- Sydney, Australia
- 9.8ksocial engagements
- #5Mashable Indie VR
Kept is an experiment in interactive story told through room-scale virtual reality. Featuring stylised environments, spatial audio and intuitive mechanics, Kept transports audiences into a narrative world of exploration, adventure and self discovery. Taking audiences on a journey through the space between life and death, the experience explores the limits and potential of virtual reality as a medium with the power to radically redefine how we experience story
Kept is an interactive journey between worlds to free a forsaken soul. Set in a mysterious world in the oldest corner of our universe, the experience places you in the story of Luca, a young girl set to embark upon a journey of self-discovery. Venturing through the mystical forests and vast landscapes, Kept invites you to explore the depths of an ancient culture, slowly uncovering a deep connection to the world around you.
We developed Kept as an experiment in storytelling through virtual reality. Backed by over eight years experience in human-computer interaction, we believe that virtual reality presents a unique opportunity to enhance the potential of story and explore how interactivity is reshaping how we engage and communicate.
We’re committed to telling the story of Kept because we believe that our past, cultures, and religions should not dictate the way we experience life and its purpose. Capitalising on the unique affordances of virtual reality as a storytelling medium, Kept looks to create empathy through alterity, agency and immersion.
Kept is a unique virtual reality project in that it focuses not on the novelty of the medium, but on it’s potential as a vehicle for telling and experiencing stories. Beyond transporting audiences into a virtual world, our goal was to use that world and its affordances – immersion, agency and alterity – to tell a new kind of story, one that is not consumed but experienced by audiences.
Embracing room-scale virtual reality tracking, Kept sets itself apart through innovative mechanics that focus not on what they do, but how they make you feel. Throughout the experience, players are constantly encouraged to interact physically with the story – walking, rowing and climbing through a virtual environment that subtly reacts to their presence.
Designed to mimic natural, innate human interactions – catching a firefly, skipping a rock over water – each and every action in the experience focuses on eliciting an emotional response as players discover agency over the story. These intuitive mechanics encourage players to engage with the world without any preconceived idea of what to expect, instead experimenting with new yet familiar ways to interact.
Taking players through a range of handcrafted and expertly rendered landscapes, the world of Kept evokes a strong sense of magic and myth. Each environment was meticulously constructed to take players on an awe-inspiring adventure facilitated through environmental storytelling.
Accompanied by reflective soundscapes, these fantastical landscapes present players with an immersive experience where meaning is discovered through interaction. By encouraging players to physically explore these abstract, liminal landscapes, we were able to both take advantage of and question the boundaries of the medium itself.
The aesthetic blend of hand-painted textures and magical realism in Kept was enhanced by our commitment to leading-edge visuals. Leaning on our years of experience in creative technology, our goal was to push real-time rendering to its limits, creating an experience defined by its stunning, immersive visuals.
Developing the experience on Unreal Engine, we employed Maya and 3D Coat to make and render models. We also used a range of techniques from NVIDIA VRWorks to achieve an experience running with a minimum 180fps, while investing time in developing cost-efficient ways to add mood to each scene through dynamic lighting
We crafted the meditative, contemplative atmosphere of the experience through a number of aesthetic choices and rendering techniques. For example, changing the colour of the fog according to its depth gave the experience a more dynamic colour range, while mixing shadowed and shadowless plants helped create a more realistic environment.
One of our core goals in creating Kept was to put the idea of exploration at the forefront – of both the story, and how you experience it. Working within the bounds of a 3x3m room-scale virtual reality set up, we sought to craft an expansive world that was experienced intimately.
Careful environment design allowed us to create satisfying vignettes such that players can see past the interaction zone without feeling the need to leave it. We also focused on innovative locomotion mechanics – such as rowing and sailing – which give players a defined area of interaction while allowing them to move fluidly through the world while remaining physically stationary.
Kept debuted at PAX Australia in 2016, and was awarded one of the top 5 indie VR games that year by Mashable. It has since been made publicly available for enjoyment at a number of other industry events both nationally and internationally including the IDGA x GDC event for the 2017 Game Developers Conference as well as GX Australia 2017.
During its three day launch at PAX, Kept garnered over 3,000 trailer views, 9,800 social media engagements and 2,000 email subscribers through purely organic traction. The experience has received accolades and recognition from publications including Mashable, Rocket Chainsaw, Checkpoint, OKgames and Campaign Brief, with Digitally Downloaded hailing the experience as a storytelling masterpiece.
Capitalising on the interactive and immersive qualities of the medium, Kept demonstrates how virtual reality could move beyond traditional gaming into an experiential genre of entertainment for global audiences. Blurring the line between films and games, we hope to use Kept as a way to expose audiences to the ever-expanding possibilities of virtual reality, challenging what it means to create within this medium into the future.