Contraption coming to PS VR!

Our friend (and Rebuild 3 writer) Stephen Gray has joined Radial Games to work (among other things) on the PS VR version of Fantastic Contraption, due out in Spring 2017.

Kert Gartner used some wacky techniques to film this and our Oculus Rift trailer, and today he shared some of the cinema techniques he used to get shots you usually only see in movies or tailored cutscenes. He also filmed gameplay footage in 4k split screen so he could get 1st person and 3rd person shots with both the Oculus Touch and Playstation Move controllers all at the same time.

We’re working hard to bring the best experience possible to this console version and so far the results look great! Stay tuned for more news…

Contraption Oculus Touch release!

Yes Oculus players, the wait is finally over! Touch controllers are available starting December 6th, and with them Fantastic Contraption is coming to Oculus!

We’ve sometimes been caught comparing the Oculus and Vive hand controllers, but one thing we definitely agree on is that grabbing stuff with your hands in VR feels amazing, and we wouldn’t want Fantastic Contraption played any other way. So we’re glad we waited!

You may also notice some teasers in the above video for the Fantastic Contraption level editor. We’re putting the finishing touches on it right now so you can expect to see it in an update soon.

Contraption Kaiju Update 1.5.0

This update is so big, it’s Godzilla big. Because now you are the monstrous, lazer-breathing beast that hovers over Fantastic Contraption levels, the contraptions and wee Neko so tiny and innocent down there on the ground. Yes we do love room scale, but there are times and places where you just want to reach over your entire contraption without walking across the room.

And so we present: Kaiju Scale:

[Unicorn SFX: DA-DUUUN]
[Pegasus SFX: DAH-DUUUN]

We’ve packed a ton of new features into this update. Read on, or watch this TL;DR video to get brought up to speed!

Kaiju Scale

You can scale from 50% of regular room scale size, which can be comfortably played while standing in one place, way down to 10% roomscale which feels like playing with a miniature set of contraption pieces about the size of Lego. The controller flowers shrink down to smaller precision buds so you can more easily see what you’re doing in this tiny, detailed little world.


If your VR hardware is configured for a small space, the Room Setup menu will appear automatically the first time you play. You can force Fantastic Contraption into Kaiju Scale and reconfigure your space via the companion menu on your monitor:

During Room Setup two batons appear in the middle of the level. While wearing your HMD you can grab these to scale, raise and lower, move or rotate the world to fit your play space.

We’ve made some changes to the dark world to make everything more easily reachable. The Trashcan Frog has some new friends who proudly hold up the credit statues and other toys to play with. At the smallest scales everything appears in miniature. The tiny table filled with tiny tiny models is soooo cute.

Playing as a giant in a miniature world can give you a different perspective on levels. My favorite way to play is to scale the world down to about 25% and place it right on the floor, then I sit down on the carpet cross-legged and play like a toddler stacking blocks. I’ll let Colin illustrate:


Companion Eye-Cam

You could always tear your eyes out of your head, but now you can switch the companion-camera to follow your eyes around! Great for giving your viewers ringside seats to the entertainment.

Rating Contraptions

There’s a new way to keep track of your favorite Contraptions both local and online: give them a smooch to favorite them! This bedazzles them with hearts and will cause them to rise in the ranks on the “Online Contraptions for this Level” shelves.


Neko Modding

Our favorite toolbox-cat Neko’s been given a bit of a makeover, with a toothy new grin. We’re also using him to test out Steam Workshop modding, by letting players provide a replacement skin texture to change Neko’s color and appearance. Try it out! Here are the Modding Instructions.


Those teef!!

New Languages

We’ve started localizing Fantastic Contraption into other languages. First up is Japanese, which we needed last month when we showed the game at the Tokyo Game Show (where we won an award for Best Tech!). You can switch languages via the companion menu on your monitor. We may be adding more soon, or you can make your own using the Steam Workshop (see modding instructions here).


