Meet Torn, The Sci-Fi VR Mystery That Wouldn't Exist Without NVIDIA FleX

By Dave Prout on August 28, 2018 | Featured Stories NVIDIA GameWorks Virtual Reality

What if you could step into an episode of Black Mirror? In Torn, our Black Mirror-inspired VR title, you can!

Built for VR, Torn begins as a narrative puzzle game that evolves into a dark, character-driven story as you slowly uncover the truth about a mysterious mansion and its owner.

To open the game, Katherine Patterson stumbles into this abandoned mansion and quickly finds her way into another dimension. When she arrives, she encounters a shimmering fluid that talks, emotes, gestures, moves, and even condescends. This fluid is the disembodied essence of Dr. Lawrence Talbot. Talbot, as well as the photo-realistic world of Torn, wouldn't exist without NVIDIA FleX.

We wanted to pair that realism and authenticity with an origin story that felt compelling. So like many great games, Torn’s origin story began with an exploration phase. During pre-production we came across FleX, which was well-established but had not, to our knowledge, been used for a VR game—at least not yet. We started experimenting with the fluid settings and noticed that the liquid was starting to come to life. We noticed the pulses of the liquid resembled moving lips, so we mapped an audio track to liquid. We wondered, could we make this a character?

To answer that question with more questions, we thought, what about a scientist (Talbot) who loses his body in an experiment gone wrong? What if you have to help him get his body back? What if you visit his domain of strange machines and disturbing experiments? Talbot speaks dynamically, wraps himself around objects, travels through the world, and reacts to the player’s touch. We weren’t necessarily looking for something different, but Talbot is tailor-made to showcase the technology. Very quickly after finding FleX, the world of Torn began to take shape.

Over a year later, FleX has become a vital tool to refining and bringing our game world to life. Despite it being a delicate process, FleX injected a level of realism to Torn that nothing else could. The player can interact with the world in incredibly life-like ways, such as splashing zero-gravity fluids, waving away cobwebs, parting curtains, tossing sacks of flour about the kitchen, throwing pillows across the bedroom and levitating 100-meter-long umbilicus trunks.

As developers, learning a new tool as powerful and useful as FleX really is a joy, and we think this shows in the final product. For other devs looking to use FleX, be sure to experiment with various objects and sweat the details to get each one feeling just right. This means tons of iteration and feedback. Add too many atoms and fluids become too explosive. Add too little friction and a comforter slides right off the bed. Too much wind and curtains will tear from their rods. When a player enters a room, what are they drawn to, and how can you make it behave like it would in the real world?

We hope you experience the mysterious world of Torn for yourself, and #EnterTheMansion today! Get it on SteamVR, PS VR, and Oculus.

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