“Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the Internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming.”
Mark Zuckerberg, 2014
We have to agree with the Zuckmeister on this, except that the future is no longer coming – it’s already here. We know this, because we just created an entire virtual reality world from scratch. And we’re not talking about some glorified Atari landscape like in Tron – cool as those light-cycles were – we’re talking about a meticulously-detailed, living, breathing, radiant world that you have to see to believe.
Free The Night is not a game in the typical sense, but more of an experience. An immersive, 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF) mixed reality experience, intended as a companion piece for the release of Microsoft’s VR headset. Moreover, Free the Night is a glimpse into what the (very near) future holds for us all – a hypnotizing blend of art, technology and narrative that redefines the boundaries of reality, virtual or otherwise.
Imagine if you will that you’re a gentle giant overlooking a tranquil community nestled into a valley as the sun sets and night takes over. The modern grid of life becomes apparent as it illuminates itself within this vast horizon – and you are not alone. As you look around, you notice other towering silhouettes rising from the landscape. You each have the power to interact with all the man-made lights beneath you and send them soaring into the sky like embers from a gently-prodded campfire, illuminating the black canvass above as they reclaim their rightful place as shining stars.
Conceived and directed by award-winning filmmaker Nicole McDonald, the project involved a staggering amount of digital artistry to bring to life. Giant Propeller co-founders Jordan Freda and Mike Bodkin were tapped to helm every aspect of art production from the ground up, one pixel at a time.
The monumental challenge presented to us was to design, model, texture and animate every single detail within the immersive experience – from the leaves on the trees to the giants towering over them. All of which were painstakingly designed and illustrated by the Giant Propeller team over the course of a mere 14 weeks. The result (produced by Jaunt Studios) is a visionary combination of gaming, storytelling and dreaming – the likes of which have never been experienced before.
So do yourself a favor. Embrace the future by plugging into the present – get Microsoft’s headset and escape to a magical night you will not soon forget.