"Our challenge was to create a multi-user experience... and cross-platform!" - Maria Beltran (THE LEGEND OF KAMI)
During the GIFF 2021 in Geneva we had the chance to try a multi-player and cross-platform experience in selection, THE LEGEND OF KAMI, developed by the Swiss company Zoe/Apelab. It is a collaborative adventure for both mobile devices and virtual reality headsets. And the impressive result does not harm the fluidity and pleasure of discovering a magical universe within an exciting quest. We talked about the experience with one of the co-founders of Apelab, Maria Beltran.
Maria Beltran - Apelab was founded in 2014 by three students in interaction design from the HEAD Geneva - University of Art and Design: Emilie Joly, Sylvain Joly and myself. Our first interactive projects were conceived for tablets, then we progressively got interested in virtual and augmented reality. THE LEGEND OF KAMI is the last project we released under the Apelab name. Following our experience as content creators, we launched a new company focused on software development, Zoe Immersive, a learning platform where anyone can build interactive 3D experiences without coding knowledge. The development of THE LEGEND OF KAMI took us around 2 years, with an obvious delay due to the Covid-19 situation. We remain a small team at Apelab and - apart from a few external contributors - we were 5 people involved in the main production of the project.
M. B. - For us, THE LEGEND OF KAMI was above all a desire to build a multi-player, collaborative experience… but with a cross-platform challenge, between smartphones and virtual reality headsets! It's a hybrid experience, a fairly new format for immersive content. It was a double challenge for us: both it allowed us to test and develop new features, and it was an opportunity to create a universe around spirituality and nature. At Apelab we tried to give meaning to the contents we produce, and we were inspired by different cultures and mythologies and made it our own to create the story of THE LEGEND OF KAMI. There are a lot of natural elements, water, rock, a magnitude in the landscapes and perspectives.
M. B. - We did not want to have any dialogues or explicit instructions in order to make it easier for users to move forward. It had to be very intuitive, to let everyone immerse themselves in the world created. The few informational elements (diegetic UI) are really integrated into the environment. We also wanted to use voice communication between users (locally, or remotely when players are in different cities, different countries), which is already an existing option when developing multiplayer experiences. All of our productions are at the intersection of video game and storytelling.
M. B. - In 2019 we decided to launch a new adventure and company with Zoe Immersive, an easy-to-use cross-platform 3D world creator for learning and entertainment that empowers non- and low coders to build and share interactive and engaging 3D multi-user experiences in a collaborative marketplace. We are part of this idea of a collaborative metaverse where people can exchange, create together - and learn by being actively creating in 3D.