Picnic with a stalking wolf

it’s inspired very inspired by the movie
stalker by Tarkovsky which is itself inspired by the book Roadside Picnic,
by the Strugatsky brothers. So Lone Wolves Stick Together is my research project. I’m an art researcher and game designer, employed by CIMA, which is a center
that is attached to the Norwegian Film School. that explores a storytelling for virtual
reality augmented reality and new media and I most specifically work with a
multiplayer role-playing in virtual reality my experience is much closer to
the movie than to the book and so the plot is that you follow an expedition
that goes through a mysterious zone in search of a place where you know that
your desires can come true so it’s some sort of miracle place where your most
intimate desire will come true if you reach it so it’s a four years research
I’m two years in so it’s ongoing we’ve produced a physical version of the
experience so a role playing in film studios and we’ve scanned those sets and
now we are working on recreating this role-playing experience in virtual
reality so the production of the VR is now my research which is proving that we
can roleplay in virtual reality in that it’s an actual really engaging and
gratifying experience so I’ve worked with live-action role-playing game
before and I think that designing for live-action role-playing game and
designing for virtual reality can be very similar and that we can learn a lot
from one field to the next because in both cases it’s about 360 spatial
narration and it’s about co-presence being in an environment with someone
else and so one of the goal of this project is to show that we can roleplay
in VR and that is very engaging there are elements of scenes of the movie that
are also present in the experience but it’s an experience in five acts that are
not present in the movie and so those themes are the scenes that are going to
be played out and it’s mainly in the hands of the
character to know what they do with it and how close they get to the movie or
not so the the actors are a doubt nostalgia disillusion despair and truth
so they are kind of the phases that the characters go through in their
journey which is both physical and internal and and so there are definitely
references allusions to some things that the characters do in the movies the
character is eat wright have guns and bombs and those are there is the phone
call that are things that we can find in the experience as well it’s one of the
big differences is that instead of following one expedition like in the
movie we follow two expeditions that are in the zone in two different timelines
the one is there in the past the other is there in the future and so there are
two stalkers two writers and two professors that are called differently
but that’s the same archetypes and yeah so it’s a journey of two expeditions in
the movie stalker all the characters are strangers to one another they meet for
the purpose of this journey but they don’t know each other it’s just people
who want to go to this mystical place that find a stalker to guide them and
it’s the same thing in the experience so inside the expeditions the characters
are strangers but they know the characters of the other expedition and
they play together in flashbacks during flashback scenes I read
Tarkovsky’s notes on stalker and this was after had worked on this design and
I found out that they had a previous script on which he was working with
those two Strugatsky brothers and that was the idea that the expedition finds another
expedition that is lost in a time loop so so yeah common idea the experience
starts off with workshops which are exercises that we do out of game out of
the fiction to get the players into their characters so to develop a bait
their psychology and develop a bit the group dynamics and after those workshops
they start the game inside of the Zone immediately and the structure is
alternates between those scenes that I mentioned where they rope it together
and the walking because they walk from one stop to next a bit like in the movie
as well it’s a journey so they walk the stop they talk they walk the stop
they’re talking day yeah it’s time they’re walking they’re listening to an
individual soundtrack that is giving them more narration elements and fitting
a bit they’re all playing because it was such a huge amount of work we didn’t
want it to be a very exclusive experience that only a few bold and
brave players would dare to to visit so I worked on several modules to fit the
desires and the expectations of different people so there is the dive
which is the full role-playing so that’s the one where you have the workshops and
you prepare your character and then you go into the sets and you play without
any help with the others and you follow the journey so you have some guidance
but you’re mostly on your own and it’s kind of the hardcore version if you will
the most engaging one the one where you are really an actor of the story then
there is swim so swim is one level above dive so you swim in the water of the
narration and that’s with it’s closer to immersive theater so you are guided by
an actor that is playing the stalker or something similar to that and so it’s a
progressively interactive experience where you get to if you want roleplay a
little or role play more but it’s very opt in opt out it’s very flexible and
it’s shorter and there are no workshops and finally there is the float which is
closer to a narrative visit so in this one you don’t really interact you’re
more free or more on your own so you listen to the content you walk around
the sets and you hear about what is happening and what’s the story but you
don’t you don’t physically and get yourself so much yeah so it’s true that
it’s easy to mistake role-playing for an RPG game which is a video game where
you have a character that has a class and that has skills and you level up
that’s like the traditional RPG role-playing live-action role-playing is
much closer to the original meaning of the world while playing as in you play a
role so the idea that you embody a character
it’s very similar to theater except that it’s not entirely scripted you don’t
remember lines but you play a character it’s a series of specie games called
Stoker and one of them is called shadow of the Chernobyl and you can see similar
landscapes so nature is eaten up by industrial ruins a radioactive vibe but
yeah I think it’s much more of a ambience inspiration when it comes to
the to the video game because yeah it’s a shooter and you have zombies what I’m
working with is mostly focused on the the character archetypes that are in the
movie and the conflict of desires that they have their philosophical stances
and their debates and the general ambience now is the vr version maybe
we will have three versions to have also dives to him and float in VR that
would be interesting so that’s something we’re still discussing with the Macropol
who is the Danish production company who’s working with me on that
now the present comes to everything from me ideally we’d go to a point where
everybody can play from their home and be in the same BR space but it’s likely
that the main audience for this type of experience will be found in festivals or
on-site somewhere and so we might work with being in the same space both
physically and in VR and then there’s the possibility of having something that
is full they are or something that is hybrid so for instance you walk in the
you walk in the zone. And you’re in VR, listen to the stream of thoughts of your
character so yeah you walk in VR you listen to the stream of thought of your
character you are exploring the zone then you remove your headset and you
find yourself in a different setting and you roleplay physically in this set then
you put the VR headset back you walk to another place you remove the headset and
the sets around you have changed so you have like that’s kind of a hybrid
version that is also something I would really like to try we were working with
the idea of redirected walking and we are it so redirected walking is when we
tilt your view a little so you feel like you keep on walking straight but what
you’re actually doing is you’re working walking cycles so it’s very convenient
if you want the players to have the feeling that they’re walking a distance
but you don’t have space for that it’s funny from an outside
perspective because you just see people working in little circles yeah the
design is done so that’s my specialty so my part is quite advanced
but the VR production is only starting now we’re actually looking at having a
mini hackathon to develop a prototype pre prototype of some of the aspects of
the experience hopefully the beginning of 2020 we’ll have a working prototype
and then yeah we still have a couple of years to finish the production of the VR

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