Blox VR: A Virtual Reality ‘escape the room’ type puzzle game for Google Cardboard

Shortly after I created my first Virtual Reality “game” which wasn’t actually a game per se, but more like a fan art/virtual reality music video that took place in the room 302 of a famous horror game called Silent Hill 4, I started working on another project because you couldn’t really interact with any objects in the first game and I wanted to learn more about developing VR experiences anyway. In fact the only thing you were able to do was walk around and just look at Henry’s room from a different and new perspective. It was cool, but I knew I could do much better.

Blox VR Virtual Reality Puzzle Game Escape The Room

How Blox VR came to be

The idea for the game came to me one night in a dream where I woke up in a room with no windows, no doors and no apparent way of getting out. In my dream I later found out that I had actually died and this is what “heaven” was like- being stuck in a tiny room in the middle of an endless void where time was standing still (ie. you wouldn’t age, etc).

I had two choices: either stay in the room for all eternity contemplating on the meaninglessness of life or hit a reset button, forget who I was and where I came from for another 60+ years and experience yet another lifetime through someone else’s consciousness. Deep, I know.

What is Blox VR exactly?

Before I start I have to get one important thing out of the way: It’s still a demo! Yeah, the game only has three levels right now because I got caught up in yet another project of mine and I also wanted to hear what other people thought about the game before fully committing myself to it. Unfortunately people haven’t said much. Go figure…

Blox VR Bed and Blocks

It’s funny because thanks to my other project I now know more about game physics and development in general so I might end up doing a complete rework on Blox VR once I decide to continue developing it because while it felt awesome a few months ago, it feels kind of lame and noob-ish with my current knowledge. I know can do much better.

To put it short: Blox VR is a virtual reality puzzle game project that has been put on hold for now, but I will most likely continue developing it once I’m finished with my other projects (they’re going to be epic by the way) and once I feel that people actually like where the game is headed.

What can you do in the game?

Because this is a game for the Google Cardboard headset and as you may know it only has a single action button, I had to make the hard choice and basically “glue” the player to the ground leaving the action button only for picking up and dropping various metal boxes scattered about the room. Therefore you can’t walk around in the room, but you don’t really need to. It’s just a small room. If you were actually there and spread your arms you could touch both walls at the same time.

The puzzle

When looking around the room you will notice something written on one of the walls. A clue? Well, I can only say that it’s somehow related to the various boxes that you find on the floor. Figure it out!

Blox VR Switch and Blocks

After you solve the puzzle you will hear a weird sound that I quickly made in FL Studio and the level resets. Except of course for the puzzle, that one changes to more complex gibberish.

After the final puzzle the writing on the wall changes to “End of demo” so you’d know that it’s the end and wouldn’t spend your precious time figuring out how to escape this level. You can’t. Really. That’s it. It’s really the end. REALLY.

Where to get it?

You can download the game from Google Play Store and currently it’s only available for Android devices. You also need one of those Google Cardboard Virtual Reality headsets that go for less than five bucks on ebay. Or you can order one from me if you like.

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Silent Hill 4 (The Room) Apartment 302’s Living room in Virtual Reality

Silent Hill 4 – The Room is one of my favorite installments in the Silent Hill series and if you’re a true fan like me, you have probably dreamed of what it would be like if you had the chance to actually step inside the game– literally.

Well, guess what? Thanks to Oo-FiL-oO from Deviantart who extracted and converted a 3D model of Henry’s living room, I managed to mash up a Virtual Reality experience! All you need is the dirt cheap Google Cardboard headset and a regular smartphone to step inside Apartment 302 for the first time.

Apartment 302 in Google Cardboard

Apartment 302 Hallway

You’ll find yourself standing in the main doorway, looking at the other end of Henry’s apartment. There are a couple of chairs further away and beside the TV set you will notice a familiar chest where you used to store all of your items.

Unfortunately everything’s completely rusted shut in this alternate dimension, so I’m afraid you can’t open any cupboards or drawers at this point.

Apartment 302 Kitchen

I’m sure you’ll recognize Henry’s kitchen to your left. If you look closely, you might notice there’s blood in the sink. I wonder whose blood is that?

Apartment 302 Living room

Turn around and walk into the main room with a comfortable couch. You can rest your legs here if you feel like it. Oh no! The television set… it doesn’t seem to be working.

