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Weta Workshop unveiled Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders, its first game for the Magic Leap One Creator Edition augmented reality glasses. It did so at the L.E.A.P. conference in Los Angeles today. It’s available now.
Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders takes advantage of Magic Leap’s AR glasses, where you can see animated robot enemies coming out of the walls of your real world physical space. Weta spent 5-and-a-half years working on it.
Magic Leap’s goal is to blend a digital layer of animations on top of the real world, so you can’t tell the difference between the digital realm and the physical one. I played an abbreviated hands-on demo today, as well as demos of a bunch of other games and apps at the event.
Weta Workshop is part of Richard Taylor and Tania Taylor’s New Zealand special effects studio. Weta Workshop and Magic Leap have worked on the project for several years.
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Magic Leap has raised an estimated $1.8 billion to create its AR glasses and the ecosystem around them. The full game will have a slower pace and a narrated experience. I was escorted into a Steampunk style room, put on the Magic Leap One glasses, and then saw a portal open in the wall. The connection between the animation and the real world was pretty seamless.
A little robot came out of the portal and gave me a ray gun, with his thick British (or maybe New Zealand) accent. Then Dr. Grordbort appeared as a kind of hologram in the space and warned me that an alien invasion was about to start. Portals began opening in the walls and big yellow robots started coming through them. I had to shoot them, and as I did so, then came down with clankety explosions.
I had the full freedom of the room, as the glasses were wired to a small puck that I carried in my pocket. It was a fun experience that got me sweaty and hungry for more.
Weta cofounder and creative director Richard Taylor, game designer Greg Broadmore, and Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz attended a press event to unveil the game.
Asked why he was interested in the game, Abovitz said, “Killing robots.” Actually, he said he used to design robots, and he was invited to visit Broadmore at Weta to talk about working together.
“There were all these great ray guns and robots being designed, and we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if these worked,'” Abovitz said.
Broadmore said the history of science fiction inspired their game design, with its mixture of old-style Steampunk and modern technology.
Taylor said he and Broadmore went to visit Magic Leap a few years ago in Plantation, Florida, where Abovitz showed off the light field display technology behind the Magic Leap One glasses.
“For me, that just lit up my brain, and the last eight years and intensely in the last 5.5 years now have been real for me,” Taylor said.
Abovitz said the new game was a showcase. Pointing around the Steampunk-styled room, he said the Grordbort project will show how far you can go with the Magic Leap technology. Abovitz praised Weta for taking the risk of working on a new game world on a brand new device.
“This is a great expression of our philosophy,” he said. “We want creators to take this and work with it. We don’t need to overwhelm everything with out system. You got a room with paintings, and sculptures. When you layer in what we do, it fits. All the other art forms can coexist at the same time. That’s what you can do with spatial computing.”
Broadmore said the team has been learning for 4-and-a-half years and making the game for the past 18 months.
“This was our tip of the spear project, so if we couldn’t make it, we wouldn’t ship,” Abovitz said.
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