Cheap TricksMax Lander2017

Cheap Tricks

Poster art for Maxwell Lander's CHEAP TRICKS

Max Lander

Dire Machine (2017)
Cheap Tricks (2020)

Spook your buds with limited tools before they spook you.

Multiplayer VR experience
Cheaptricks Gameplay

This is a whole new game. The original was a VR game that was connected to an Arduino that controlled real life shackles that the user was strapped into. In order to escape they had to solve a spooky puzzle in the virtual environment. Originally I was going to do a straight remake and try and update the game to be wireless and play with whether or not I could convince a player to behave as if shackled without physically being so using Quest hand tracking. Then COVID hit and the thought of making a VR game for a specific piece of hardware that no one had access to became very unappealing. So I went back to the drawing board and started with the base principle of The Dire Machine — horror is a cheap trick in VR.

While I’ve kicked myself many times for the scope creep, it has really highlighted how much farther along my skills feel. Not much feels out of reach anymore, which isn’t to say that I know how to do everything, but more so that I have confidence I can learn what I need to to make whatever kind of game.

Beyond that I think it’s been very interesting to look back at an old project and be forced not to hate it. This sounds bad but I think, as artists, we often move on from projects and progress and have tendencies to hate everything older than a few hours, and the framing of Origin Stories kind of counters that, which is fucking neat.

Someone please stop me the next time I decide to make another horror game.

Special thanks to Sean Harkin for spooky models.

About Max Lander

Maxwell Lander is a photographer, feminist pornographer, gamemaker and interactive media artist. He has been winning awards and exhibiting internationally since 2007, has a published book of photography and in May of 2019, completed his Master of Design in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University.

He now teaches VR, game design and 360 film, and is presently working on a volumetric video project as well as something top-secret involving spies.

He has also been identified by strangers as the guy that talked about eating blood on that podcast.

Work in progress
Cheap Tricks… spooky walk through the trees
Cheap Tricks - dolly zoom
Cheap Tricks sneak peek