"After Journey": A Vive and HoloPlayer One Project + Concept

The following is a short game design document I authored following a ‘dream’ Shawn Frayne of LG had about a scene which led to a lab-wide discussion of a potential Vive-HoloPlayer One project. Throughout plane trips to and from the PixelPop Festival, I illustrated and wrote the following-


Old Mortal and the Young God
Preliminary Game Design Document
Written-Illustrated by Ben P. (Looking Glass)


{Overarching Story, Concept, Characters}

In a multiplayer experience for two players operating the Looking Glass HoloPlayer One and HTC Vive respectively, a communication takes place between the two who are blind to each another but can talk and listen. A young deity (HoloPlayer) will guide an elder human (Vive) across a ruined landscape to revitalize a hidden artifact and bring flourish to a ruined civilization once more. The GOD, newly taking the throne, must convince the last living MORTAL to have faith in its various, questionable commands. For, the world appears differently to a GOD than it does to a MORTAL. Some physical elements are blind to the MORTAL but is seen by the GOD. If the two confuse another, it may lead to a bitter end. As well, the scenario is flipped where GOD is out of touch with reality to the human realm. Only through trust can the MORTAL save its life and the GOD save its world.


Gameplay Area (in Reality). HoloPlayer One + HTC Vive. Mixed Reality Setting.

{Primary Game Goal}

The MORTAL must reach the main destination in the game world. This is represented by a shining, center light emerging from the world’s center peak. It is a device that will reset the evil that consumes the game narrative and restore good. The MORTAL cannot do this without GOD’s help. GOD will assist, properly or erroneously, the MORTAL across a landscape of ruin to get the latter to the goal. Fatal obstacles are on the path. Only GOD in limited ability can reveal them to the MORTAL on the game path.

GOD’s vision is through a hologram in the physical game space where MORTAL is only seen as a blip on the scrollable map. Hologram is scrollable with hand that appears in MORTAL view as the supernatural stone hand. MORTAL’s vision is immersive in the VR/3D landscape where GOD is seen as a supernatural, stone hand from the sky. Actions are controllable with Vive controller and viewpoint is adjustable through stance in game/VR area.



General Concepts of Character, Narrative Icons, and Moments
“Spiral of Mo: Represents the certain and undetourable path for mortals.”



“Where Next?” “Water below.” The spatial difference between Mortal and God views.

Each game is its own tandem run lasting from 5 minutes and up to 20 minutes. The time will depend on the pace of the players, how successfully they play and work together, and how they may be coerced to speed up by the environment that will turn to nightfall as gameplay continues.

The key theme of the game lies in trust between the MORTAL and GOD. When elements are invisible to the MORTAL, but GOD can clearly see, or vice versa, it is a discussion between who is right and wrong in the matter. Special mechanics may help subsidize those challenges. Though, they are finite, leaving 1-3 moments in a playthrough where a chance-taking is inescapable.


God conversing with Mortal that the bridge is in fact real.

The MORTAL, per name sake, can lose his or her life. Success of the game depends on the MORTAL’s vitality. The GOD, immortal, is a moderator of the game’s success and it’s key.

Upon reaching the final goal, it is also revealed that there is a final puzzle that can only be solved through more insightful exploration of the game world.

{Conditions for Victory}

-MORTAL reaches the goal position in the game world.
-MORTAL is alive (GOD never dies).
-Both players still present at stations that represent GOD and MORTAL.
-MORTAL successfully wins the last riddle from the goal chamber.

{Conditions for Defeat}

-MORTAL loses life en route to the goal; through MORTAL’s fault or GOD’s.
-MORTAL unsuccessfully solves the last riddle presented by the goal chamber.
-Either player exits their respective Vive or HoloPlayer One station during gameplay in command of GOD and/or MORTAL.
-GOD, for no apparent reason, decides to smite MORTAL in game through lightning strike or crushing.
-GOD, similarly when able to grab MORTAL, drops MORTAL into a fatal location.

{Mechanics of Play}


(If MORTAL is led wrong or chooses wrong path, this leads to the death of the MORTAL and end of current run.)

