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AR sign language "makes sense" in Tacoma's space station

Steve Gaynor talks communication in Fullbright's new first-person exploration game.

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Steve Gaynor was at recent Gamelab conference to talk about "pushing yourself out of your creative comfort zone", a method used by his own Fullbright Company studio to try and come up with more interesting and new gameplay ideas. Their new game, Tacoma, tries just that, and was announced at the end of last year and debuted a new trailer at E3.

Set on a space station in 2088, Gaynor explains the story as "discovering more of the digital communications and more of the life of the crew that populate the station -that is very isolated from Earth."

The designer touched on the differences between it and the studio's Gone Home.

"Tacoma is much more of that [isolation] feeling, it's in this constructed environment, it's an unfamiliar place. I think that something that was important about Gone Home was that it was a domestic setting that you can kind of identify with the house and it is an environment where people leave. So, one thing that we're trying to explore in Tacoma is what is like for people to leave their lives in this totally unfamiliar location. This artificial place that's been built in the middle of space

The game, in a lot of ways, is about how people has to learn to rely on each other in this place that's unlike anywhere that they've ever been before".

But there's something that caught our attention (and the attention of many fans) in Tacoma's E3 trailer: the introduction of sign language as an input method. Gaynor discusses how the team used Augmented Reality as a basis for a communication system.

"We realised that one thing that the computer could interpret clearly would be if the user was using sign language. You could enter text that way, without needing to touch anything, and without needing to talk out loud, because you know, talking is louder than typing, and you don't always want to be -for instance if your entering a password- you just don't just want to say it for somebody could hear it, right?

"So our animator Noël Clark did a lot of research into how sign language works and how the character might actually do the motions. It's been interesting, we've seen a lot of really enthusiastic response to that detail from the trailer. It's one of those ideas that I think, when we hit on it, it was like 'yeah, that makes sense'."

Watch the full video interview below for more on Tacoma's artwork ("trying to synthesise all the influences that we can draw from"), pushing both player and creators out of comfort zone, the opportunity of 3D full exploration thanks to anti-gravity, storytelling ("projections and recordings" instead of Gone Home's notes) and the inside/outside exploration approach.

Tacoma will first land on PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox One in 2016.


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REVIEW. Written by Bengt Lemne

"It is said the devil is in the detail, but that's also where you'll find the brilliance of Tacoma."

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