Virtual Reality (VR) technology is growing at an expediential rate with gamers eager to get their hands on these devices as they become available.
It’s one thing to have these advanced devices in the market, and totally another to have enough variety in the games available to experience on them. With this in mind, development studio Serellan LLC has decided to make one their current titles available in the VR realm.
Hotel Blind is an interesting choice for VR given that the games premise is that you are playing a person who is blind, however if you have played Hotel Blind you will realize that this is where this title actually belongs as it forces you into the exact experience that is intended.
By removing outside distractions and immersing you into the darkness where you use voice prompts to help navigate you around the hotel room, you are able to fully experience not only what it is like to be in the shoes of someone who lives their life that like every day, but you are also removing any barriers to being able to let your imagination run free and create the environment ‘around you’ to complete the task at hand and find your way out of that room.
“I was inspired to make Hotel Blind from listening to NPR’s ‘This American Life’ which featured Ryan Knighton who is a Canadian professor and is also blind. His intriguing story of navigating a hotel room as a differently abled person gave me the idea of making a game about putting you in the shoes of a blind person and making you experience what it is like to attempt to navigate a hotel room with nothing but your memory to guide you.”
Hotel Blind is also a brilliant example of how to use the Unreal Engine 4 to create a game from scratch, and for developers who are looking to start using this engine you can view development videos here that walk you through the processes used to develop Hotel Blind in Unreal.
Christian Allen, Lead Developer at Serellan LLC, has been very open when it comes to sharing behind the scenes looks into how his games are unfolding and how he is able to take a simple concept and turn it into a selling title. For development inquiries you can contact Christian on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Serellan (@Serellan).
Hotel Blind will be available first for VR on HTC Vive later this month, however you can try out the game early at E3 next week by stopping by the Operation Supply Drop booth where Christian Allen will be demonstrating the game.
The minimum requirements for running HTC Vive are:
- Graphics processor: Nvidia GeForce GTX970, or AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater
- CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 equivalent or greater
- RAM: At least 4GB
- Video output: HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
- USB port: One USB 2.0 or greater
- Operating system: Windows 7 SP1 or newer
Please ensure your device is capable of running at these minimum specs before purchasing a HTC Vive device.
For more insight into Hotel Blind please see our previous coverage below:
You wake up. The room is pitch black and unfamiliar, you have not been here before and you are alone.
You get up out of bed only to stumble into the coffee table to your left. “I must remember that’s there” you tell yourself.
With one hand on the wall you count the paces forward until you reach the next item in the room, this time it’s a couch. Adding more paces to your count you finally reach the far wall where you locate a door, it’s locked. Without your keys you are going nowhere so you turn back around and being searching the length of the next wall. As you progress forward you are starting to see the room take shape in your mind. From the bed, to the coffee table on the left, the couch 5 paces along the left wall, you can see it all even though you can’t ‘see’ anything.
This is the premise behind Hotel Blind, a recent title from developers Serellan LLC. There are several layers to this game that you really need to look for to be able to truly appreciate the experience for what it is.
We are visual beings, our memory works best when prompted with images. We weren’t born knowing how to read, we have to train ourselves to do it because it is not natural to us, however in most instances we are born knowing how to see as that is something that is very natural to us.
We have become too accustomed to having everything spelled and drawn out for us, so an experience that forces you to create the environment yourself can actually be quite frustrating. You are the only one that can create that environment, no one else can see exactly what you are seeing and that is what makes each instance of Hotel Blind so unique to each person that plays it.
No one else will see the exact same two-seater couch in their mind with that worn out pale green material covering, or the old oak coffee table with stains from your mug and chips on the right hand corner. We can see something similar but not the same, as we all see and perceive things differently.
Something so simple, a black room, basic instructions and a dash of audio prompts, allows you to create your own setting and forces you to think, remember and ‘see’.
For some people, this is their life. In the absence of sight, a luxury many of us take for granted, you have to rely on all your other senses to get you by, to visualize in your mind where things are, how to find them again, and how to survive.
Serellan LLC is a studio that is becoming renowned for tackling issues others tend to shy away from, to bring a sense of understanding to even some of the more taboo subjects. It’s important to have an awareness of what others might be going through and how they experience everyday life, by creating Hotel Blind, Serellan LLC have provided you with the opportunity to get a ‘sense’ of what it would be like trying to navigate yourself around using nothing but your mind’s eye.
Remember how I said above that there are “several layers to this game that you really need to look for to be able to truly appreciate the experience for what it is.”? Looking at this as simply a video game that gives you the experience we discussed above is actually quite inaccurate. There is a lot more depth to this game than you realize which in itself, when you consider the simplicity of the game, is a massive feat.
Christian Allen, lead designer at Serellan LLC, also created Hotel Blind to teach people how to sit down and create a game. To start from a blank canvas and piece everything together.
“I wanted to put together a tutorial online about how to really sit down and create a game, start to finish, in Unreal. While I was thinking about this I happened to hear a story on NPR’s ‘This American Life’ about a blind mans experience exploring a hotel room and the challenges he faced (Click here to read the article).
I decided to create an experience of a blind person in a hotel that showcases the challenges that a sightless person faces, while also giving a template for inspiring indie devs to sit down and create their own games and share it with everyone.
It was pretty cool to create an experience that has not been explored, and I even got to reach out to the originator of the story and let him know I was making a game based on his experience. I ended up adding him to the credits of the game because it was so impactful on me. The game can be frustrating, but so could being blind in an unfamiliar hotel room. It was very fulfilling watching my daughter draw out a map in order to conquer the gameplay. If the only result was to teach my daughter a lesson on what it is to be differently abled in today’s world, then it was all worth it.” – Christian Allen, Serellan LLC.
A game doesn’t have to be visually spectacular to be impactful. It doesn’t need to have a gripping soundtrack to be immersive, or have extensive dialogue to be educational. It can in fact, be a black screen with a few basic instructions, and if you are the team at Serellan LLC, that’s all you need.
You can purchase Hotel Blind now on Steam for $1.99.
Disclaimer: The author of this article contributed voice over to this game.