The game wizards at Insomniac take pride in diving deep when it comes to world-building, and the same is true for the studio's latest title for Magic Leap One called Seedling.
Revealed on Wednesday at the L.E.A.P. conference in Los Angeles, the Magic Leap One-based title is less of a traditional game and more an ongoing augmented reality experience. In the science fictional world of Seedling, due to a series of galactic events beyond your control, you are charged with growing a series of new worlds by cultivating alien plant life and the strange biomes surrounding that plant life.
The Magic Leap One's controller gives you a palette of tools (tweezers, clippers, etc.) that you use to snip away parasitic organisms, prune dead foliage, and grab objects that can be used to change the weather within the spherical environments.
In addition to the plant life, each environment includes unique wildlife that you can interact with as you would with any other real animal (and if you're not careful with your tools, you may accidentally kill off an alien frog or two, as I did).
Other controls, which are wholly unique to an augmented reality environment in terms design, allow you to see the age of your plant life, as well as the local weather in your city (which can also impact the way you can develop the plant life you're cultivating).
When done, the plantlife biomes you create remain persistent and continue growing over time where you placed them in your home or office. Another interesting the feature of the experience is the fact that your room environment impacts how the plants grow. So if you place your plant on a real-world bookshelf, it won't just continue growing through the real object. Instead, like a real plant, the growth will move around obstacles, giving it an even more realistic feel.
I asked Insomniac if there was a limit to the plant environments placed in a room or home (you can place growths in multiple places), and one of the lead developers told me that, so far, there's no official limit, but they can only guarantee up to about 20 simultaneous growths.
True to the tradition of Insomniac, a team that is most recently known for its stunning VR game The Unspoken, the studio gives users a well thought out guidebook to the universe, detailing the flora and fauna and other details within the universe. However, rather than put that information in a paper manual, or as text scrolling in front of your face, players get a virtual book, complete with pages you'll need to turn to read through the guide.
As with many titles being shown off on the Magic Leap One, Seedling is still in its early development stages (the official release is in November), but the early look I got was impressive, and a bit therapeutic — it gets you away from the rush of a daily schedule, which I think is the point of the AR experience.
Sure, this isn't the kind of experience that will help you learn a new language, conquer a robot army, or build a 3D model of a mechanical part. But what Seedling does do is demonstrate how immersive computing is entirely different from anything before, allowing us to live amongst our digital works rather than looking at them as detached 2D digital constructs.