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We Were One Second Away From Blowing Up Everyone At PAX

The Oculus Rift is poised to change the way we approach gaming, with new experiences being developed every day for the head-mounted display. One of the most interesting uses I’ve experienced was a little game in the tabletop area of the Indie Minibooth called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

The premise is ripped right from countless movies featuring a ticking time bomb and a short window to defuse it. Keep Talking simulates a bomb defusal scenario that has one player handling the explosive via the Rift, while others flip through a manual to provide disarming instructions.

I was joined by associated editor Kyle Hilliard, who was responsible for guiding me through the process of saving everyone. There are three different difficulty levels that use progressively more of the manual.


These are the notes Kyle had to read aloud from.

We stuck to “first time” mode, which gave us three different things to do before time ran out. I started by describing my bomb to Kyle, so he could understand what I was seeing, including interactive elements and notable features like two batteries, a serial number, and a nametag that said “Bob.”

Our first step was to cut one of six wires. I gave him the rundown and we quickly snipped the correct one.

The next step was to push four buttons in the correct order. These had difficult-to-describe symbols on them, and I had to refine how I was communicating what they looked like.


These are some of the notes we took while communicating with one another.

It took a while to find the solution, but we were able to get it right and move on to the final step. We were confounded by the giant button in the middle of the bomb.

Kyle read me part of the manual, and neither of us quite understood how we needed to push the button and for how long to succeed. I earned a strike as we tried to understand the button, but knew that I wasn’t going to dodge that bullet again.

With 1.17 seconds left to go, I latched onto something Kyle said and went for broke. The bomb shut off and the crowd standing by, watching things from my perspective on a television screen, applauded our narrow success.

Keep Talking was originally a Global Game Jam creation earlier this year, but it signifies the potential of virtual reality. The game would be a great party experience, but with some slight modification would also be a wonderful team-building and communication improving tool.

Of course, that’s just my perspective. The beauty of Keep Talking is that there’s an entirely different experience for those with the manual.

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From Kyle’s Perspective
Keep Talking was a bizarre experience that was surprisingly frantic and intense. I had no idea what Mike was seeing so there was a constant back and forth of me asking him what he is looking at. While trying to take in what he was saying, I was trying to read, and selectively read aloud what I thought would be pertinent for Mike. After a certain point I realized I was wasting time by reading ahead, and just started reading everything out loud. Even if I didn’t know what Mike needed, maybe he could just hear something from the manual that would work, which ultimately kind of worked. The describing of the symbols proved to be particularly interesting. I just started drawing the best approximation of what I assumed Mike was describing, at the time not even sure why I was doing it. You can see my noted above.
I will admit, I was jealous of Mike’s position. Partly because I wanted to play with an Oculus Rift, but also because I wasn’t playing a game so much as I was just reading out loud. As the bomb began to count down, though, I can’t deny the intensity that washed over me, knowing I had the answers in my hand, even if I wasn’t completely sure where to look.
I enjoyed our play session with the game, but I am curious to see if the game offers any tangible replayability. My notebook was filled with multiple answers for similar puzzles and I’m curious if you will quickly reach a point of having a basic understanding of how to solve each puzzle, even if the solution is always changing.
Hopefully next time, I get to be the one experiencing the game inside a virtual reality

 



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