Augmented reality (AR) has taken huge strides in the past couple of years. The widely reported suspicion levied at Google Glass users five years ago has given way to a more respected adoption rate by way of ‘window’ based AR. The likes of Pokemon Go and Google Maps’ recently launched AR directions system, for example, use the smartphone in ways simply not possible before. However, presenting new experiences such as these on devices that users are already familiar with is planting the seed for the upcoming AR revolution: this is functionality you never knew you needed, but soon won’t be able to live without.
Many companies are jumping on the AR bandwagon and trying to innovate early in the space. While new hardware (most likely returning to the head-mounted front) will redefine what AR means to everyone, the safe haven found in smartphone-based experiences is as good a starting point as any, and UK based Reality Gaming Group Ltd. are championing that effort to modernise the familiar with innovative technologies. Reality Clash, the first game from the company, is a first-person shooter (FPS) utilising geo-location technologies coupled with AR and allowing users to store the access rights to items won and bought on the blockchain. There’s a lot of buzzwords there, but it all starts with that familiarity of the FPS game.
Any gamer worth their salt knows what an FPS is and has an expectation of how one would play on mobile. Reality Clash intentionally differs very little from this model. It has its own unique weapons and environment design of course, but the gameplay loop will be familiar to anyone who has previously experienced an FPS game on a smartphone. What makes Reality Clash unique is the systems that are invested underneath the hood.
The most obvious is of course the AR visuals. As a player you’re not simply embodying an avatar in a virtual world by way of an analogue stick; you are the avatar. Strolling through the real-world (with the second additional technology, geo-location, coming into effect) you will come across other players who you can challenge to a match. After choosing your weaponry and kicking-off the round, the players hold their smartphone up to view their opponent while their real-world movements are mimicked in-game. This is what makes Reality Clash so familiar, and yet so different to everything that’s been before.
“When you go into combat a virtual reality portal opens and you literally walk in to what we call ‘The Sim’,” states Tony Pearce, Co-Founder of Reality Gaming Group. “In that battlefield you then become an avatar… the clever thing is the avatar actually does what you do in real-time: if you move left your avatar moves left, if you walk forward your avatar walks forward, if you jump or kneel your avatar will jump or kneel.”
On top of all of this there’s also the incorporation of blockchain technology; a buzzword that managing to annoy many people but has huge potential for real-world use, including here in Reality Clash (and also Somnium Space) for the certified ownership of digital assets. Player’s don’t just tie their winning or purchases to a login, but rather to a universal platform that allows for buying and selling of these assets inside or outside of the Reality Clash game.
“Not only can our gamers take weapons in-and-out of the game and trade them on marketplaces, for example, but these are all recorded on the blockchain as tokenised assets,” details Jake Scott, Community Manager at Reality Gaming Group. “That means the statistics of these guns can be recorded on the blockchain, and most importantly ownership for users is completely secure, and no matter what happens to the game those items will always be yours.”
Smartphone gaming has progressed a lot over the last four-to-five years, and with the advent of ARKit and ARCore Reality Gaming Group found its raison d’etre. Reality Clash is available to download now and despite only being the ‘minimum viable product’, according to Pearce, is already showing signs of offering a completely new FPS experience; and there’s plenty more still to come.
Kevin Joyce was been working with immersive technology since 2013, establishing VRFocus.com as one of the leading AR and VR publications before joining Admix, a non-intrusive advertising platform designed specifically for immersive experiences, as Lead Evangelist.