Fans at San Diego Comic Con were transported into the lair of Mr. Mercedes’ serial killer Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) in AT&T Audience Network’s VR escape room installation.
The activation set the stage for season two of the series, which picks up with Brady hospitalized in a vegetative state … or is he? Mysterious occurrences begin happening among hospital staff caring for him as he gains the power to possess their minds.
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The network teamed up with VR Playhouse and Double A Labs to develop a creepily realistic recreation of the psychopath’s lair.
Players donned headsets and searched around the room for clues, solved puzzles, and input answers into a soundboard to eventually spell out a password that would allow them to escape the basement. They had 15 minutes to escape, or be trapped in Brady’s mind forever. And there were many victims.
“We made it pretty difficult,” said Ian Forester, VR Playhouse CEO and game creative director.
Mr. Mercedes: Lair Escape launched Sunday for HTC Vive users, and he wanted to avoid a ‘download, play, delete’ scenario. There’s often a perception that players don’t want to lose, but the VR Escape Room gets harder as players get further along, leaving many wanting more if they don’t beat it the first time.
For Forester, one of the most exciting parts of the game was the technology, which was built in the Unreal Game Engine and is the first time that Atom View plugin has been used in a published game.
It also used VR Playhouse’s photogrammetry and data precision post processing to create an incredibly realistic immersive experience to the point where photos from the VR experience are comparable to if they were actually shot on set.
“From my perspective, it announces VR is here,” Forester said.
The activation also included an augmented reality adventure game, where fans downloaded the app to scan objects in the physical room and uncover clues to help Mr. Mercedes retired detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) crack a case and claim a reward at the end.
Another installation brought Brady to life on a mannequin of him laying in a hospital bed. All of a sudden, his face would appeared to move. VR Playhouse created a 3D Mesh from multiple photographs of Brady’s face, which was then unwrapped and translated into 3D projection mapping.
AT&T Audience Network also brought in actual props from the set, and fans walked away with a photo of Brady taking over their minds.