The project was commissioned by WREDA (Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency), the region’s tourism promoter to encourage holidaymakers with a sense of adventure and whimsy to visit, while also nudging expat talent to hurry up and return.
WellingtonNZ marketing and communications general manager Anna Calver says it lets users experience Wellington’s magic and showcases its creativity and lifestyle through new technologies that are being developed in the city itself.
There are two parts to Virtual WellingtonL WellTown (the VR game) which was made by Wrestler, and Explore More which was made by Wellington-based agency Mixt.
When playing WellTown, users fire coffee shots at commuter zombies arriving at Wellington train station; stand on the seabed of Wellington harbour ad members of the region’s marine reserves swim by; enjoy dawn chorus amidst the lush native bush that surrounds the city; and busk with local alt-funk heroes The Orchestra of Spheres on Wellington’s iconic Cuba street.
The game has been built using city-wide data supplied by Wellington City Council and Jeff Jones, Wrestler’s lead VR developer on the project, says it can add any number of games and experiences in the future to make sure it’s up to date with what the city has to offer.
Wrestler co-founder Kat Lintott says the company “geeked out” when creating the experience.
“We love Wellington, our hometown, and believe entirely in the city’s ability to pioneer in the tech industry. So we gave it everything, to make this as innovative and fun as possible, while staying true to the essence of this place and its people. We combined our local instincts and storytelling background, with a wide range of brilliant new technologies in the fields of photogrammetry, 360 video, motion capture, animation and CG to bring WellTown to life.”
As well as supplying data, Wellington City Council also gave just under $300,000 in funding, according to Stuff.
Across the year, WREDA will get core funding worth about $5.6 million from the council, as well as $4.3 million from ratepayers across the city.
The game is free to download from the Steam and Oculus VR stores and can be viewed on YouTube. An android and iOS version are also in the works.