Kickstarter campaign eyes gaming future

Special to Western News

Blake Stone, who graduated from Ivey Business School last year, and Colton Kadlecik, who just graduated with a Software Engineering degree, co-founded Vitruvius VR, a virtual reality (VR) gaming company, last year. After a summer in Western’s Propel Entrepreneurship incubator, the pair is ready to launch its first game – MushroomBallVR.

Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. or Super Monkey Ball, but instead of following the action on a screen, you are part of the action, immersed in the landscape.

If you liked the above mentioned platform games, you’ll love MushroomBallVR. But first, the new virtual reality game, developed by recent Western graduates, needs your help with its Kickstarter campaign, which launched Nov. 4.

Blake Stone, who graduated from Ivey Business School last year, and Colton Kadlecik, who just graduated with a Software Engineering degree, co-founded Vitruvius VR, a virtual reality (VR) gaming company, last year. After a summer in Western’s Propel Entrepreneurship incubator, the pair is ready to launch its first game – MushroomBallVR.

STONE

STONE

“We are getting ready for the virtual reality gaming market revolution – coming next year,” Stone said.

In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus Rift VR, a VR company, for $2 billion. In 2016, the social media giant will release its new virtual reality headset – called, appropriately enough, the Oculus Rift – which will work directly with Windows 10. Next year, you’ll also see Google, HTC and even PlayStation release VR headsets.

“And you will be able to buy these VR headsets at Best Buy, or online, and we’re building a game that will work with these headsets,” Stone said. “We see this as a pretty big market coming up in the next couple of years.”

MushroomBallVR will appeal to anyone who enjoys video games, he added, and especially early adaptors who want to be up with the latest technology.

The game is a cross between the world of Super Mario and Monkey Ball; there are both race and exploration components. In race-mode, you’re trying to beat the clock, going through different levels with different enemies and you have different mushrooms that have special effects, Stone explained.

“These are pretty powerful within VR because it actually happens to you. The effects – one of them is a levitator mushroom – when you hit that one, you fly up into the air. In VR, it feels like you’re high up. It’s a totally different gaming experience. You’re not looking at a 2D screen anymore – these things actually happen to you,” he said.

As PlayStation and other companies release compatible VR headsets, MushroomBallVR will be compatible with them as well, Stone said, noting the game is designed to work across different platforms.

KADLECIK

KADLECIK

For their Kickstarter campaign, Stone and his business partner hope to raise $10,000 to help launch their game. Those who choose to back the game will get perks like specialty-made mushroom balls for their character that will identify, when the game is in multi-player mode, those who supported the project. Custom characters and other perks will be available and Stone hopes fellow students – some of who may already have tried out versions of VR headsets – will support and help spread the word about MushroomBallVR.

“In the game, you are the leader of your mushroom kingdom. You and your companions love mushrooms and need them to survive. But your enemies have been raiding the lands, and eating your food. It’s your job to travel in your mushroom ball to all corners of the cartoon worlds, scare off your enemies and take back what is yours. Help us get the word out on Facebook and Twitter,” Stone said.