Realities.io offered me an exclusive early preview of multiplayer support coming to Puzzling Places.
Shortly after joining a room developer Azad Balabanian handed me a piece and then, a few seconds later, I plucked a different one from his grip and immediately set it into place on the 3D model floating in front of me. The ease with which this "just worked" points to the likelihood that, by year end, piecing together 3D puzzles with your friends in VR could become a fantastic laid back social VR experience on par with Walkabout Mini Golf.
"This is how puzzling is always meant to be," Balabanian told me as we snapped pieces into place. "The nice thing is with Puzzling Places it's not a very fast twitchy gameplay. So even if you're playing on the worst internet it ends up being totally fine."
We reviewed Puzzling Places in 2021 after it achieved full release on the Quest store and found "a resounding success" in its core functionality of piecing together 3D models of physical locations. Driven by a passionate community of supporters, the game moved from SideQuest to App Lab and finally to full release before the developers started exploring a regular add-on content release schedule to keep hardcore players coming back for more.
The development team never worked on a multiplayer game before, according to Realities.io CEO Daniel Sproll. Based on what I saw with the absolute ease of passing pieces from one player to another, it looks like they've figured it out better than a great number of VR experiences I've tried over the years.
"It needs to be polished," Sproll explained. "Puzzling Places is such a simple game because it's just puzzling, but even something as simple as puzzling has such a depth to it if you want to get it right and if you wanna make it feel natural."
The closed multiplayer testing period for Puzzling Places kicks off this week with applications to test the feature still being accepted as of this writing.
"We decided to make this a closed beta in case we really have to still make major design changes because I think once it's out it's really hard to do that," Sproll said. "My personal goal is to have it ready by fall when things heat up again. I think summer's great for us to experiment."