×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Wevr & Dreamscape Immersive Reinvented ‘The Blu’ for Location-Based VR

When HTC first introduced its Vive virtual reality (VR) headset in April of 2016, “The Blu” quickly became one of the most talked-about launch titles: With its ability to transport viewers onto the deck of a sunken ship, and face-to-face with a giant 80-foot whale, it offered viewers a deeply moving experience of presence and immersion. “It was a really great introductory piece to VR,” recalled “The Blu” director Jake Rowell in a recent interview with Variety.

Now, Rowell and his colleagues are at it again, and about to unveil a new version of “The Blu” that has been optimized for location-based VR. “The Blu: Deep Rescue” sends up to 6 participants onto a rescue mission to locate and save a whale at sea. The experience os one of 3 launch titles for the first permanent VR center run by AMC-backed Dreamscape Immersive, which is opening its doors in Los Angeles this Friday.

“The Blu: Deep Rescue” is the first location-based VR experience produced by Wevr, and Rowell explained that the company saw this as a chance to expand on the idea of the franchise. “We saw it as a huge opportunity to advance The Blu,” he said. The original title was very much made for VR first-timers looking for a breathtaking experience. “The home product didn’t really have a specific narrative,” said Rowell.

“Deep Rescue” on the other hand is a social VR experience, designed to be experienced by groups of up to 6 participants at a time. “Once you put more than one person in VR, it changes the experience,” said Rowell. Giving those 6 players a direction and purpose required not only a plot, but also a narrator to guide them through the experience, which totals about 10 minutes.

Wevr produced “The Blu: Deep Rescue” in partnership with Dreamscape Immersive, which has a bit of a different take on location-based VR than some of the other companies in the space. Like The Void and Nomadic, Dreamscape uses physical props to give participants a heightened sense of immersion. In the case of “Deep Rescue,” this includes the railing of an underwater platform, and controls for a kind of deep-sea scooter. “It’s another presence multiplier,” Rowell said.

However, Dreamscape doesn’t build out complicated stages with numerous doors and walls. Instead, participants are being led around on a relatively small open stage, which has been optimized to fit into typical mall architecture. And while Dreamscape experiences are interactive, the company doesn’t emphasize gamification with overly complex puzzles and challenges, as to not put participants to work too much. “It’s actually not that much fun,” quipped Dreamscape co-chairman Walter Parkes about gamification, stressing that the company would always put stories first.

The goal of each experience was to give participants the feeling that they step into a movie, added CEO Bruce Vaughn. “The audience, they are the stars, they are the characters.”

Dreamscape’s setup includes small trackers that are being attached to each participant’s hand and feet, which allows the company to estimate the movement of their bodies, and then replicate those movements with avatars in VR. The result is a more social experience, which includes the ability to give each other high-fives — or in the case of “The Blu: Deep Rescue,” allows divers to wave at each other as they zoom around with their underwater scooters.

Wevr built a total of 6 different paths for these scooters, guiding them to the conclusion of the story while at the same time allowing each and every participant to explore different areas. “Once we put you on the scooter, you want to see that other person’s story,” said Rowell, who suggested that this may drive people to try the experience more than once.

Speaking of: Wevr CEO Neville Spiteri said that his company wasn’t quite done with “The Blu” either. “Our commitment as a company is to grow it going forward,” he said, adding that the home VR version had been “a profitable franchise” for the Venice, Calif.-based startup.

All the while, the company is looking to reach new audiences with “Deep Rescue.” People who don’t own a VR headset, and perhaps never experienced virtual worlds before. Said Rowell: “We hope that it will be a beacon for people to try VR.”

More Gaming

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • littlstar ps4 app

    Littlstar Expands Beyond VR With New PS4 App, Signs Up 30,000 Paying Subscribers (EXCLUSIVE)

    A&E-backed immersive content aggregator Littlstar is expanding beyond virtual reality (VR): The New York-based startup launched a dedicated PlayStation4 app this week, giving users of Sony’s game console access to their personal media libraries, as well as both traditional and 360-degree video content from a variety of publishers. Littlstar also announced that it signed up [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

  • jfk mooonshot ar app artwork

    JFK Presidential Library Releases Moon Landing Augmented Reality App

    The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has released an augmented reality app (AR) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and the role President Kennedy played in getting the U.S. to the moon. The app, which is available for free for iPhones and Android, lets users relive the Apollo 11 mission in their [...]

  • 'Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the

    'Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch' Is Still a Fantastic Anime Adventure

    Six years after it’s original release “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” is coming back with a Nintendo Switch version and remastered edition on PS4 and PC. It’s time for more long-winded, adorable JRPG action. It’s odd since comparing the new version of the Level-5 developed classic with the original game is pointless [...]

  • ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’ Highlights The

    ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’ Highlights The Mundane Side of The Anime

    There have been dozens and dozens of games based on the popular anime “Dragon Ball Z.” While most focus on recreating the series’s electric fight scenes, very few have explored the more mundane and humorous aspects of the characters’ lives. Fortunately, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” (releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020) [...]

  • 'Empire of Sin' is a Bloody,

    'Empire of Sin' is a Bloody, Strategic Take on the Criminal Underworld of 1920s Chicago

    When Paradox Interactive and Romero Games announced their new strategy game, “Empire of Sin,” some fans may have been disappointed. They could have wanted another intensely violent and fast-paced game from John Romero, one of the original creators of “Doom.” They shouldn’t be though as ‘Empire of Sin’ is a deep, violent take on criminal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content