Despite the relatively small size of Magic Leap's first annual L.E.A.P. conference, there was a lot to see and experience. Apparently missed by many was one of the best experiences I had at the event: Wingnut AR's unreleased Pest Control game.
For those of us who hate bugs, the prospect of immersing ourselves in an augmented reality world full of creepy crawlies isn't something one exactly looks forward to. Sure, the bugs are virtual, but bugs are bugs, after all.
When I entered the unassuming room set up for the game demo, I really didn't know what to expect. Was this going to be a simple target and shoot game? Or just a brief dip into a gimmicky AR environment that wasn't fully baked (unfortunately, this is still a common occurrence in the world of the AR apps).
What I got instead was a fully realized AR world, complete with a backstory, a personality-packed virtual assistant, and bugs that were, well, just a little too well rendered for my taste.
In short, you're recruited to be one of a legion of pest control workers from the future, in this case, charged with taking out what appear to be lab infesting mutant spiders ("giant" spiders) and cockroaches.
To handle the task at hand, you get an array of weapons from items as crude as a baseball bat (ah, so satisfying to whack those oversized arachnids) as well as a futuristic flamethrower and a ray gun.
I refuse to spoil the ending of this experience; it's just too good. Let's just say that it involves blowing a virtual hole in the floor, which allows you to interact with another, basement level lab area that gives the experience an entirely new sense of depth and immersion.
Like Dr. Grordbort's Invaders, Wingnut AR's Pest Control requires you to walk around an entire room to perform certain tasks, a dynamic that adds to the sense of realism as you move through the game.
If Mica was the most profound Magic Leap experience I had, and Dr. Grordbort's Invaders was the most polished, Wingnut AR's Pest Control was definitely the most fun, in a way entirely unique to head-mounted AR.
I pressed the company for a release date, but they won't say. Nevertheless, next to games like Dr. Grordbort's Invaders and Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot, Wingnut AR's Pest Control is a title that users deserve to experience, and it might even sell a few Magic Leap One systems.
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