Bizarre Barber is a fast-paced VR action game set in a surreal world where you play as an alien barber providing stylish haircuts for eccentric clientele.
Class: Thesis I - 2018-2019
Instructor: Frank Lantz
Awards: Oculus Launchpad 2019 Award winner
Bizarre Barber is a fast-paced VR action game for Oculus Rift set in a surreal world where you play as an alien barber providing stylish haircuts for eccentric clientele. Instead of a comfy adjustable chair you’d see in most barber shops, all of your clients move chaotically through the world unable to sit still even for a second. Players will make perfect cuts, dodge dangerous obstacles, catch speed boosts and power-ups, and even earn money to unlock new tools and new worlds. Can you keep up with the bizarre styling trends and hyperactive pace of this surreal metropolis?
VR game that is undeniably fun
Bizarre Barber’s core foundation is super simple, intuitive, and responsive. The single step mechanics with a humorous twists feel pleasant and rewarding in virtual reality. There is no better way to replicate this level of physicality, accuracy, and immersion than with 6 degrees of freedom VR. The experience is intuitively clear for players of all ages and backgrounds. The gameplay encourages players to employ various strategies, whether it is calculating the angle for the perfect move or to just be very fast, physical, and chaotic.
Play Doh Barber meets Metro 2033
Bizarre Barber is the reflection of its creators, two immigrants from post-Soviet Central Asia in American culture. When we first arrived 4 years ago, America seemed like a surreal alien planet: diverse, mysterious, ridiculous, and hard to grasp. It’s been very hard to communicate our thoughts and feelings to our new American friends (especially when we couldn’t speak any English) so art became the easiest way of communicating all those complex feelings and impressions. The game is an allegorical, artistic, visual, and narrative expression of how two immigrants perceive America, the country that eventually let many of their dreams come true! We attempt to communicate humor through the game mechanics in a way that is personal to us.
For your teenager and your Grandma
The approximate time players spend in each level is 2-3 minutes. A player can master a level by playing it 2-3 times before the next level is unlocked. The entirety of the game will take 60-80 minutes, with the potential of replayability to compete for the highest score with Oculus friends and unlock a secret level. There are 6 levels with different mechanics.
We emphasize accessibility by utilizing very intuitive motions for controllers. Most of the time, the controllers in the game work like hands in real life – by holding tools. No button, trigger, grip, joystick presses are required for the main gameplay in Bizarre Barber. The player can’t even drop the tool accidentally- it’s permanently attached to their hands. All the interactions feel natural: by wiggling, juggling, and rotating the player can manipulate the tools properties and fulfill the job fast and easy. Virtual reality gives the player a lot of agency over how to manipulate these tools and the design makes them feel powerful.
We don’t use walking or teleportation in the game. We also feature seated mode, sliders for adjusting music and SFX and low vision mode. All the hairdresser tools in the game are huge, textured in details, and have juicy auditory and visual feedback.
Maria Mishurenko via Synesthetic Echo – interaction programming, game design
Gordey Chernyy via Synesthetic Echo – system programming, art direction
Corey Bertelsen – audio and sound design
Naam via Happyship – environment design, animation
Robert Fichman – hair technical art
Supported by Oculus
Bizarre Barber was Oculus Launchpad 2018 grant winner and got funding to develop and launch the game for Oculus Rift