VR Talk Show Turns Game Creators into Virtual Tour Guides

The FOO Show is a talk show focused on video games, which takes place entirely in VR. The host and guests wear VR headsets during production, and the audience consumes the show at home using their own VR headsets.

The first episode of the show is already available for free on most VR platforms, and you can watch it in 2D via YouTube below. The pilot episode is on Firewatch, and features Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman from Campo Santo. The show’s host, ex-Tested.com founder and editor Will Smith, and guests start the show in a static talk show studio set, awkwardly sitting on stools doing intros and chatting about the game in question.

Once the studio intro finishes though, the FOO Show comes into its own: Guests provide game assets to the FOO VR team, which they then integrate with their tools. This means that the host, guests, and the audience can enter game environments in VR and explore, picking up items, duplicating them, handing them around.

Guests on The FOO Show become virtual tour-guides, showing the host and audience around the environments and objects they and their team have created. It’s an intimate way of looking behind the scenes of a game’s creation. Compared to in-game commentary systems we’ve seen before, The FOO Show’s host acting as a proxy for the audience, and the direction provided by in-game guests makes the whole process feel far more natural.

FOO Show host Will Smith (right) cleans Brendon Chung's ear, simultaneously on set, and in Quadrilateral Cowboy.FOO Show host Will Smith (right) cleans Brendon Chung’s ear, simultaneously on set, and in Quadrilateral Cowboy.

During recording, Smith and his guests occupy the same physical space, with three Vive headsets and six controllers between them. Their head and hand movements are captured by the Vive hardware, and mapped in software to full-body avatars. Their positions in physical space are mapped 1:1 to their relative positions in the VR environment, which means if someone tries to touch another person in VR, they’re going to physically connect with them as well.

The movement data of the host and guests, and the audio recorded from their microphones are synched and delivered to the audience for playback at any time. At this stage, when a viewer watches The FOO Show, they’re alone in the audience. Features that allow for group viewings may be added in the future. It’s also worth noting that the FOO VR team has been working at improving how it handles lip-synching, and maps avatar movements to hand and head inputs from the Vive.

The FOO Show is currently crowdfunding its first full season over on Kickstarter. The project is already fully-funded, but still has eight days left on the clock at the time of writing. Smith assures us that stretch goals will be added to the project later this week.

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“I know everyone says this, but I hadn’t really appreciated what an astounding amount of work goes into these campaigns,” Smith told GameSpot during an interview. “It’s been really gratifying to see al lthe backers come out and support us. We’ve been working on FOO for a year, and it’s lovely to now that people are as excited for us to make the FOO Show as we are to build it.”

“I can’t tell you exactly who it is yet,” Smith teased, when asked about his upcoming guests for Season 1, “but our first guest is not a game developer, but he’s using a game engine in a completely novel way.”

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