Job Simulator Studio goes all-in on hand tracking
XR studio Owlchemy Labs announces a new project at Gamescom 2022. What’s behind it?
Owlchemy Labs was founded in 2010, acquired by Google in 2017, and is based in Austin, Texas. So far, the studio has made some excellent VR games like Job Simulator, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, and Vacation Simulator. They feature playful VR worlds, varied interactions, and squeaky-colorful characters.
At Gamescom 2022, the studio’s new project was revealed in a short but still rather unimpressive teaser. The still unnamed project will be another colorful, crazy VR game – Owlchemy Labs is staying true to its style. What will be different about the new VR game?
A pure hand tracking game with multiplayer
It will be the first VR game designed specifically for hand tracking, and also Owlchemy’s first multiplayer title. Vacation Simulator already received hand-tracking support in 2020, so the studio already has some experience with the new interface.
Since the launch of the current VR game Cosmonious High, the studio has grown significantly and wants to set standards in VR with the new project.
With Job Simulator, Owlchemy Labs showed at the time how interaction works in a VR game. The game set standards in this area and invented the VR genre “near-VR” – everything happens around the player and within immediate reach of his or her hands. This interactivity can be extended with the most natural input option available – the player’s own hands and fingers.
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Andrew Eiche, COO of Owlchemy Labs, sees hand tracking as the future. Using your body as a controller would make it easier to get into virtual reality, and games could be grasped more intuitively. It is not yet clear if the game will be playable with VR controllers. More information about the project is expected to be released in the coming months.
Hand tracking is mainly an optional gimmick so far
Hand tracking is making progress: Meta Quest 2 got improved hand tracking in April of this year. Since this update, the tracking runs more smoothly and accurately, and overlapping hands are also tracked and no longer hidden.
Meta is also increasingly relying on hand tracking with the upcoming Quest Pro. The Quest Pro’s new depth cameras could significantly improve latency and accuracy and greatly enhance hand tracking.
So far, studios rarely integrate hand tracking into their VR games. The not always reliable tracking, the lack of haptics and that not every hardware is supported are the main reasons.