New Avatars and Hats

We’ve been having a bunch of fun bringing new 3rd person avatars and hats into the game. Change avatars or hats by grabbing the maquette and pressing the directional thumb pad left/right/up/down. Switch to 3rd person view (camera icon on the companion menu on your monitor) to show these off to people watching in the room, or use the Twitch tools or GIF recorder from our Social Update to share online.


Twitch Avatar Voting

New for Twitch: people in chat can now vote for the avatar or hat you’ll wear by typing !avatar wolf or !hat viking. Votes are tallied every 60 seconds and the avatar and hat changed to the crowd favorite. Full usage:

Twitch Command          Effect
!avatar {NAME} Vote for an avatar by number {0-18} or name {sheep, wolf, frog, cat, unicorn, rabbit, walrus, monkey, fox, snake, mouse, elephant, pig, beetle, pegasus, pony, gorilla, dog, otter}. After 60 seconds (the default), votes are counted and the winning avatar selected. If typed by a chat moderator, the avatar changes immediately.
!hat {NAME} Vote for a hat by number {0-19} or name {crown, princess, gentleman, viking, catHead, fez, tiara, dog, party, halo, laurels, hardhat, headphones, pirate, dogPrincess, constructionCat, anglerFish, bamboo, chef, unicorn}
!avatarvote {COMMAND} {TIME} Chat mods only: possible commands are {enable, disable, once} and time is in seconds. !avatarvote enable 300 changes voting rounds from 60 seconds (the default) to 5 minutes. !avatarvote once 10 gives everyone 10 seconds to vote once, then disables voting. !avatarvote disable turns it off.

Full Changelog

There have been quite a few other changes to improve stability and prepare for the upcoming Level Editor (next major release!). And there’s more yet to come…

  • Kaiju Scale: full support for playing in smaller spaces including seated. (Re)configure world size and orientation via the companion menu on your monitor (settings > standing scale > configure standing). Config will automatically run once if SteamVR is set to “Standing Only”.
  • Steam Workshop support for modding Neko skins. See our Steam Workshop and Modding Instructions
  • Workshop support for other languages. See our Steam Workshop and Modding Instructions
  • Japanese language support. Change language via the companion menu on your monitor. Other languages coming eventually and/or create your own using Steam Workshop.
  • Rate and fave saved contraptions by giving them a smooch
  • Throw level from maquette to frog to delete autosave and revert
  • New avatars and improved avatar model physics
  • Change avatar by using the touchpad while grabbing maquette
  • New avatar hats and improved existing hat models
  • Twitch chat voting on avatars and hats with “!avatar wolf” or “!hat 5”, defaults to 60 second rounds. Twitch mods can disable, trigger rounds, or force a change immediately.
  • Avatar shadows
  • Command-line arguments to run in demo mode, eg “-demo”. Contact us for full list
  • Rearranged things in dark world
  • Combined level and contraption save tables into one
  • New look for Neko
  • Highlight Neko’s parts when you’re close enough to grab them
  • Improve Neko animation performance
  • New look and animation for victory spheres
  • Improve stereo shader rendering
  • Tweaks to tutorial messages
  • Hourglass loading indicator
  • Fade out effects
  • Selection highlighting on camera bug and some other things
  • Sound tweaks
  • Tweak and tune all haptic responses
  • Added arrows to tutorial umbilicals
  • Minor tweaks to several levels (must delete autosaves to see)
  • Hide online contraptions made with newer incompatible game versions
  • Fix helmet obstructing first person companion view
  • Fix error on loading corrupt save files
  • Fix Twitch panel error and bloat
  • Fix SteamVR init crash
  • Fix physics issues caused by variable framerate
  • Fix respawn delay after taking items from Neko
  • Fix hitting start/stop while loading
  • Fix several levels so they’ll break less
  • Fix snaps disappearing or being where they shouldn’t
  • Fix and tweaks to camera bug
  • Fix Neko’s missing eyes on blink with helmet
  • Fix spelling “comfortably”

Fireside Chat

Andy Moore sat down with our friend and fellow VRnaut Kayla Kinnunen for a little fireside chat to discuss all the above features in a much-too-long-winded fashion. If you want to experience the thrill of awkward pauses and dry jokes, check out the 15-minute epic on youtube!