–The empty bridge. God says a bridge is present, but not there.
–The chasm fall. God says a cushion is at the base of a tall fall, but it is missing.
–The door tomb. God says the path will lead through, but it is only eternal imprisonment.
–The light pillar. God says it is a light that will reveal a proper way, but it burns the mortal alive.
–The land mine. God says the ground is pure, but it is volatile to the bone,
–The freezing air. God says the air is traversable, but it will freeze blood.


(Each of the three lifelines can only be used once per run. Success of the game minimizes time spent wandering and maximizes strategic usage of lifelines.)

REVEAL: If there is confusion, the truth of the existence of a physical structure can be shown.
RAISE: For a moment, GOD lifts MORTAL and carries on his fingers the MORTAL to ground of choosing.
RESURRECT: Sets a waypoint for the player to move forward from and go back to after 5 seconds elapsed.


(Below and Above in Text.) Process of the Mortal’s Lifelines and How the Player Controls the Mortal


SCROLL: Wave hand over map hologram.
ZOOM: Tap and confirm on area of map.
RUIN: Tap on destructible area to clear a path on map.
SMITE: Clap hands once (Kill MORTAL.)


TRAVEL: Controller trigger beams a teleportation light to directed area. Release of trigger initiates teleportation.
LIFELINE: Left/Right/Down on trackpad and press to confirm.
INTERACT: Up on trackpad and press to confirm.


The ways in which a Mortal can die thanks to own mistake or God’s.

{Art, Visual Design, and Environment}

Aesthetically, the work can be divided in two: what appears on the HoloPlayer One and what appears in the Vive view. Although the 3D model data will be shared between the two interfaces aside from randomly generated instances of key physical elements that appear and do not. The HoloPlayer One version of the game world is more in view, controllable, and looks akin to a shining map seen by the eyes of GOD. The Vive world is a more decorated and immersive world the MORTAL goes through. For the models themselves, the visuals will strive for a balance between realism and whimsical, exaggerated folklore. This occurs while maintaining optimization standards.

The terrain, UVs, materials, shaders, and lighting will show a rotting but elegant world full of curiosity. Stone mountains, wooden structures, hidden ponds, and perpetually shifting foliage round out the scenery. Structures that exist have a worn quality that tells a story of tragedy. The color theory will be earthen with muted greens, grays, and browns with shine of celestial-rainbow colors in rare instances to give a actual and figurative glimmer of hope. The latter colors will shine more so in the presence of more GOD-like areas on the world map (e.g. the goal chamber, peak of the Western hill, stadium, etc.). Characters themselves will share the muted colors elements with a leaning to the ‘shine’ which will coerce the players to dive further in to assuming their identity.

GOD will have realistic textures will a discernible outline to separate from the sky and background. The ‘Path of Mo’ inscriptions on several of the game items, which relates to the narrative, finds its way around all stone fingers. Almost always, the path logo glows various colors. MORTAL will actually not be seen aside from instances of HoloPlayer One zoom-in, where it takes an ancient, elderly, androgynous form. MORTAL is more whimsical in design, but muted in tone and expression enough to take the MORTAL seriously.

{Sound Design}

Optimally, the focus in sound design will be in the physical game area between the HoloPlayer/GOD and Vive/MORTAL as they communicate. Minimal, natural sound effects slowly fade in and out across the game world in addition to explicit sounds such as leaves, stones, water, and more. Sounds of memories play as the MORTAL approaches a ruined area of note. Fitting sound effects will also fit celestial elements like the glow of the Path of Mo, the goal chamber, edge of the world, and more. If the game is able to be installed in a mixed reality setting, leaves and twigs will decorate the VR area floor among other visual elements.

When there is a crucial, decision making area in the game or an event that can be fatal to the MORTAL, a low-pass synth will also fade in to signal a danger in the game space. The sound fades away once the area is left by the mortal. Likewise, as MORTAL approaches win state, it is a hi-pass synth.


