Wild AI: A visual tour of ‘Paper Beast,’ a VR safari adventure

August 4, 2020
Paper Beast Launch Trailer

Paper Beast invites you to explore an AI simulation run wild — literally. The first VR game from legendary game designer Erik Chahi, Paper Beast takes you on a surreal adventure through the depths of the Internet, where big data has evolved into a menagerie of bizarre creatures that roam the digital landscape. “Imagine a cocktail, with a bit of Dalí, Lynch, and BBC Planet Earth,” says Chahi. “Shake it, and you’ve got a crazy universe to explore!”

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The world of Paper Beast is full of motion and life, but you won’t find canned animations anywhere. A robust physics engine governs everything in the game, from the plants and animals to the weather. It’s up to you to use this system to solve environmental puzzles, interact with flora and fauna, and discover all of the secrets hidden inside of Paper Beast’s virtual habitat. “Everything has unique physics,” says Chahi. “Paper animals and objects can be manipulated with precision. Everything reacts to player input. The wind is simulated too; depending on their weight, some animals will float or fly. Sand and water both flow naturally. You can dig the ground and route the flow of water. Everything is very playful.”

Today, we’re taking a look at the world of Paper Beast with Pixel Reef founder Erik Chahi, who selected some of his favorite visuals from the game and provided us with insights on each.  

Creature Gallery

"We originally used origami creatures exclusively, but eventually extended our bestiary to include other materials, like coral and jewels. Technically, all creatures’ moves are driven by a locomotion algorithm we developed with our core team gameplay programmer. There are no animators or scripted animations. All of our creature’s movements are calculated in real-time."

Environments Gallery

"Environments are genuine actors in the adventure. Pascal Lefort, one of our artists, created all of the 3D art, including the sky. As a hybrid of the natural world and the world of data, each location in Paper Beast has a distinct vibe, pace, and oddity."

Sandbox Gallery

"The simulation takes center stage here, especially the dynamic terrain that players can shape using our tools. For the PC version, we added new features, bigger terrain, flowing sand grains, and paper plants that grow around trees." 

If you're ready to embark on a virtual safari, then grab your gear and jump into Paper Beast on the Oculus Platform. And don't forget to check out our full interview with Erik Chahi over on the Oculus Blog.