Making a VR world like Hypatia really come to life takes not only innovation on developer studio TimefireVR’s part, but also a strong dedication to it by the player community itself.
Hypatia even has its own Discord group, where players create in-game meetups for each other. The game’s recent Hypatia’s Haunted Halloween Update is no exception to this. Players meet up to go trick-or-treating, paint pumpkins, and even hunt ghosts all the while earning awards like the gargoyle avatar set, candy, costumes Halloween faces, and some haunted Halloween records.
When to comes to VR games, Hypatia is pushing the artistic and social boundaries of its players, as the world has spaces like the Creative Art Studio and Theater Du Nul. For instance, players can collaborate on a theatrical piece using props with others or even create artwork individually. Players can then clap to show their love for a piece or even voice their thoughts on one.
Even when the game was first being developed, these social and artistic elements within Hypatia were part of TimefireVR’s mandate.
“For the mandate, we stuck pretty close to that in terms of the social aspect, collaboration, and interactivity with tools and being able to not only create an experience by yourself but create one with other people across the world,” Alex Bascom, the lead programmer at TimefireVR told CGMagazine.
With its bi-weekly updates, Hypatia continues to lead the way with social VR. There are numerous activities on top of Haunted Halloween Update that highlight the VR world’s uniqueness. Bascom told CGMagazine about how Hypatia’s mini-games and VR chat sessions can lead to situations where players are truly getting to know other and possibly have deeper conversations with them.
“I think it being a really big and interconnected world also adds to the social element,” Timothy Gatton, the lead designer at TimefireVR said. “It’s having a physical space and a city to explore and kind of walking around — meeting people naturally — rather than going into portals and levels. Here’s one big environment that encourages you to have natural meetings and make friends.”
Hypatia’s current Halloween event, especially, is encouraging these types of interactions. Behind the scenes, the TimefireVR is already taking in community feedback to see what players like and what they want to change as well.
“So far, they really like the gargoyle avatars,” Gatton said. “They really enjoy the unlocks and are really interested in the timed events and items they can only get right now. It makes the avatar part more valuable to them.”
Community feedback will not only help with future updates but the future of Hypatia as a whole. Bascom recalled how he noticed that players wanted to mix colours together while painting, and decided to implement that feature. Moving forward, he wants to continue taking in this type of feedback to improve the game.
“From the very beginning, we modelled the city after Amsterdam,” Bascom added. He also said that the team really wanted to recreate the feeling of being in a city while also utilizing all the benefits VR can offer.
“Being grounded in that reality really brings more joy to the exceptional things you’re able to do that you can’t do in real life,” Gatton said. “Like being able to spray paint cats and unicorns and find hidden objects. This really adds to the magical experience.”
Keeping the game’s natural environment mixed with fantastical elements in mind, both Bascom and Gatton are also interested in letting players create their own properties, as well as have an in-game economy and a trading feature. Their vision is to make Hypatia have a more user-created focus, where players can create their own experiences, stories, and gameplay.