We Are The Art Life: The Archivist, a VR Experience

Welcome back to Matt Armitage’s and my bi-weekly column showcasing the art and artists inspired by Twin Peaks, and in some cases other Lynch works. This week I talk to Orly Rodriguez of ‘Nothing Like You Productions’ about his new Virtual Reality game, The Archivist: VR which is currently in production. The game allows you to play as a Special Agent searching out clues in the town we love so much, Twin Peaks.


25YL: Great to talk to you Orly, I have been itching to find out more about this project. I have seen a few things on Facebook, but wanted to find out more. so let’s start at the beginning. You, and a team of people are creating a Virtual Reality game based on Twin Peaks? Tell us more about how this idea came about! and who is on the team?

OR: It all started as a homework project for a Virtual Reality Boot camp at Game Art Institute. My instructor Eddie Christian, who is an absolute genius by the way, wanted me to try something new for my second project. So I decided to try making the red curtain rooms from the Black Lodge. I had just watched The first four episodes of The Return and I thought to myself, hey that would be fun. I wonder if I can pull it off. Three days later I was sitting in my chair and walking around The Black Lodge in VR. It was unbelievable. Honestly I felt like I was there.

Fast forward four months and now we have a fairly good sized development team under the name of ‘Nothing Like You Productions’. The team currently includes:

Christian Schamra – Lead Programmer and Developer
Sara Alhuwaimel – Systems Programmer and Developer
Kemal Can Kirdar – Associate Director, CG Artist / Writer
Orly Rodriguez – Director / Producer /Game Designer / CG Artist

Plus we have hired freelancers like:
Jack Price – Writer
Jason McNeil – Voice Actor
and Mitch McCollum – CG Artist Extraordinaire

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25YL: You may not want to give away too much at this stage, but there is a story that you follow, do you play as a certain character? Is this set after the series or during?

OR: Our character is a special agent who works with the FBI and upon receiving a classified dossier from someone called The Archivist he goes out to investigate the case.
In regards to the timeline we wanted to make it original giving us the ability to play within the concept of multi dimensional timelines. We felt strongly that this method would allow us to traverse the spectacular mythology of all the Twin Peaks literature and media; giving players the freedom to explore the most beloved scenarios in all of the Twin Peaks Universe.

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25YL: That sounds incredible! and very apt considering we never really know what year it is in Twin Peaks!

What stage are you at with it now and roughly when do you think it will be ready to play? You have a Beta out now is that right?

OR: Yes we have a BETA. But right now it is a tech demo basically. It has 11 different scenes and just the first part of our story line. It’s about 20 minutes long and I must say it is a spectacularly beautiful thing to behold in VR. You can visit The Black Lodge, The Purple Tower, The RR Diner, Glastonbury Grove, and The Convenience Store, just to name a few.

If we successfully fulfill our Patreon Goals you can expect the full release to be available as early as Q4 2018.

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25YL: Oh great! that’s pretty quick! On what platforms will you be able to experience this?

OR: Well right now it is available as a BETA for Oculus Rift on PC. But we are going to be releasing a BETA for Vive HTC and PSVR exclusively through our Patreon page. New and improved Beta releases for Oculus Rft, HTC Vive and PSVR will be available every week exclusively through various rewards on Patreon.

25YL: I have seen some of your videos and you have used quite a few different locations from the show, are you mapping it out from what you have seen on screen?

OR: We are trying our best to remain faithful to the show but we also want to allow our own artistic interpretations to lead us in the creative process of making these locations and scenes. For example we have The Room with The Glass Box in New York but you only get to visit it after Sam and Tracy have been mutilated by Judy. Since you will be playing the role of Agent Miller you are going to be taking part in investigating their murder. But beware of The Box. Who knows what you might find inside of it.

Besides the scenes I’ve already mentioned above you will be able to visit The Desert Radio from The Return, The Pink Room and The Room Above the Convenience Store from Fire Walk with Me, The Owl Cave, The Motel with Phillip Jeffries, The Silver Mustang, and many others.

We also have a limited time reward on our Patreon Page that allows 3 lucky supporters to pick any location and scene they want from the show. So who knows what you might ending up seeing in the Beta’s and the final release. Anything is possible and feel free to ask for something like The Roadhouse or even The Great Northern. That will be up to you the fans.

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25YL: That’s a really cool idea having fans request locations to explore. I guess Series 3 has really helped in that sense, opened a whole new world of places outside of Twin Peaks. I would love to see One Eyed Jacks or to bump into Carl Rodd at the (new) Fat Trout Trailer Park.