By now you’ve probably noticed Room of Angel playing in the background as you walk around Apartment 302 in this dark, alternate reality. How does this make you feel?

You can use the stereo on the bookshelf to switch between three different music tracks.

How to walk around

You can move around the entire living room by pulling the Google Cardboard’s magnetic trigger once. Now just look towards the direction you want to go and you’ll slowly keep walking until you pull the trigger again.

I haven’t tested it myself, but if you happen to have a newer Cardboard model, the trigger button should work fine on that too. Let me know if you run into problems!

Not the whole apartment, sorry

Since Oo-FiL-oO’s 3D model didn’t include the rest of the apartment, I only managed to do the living room, so there’s a big, rather poorly textured wall right where you’d normally go into the hallway that connects the toilet and Henry’s bedroom. I hope you’re not too disappointed.

You can’t interact with drawers, the fridge or any other items at this point (except for the stereo and couch). It’s just a simple VR experience where you can walk around the Apartment 302’s living room, but I think you’ll have a blast looking at things from a completely new perspective.

On top of that, Room of Angel is playing in the background so it should give the overall atmosphere a nice finishing touch. Think of this as an interactive music video!

Easter egg?

I’m not sure if you can call it an easter egg, but if you look closely, you should be able to find it. I’ll give you a hint: there’s an object in Henry’s living room that doesn’t belong- I took it from Unity’s asset store because it wasn’t included in the 3D model of the room. Can you find it?

Download Room of Angel (Apartment 302) VR Game

Note: Room of Angel was the original name for this app, but it has since changed. The official name from this day forward shall be Apartment 302! I had to make the change in order to comply with Google’s tough policies on impersonating someone else. In this case, Konami. And just in case you’re wondering, Konami is totally fine with this.

You need to make sure your phone’s security settings allow apps from unknown sources. Don’t worry, I’m a nice guy and would never do anything evil to your phone. You can download the installer here:

RoomOfAngel.apk (31,6 MB)

Or from the Play Store

Currently the game will only work on Android devices and because it uses a Cardboard viewer, you’ll need a phone that will fit in the headset.

It should work with a wide range of mobile phones, but so far I’ve only tested it on my own Samsung Galaxy S2 that’s running Android version 4.1.2 so I can only guarantee it will work flawlessly on that phone.

*EDIT* Looks like it’s working fine on Sony Xperia Z5 Compact as well, but only after the Cardboard headset was paired with the phone using Google’s Cardboard Viewer app. It’s actually a great app to get rid of double vision in most VR games out there.

I’m very much interested in finding out on which phones this works so please send me some feedback and if you like what I’ve done, make sure to share it with your friends!

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Best free Google Cardboard games for low end smartphones

The world of Virtual Reality really took off earlier this year when Oculus finally released a consumer ready version of the Rift- a standalone VR headset used with high end gaming computers running the Windows operating system. However not everyone can (yet) afford this new technology and according to Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, we are still years away from a Rift for everyone. But does it stop us from experiencing Virtual Reality right now? Of course not.

Poor man’s Virtual Reality headset

Google cardboard

Back in 2014 Google realized that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to trick the brain into believing it’s actually inside a virtual environment and by combining a regular smartphone with a magnet, a couple of lenses and a recycled cardboard casing held together by a rubber band, the Google Cardboard was born.

And even though the Do It Yourself head mount is not intended to be 100% immersive, it will give you a first hand VR experience for less than the price of a Happy Meal and it’s definitely worth it. Just slide your phone between the cardboard case and you’re off to explore the wonders of a completely different, virtual realm.

Best cardboard games to get you started

In the last two years since Google Cardboard was first introduced to the public, game developers have been eagerly working on creating the next best Virtual Reality game for your smartphone and to be honest not all of them get it right.

For example the most common issues I’ve faced when testing numerous VR games for android phones with a Google Cardboard are double vision due to the screen not being split exactly right and excessive lag in the head tracking technology which can induce motion sickness rather easily. It’s basically when you move your head to the left and the camera keeps going left even after your head has stopped. It’s confusing to the brain and sort of feels like being way too drunk.

Of course I’m not blaming the developers for everything since I have a low end smartphone myself with poor processing power by today’s Virtual Reality standards to begin with, but still there are certain things you can do a lot better by simply writing better code.

