SXSW Critiques vol.3: Gondwana, Inexperienced Planet Expertise, and Gumball Goals

SXSW has been the perfect occasion I’ve participated on this yr, and I’ve already talked about it in numerous articles (e.g. this publish concerning the occasion, and this different one with some evaluations). Wanting on the backlog of my posts to write down, I seen that I had nonetheless some evaluations from there I needed to publish, so since at this time I’ve a little bit of time to try this, let me lastly shut the subject by telling you concerning the final three fascinating XR experiences I’ve tried there: Gondwana, Inexperienced Planet Expertise, and Gumball Goals.


Gondwana has been probably the greatest VR experiences I had at SXSW. It’s an bold venture that tries to lift consciousness for biodiversity and local weather change by placing you contained in the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland, Australia. Nevertheless it’s not the same old expertise that places you inside a forest and provides you some data concerning the vegetation there, it’s way more authentic.

The Gondwana expertise lasts one entire day. However after all, you don’t should be trapped in a VR headset the entire time, don’t fear. The forest lives in a server, and it begins as it’s in 2022 at first of the day of the expertise, and it evolves throughout the day, ending 24 hours later displaying the way it needs to be within the yr 2090. The evolution of the forest is computed utilizing local weather knowledge projections, and naturally, they don’t pose properly for its ecosystem: given the worldwide warming, the forest is condemned to lose a lot of its biodiversity.

There is just one hope for it: individuals. Each time somebody wears the VR headset and launches the Gondwana VR expertise, it connects to the present standing of the forest on the servers. The person can keep inside as a lot as he needs, and the extra he stays inside and interacts with the surroundings, the extra the forest turns into resilient to exterior situations. I suppose this can be a image of the truth that provided that we, as people, turn out to be conscious of the local weather drawback and actively do one thing about it, we will save the rainforests of the world. That is fairly fascinating. As it’s fascinating the truth that given these premises, each Gondwana 24-hours run is completely different from the others: relying on how many individuals have visited the forest and which interactions they’d, the forest will evolve in a different way, with a unique end result each time. Each run of Gondwana is so distinctive.

I cherished how Gondwana has been designed. The crew wanted to work for 4 years to make this venture a actuality and I believe that the standard of the venture made it price it.

Gondwana VR screenshot
A screenshot of the Gondwana VR expertise (Picture by Gondwana)

I attempted Gondwana for like Quarter-hour. Once I put the headset on, I discovered myself on this thick Rainforest, and I might navigate round in easy locomotion with the controllers of my headset. The dominant colours had been after all the brown and inexperienced of the timber, however typically I might see some noticeable white timber. They represented the species that had been endangered or already extinct at that time of the simulation. The distinction of the white coloration made you instantly discover what number of species within the forest had been already instantly misplaced due to the local weather scenario.

The forest was alive round me: because it needed to simulate 70 years in 24 hours, I might see the evolution of the forest occurring quick round me, with timber rising and dying, and the assorted seasons altering the looks of the timber. There was additionally the potential of assembly the opposite customers, however the forest was so huge that I by no means met anybody. The creator instructed me about a particular interplay that permit me use my palms to forged a particular power fireball that might protect a tree for the entire length of the simulation… one other approach for me as a human to save lots of the forest.

I’ve discovered the expertise very stress-free: being in a forest, and simply strolling round, was very calming. I additionally cherished the truth that the forest was alive, evolving round me. However the white timber made me unhappy as a result of I might do nothing to recuperate them: as soon as we’ve killed a species, there’s no method to flip it again. This meant that the expertise was reaching its purpose of constructing me take into consideration local weather change. From the scale of the forest, and the various issues occurring, I might really feel the large work behind the event of this expertise.

Perhaps a wanted enchancment is having extra interactions with the surroundings: as a result of after 15-20 minutes it turns into a bit monotonous to simply keep within the forest and wander round. However other than this, I appreciated Gondwana loads.

Inexperienced Planet Expertise

booth green planet experience sxsw
The sales space of Inexperienced Planet Expertise at SXSW

When I interviewed NVIDIA about its cloud streaming know-how, I used to be steered to go making an attempt in London the Inexperienced Planet Expertise, developed by Factory42 in collaboration with NVIDIA, EE, and BBC. Unluckily I’ve no plans to go to London this yr, so I assumed I had no method to attempt it, till, with a lot of my shock, I noticed that there was a sales space showcasing it at SXSW.

To do that expertise, I’ve been given a cell phone on a holder and I used to be instructed to navigate across the sales space and comply with the directions. As quickly as I entered the devoted space of the app, I might see on the telephone in AR David Attenborough (the one and solely) in entrance of me talking with me about “the key kingdom of vegetation”. The entire expertise was guided: there was an AR “magic sphere” telling me each time the place I needed to level the telephone, and after I pointed it to the appropriate level, I might see vegetation and timber in augmented actuality popping up in that time, with David telling me one thing about them. For example, at a sure level within the expertise, I needed to blow a dandelion and see its seed turn out to be a mature plant. It was good.