Contraption Modding

We currently have two types of mod: Neko Skins (skin the cat!) and Languages (Habla Contrapcionez?)

Change Neko's appearance, or translate the game into another language.
Use mods to change Neko’s appearance, or translate the game into your native language.

Contraption mods menu

How to install a mod

  1. Subscribe to a mod you like on the Steam Workshop
  2. Restart the game or click Reload in the Settings > Mods menu on your monitor
  3. Current language can be changed from the top of the Settings menu

You can also install mods directly by unpacking them into the Mods Folder at C:\Users\[YOUR_USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\FC-VR\Mods\[MOD_NAME]\

How to create a Fantastic Contraption mod

Short answer: install and modify the Neko mod example or Language mod example.

Long answer (for Neko mod):

  1. Open the Settings menu on your desktop monitor
  2. Click Mods
  3. Click Mods Folder to open C:\Users\[YOUR_USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\FC-VR\Mods\
  4. Download the Neko example mod
  5. Unpack it to the Mods folder
  6. Click Reload on the Mods menu (eg ~\FC-VR\Mods\NekoMod_Neelie)
  7. In the HMD, look at Neko – he should now be black and white
  8. Edit NekoBody.png (1024×1024) and NekoHead.png (512×512) to change Neko’s appearance
  9. Edit Details.json to change the mod title and description
  10. Replace Capsule.png (638×358) with your own Steam Workshop preview image
  11. Click Reload on the Mods menu to see your changes (or restart the game)
  12. Click Publish beside your mod to upload it to the Steam Workshop
  13. Click Update to send a new version to the Steam Workshop
  14. Click X to delete the mod locally and unsubscribe.
  15. Published mods can only be removed from the workshop from the Steam Workshop website

Long answer (for Language mod):

  1. Open the Settings menu on your desktop monitor
  2. Click Mods
  3. Click Mods Folder to open C:\Users\[YOUR_USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\FC-VR\Mods\
  4. Download the Language example mod
  5. Unpack it to the Mods folder
  6. Click Reload on the Mods menu (eg ~\FC-VR\Mods\LanguageMod_French)
  7. In the game, everything should now be in French
  8. Edit strings.csv and change text to your language
  9. Edit Details.json to change the mod title and description
  10. Replace Capsule.png (638×358) with your own Steam Workshop preview image
  11. Click Reload on the Mods menu to see your changes (or restart the game)
  12. Click Publish beside your mod to upload it to the Steam Workshop
  13. Click Update to send a new version to the Steam Workshop
  14. Click X to delete the mod locally and unsubscribe.
  15. Published mods can only be removed from the workshop from the Steam Workshop website

A full level editor is also coming soon. If making mods and custom content is something that interests you and you’d like to see more of that in Fantastic Contraption, please let us know!

Tokyo Game Show 2016

We got a last-minute invite to show Fantastic Contraption in the indie area of the Tokyo Game Show this year. You didn’t need to twist our arms about it; within an hour me, Colin, Lindsay, and Gord were checking flights and blocking off dates in our calendars.

It wasn’t the show that excited us so much, it was just a good excuse to spend time in one of our favorite cities. I didn’t have a lot of hope that the conference would be a useful experience. When we last attended TGS in 2011, there were hardly any indie games there at all except maybe Behemoth showing Battle Block Theater. It seemed like nobody there would want to play our games.

I’d heard from various indie devs that the independent games presence was growing at TGS, but that it was sidelined to a separate building that didn’t get as much traffic or press as the main AAA area. While this was true, the show turned out (to my surprise & delight) to be a big success for us.

