The beauty of the franchise is that these stories can be set anywhere at any time: “I want to do an underwater episode,” Nabors says. But when I point out the original show’s penchant for the wild west, he’s a bit more hesitant. “I think that was a factor of the time, because the ‘50s and ‘60s were the heyday of the televised western with Have Gun, Will Travel and Gunsmoke, and I think it was leaning into that a little bit.”
Never say never though: “A western episode would be incredible – but something that no one has seen before. That’s the challenge.”
A Third Dimension for the Fifth Dimension
VR helps with this, of course: it’s the ideal medium for the kind of disorienting experiences The Twilight Zone, at its best, specializes in. Here, Nabors quotes a bit of feedback he heard that’s so simple he wishes he’d coined it himself: “VR isn’t even first person: it’s in person,” he says. “The personal experience is so much more profound, and you’re so much more emotionally invested.”
Virtual reality, though still a relatively young medium, has come a long way since the early Oculus and PSVR titles which were somewhat on the flimsy “experience” side, closer to proofs of concept for the technology than fully fledged games. But recently developers have started delivering full, meaty gaming experiences like The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners and Half-Life: Alyx, which tell more sophisticated stories and in more robust, larger environments than ever before.
“There’s this push for casual VR gaming, but we want to take you deep, and we want you to remember the experience,” Nabors says. “After you take the headset off, we want you to remember the sense of place, where you were standing, what you were hearing, and how you felt.”
So important is this sense of immersion that the team changed the game based on feedback from an African American woman who loved the game but found the set of white hands she was allocated jarring. Now there’s a skin tone slider, something that was “relatively easy” to add and that Nabors believes is essential. “We want people to go deeper and deeper and to forget this is a game,” he says.