On the technical facet, the expertise was very cool as a result of it confirmed the magic of cloud rendering. The app featured advanced and detailed 3D environments, volumetric movies, particle results (e.g. raining) in augmented actuality round me… and all of this couldn’t run on a cell phone alone. It was rendered on a server and streamed with NVIDIA cloud rendering to the telephones. The actual fact it was a streaming was barely noticeable, there was only a small lag between my actions of the telephone and when the visuals reacted to them, however since this was a telephone AR app, it was not an enormous deal (as a result of there was no related movement illness). Talking with the creators, I’ve discovered that the lag was given by the simplified setup they’d to make use of at SXSW and that within the London expertise it’s a lot shorter than the one I attempted.

The expertise lasted round 10-Quarter-hour, out of the 40-60 of the entire expertise. It was a pleasant instructional expertise, in my view, and it was additionally fascinating for me as a result of it let me attempt cloud-rendered augmented actuality.

Gumball Goals

Gumball Goals by the Ferryman Collective is an immersive theater expertise in VRChat. It’s a kind of experiences the place you enter into an journey with dwell actors performing round you, like in Meta Film: Alien Rescue or Discovering Pandora X. I attempted it at SXSW along with Maud Clavier and Samurai Lawyer, because it was a journey to be made in a bunch of three individuals.

gumball dream
One of many trippy environments of Gumball Goals (Picture by Ferryman Collective)

(I received’t spoil you a lot of the expertise, however after all, there will probably be gentle spoilers on this commentary… you could have been warned!)

The plot of the expertise may be summarized by its official description:

You’ve gotten been known as by an alien creature named Onyx to a legendary planet on which they’re residing out their remaining days. You, and two others, are requested to assist them transition from this actuality to the subsequent.
However earlier than Onyx can lay infinite knowledge at your ft, the load of your spirit should be assessed. If discovered prepared, you shall embark upon the journey of a lifetime, skipping among the many stars, floating above the spheres, and remembering who you might be.

The very first thing I seen after I entered the world of Gumball Goals is that it was very coloured and trippy. It was cool being in that world, and it was additionally big: all through the entire expertise, we traveled throughout completely different environments, seeing many alternative animations. Since I work within the VRChat occasions area myself with VRrOOm, I do know a lot work that ought to have been required, and I used to be impressed by what Ferryman Collective did. The expertise was very wealthy on this facet, and I cherished to find each new surroundings that got here after the one I used to be in. Ah, and if you’re curious why the title “Gumball Goals”, it’s as a result of among the environments are closely impressed by gumballs, so typically you might be in a gumball dispenser, and different occasions you might be in a constructing all made from gumballs and so forth. I received’t spoil why it’s this manner, however I can let you know that it contributes to creating all the pieces much more colourful and trippier.

I believe that in Gumball Goals the entire setting was cool, and in addition the truth that it’s a must to dwell this expertise in a bunch with different two individuals is totally enjoyable. I really like this type of collaborative journeys as a result of you possibly can have enjoyable with different individuals, and create a bond by joking on a regular basis. I’ve nice reminiscences of the laughs I had with Maud and the Samurai throughout this expertise at SXSW.

Anyway, I believe this expertise had additionally its downsides. To start with, the primary puzzle to do throughout the expertise was fairly irritating in VR. After which, I haven’t appreciated an excessive amount of the minimize they gave to the story. The story and the dialogues had been a bit philosophical and psychological, with a contact of recent age, and this was not one thing that suited my tastes. For example, at a sure level, I used to be left talking together with the alien Onyx and he began making psychological inquiries to me. He requested me “When was the primary time in your life you felt pleased with your self?” and I wished to reply one thing like “I’ve no f***ing clue! I imply, it isn’t that the primary time I felt proud in my life I screamed – Oh wow, lastly I felt proud! – I imply, feeling proud the primary time is just not like the primary time that you’ve intercourse… that after that you just go launching fireworks within the sky singing the songs of the Lonely Island for the happiness. It’s not one thing I keep in mind the second… I imply… who does? Except the primary time that you just really feel proud coincides with the primary second you could have intercourse…”. After all I’ve not mentioned this and answered some random stuff to dodge the query…. However then the alien requested me: “And what do you’re feeling once you really feel delight?” and I used to be like “ehm… delight?”. I spent numerous minutes this manner… with a dialogue that was sluggish, a bit boring, and with this compelled psychological stuff that made it a bit too heavy. However that’s my style: if you’re somebody that likes to precise your feelings and have philosophical dialogues, then chances are you’ll like additionally this facet of the expertise.

All in all, it was a superb expertise to attempt. And I additionally appreciated the truth that the crew growing it’s made by very good and enjoyable individuals… and on the finish of the expertise, additionally they gifted to me an actual gumball 😉

And that’s it, sorry for the delay in publishing it, however with this publish, I lastly shut my stream of ideas about SXSW. I imply, no less than for this yr… I appreciated the occasion a lot that I hope to be there subsequent yr, too!

Disclaimer: this weblog comprises commercial and affiliate hyperlinks to maintain itself. If you happen to click on on an affiliate hyperlink, I will be very pleased as a result of I am going to earn a small fee in your buy. You’ll find my boring full disclosure right here.


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