-An experience that highlights creative qualities of both the HoloPlayer One and Vive to potential consumers.
-An innovative experience that showcases a new style of tech related storytelling.
-Creating a heightened bond between the two players involved. In game or out.
-Awareness for Looking Glass as a creative collective and entity.
-An experience that may be available for further exhibition at other events or further acknowledgement.


HOLY COW! This is AMAZING! @kyle and @BenjaminPoynter hope you can get the Vive + HoloPlayer One working this week!

We’ll do our best! Thanks!

(edited for functioning gifs)


A small snippet of the project in its initial state. The VR character may be carried around by the ‘god’ at this point.

Come Nov 1, the project will be flourished enough to warrant a deeper exploration. For now, the project has been given a new title: “After Journey”.

And a very early snapshot of the world ‘foundation’ in terms of visuals. Much more detail to be added, but the general casing of the scene in partition to the concept art is present.

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Full Preview Video Here

After Journey. 10.30.17.



The visuals, animations, and coding-interaction for the first stage of “After Journey” is complete.

Since we last spoke on here, we went through a title change. Since I think a book cover/title accounts for a lot, I guess I can illuminate on why. “Old Mortal and the Young God” sets up a lot about the work, but its wordy. I think audience minds are trained to get to the point. “After Journey” sprung to mind after thinking about a wide variety of Chinese influences. About the world beyond life, the type of unknown journey the viewer and creator alike is going on for the duration of the work, and even hip-hop as I recently caught a rapping reality show filmed in China (“R!CH”) and one of the talents was named “After Journey”. I thought it was peculiar enough, had a lot of mystery and both blatant and hidden memory, and fit the mood. A more direct name it was.



The heavy focus in developing “AJ” (as I call it to myself, because its like a person’s name and I get personal to some of the works I make) will be the HoloPlayer side of things. I took on this project because 1.) its cool but mostly 2.) it is a treaty between what I seek in things I make and what can be achieved with the HoloPlayer. I seek an immersive and visual presentation. The HoloPlayer seeks detailed interaction. With what could possibly be lost in visuals with the HoloPlayer alone is gained in a full, hi-res VR view that underscores what could be potentially lost details. The treaty works out I think. As well, I was really satisfied by how the visuals turned out from MAYA <> UNITY upon export-import. The visual style I took on this time around was more colorful and more reliant on colors-texture than the geometry itself which plays to a huge benefit when developing for the HoloPlayer.

At this point, the God player can carry around Mort (mortal) and place him/her on any fitting platform what is available and carry him-her to either the platform just emerging from the entry into the afterlife, the top of a sword somewhere in the valley, and the ascension platform at the top of heaven at that stage. Ground detection is based on a raycast below the VR character. God’s detection of the ground is based on RealSense calibrated touch. When a button is ‘pressed’ (Space), that triggers God mode where you can move forward is that is the angle position, forward-left, forward-right, backwards, and even rotate alone based on additional coordinates. The commands for the God character were an hybrid of creating previous HP1 titles and how to mix them together in the best results. As a person who is more visual heavy than computation heavy, I was pleasantly surprised by how it has turned out (so far).

Normally, projects like these are reserved for teams of artists who come together. However, Looking Glass works in a unique way where artists-devs alike can casually collaborate with another on various projects but also keep to their own guns. With AJ, in this workflow of working with VR, the Vive, the HoloPlayer SDK, the HoloPlayer itself, and the numerous visuals and C# interactions to render, I took it on mostly solo for a period of no more than 20 work days. So indeed, what you see now was created in a short turnaround.

Kyle A. of LKG was responsible for (co)creating the the SDK LKG uses for projects in the HoloPlayer, was responsible for seeing if the project was technically functional in the first place, and helping out with various VR-computer technical related issues. Of which, if wasn’t done, we wouldn’t be seeing much of AJ right now. For the record, the way that the project can even display to VR and HoloPlayer from one machine is a manipulation of the displays (display 1 and 2 respectively).

