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Wild AI: A visual tour of ‘Paper Beast,’ a VR safari adventure

Paper Beast Launch Trailer

Paper Beast invites you to explore an AI simulation run wild — literally. The first VR game from legendary game designer Erik Chahi, Paper Beast takes you on a surreal adventure through the depths of the Internet, where big data has evolved into a menagerie of bizarre creatures that roam the digital landscape. “Imagine a cocktail, with a bit of Dalí, Lynch, and BBC Planet Earth,” says Chahi. “Shake it, and you’ve got a crazy universe to explore!”

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A robust physics engine governs everything in the game, from the plants and animals to the weather.

The world of Paper Beast is full of motion and life, but you won’t find canned animations anywhere. A robust physics engine governs everything in the game, from the plants and animals to the weather. It’s up to you to use this system to solve environmental puzzles, interact with flora and fauna, and discover all of the secrets hidden inside of Paper Beast’s virtual habitat. “Everything has unique physics,” says Chahi. “Paper animals and objects can be manipulated with precision. Everything reacts to player input. The wind is simulated too; depending on their weight, some animals will float or fly. Sand and water both flow naturally. You can dig the ground and route the flow of water. Everything is very playful.”

Today, we’re taking a look at the world of Paper Beast with Pixel Reef founder Erik Chahi, who selected some of his favorite visuals from the game and provided us with insights on each.  

Creature Gallery

"We originally used origami creatures exclusively, but eventually extended our bestiary to include other materials, like coral and jewels. Technically, all creatures’ moves are driven by a locomotion algorithm we developed with our core team gameplay programmer. There are no animators or scripted animations. All of our creature’s movements are calculated in real-time."

"This majestic creature is huge, and she will help you throughout the adventure. Striking yet peaceful, she’s almost sacred and is the first animal the player will meet."
"A giant elephant and the only real animal from our world! Players will find her while trekking through one of the most surreal sequences of the game."
"From a game design perspective, we needed a heavy quadruped that players couldn’t lift. We also needed something that could resist the wind."
"This creature is the “punk” of the Paper Beast universe. She is singular with tons of personality. When you see her origins during the journey, you will understand why she’s made of recorder tape."
"These guys are hard workers, and peacefully roll sand balls to build their nests. Of course, their sand balls are very interesting for players, as you will discover."
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Environments Gallery

"Environments are genuine actors in the adventure. Pascal Lefort, one of our artists, created all of the 3D art, including the sky. As a hybrid of the natural world and the world of data, each location in Paper Beast has a distinct vibe, pace, and oddity."

"In the world of Paper Beast, the sky is as important as the ground. This one is a straightforward yet metaphorical interpretation of what we call 'the cloud' on the Internet."
"When Pascal, our designer, came up with blue rocks, I said, ‘OK… let’s try it.’ What an identity! The blue tones connect the sky and surface, while the angular shapes introduce a nice contrast between the two."
"This place is super cold and windy. Frigid conditions make these areas the most challenging places for our beasts to survive."
"Arches typically work well in virtual landscapes, as you can see them from different perspectives and use them as landmarks while exploring the environment."
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Sandbox Gallery

"The simulation takes center stage here, especially the dynamic terrain that players can shape using our tools. For the PC version, we added new features, bigger terrain, flowing sand grains, and paper plants that grow around trees." 

"You can massively terraform the terrain. In this shot, a player is adding water. You can also add or remove sand, and even transform matter, like changing water to sand, and sand to rock."
"This tree produces water and introduces all kinds of fun combinations with which to experiment. For example, you can bring in a tornado and swirl water all over the map and freeze it all by bringing the temperature down."
"You can link objects or creatures together with rope. Here, a predator is intrigued by the lava cube connected to it."
"This is a new species made just for the PC version. They reproduce by spawning eggs and later protect them by creating barriers of ice."
"This is the mega predator of the Sandbox. Fortunately for other species, it can’t move. The Voraxo was one of the first beasts we ever prototyped."
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If you're ready to embark on a virtual safari, then grab your gear and jump into Paper Beast on the Oculus Platform. And don't forget to check out our full interview with Erik Chahi over on the Oculus Blog.

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