just maturing into what we know of today, I would spend many hours fluttering between various free games as they came up. Be it Runescape, some cheap thing from Kongregate or Albino Black Sheep, as was typical of youth I found ways to waste my time for as little money as possible.

One of the constant little toys that I’d continuously return to was that of the Sandbox variety. Long before the age of Minecraft, there were plenty of flash and java games available that on a quick glance were little more than embedded versions of MS Paint. However, unlike said drawing program, these toys contained various different materials that could be placed, which would interact with each other.

More advanced versions included acidity, electricity, temperature changes and air pressure, most notably the Dan-Ball’s Powder Game, which has long set the staple for these virtual 2D sandboxes. Eventually this was surpassed by The Powder Toy, which as a desktop client allowed further simulation to the point of being able to set up microcomputers and sensor networks.

So I was wondering, what about if I take these principles, and apply it to voxels?

 

Introducing: VRscosity!

A voxel based sandbox featuring fluid dynamics.

For the HTC Vive.

Because I don’t hate myself enough already.

VRscosity is to be exactly as tagged. Taking inspiration from the aforementioned sandbox games, I am building a voxel-based toy that lets the player pile, shape and sculpt various materials as they see fit, including liquids, solids and gasses.

The idea is that there will be some rudimentary fluid dynamics simulation within the sandbox. The goal of this is not to be realistic, but rather give some fundamental considerations to deal with – specifically, pressure, weight, mass and viscosity. A wall built with sand won’t hold back as much water as a wall built with stone, for example, before the pressure pushes it over.

Why am I building this for the Vive (and potentially the Rift)? Because I feel that this kind of toy would work best with as direct a set of controls as possible. As evidenced by Google Tilt Brush and Quill, the 3D control setup allows for much finer control than you would usually achieve with a mouse and keyboard interface, especially in 3D space. For the experience to be as fluid as possible, it makes sense for the control and interactivity allowed by the VR systems.

 

Not Minecraft. Honest.

The first thing that anyone these days leaps to when someone suggests they are making anything involving Voxels is “yet another Minecraft ripoff.”

It’s understandable really. After the runaway success of the game – a success that eventually netted its creator a cool $2.5billion – everyone and their dog went to jump on the bandwagon. Additional successes of the original DayZ mod for ARMA2 pushed the survival aspect into the spotlight equally. Thus, steam is awash with creative survival titles hoping to hit those delicious big bucks that Minecraft pulled in (spoiler: they wont).

I’m not going this route.

 

What now?

There will be plenty of development blogs on this project as it moves forward, with the intent of releasing it on Steam when viable for a cheap price (thinking $5 or less).

 

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