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.
Our limited-offer free bundle with the HTC Vive has ended, and they’re now bundling two new games as well as the irreplaceable Tilt Brush. This means we’re now actually selling Contraption for the first time!
Price change to $30
So, it was finally time to discuss the fact that at $40 usd Contraption was one of the most expensive VR games available for the Vive. I do think it’s one of the better VR titles available, but judging by our reviews $40 was more than many players are willing to pay for it. We agreed it was too high, so we’ve lowered it to $30 usd.
The reason VR games generally cost more than traditional “flat” games is simple: right now there are way fewer VR gamers than PC gamers, which means fewer purchases, which means you need higher prices to make the same amount of money and cover your development costs. VR games will get cheaper as more people own the hardware, but this year companies are taking a risk by making games for Vive and Oculus. We want to support them.
Up next: the Level Editor
We’ve been showing off (and occasionally breaking) the upcoming level editor live on our Thursday afternoon Twitch stream. It’s almost another game in itself, building miniature islands in the sky and devising challenges for other players.
We still have a few things to sort out but you can expect to see it on the experimental Steam branch soon!
Having to take off your VR headset to check in with your Twitch audience – or just to hang out with your friends in your favourite channel – is a hassle. Well, hassle-be-gone! You can now connect to any Twitch channel’s chat box and view it within VR! This feature (found in the new Social menu) comes complete with emoji support and a resizable VR interface that you can place anywhere in your world. We’ll even show a fancy popup if you happen to get a new subscriber or follower!
Whether you are streaming on Twitch or just showing the game off to family at home, you often want to show the action from a different angle — without that VR sense of depth, your audience might not understand what’s going on. You can now enable Director Mode (in Settings) to unlock a bunch of cameras that you can place in your play space, or fly around with your keyboard to set up long distance shots. You can easily cycle between cameras with a set of buttons in VR and show the world just how epic things are from your point of view!
When being viewed externally, you’ll show up as a cute animal avatar – we have a unicorn, frog, sheep, and more! Don’t forget to put on a hat!
If you’re already in Director mode, why not replace your digital avatar with a real, live human? You can capture your humanoid-emotions easily with a quick trip to a mixed-reality dropdown box in the Settings menu. We let you choose between automatically integrating a webcam into the game, or you can compose your own scene (eg, using OBS layering) if you want to integrate fancy capture cards. If you chroma-key out a green-screen you can see yourself walking around in the game world!
We find that Mixed Reality is one of the most engaging and best ways to demonstrate the game, be it at conventions, streamed online, making trailers, or showing things off at home. To do it right you will need some equipment (green screens, a nice camera, beefier computer hardware) – but if you can pull it off it’ll look amazing.
Tweet that GIF!
Our old friend the eye-bug is back! Let it keep watch over you as a portable GIF capturing creature — grab onto it as it floats through your space and tap your Go button to start filming. The GIFs will save to your hard drive (in a folder easily accessible from the Settings menu).
And if you set up your credentials in the new Social menu, posting that gif to Twitter is as easy as tapping a controller button. Share your beauties!
Undo / Redo
We’ve all been there – you accidentally throw your whole contraption off the edge. You have to rebuild from scratch. You’re devastated. Well, “heroes never die!”
Those little menu buttons at the top of your Vive controllers are now Undo (left hand) and Redo (right hand). Experiment with the assurance that your mistakes are reversible!
… And tons more!
Though we mainly focused on the sharing features in this update, we have a whole ton of bug fixes, minor features, and [fully legal] performance enhancements in this update. Check it out!
In our next update we’ll be focusing on some new gameplay features and other exciting things we’re still keeping secret, but if you have any desires or find any bugs, be sure to let us know in the in-game suggestion box!
Here’s the full changelog:
Twitch Chat: Show emotes, number of viewers. Alert for followers and subs. Two-hands resizable. Throw to reset.
GIF Bug: A happy, bumbly, fly that wanders around your play-space and the level. Grab it to record 8 second gifs and, if you want, upload them to Twitter. GIFs are saved to the autosave directory, max 10 at a time named with incrementing numbers. After grabbing the bug it will stay in place. Throw it to return it to “roaming” mode.
Undo/Redo: Small buttons on controller now access undo/redo. Undo is batched for similar actions happening in quick succession.
In game camera controls: added buttons to change cameras in-game (activated when Director mode is turned on)
Integrated webcam mode: webcams will be recognised by the game and composited between foreground/background automatically to make mixed-reality videos simpler to make.
Camera Delay option for streamers in Director Controls. The Slider will delay the game rendering so you can match the delay of your camera. Greatly improves mixed-reality streaming.
Hand-held camera offset now settable with arrow/wasd. Also shift-arrow now “rolls”
All cameras are now represented by little flying bugs. Can grab them to move and rotate, will show preview of what they see until thrown.
Added hats to in-game avatar. ~f to toggle between hats. Also works in mixed reality.
Menus: Fix bug applying settings on startup. Add menus for integrated webcam settings, improve streaming menu generally. Add twitch setup to menus including a button to go to oauth key generator. Sign in to Twitter menu (for the GIF bug). Reduce arrow-key moving interfering with menu options.
New Sounds: New sound effects for berries, dice, twitch follows/sub, throwing rod, berry bounce, save tables
Music: You can now create flat notes by attaching sticky-balls to rods
Grab your eyes out of your head and put them on a contraption. Also eye’s rotation matches parent when moving parent object in both editing and play mode.
Save Tables: Faster loading from server. No longer show friends first in non-friend results. Show empty friends table if you have no friends. Improved table flipping. Small server improvements and admin tools. Minor fixes.
New colouring of wheels that are out of bounds
Warning messages now pop up on the companion window when no hands are present or twitch credentials are not set while using twitch window
Adjustments made to the Vive controller models.
Optimisation: Batching of maquette and static level geometry. Fixed some memory leaks. Skip rendering of some off-screen effects. Objects cache some internal data instead of recalculating it. Loading level is now faster and less likely to cause hitching.
Change some graphical settings while streaming for performance reasons
Fix horrible bug that makes the game unplayable if you attach a sticky ball to a glow-berry.
Possible fix for missing shared replays bug. Server side improvements. Add extra logging to track down missing replays bug.
Grab models off the dark-world maquette more easily
Better data sanity-checking on contraption load.
Reduce hitching when a replay transitions back to playing live
Small improvements to feedback form
Minor tutorial fixes
Fix for things getting stuck in the ground causing joints to disconnect
Fix light-world maquette interfering with dark-world save tables
Handle Oculus headsets better (still not officially supported yet)
Fix to physics glitches when pausing game with steam button
Better sanity checking around settings loading
Setting companion camera smoothing to zero will now improve performance
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!
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.)