A SCAN­NER DARKLY

How In­tro­ver­sion is har­ness­ing the point cloud to go spelunk­ing

EDGE - - KNOWLEDGE SCANNER SOMBRE -

Scan­ner Som­bre rep­re­sents some­thing of a de­par­ture for In­tro­ver­sion, the UK stu­dio be­hind Dar­winia, Uplink and Prison

Ar­chi­tect. Where the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous games have fo­cused on the man­age­ment of ar­mies, cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties or im­per­sonal fic­tional op­er­at­ing sys­tems, Scan­ner Som­bre is a con­sid­er­ably more per­sonal propo­si­tion. Awak­ing next to fire, some­where deep in a cave sys­tem, the player must try to es­cape. But the cav­erns and tun­nels be­yond the flame’s reach are pitch-black, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the use of a LIDAR (Light De­tec­tion And Rang­ing) scan­ner to nav­i­gate. A con­cern­ing prob­lem for our hero, but the cat­a­lyst for a uniquely pretty game.

“LIDAR scan­ners ba­si­cally fire out points of laser light, which stick to a sur­face when they col­lide,” ex­plains In­tro­ver­sion founder

Mark Mor­ris. “The width of the beam can be changed from wide – for rapidly tak­ing in big spaces – to tight for ex­am­in­ing small ar­eas of de­tail. The points stay in the world, and as you progress you can look back and see the ar­eas you’ve ex­plored. Us­ing the point cloud to rep­re­sent ge­om­e­try looks great, but also gives us lots of scope to play around with the na­ture of that re­al­ity and al­lows us to mess with play­ers’ minds.”

In­tro­ver­sion hopes to re­lease an al­pha ver­sion of Scan­ner Som­bre on PC be­fore the end of 2016, with other for­mats a pos­si­bil­ity in the fu­ture.

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