A Magic Leap Interview with Kyle Kinkade
Last week, I had the pleasure of flying down to Magic Leap headquarters in Florida to present to the entire company Monocle Society's vision of tabletop gaming and spatial computing as part of the Independent Creator Program.
As secretive as Magic Leap has been, they are actually one of the loudest voices in the industry and are helping thousands of developers blaze a trail into one of the most important technological advancements in history.
These are some of the questions that I was asked after my presentation, and with permission from Magic Leap, I'm happy to share them with everyone!
What was the first version of Weave like, prior to Magic Leap's launch?
The physical product of Weave hasn't changed since it's release in 2017, but the mobile application has changed greatly since we saw what the Magic Leap One can do. We realized that we needed to make the user experience consistent between mobile and spatial computing, which should go without saying, was an exciting challenge to solve.
What drew you to building for Magic Leap?
Spatial computing is one of the great last frontiers in technology. Most companies are currently approaching it from an enterprise perspective. While there's nothing wrong with that approach, what spatial computing can do for storytelling and the human experience is limitless.
Magic Leap ignited what is possible in our minds. The idea that a company inherently understands the emotional impact of this technology is very compelling.
I mean, you literally have "magic" in your name.
What have been the biggest surprises when developing on the Magic Leap One?
Spatial computing blows away the concept that we control the real estate of the experience. There are responsive websites and auto-layout tools for mobile devices of different aspect ratios, but they all rely on the concept of rectangle.
Spatial took that design crutch and throws it right out the window. Even VR relies on it, a horizontal rectangle in 3D space that is unobstructed. With spatial computing, however, it looks more like this:
This created a whole new set of unseen challenges that resulted in the highest amount of iterations to an app that I've ever seen.
What have you found to be the most useful for building on the platform?
3D design tools like Blender or Torch. As I mentioned above, we had to iterate like crazy, and doing so inside of code is too expensive. Even before we started using 3D tools to visualize, we found ourselves going to our local art supply store, just so we could quickly craft up what Weave could look like inside of Magic Leap.
Have you given thought to how you would use MagicVerse features in your app?
Oh my, yes. 2019 for us has been about how we apply spatial computing to Weave in the family living room, but 2020 we're looking at what Weave can do when the tabletop is everywhere.
What other products if any have you thought about building on Magic Leap?
Monocle Society's first mission is to innovate inside of the tabletop industry. We believe there are four tent poles of the tabletop industry (RPGs, card games, miniatures, board/party), and we intend to innovate in each of those areas.
There is a new game being made for one of those other three right now.
What other features are you building into Weave?
We're putting our energy into creating tools for our players to create their own worlds. We're not just talking about text and pretty pictures, but tools that storytellers can use to visually explain what's inside of their heads.
How big was your development team when you won the indie grant, and how big is it now?
When we got the grant, there were three people working on Weave, and since the indie grant we're pleased to say that we have doubled our efforts! So like, six people.
What type of customers have been the most interested in your product?
While we bring in a lot of tabletop gamers, we're seeing more and more creatives and casual gamers playing Weave.
This is by design as we wanted Weave to introduce the mainstream to storytelling games in the same way that Hearthstone introduced competitive card games to casual gamers.
Regarding your company, what are you most excited about right now that you can talk about?
The Weave Storyteller Screen and how it integrates with both the Magic Leap headset and mobile devices. We took one of the most iconic components of pen and paper RPGs (the GM screen) and turned it into the centerpiece of the Weave AR and spatial computing experience.
We actually haven't started talking about the Weave Storyteller Screen yet... but hey. What better place than here, and what better time than now?
Where are you most excited to exhibit Weave next?
Everywhere. On every table, in every movie line, and at the back of every school bus. We are ready to let anybody play Weave, no matter where they are.
Can you name one missing feature that would be game changing for you, if it were on our platform, and why?
Common UI related app components. Magic Leap has solved so many problems inside of Spatial computing, and the more those can be shared the better!
Why do you think Magic Leap is a great platform for tabletop games and storytelling?
Magic Leap lets players have access to every part of their story with zero effort from the player. For RPGs, that's huge when so many details of the world are hidden in books with over 300 pages or on printed pieces of paper that represent characters.
This means that Magic Leap takes away the tedium of keeping track of the world and preserves the immersive nature of storytelling. Plus when storytellers are using the Magic Leap One, they act and sound more like an all-knowing hierophant, scrying into a crystal ball. It's really a sight to be seen, even if you're aren't wearing the headset.
How do you see tabletop games evolve in the next 5-10 years? 10-15 years?
When you break it all down, tabletop games are games that exist in physical space that everyone gathers around. That is so aligned with the principles of spatial computing that we believe this genre is going to be a cornerstone for casual gaming for the next 5 to 10 years.
We're excited to be able to show everyone what we've (Weave?) been doing with the Magic Leap One headset and finally be able to show off the real experience that has been behind wraps for the past year.
Thank you to everyone at Magic Leap for letting me take the time to share with you our journey, and we can't wait to get Weave out for your wonderful platform!