Steam is a great place for games, but that’s about it. Did you even know Valve’s digital storefront sold movies? They’re rare, but they’re there. And with all the VR content that’s flooding the platform each week, we’re also bound to miss some of the smaller, more experimental pieces that don’t capture our attention with massive explosions and high fidelity graphics.
Anyland is available now on the HTC Vive through Steam, and is considered a sister app to Manyland, a 2D creative toolset and game. If you need a sense of what Anyland could one day become, I implore you to head to the Manyland website. Just click that link. You will not be expecting what you get.
Manyland is a 2D experience in which you can build your own worlds and invite others to explore them. In this day and age that’s not really saying much, but this is a universe that has persisted over three years now, allowing players to create music and even script actions. Players haven’t just built houses but also a community, and it’s something the developers are proud of.
But, all all along the creators were also dreaming of a VR version of the game that brought its aspirations into the 3D realm. Lenssen tells me over email that the pair had been “hooked” on VR since the days of the Oculus Rift DK1. “I’ve had an interest in world building tools for many years and Anyland is meant to be a blank canvas for everyone’s creativity, where nothing is predefined, and history is invented by all of us together,” he says.
Whereas Manyland plays like a 2D platformer, Anyland reminds me, more than anything, of Unity’s own Editor VR software (Lenessen says the team hasn’t considered Tools integration yet). It’s first-person with position-tracked controls. You bring up 3D menus to summon objects like squares and spheres and can then alter them to your liking. By simply placing your creations on your VR body, you can turn them into body parts for truly unique avatars.
“In Anyland the emphasis is that it’s a shared experience where we all create a universe from scratch, without predefined models, textures, stories and themes,” Lenssen says. “The tools aim to find a balance for different activities and interests, like coding, music, designing, maybe one day painting. And when you don’t create and build, you chat, party, have fun, and go on adventures together.”
There’s a sort of gamification to Anyland that doesn’t exist with a lot of other creation software, then. There’s an intent to actually use your avatars and other creations, sharing them with others and having social gatherings either to show off what you’ve built or see what your friends have made. That puts it closer to something like Valve’s Destinations than it does Tilt Brush or Tvori.
Going forward, Lenssen says the team will look into Rift and Touch support. Since launch, the developers has supported with plenty of updates, and it will continue to provide more with the help of players. “We want to continue to listen closely to all feedback so the world can evolve in a way that makes everyone happy. That’s our top priority.”
This is one VR experience that might have passed you by, but now you can correct that. Anyland is available on Steam for $11.99.