Before we can enter the rich, immersive worlds promised by today’s prophets of virtual reality, someone has to figure out how to build them.

Enter Limitless Studios, the project of a team of former Pixar alums led by Tom Sanocki, that’s releasing a new platform designed to help artists create compelling, character-driven content. They’re betting that the virtual reality revolution will be about more than just blowing minds with awesome graphics, but winning hearts over to characters that break the molds of previous technologies.

The team’s first demo reveals the direction it’s taking. Gary the Gull takes the viewer to a lonely picnic on the beach when a seagull flies into view. Gary promptly introduces himself, but risk being won over by his charms, and you may lose your lunch. As soon as you look away, the seagull goes for your picnic basket.

“My career has always been about mixing art and technology,” Sanocki told Venture Beat. “We are going to build interactivity as the hook, and get people to stay by focusing on creating characters and the whole environment.”

The Limitless Creative VR, which Sanocki plans to announce at the upcoming Game Developers Conferences, provides developers with the tools to work in virtual reality, so they can focus on creating characters people actually want to interact with. It gives developers the ability to respond to “voice recognition, gestures, gaze, and other human input,” so they can figure out how to make these interactions meaningful.

“We want the developers and filmmakers to focus on their storytelling, not the technology,” Sanocki said.

A character that knows the direction you’re looking can respond accordingly, and it takes only a little imagination to conceive of reaching out and touching a character that knows what you’re doing. The new platform could also fuse developments in artificial intelligence and graphic development, making it feel like you’re having a real conversation.

This level of interactivity may appeal to major studios like Pixar that have learned the lessons of compelling characters. But Sanocki and crew are hoping to open the door to everyday developers to help push the revolution along from the bottom up.

The Limitless platform will be system-agnostic, allowing developers to create games that work across different headsets game engines, like Unity and Unreal. This way, developers with unique ideas for games, films, or education programs face as few hurdles as possible.

story continues below
Photos via Limitless Studios