Entering a new reality: a gaming experience like no other


Reanna Comiso, Features Editor

When they were still students at the College of Dupage (COD), Sam Wohlrab and Tucker Wolf never thought two people could work so well together. It was not until they teamed up as alumni to create an immersive gaming experience that they realized  they had the ability to make something great.

Wohlrab and Wolf created a virtual reality video gaming experience under the working title “Paths to Power.” The two have been creating this game independently, where Wohlrab is in-charge of coding and Wolf created the 3D models.

“When you find people that you generally connect with, you make things that are incredible,” said Wolf.

The duo, who both partook in the Game Design program at COD, focus on taking traditional ideas from mythology, religion and various other games and putting their own spin on it.

“Virtual reality is enough of a difference to set the game apart from others,” said Wolf.

Virtual reality is a computer-generated experience that immerses users using senses and perception, taking players to imaginary environments. Players are able to become immersed in the games through the use of virtual reality headsets that cover the eyes, allowing them to see the virtual environments first hand. They can also interact with and explore the environment in a way that traditional video games do not allow.

“Paths to Power” sets players into a mythical world where they must interact with their environment and walk one of two paths: good or evil. Players are able to train their magic, fight the undead and explore various dungeons.

The game takes on many ideas from mythology and religion. Players get the chance to talk to Egyptian deities, explore pyramids and interact with “beings in the sky.”

Like anything, the two voice different challenges within their development. Wohlrab is an employee at COD, and Wolf is currently a student at Elmhurst College, which can add hurdles to the game development. They have both spent many late nights working on the game, coming up with new ideas and perfecting what they have already created.

“It is great because with virtual reality development, we can get on any type of voice chat software, and we can collaborate anywhere on earth,” said Wolf.

Wohlrab and Wolf have only been working on the game for about a month in their spare time, but the results are already paying off.

“The most impressive thing is putting the headset on and [the game] works,” said Wohlrab. “When it finally comes together, it becomes a game and not a hundred individual pieces.”

“Paths to Power” is only the second game the two have produced together. Working with a larger group, Wolf and Wohlrab met when they were creating a game called “Fracture,” where players got to experience what it would be like to have Alzheimer’s disease.

The game won a gold medal in Interactive Application and Video Game Development (College Division) at the 2017 SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference, where more than 3,000 high schools and colleges competed.

It was fun, but I feel like we have improved immensely since then,” said Wohlrab.

“Paths to Power” is still a work in progress, but Wohlrab and Wolf are expecting to release an alpha, an early “preview” of the game, to the public in August. Despite being showcased as only a demo up to this point, the game has generated attention. At STEMcon 2018, the game drew in crowds of people. At one point 60 people were lined up to play the game.

The demo allows players to learn the basics of the game: how to move, pick up items and fight villains. Everywhere the player turns, they get to experience things constantly happening in the background, such as butterflies in the distance. It is important that players do not get too distracted by these experiences, as “skeletons” and other undead beings can appear at any time.

“When you first start the game, it is going to be a very chaotic experience,” said Wolf. “It is going to throw people and confuse people, but it will also entice people to want to know more about the story line.”

In the future, the two hope to create a Gofundme so they can devote more time toward game development. They also hope for a full game release on Steam within the year and continue working as independent game developers under the name “Samori Productions.”

“Once things start working, it is a huge payoff,” said Wolf. “You get a huge sense of accomplishment.”