The goal of this experience is to adapt a classic Sherlock Holmes story to the new medium of Virtual Reality. It is a proof of concept to show that VR is a viable option for the adaptation of classic content for the 360° screen, just as current media forms are doing.
I believe that existing content can benefit from the new storytelling techniques of VR, showing a new angle on things. Sherlock Holmes has been adapted many times from silent film to radio, theatre to movies and TV series. It’s only fitting that he should be the one to debut as the hero of one of the first classic novel adaptation for VR. Now that the Sherlock Holmes stories are public domain, this is possible.
In the app, users are experiencing the classic story of the ‘Musgrave Ritual’, accompanying Sherlock Holmes through the case. During the case, a special memory room is accessible to provide players an insight into Sherlock Holmes’ mind, further immersing them in the story. This represents the way the readers/watchers mind usually thinks along with the detective in a mystery story.
The app contains 360° photographs, featuring actors as the characters and voice-over of the action, similar to a radio play. It showcases the qualities of exploration and wonder that VR evokes, while telling a compelling story. The mystery/detective genre in itself urges users to actively explore all details. A classic tale and beloved characters makes the users feel at home, while giving them the opportunity to see them in a new light - being in the story with them.
New VR Users
The experience is designed especially for users new to VR. It is set at a slow pace, allowing users to get familiar with the concept of VR. Through the photo composition, dialogue and 3D audio, it makes them explore the world in all directions. The experience is aimed at all users, who are not mainly interested in games, but still want to see the wonders of VR. It is also a chance to introduce people to VR, who haven't been interested before, but are attracted by the Sherlock Holmes content.
Proof of Concept
'The Wagner Ritual' is explicitly designed to be complete and stand alone. The content is roughly the length of a TV series episode, ranging from 20-35 minutes, depending on user choices. That makes it a full featured app and not only a demo. But it can also be seen as a proof of concept for a new narrative medium, which unites the best of visual novels, movies and radio plays. The interaction options have been intentionally kept small in this version, but the potential to have players actively contribute to solving the detective mystery should be apparent.
Even though this is 'only' a prototype, it could be the first instalment of a series of Sherlock Holmes adaptions - later ones produced with a little more time and a bigger (well, any) budget. :) I definitely want to continue building these kind of narrative experiences.