If you enjoy movies, then you have undoubtedly heard of Weta. The special effects studio based in Wellington, New Zealand; behind some of the biggest titles to ever hit the big screen such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, Warcraft, Ghost in the Shell, Bladerunner 2049, Thor Ragnarok, Mad Max, Chappie, and the list goes on.
The company has just launched and unveiled the opening of its new facility, Weta Gameshop. The new company has been setup, partnered with US based Magic Leap, to enter the exciting world of Augmented Reality gaming (or as Gameshop’s Executive Producer, Hayley Gray calls it “Spatial Gaming”. Augmented Reality is where gamers wear a headset that allow for a mix of IRL (real life) and VR (virtual reality) where virtual objects appear in the real world and can be interacted with by the gamer.
“Even for gaming, that blows the lid off of gaming,” Weta Gameshop’s game director, writer, and artist Greg Broadmore said.
The Prime Minster of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, officiated the opening ceremony this week; however Weta have been working on their mixed reality for the past 6 years with a mix of a 50-strong team of both Weta and Magic Leap staff.
The Prime Minister said Weta Workshop’s new studio was an example of Wellington and New Zealand’s position at the cutting edge of the rapid development of mixed reality applications for gaming, entertainment and into education, healthcare and communication.
“Their ground-breaking partnership with Magic Leap is another feather in the cap for Weta Workshop whose creativity crosses so many different fields. It’s also an example of Kiwi creators and innovators being sought out for their talent and fresh approaches.
I congratulate Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger and their talented team on their achievements and wish them all the best for the delivery of their new game, which I had the privilege to test drive in a private demonstration.”
While Magic Leap provide the technology side, Weta have been working on the story-telling and effects to build the world for their first game. Speaking of their first game, it is based on Mr Broadmore’s own comic book, Dr Grordbort’s Invaders, and involves shooting robots….lots of them.
Magic Leap released a proof of concept video on their YouTube in 2015 to show the games potential.
The Dr Grordbort’s Invaders game will be out this year, but Mr Broadmore won’t be drawn on exactly when.
He said it would appeal to a broad audience, pointing out that traditional gaming requires the mastering of complex consoles.
“How do you pick up a raygun? You simply go over to it and pick it up. There’s a lot of naturalisation. You use your hands, your movements, eyes, you talk. It’s all about making things appear as if they’re really in the world.