Viewfinder, Which Started as a Viral Brain-Melting Game Demo, Finally Coming to Steam & PlayStation 5 With New Features, Story

Remember Viewfinder, that utterly cerebellum-frying Unity demo from 2020 by game design student Matt Stark? I’m psyched to say it’s finally becoming a full-fledged game, available soon for PlayStation and Steam. (In fact, here’s the fully built-out Steam page.)

Viewfinder is for everyone who played the Portal games and said, “Yeah that was fun but it doesn’t make my brain mushy and hurty enough.” Basically it puts you in an interactive world where you take a “Polaroid photo” of the surroundings — and once taken, the photo becomes its own little interactive, manipulable, physics-enabled world.

Probably best to just watch the trailer above, to see what I mean. (And read below for how this was done technically.)

Since getting picked up by indie publisher Thunderful (which also put out the seriously fun title Steamworld Heist, among other hits), Matt tells me that he his team have added quite a bit to that already stellar gameplay mechanic:

Viewfinder Matt Stark Playstation Steam
“So many changes since then,” he tells me, laughing. “Like for example one of the player’s main abilities is they can rewind time. There’s also just loads of other mechanics and levels and effects.”

Also a main quest line, though he’s mum on the details. “I’m excited to see how people feel about the story. I’ve not done a game with narrative before but our narrative designer is really good.”

As for how what you’re watching is even possible, Matt told me about that back in 2020:

“When the player takes a photo I duplicate the environment, make it greyscale and slice the meshes to remove anything outside the photo. When they place it into the world I slice the environment’s meshes to make a hole for the photo.” 

Or to put it another way, he puts a grayscale copy of the world on top of the world, and then erases everything selected in the photo away from the bottom layer.  (If you know what I mean, and I’m still not even sure I do.)

And yes, you saw a teaser for this game at least year’s Game Awards, the Oscars of the industry. Which is quite a journey for someone who just barely graduated from game design school.

Follow Matt Stark here.

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