Anyway, I’ve been testing various VR games from the Play Store using my Samsung Galaxy S2 and a regular Google Cardboard I bought off eBay a while back and here’s a list of games that I actually enjoyed playing and didn’t uninstall immediately.

On a side note, if you’re like me and get motion sickness easily, you should probably take breaks between gaming sessions to avoid feeling sick for up to an hour after removing the headgear because Virtual Reality Sickness is a real thing.

The Dark Forest VR

The Dark Forest VR

From the few Virtual Reality horror games that my smartphone can actually handle flawlessly, the Dark Forest VR really surprised me as it didn’t make me feel sick at all. I guess it has to do with how natural your movement feels when playing the game and there’s absolutely no double vision or any other crap that will make the overall experience awful to say the least. I really recommend it if you’re a fan of horror games as the atmosphere in the game is guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

VR Fantasy

VR Fantasy

If you like fantasy adventure type games then you will enjoy VR Fantasy– a first person fantasy game where you are taken on a quest to explore a mysterious fortress filled with cute, but dangerous enemies. The graphics in this game are a lot more detailed than in Dark Forest and the scenery is really enjoyable to just stare at for a while. It’s almost as if you were inside a childhood dream.

As with a lot of other VR games for android devices, you can move around simply by looking down at your feet where you can find an icon which, when focused on, will make your character move forward. You can fight enemies and break treasure chests using the magnet button at the side of your Cardboard headset and if you happen to have a Bluetooth controller, you’re in luck because the game supports that as well.

Deep Space Battle VR

Deep Space Battle VR

Even if you’re not a true fan of space shooters, you’ll definitely get a kick out of protecting Earth from a bunch of alien attack vessels that fly out of a mothership parked in orbit around our planet. The Deep Space Battle VR is basically a modern version of Space Invaders, but this time around You are in the center of action- literally. All in all it’s another immersive VR experience well done by Archiact Interactive Ltd. With a 4.1 rating on the Play Store, it’s a must have in any mobile VR game collection.

VR Silent Home

Silent Home creepy woman

Ohh man… so Silent Home is officially the first Virtual Reality horror game that managed to spook me so much I had to take off my headset just to make sure I was still in one piece. It happened when I was walking through a corridor very similar to what I’ve previously seen in Konami’s Silent Hill series with a lot of doors leading to various messed up rooms.

There I was just minding my own business, taking a look at some notes on the floor, and as I was about to leave the room, I lifted my head up and saw a woman standing in the doorway (yup, that’s her on the screenshot).

For a moment I thought she was a friend, but then she turned her head… you know, slowly and all the way back 180 degrees… she stared at me for a moment just to make sure my brain registered her horrific blood shot eyes and unleashed a bone chilling scream right before dashing at me. Then… everything went black…

What’s more, after removing the headset to make sure I was still alive, I realized that I had completely lost all sense of “reality” because I was standing in front of a wall in my room and I had no idea how I got there. Talk about immersive virtual reality… and that all happened using a plain old cardboard. I’m impressed!

Where to go from here

After you have experienced these new and exciting virtual worlds on your cardboard, you will probably want to try out even more fun games, right? Well, you’re in luck because VR has really started to grow exponentially. I remember just last year when the best game, called Tuscany Dive, was a big hit. You could only walk around a virtual house and there were no objects to interact with, but it was considered mind blowing by most.

Now, just a year later, the entire Play Store is filled with epic content. And while some developers are definitely doing a better job than others, it’s important to realize that we are only at the beginning of a very interesting journey into the virtual realms and the most immersive and epic experiences haven’t even come out yet.

Upgrade to a more advanced headset

Over time you will no doubt realize that your cardboard isn’t very effective in taking you into the virtual world. For instance, I can only enjoy playing mobile VR games in complete darkness because of that annoying ambient light that otherwise shines through the cracks.

Additionally the cardboard doesn’t really align with my face that well, isn’t very durable and has a nasty sweat collector right between the eyes. Ugh. This is why it will make sense to eventually upgrade to a better, more advanced headset built by Samsung and meant for mobile virtual reality gaming.

In some ways it’s actually a better solution than Oculus Rift to a lot of people, mainly because it’s portable and since our smartphones are getting faster and faster chips all the time, we can soon experience “Rift class” virtual reality on the go.

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