Fantastic Contraption was originally a building game made way back in 2008. Millions of people played it obsessively and saved over 12 million contraptions. You can still play it for free. For years we loved the idea of a 3d Fantastic Contraption but couldn't figure out how it would work. Then we tried the Vive.
The new Fantastic Contraption has been designed from the ground up for room-scale VR. Imagine walking around a grassy island in the sky while you build a machine the size of a horse with your own hands. Press play and watch it trundle off to reach the goal on the other side of the island. With 40+ levels and infinite solutions, it's a VR experience you and your friends will play for hours.
As we recently announced in update 1.0.8, we now display badges at the base of your save models to indicate if you beat the level in a special way. On some levels, getting a badge will earn you an achievement and matching jangly charm for your controller.
Colin and I have differing opinions on “cheevos” in games. For Incredipede, Colin used anti-achievements where you have to leave your computer, go outside and play with bugs (and people actually did it!). Colin argues that achievements cheapen games by giving you a reward for something that should be its own reward, and that they can encourage you to do things that aren’t even fun.
I argue that achievements give you a reason to try new things. Say you always play Rebuild 3 by killing every faction in the city. There’s an achievement for that, but also one for allying with every faction. So to get every cheevo you have to try different play styles and explore parts of the game that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise. Achievements can also give uber players new and harder challenges.
Fantastic Contraption has a history of solution badges which we used for the achievements in the new game. You earn them by beating specific levels in some unusual way. The ones we’ve kept are:
Champion – goal ball stays in goal
Boomerang – ball returns to the build area
Clean – remove all parts from the level after winning
Green – win using no powered wheels
Brown/Gold – win using only rods
Lightning – win in a limited amount of time
Minimalist – use a limited number of pieces
Our Steam achievements include beating Fetch Island green (no powered wheels) and Step Island boomerang (return to the build area), and Log Rolling lightning (within 5 seconds). That last one is so hard that we’re still debating increasing it to 6 or 7 seconds, and it took hours for Colin to finally prove it was even possible.
I hope they encourage Contraption players to be creative and test out different ideas. We may add a few more cheevos as we add more levels… that is if we can fit any more charms on those controllers!
Our team t-shirts have been such a success that we’ve opened a store so you can get one of your very own at 0% markup. The uncensored version features a quote from Nathan Grayson by way of an early Kotaku Vive preview. I think “impressively intuitive and whimsical as fuck” sums up exactly what we were going for.
We’re working towards our next update, adding more stuff to track your progress and all the ways you can beat every level, and new tools to help show off contraptions on Twitch and Twitter. I’ve was looking through the shared solutions today and found some incredible ideas in there – we want to help share them with the world!
Today is the day! The HTC Vive is now shipping, and Fantastic Contraption is live on Steam. We’re so proud and lucky to be part of something so momentous – the first steps of the VR revolution. We’d like to congratulate all of the VR visionaries, brilliant hardware engineers, forward-thinking artists, game developers and enthusiasts who have inspired us and made this possible.
Valve’s new mixed-reality SteamVR trailer explains it perfectly: room scale VR is an immersive experience, a social experience. It’s weird and new and still rough around the edges, and it just might change your life the way it changed ours.
Fantastic Contraption is bundled free with the Vive for a limited time.
Colin Northway is doing programming and design for Fantastic Contraption. He made the original Fantastic Contraption, Incredipede and Deep Under the Sky. He and Sarah Northway spent the last 5 years traveling the world while working on their games.
Kimberly Voll is our resident VR expert - she’s spent her career so far studying player cognition and game design, and specializes in UX, AI and gameplay. She’s got a PhD in computer science, and an honours degree in cognitive science, and has worked on too many games to list, including ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS. (She blogs at zanytomato.tumblr.com.)
Lindsay Jorgensen is doing art and design for Fantastic Contraption. He’s worked at Bioware, Radical Entertainment, Big Fish Games and joined Radial Games in 2014.
Gordon McGladdery aka A Shell in the Pit is doing sound and music. He is a vocal binaural and VR audio enthusiast whose past projects include Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door Games), Invisible Inc. (Klei Entertainment) and is the composer for the Youtube Channel Smarter Every Day.
Sarah Northway is working on programming for Fantastic Contraption. She's best known for her popular Rebuild series which she wrote while traveling the world!
Andy Moore started his game development career doing Community Management and Design for the original Fantastic Contraption, and has since founded Radial Games -- responsible for ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS, Monster Loves You!, and SteamBirds. He's also a licensed commercial pilot and will talk your ear off about airplanes. (He blogs at captain-andy.com.)