To mark the release of Ready Player One at a cinema screen near you, Draw & Code were commissioned to create an AR mini-game within the Snatch treasure hunt app.
As with all things Snatch, the game gives players the chance to win a real prize – in this case a trip to New York City. It’s certainly an apt platform chosen to deliver this Ready Player One experience as the plot of the book and movie focuses on a digital treasure hunt – which is exactly how you would describe Snatch. However, what excited the team here was to work on the immersive tech-focused IP from Warner Bros in advance of the movie appearing.
Ready Player One transports viewers to a near-future where the world’s population seeks to escape into a virtual world. This dystopian view of virtual reality has inspired movie-goers and the press to explore the possibilities of immersive technology and the path towards spacial computing that we are already embarking upon. What better jumping-off point for a playful and inventive piece of augmented reality gaming?
The project kicked off with an exploration into the possibility of using marker-based augmented reality. Our original vision was to get the Ready Player One movie poster and bring it to life with contextual AR animations. However, after obtaining a movie poster (have you tried getting a movie poster from your local cinema lately?) and building a prototype, we opted for a different approach – one that utlised Apple’s ARKit marker-less augmented reality SDK.
Instead of the poster-based route we settled for what is being termed by some in the industry as an AR portal. This is the catch-all term for revealing a 3D environment in AR and then physically walking into the space. Check out the video above to see how it works.
So why did we opt for this approach? As the book and movie is all about the complete immersion offered by virtual reality, we wanted an augmented experience that offered something comparable. The AR portal technique allows the player to physically move into the game space and see it surrounding them – much like a full virtual experience. Without the shackles of wires or tracking stations as you typically find with VR set-ups, mobile marker-less AR gives a complete freedom of movement that is closer to how people move in virtual reality.
Once ‘inside’ the virtual world the protagonist gets to play a simple game on an arcade cabinet – a throwback to the era of the 1980s imagery resplendent in Ready Player One. The player can also look out of the ‘portal’ and see the real world – this is true immersion that is grounded in reality.
“Virtual reality was the ideal medium for visualising the space, giving the creative team the opportunity to walk around it before the design was even finalised.”