I took on the unenviable task of sculpting, texturing, mapping, and situating all visuals from scratch in Maya. As well, the creatures and their respective rigs. Well, enviable if you enjoy creating visuals, like me. (NOTE: The main character you touch and drag around as God is actually a quite vivid hooded character than flows in the wind but doesn’t show up well in any of the documentation.) Though, even then, it was a tall glass of water. The $10,000 question: for this project, why didn’t you rely on the Unity Asset Store for getting and situating the visuals? Let me give you a bulletpoint outline-

-Again, I enjoy creating visuals.
-There’s a certain point where creating visuals from scratch is actually faster than the process of searching for the ‘right’ visuals that exist.
-In a representation of a very nuanced vision of heaven, there is little the Asset Store could have that matches.
-In a tight workflow, having someone who knows the in and outs of the geometry and other visual technicalities is a plus.
-Postmodernism has created a generation of miscommunication where no one can tell where the original copy of a works lies. Thus, the value of an image varies because no one knows. This has adverse effects on the value of the main work overall. I believe a work to be stronger if a work relies on its own author to create the visuals as opposed to appropriating visuals from other locations. As Hal Foster in the ‘Return of the Real’ would write, paraphrasing, ‘we are at the precipice where all the empty signals of ‘anything’ is visual means nothing is.’ Only those who remember the skills necessary, as a baseline functionality of the world, a render a visual image and represent reality in its various forms can return the visual form to a point of steadiness.The memories and thought process is stronger, because it emanates from the mind of the author. Not Jimmy Jack Anonymous. The aura of the work is stronger. I believe certain types of projects are stronger for having a visual mind of its own. Other types are more corporate, more industrial, and just a certain way and don’t have a need for original visuals. Especially with impossibly strict deadlines in midst of multitasking and the destruction of space and time. That’s fine. Its just not a world I inhabit.

Two work days was what it took to sculpt the creatures that roam around in the heaven overworld, rig them in Maya, and animate in Unity. To be furnished on in later updates to AJ, I plan to add interactions with the creatures themselves. And even more. There will be a functioning interface to which participants may submit images or information of their own memories to utilize as a gameplay mechanic in the afterlife. I am still developing this, but have a word document somewhere of precisely what I plan. It will be unveiled as development continues.



My cove in the Looking Glass Brooklyn lab. What is in the video actually mirrors my work process: hardcore visuals when I’m seated, a lot of thinking and aimless wandering when I’m not, and a few chips between. As a the VR player (mortal), you are a spectator to the visuals around you and what fate you have as a lost soul in heaven. You are at God’s mercy. However, I will grant special abilities at a proper juncture (or maybe not, I like the idea of one character being at complete mercy of the other; i.e. VR at the mercy of HoloPlayer?). For now, that is the plan. At its core, After Journey is a HoloPlayer work. That is the way I am approaching it. Though, at the same time, it would be foolish for me to leave the capabilities of VR on the bench. With that said, further development will continue on a day to day basis. It is at a stage now where I am happy with it.

To be continued.


The gameplay teaser for After Journey.

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@BenjaminPoynter - I love this game, but like I mentioned the other day, unfortunately the addition of a Vive + Holoplayer takes long enough to setup that not many folks outside of our lab have gotten a chance to try it yet. Looking forward to changing that soon!

How feasible is it to have a preview volume in a Holoplayer or related lightfield display via the HoloPlaySDK and this VR + Holoplayer hack you made for After Journey? In other words, is it feasible that any developer that’s working on any VR or AR Unity app could have a live preview window of their 3D world in a Holoplayer as they work, to reduce goggle time during development?

(yup, Ben and I work together at Looking Glass, but this question isn’t just theater. I’m pulling more ongoing conversations from our private Looking Glass lab Slack onto the Forum to reel more of the hologram hacker community into the debate and development of these new lightfield interfaces and applications)

Hey Shawn. Great points made. One thing to point out is that most VR hardware have their own SDK applicable in Unity (not for the least, Vive and Oculus.) This means, that any camera field or set up the VR SDK requires is viewable in Unity and thus our extended view.

The meat of this product itself is, in run, manipulating the camera position via stylized RealSense cursor to maneuver around the overworld. This can occur in run or ‘development mode’. I found myself switching back and forth while making what is there so far.