Do you have much of a budget to work with and how is it being funded?

OR: When I started working on this project about 4 months ago I was funding everything myself. I hired guys like Mitch McCollum, Christian Schamara, Jason Miller and Jack Price. But that wasn’t a sustainable model for me. So when Christian came on board as a full time developer he really encouraged me to pursue a Patreon page and to set definitive goals and rewards so that we can make this project the best Twin Peaks virtual reality experience ever. As we meet our goals we will be able to buy software and equipment that will give us access to some the technological advancements you find in triple AAA games like Call of Duty, Assassins Creed and many others. That will include highly realistic Facial Motion Capture, or using our own bodies to control virtual actors, in real-time, with motion smoothing optimizations giving us the ability to quickly create authentic motions for characters like Laura, Lucy, Dougie, MR. C and many others. But we also want to add a dialogue system, innovative VR interactions and even hiring a full time 3D Artist to recreate the whole Town of Twin Peaks in VR. Wouldnt that be awesome!!

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25YL: Why Twin Peaks? have you always been a fan?

OR: Twin Peaks has such an open world and lore that we thought it would be exciting to revisit some of those ideas and work on them to create something new. Sort of like the Expanded Universe in Star Wars.

Kemal and I are tremendous fans. Both of us have dreamed of creating a Twin Peaks game and from the moment I watched the first season over 20 years ago I knew that a video game in that world would just be extraordinary. The story, the characters, the music and all the spiritual and metaphysical aspects behind it were just perfect for a video game. Well 20 years later here we are seeing that dream come true in ways none of ever imagined possible.

25YL:  It is wonderful that you have been able to realise your dream – we love celebrating that here at 25YL, as we are, in a different sense doing the same thing.

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The Diner by Lukas Korner who donated this 3d model for use in ‘The Archivist’.

How long have you been making VR games? What programs and equipment are you using to make the game?

OR: Well my journey with VR started about 4 months ago really. About 2 months before that I took a Blender and Unity course on Udemy but the real action started when I signed up for the VR Boot camp at Game Art Institute. It is such a great program and I really wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for the amazing mentoring and instructors at GAI. They really helped steer me in the right direction and their program is so flexible and comprehensive. It just set the stage for me to grow and learn at an outstanding rate. I recommend it for anyone who is serious about getting into the game industry.

As for software we are currently we are using iClone, Unity and Blender to do almost all our work. Right now we are looking into better equipment that will allow us to work faster and achieve things that were totally out of reach just a few months ago. The technology advances so fast and everyday there are new toys to play with that open the doors to so much potential. That is very exciting for us. We spend night and day dreaming about what we can do and trying to figure out ways to push the limits of what can be done.

25YL: Where can we find updates of your progress?

OR: From now on all updates will be available only on Patreon. Every once in a while we will throw out some images and maybe some video teasers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube but the real good stuff will be exclusively on Patreon.

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The House is made by Jason O Toole which will be available only in an exclusive DLC for The Archivist:VR

25YL: It must be wonderful spending virtual time in Twin Peaks?! Tell us how it feels to walk around in that world.

OR: It is really hard to describe but imagine actually being able to walk inside these amazing places and feel like you are actually in there. Its surreal and eerie, its terrifying and beautiful. Its kind of like being fully lucid in a dream and yet more than that. I have tried so many different virtual reality games and experiences and I keep coming back to ‘The Archivist:VR’ over and over again because I really don’t enjoy anything else as much as I enjoy this. It’s the closest I can get to being inside that world. I love sitting in front of Laura Palmer and watching her talk like I could almost touch her. The Hallway above the Convenience Store was so terrifying at first that I could barely stand being in there. And watching Audrey Dance in The Diner that still gives me goosebumps. Its everything I ever wanted from a Twin Peaks game. I love it!! Everyone who loves Twin Peaks needs to try it.

25YL: This really does look amazing and I really hope I get the chance to experience this! Orly, we really wish you the very best of luck with this project, you are creating something unique that fans will absolutely love, to be a part of that world will be something special.

Thank you so much for speaking to us, we will virtually see you in the trees!

Check out the trailer for The Archivist: A VR Experience here:

Keep up with how The Archivist: A VR Experience is coming along by checking here:

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TheArchivistVR
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OrlyVR/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nothinglikeyouproductions/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AVRExperience
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwoCyMHnfrnJW3TpiWsckQQ?


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