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Jacob
Eriksson

Recursion Excursion

Hank and Nate Save the Universe

Project details

Year
2021
In collaboration with:
Lina Maldeikyte
Programme
Animation
Practices
autonomous-practice
Minor
Hacking

A collaborative project between Jacob Eriksson and Angelina Maldeikyte. Our work is a semi-cooperative, asymmetric, interactive experience with one player in VR and one player on PC.
Play as young strangers from different ends of the Universe, who must work together to find their way home from an unknown alien environment by solving spatial memory puzzles.

You can check out a playthrough of the interactive level below:

(Spoilers ahead)

Recursion Excursion is a small slice of an elaborate interpersonal interactive experience. Together with a friend (or stranger) you embody two adolescents who are struggling to understand their sense of independence and purpose within their respective societies. Abducted from their homes, they awaken in a dark, alien landscape. One player, in VR, navigates and interacts with the environment, while the other, on PC, uses cameras and a unique time-rewinding mechanism to alter the physical space of the VR player. Through communication and puzzle-solving, the two navigate through physical manifestations of their memories, hoping to unlock the mystery of this extraterrestrial environment while searching for a way back home.

Recursion Excursion Character Concept Art

By replaying moments of their past, the players learn about the characters and how their anxieties and personal struggles manifested. As this is revealed to them, they are able to recognize the steps they need to take to overcome these flaws.

But not everything is so straightforward. The mysterious entity that brought them together has tainted their memories in an effort to drive the players apart, pinning them against each other and unraveling their progress. It is up to the players to decide who they trust, offering them the choice between growing together in the face of adversity, or betraying their partner in the name of survival.

Virtual Reality as a medium is as exciting as it is underdeveloped. Because of the prohibitive entry point of VR, we wanted a way to introduce people to the medium without the financial commitment, which led us to the asymmetric gameplay structure. Additionally, there are a distinct lack of experiences that utilize asymmetric input systems, and an even more distinct lack of said experiences with any form of narrative merit. This sparked the conversation between us about how we can capitalize on this untapped potential.

By understanding the unique qualities of their respective input systems, we could design a narrative that complements these traits, and allows the players to embody the personalities of their characters as they navigate and interact with the world and each other.

Recursion Excursion Photo Concept Art

Initially, we wanted to explore the concepts of ‘competitive collaboration’ and creating a nostalgic atmosphere, and we felt that by combining these ideas into one project, we had more room for experimentation within our specialized disciplines.

Personally, I hoped to better understand how the concept of ‘meaningful interaction’ relates to player experience. In context, it refers to the cultural influence and impact that the game has relative to the players’ background, enhanced by their embodiment and sense of presence within the experience. With this in mind, the themes of self-reflection and social perception as they relate to empathy can be strengthened through the players’ interactions.

The scope of this project extends well beyond the graduation year. This demo is a part of a larger pitch in order show our potential and gather the necessary funding. We hope to reach out to and collaborate with external partners so that we may fully realize the project in the upcoming years as an independent studio.

You can follow our journey at our website:
www.recursionexcursion.com

Stay tuned!

Recursion Excursion Rift Concept Art