I think with work, there is a possibility of previewing the ‘mortal view’ in the HP. Main issue: far flip distance. It will not extend far enough to get full immersion of a scene the way a VR helmet would. Vexing as a set up as it is. A solution may be setting up a ‘canvas’ to act as a background where the far clip draw ends so the feeling of immersion but “3D” as well persists.

The next step for AJ may be saving the VR x HP1 for special showings and making a version of the title for Desktop x HP1 that can more easily move around town. Or even two HP should the technical capabilities of the system go along.

Could we run an experiment with a 4K Super Pepper acting as an easier to setup version of the Vive (for the mortal) and use a Holoplayer for the god controls, for After Journey? We typically carry both systems to most events these days. And then as you mention, we can combine VR x HP1 for special showings. @Kit_Lam just made a front-facing realsense camera version of the Super Pepper that would be appropriate I believe.

Once @dez and Johan get the the improved Realsense manager working in 4-6 weeks (!!!), that may unlock the potential of versions of the Holoplayer and their ilk as true interactive non-HMD windows into the worlds being made by VR and AR developers.

I’d like to coax more VR and AR developers into the land of the non-HMD hologram by improving the development process (i.e., less helmet time). Better living (and software development) through holograms!

I think that could be worth visiting! My only concerns for that, in review-

-As mentioned, it will be a wait for the new RealSense calibrator. Any instance I try to run RealSense with a Super Pepper now, it crashes. Though this just seems to be a wait. This issue is also applicable to all other Super Pepper works for me that are being requested from all sides of the fence.
-Part of the draw of the project is having two distant but linked systems going head to head: vr and HP1. Taking the vr out of the equation and subbing in more HP1 may not give audiences a clear idea of the difference between the two realms. As well, I know a lot of our initiative now is pairing our tech with existing tech (Alexa, iPhone, etc.). It could be a missed opportunity if that is our initiative and we believe the HP1 is a vr (Vive) companion-replacement. If our audience seems confused if our product is a helmet hardware, I am certain there are easy ways to let them know it is not.
-Multiplayer. There will need to be a way worked out where the set-up of the PC can connect into both HP1/SP displays as before… or try a networking approach where templates created in the lab suffice as a way of having both God and Mortal in the scene at once. Or make it an artsy “split screen” where one square is mortal on the same screen as another square that is the God. This is in the event of a higher resolution; thus the Super Pepper.
-Importantly, too, as mentioned before: if the mortal character is in the Super Pepper, this severely limits the far clip distance. Thus, severely limits the visual purpose of the mortal viewing character. And the immersion it comes with. If there is a method to see ‘far into the distance’ with a HP/SP, it would be a wonderful addition. It could benefit all my previous exhibition works that I have either had to build around this problem with or reconciled that the SDK camera cannot see into the distance (Doors to the City, Marshall’s Theory, possibly After Journey, and so on).

“Taking the vr out of the equation and subbing in more HP1 may not give audiences a clear idea of the difference between the two realms.” Yup, makes sense Ben!

Congrats on your project! Very involved. Have you tried dedicating the HMD to one video card and the HP1 to another in your multi display setup? I don’t know if this would be possible but I think it should and maybe necessary for performance heavy games. I’ve also requested an option for the Unity sdk - the option for a capture feature for static still scenes & compressed Video for cinematic transitions when live capture isn’t required to save on performance.

My main issue right now is that I’d like the ability to run VR and the HP1 at the same time using two dedicated graphics cards… I’m not a programmer but I know how to set up the two cameras for each display need a runtime display script with resolution and window settings but I need to make the looking Glass as an optional display in the Menu because in a coop game one computer with the HP1 will be set as Master for a player and the HP1 as an arcade display while the other player/computer may not have a display.

I’m hoping that with the Unity SDK the Looking Glass factory team will create an example for multi displays for VR and HP1 or someone on the forum is willing to share a Unity scene with both a VR camera a HP1 Camera and the script to allow the other device to be loaded at runtime.