I have followed Magic Leap from its origins as megalodon size funding monster, through its hype-deflationary crisis and into its current status as the proto-consumer blockbuster (maybe). The device can currently be purchased for a couple of large, but with a name like "Creator's Edition", it is rightly aligned with developers. Actual Consumption Launch Details have not yet been announced.
Last week I had my first real game with the enlarged reality goggles. I visited Funomena's offices in San Francisco and played with the company's adventure game Luna Moondust Garden that is out today. Luna Moondust Garden A simple point and click story where you make a garden made of different elements are already available on virtual reality platforms like Luna but in AR there is a completely different suggestion. Magic Leap allows me to see my surroundings while playing. I can use real world objects as interaction points. I plant seeds and see new things grow. Characters appear to pursue the story, which lasts a couple of hours.
I'm in an office with a table in the middle of the room, so I allow my garden to sit on the table with other parts of it bouncing on the floor. It is a modular piece of fun that feels like the basic origin of something much bigger and better, maybe three years in the future.
It's really the point of the game, which probably only has the most limited commercial promise. Funomena is a company that sits outside the boring business to make games to sell. It attracts funding from platform companies like Magic Leap, looking for developers who are serious about developing their technology through software design.
Funomena was founded and operated by Robin Hunicke, whose former work includes the groundbreaking adventure Journey . A professor of game design at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Hunickes dissertation was within artificial intelligence.
"We are working on building tempting virtual objects," she says. "We are looking for a satisfactory offer. We start small." We begin by looking for the personal connection and thinking about the right context of where people play. "
Funomena (referred to as "phenomena") employs 30 people dedicated to finding out how AR can affect our lives. They are game designers, but the goal is not to create commercially viable games, or even to find a killer app. It is to use games as a gateway to other virtual interactions.
The office walls are plastered with white boards, filled with charts that describe emotional responses to visual and audible inputs. Hunicke and her team melt AR with games to find out what feels good. The goal is more like scientific research than commercial design.
Hunicke says she is trying to figure out which games will look when they are no longer "limited by screenshots." If you and I are connected through a network and interact through a pair of glasses and basic controls, what should we do with each other?
"This is not another version of a TV screen," she says, before breaking down a few possible examples: "Sports, LARPing, Dance, Speed Dating, Dance, Picnic," she says. What she is not talking about is shooter or RPG or strategy game. Enhanced reality will undoubtedly attempt to bring new angles to video gaming standards. But the potential is far above the genres that define today's digital entertainment.
"What will AR be good at?" Asked Hunicke. "What are the behaviors we can exemplify and expand on?"
She says that Funomena is currently limited by the work of the experimental hardware. This is a company that is forever in the challenging hardware development window before launch. "We are working on many new platforms," she says. "If I had a full year, we would have built much more creativity into the  Luna Moondust Garden ]."
It is clear that this publicity print is about luring other developers to begin thinking and working on games that make enlarged reality sing. Luna Moondust Garden is a nice little piece of entertainment, but its role is to encourage other advertisements to play it and to decide that AR needs something else.
"We do something that is important for games as a whole," said Hunicke. "Perhaps we can design something better, it's more human."