Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Luna makes puzzles out of stars and music out of trees

Luna makes puzzles out of stars and music out of trees

At one point in time, like most kids I suspect, I had dreams of going to space. I guess that entailed becoming an astronaut, but my mom never let me in on that key detail. (I also wanted to be a “cat-ologist,” according to old journals, which is a made-up profession that my mom also never told me was nonexistent.) For Christmas one year, she got me a simple telescope. I only recall using it once, to gaze at the stars in the sky from our backyard. I managed to find one of the “Dippers,” though I probably still can’t tell the difference between the two sizes. Yet, playing connect-the-dots with far-off constellations in the night sky is what drew me to space in the first place. Or at least, the idea of exploring it one day.

Luna is keen to foster creativity, and not in an overwhelming way

I thought of this memory after I played a quick demo of Luna, the latest game from Funomena, at Double Fine’s annual Day of the Devs gathering in San Francisco. Luna doesn’t deal with outer space per say, but it does have starry constellations—and they’re puzzles. In Luna, I was tasked with peering around jumbled up constellations, seeking to connect the various dots to create a shape (like a tree, a turtle, and so on). The puzzles didn’t stretch my brain too much, but that’s the point. Luna’s designed to be accessible for any type of player according to its description, big or small, experienced or inexperienced. And the proof of that was watching a cute kid effortlessly play shortly before me as I waited in line.

My sweet turtle friend.

But constellation-laden puzzles are only one aspect of Luna. The other part comes in the form of reconstructing the memories of a lost little bird. Through the game’s solved constellations, the player is essentially recreating environmental details of the small bird’s memories. I did this by decorating a quaint terrarium with trees, mushrooms, and whatever else. Swiping my hand along the various plants I had planted, I’d hear them chime and make all sorts of different musical sounds. 

There’s a childlike simplicity that I really admire about Luna. It’s easy to pick up and play, as there’s only one button the player needs to use. It’s keen to foster creativitybut not overwhelming in the way other building games can be. Its art style looks nearly popped out of a fold-out storybook, with some strong Mary Blair influences to boot. I guess we can all look forward to soaking in Luna like a good bedtime story when it releases for the Oculus Rift sometime in the first half of 2017.

While you await release, in the meantime you can read more about Luna on Funomena’s website.

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