Fantastic Contraption booth

Gord, me and Lindsay goofing by our double-sized VR booth

Our booth was at the very back of the indie area, which housed over 100 games. Most of the booths were little 1x1m kiosks with just enough space for one monitor and a little poster, but people were creative with their decorations and gave the place a good dose of character. We splurged $250 extra for a tv from the conference and convinced the union we could be trusted to plug it in ourselves (at least I think that’s what we were talking about – the language barrier was not bad but some procedures in Japan still mystify me).

We’ve shown Vive roomscale at previous conferences, but it needs at least 3x3m of boothspace (1.5x2m play area plus PC/monitor plus a half meter safety border). Our posh VR booth at TGS was 2x2m, just enough room to show our upcoming “Kaiju scale”, where you stand in place and play as a giant towering over a tiny Contraption world.

We chose the Oculus Touch this time to avoid issues with IR interference, and were lucky we did because a nearby Vive demo had its lighthouses aimed right at us.

Cosplay line

The cosplay change rooms were right behind our booth

Sharing the building with us indies were cosplay, merch, and VR. Virtual Reality turned out to be a big crowd bringer, with HTC and PD Tokyo’s mixed reality booths, Futuretown’s ride-on arcade rigs, and in the AAA building as well with everything from dating sims to Resident Evil 7 in VR. Given the typically small apartments and lower disposable income in Japan, I’d wondered if people there would be excited about VR. The answer is yes: a thousand times yes.

We saw some weird shit, like a haptic armband that moves your fingers, an idol singer game you play with air traffic control rods, a surreal bathing simulator and a game where you grope a mannequin. In TGS’s defense I heard they banned that last one, but I took all this as a sign that Japan is excited and willing to innovate in VR.

Public day

Yep it did get busy… and quite humid

Back at our booth we had someone playing Contraption from the moment the doors opened until they cut the AC and threw everyone out at 5pm. The two business days were quiet but not empty, and the public weekend days were hot and crowded but not chaotic. Our line was never longer than an hour (Thumper for PSVR, beside us, was another story) and everyone was orderly and calm. Japan is awesome.

Lindsay had localized the game to Japanese for an arcade at July’s BitSummit conference, which was a life saver. It’s awkward enough to help people through a demo in VR when you speak the same language, though luckily Lindsay speaks Japanese and we had extra help on the busy public days from our Tokyo friend Paul. One thing we’d do differently next time would be to put Japanese text into our sign as well. Most people in Japan speak a little English, but not all confidently enough to figure out an English tutorial with a crowd watching them.

We put players through a new 5 minute demo loop we were beta testing for arcades, which throws you into a level with a ton of stuff to mess with and look at, and a condensed version of our (normally 10 minute) tutorial that fades to black when the timer is up. We ironed some kinks out of the demo and made some tweaks to it during the first couple business days (a terrible idea, but we like to live dangerously).

Overall it turned out great. We did some excellent playtesting on the new demo level, Kaiju scale, and the Oculus Touch controls. We got great feedback, met a bunch of VR business folks, and connected with quite a few indie developers who don’t usually make it out to GDC or PAX.


Hi Paul!

Fantastic Contraption was also nominated for Sense of Wonder Night, aka the TGS indie game awards. It’s since Colin showed an early version of Incredipede there in 2011 to about 30 people. This time Lindsay and I got up onstage to bright lights and a formal judging panel. He spoke while I played the game, and we proudly came away with an award for Best Technological Game.

Also notable was Robin Baumgarten‘s game Line Wobbler, which won not just one but three awards, including the audience “make some noise” face off where it was pitted against Contraption to see who could generate the most wakka-wakkas from the audience’s toy hammers.


A SOWN tradition – applaud by shaking a toy “piko piko” hammer when you feel a sense of wonder

After the show we took a couple weeks off to explore Tokyo and the surrounding countryside with our teammates and friends. And I have to say, though the show was just an excuse to get us over to Japan, it really was both fun and useful for us and the indie component has improved immeasurably since 2011. We’re very grateful to the organizers for making this happen!

Check out our Flickr album for more of our trip.

Tea garden

Choo choo

Inari shrine