Museum of the Microstar is a dark comedy narrative game and technology demonstration that became one of the first VR experiences on the original Oculus Rift Development Kit. It was originally developed in five weeks for the Unity DirectX11 Competition, and was awarded the grand prize in February 2013.

The game takes place in the distant future in an underground museum built by Hedron, the last corporation in the known universe. This corporate museum chronicles (and celebrates) an historical-fictional progression of human energy technologies, which ultimately destroyed the planet Earth and all life on its surface. In this way, the game is not just a cautionary tale of ecological disaster; it is also a tech demo that satirizes tech demos.

Informational signs at the entrance to the museum, including a map displaying information about exhibits.
The level design of Microstar undergirds a narrative progression from contemporary to futuristic and fantastical energy sources. As users move from one station to the next, the exhibits become increasingly futuristic, and the writing becomes more satirical and absurdly comedic.
Early in the experience, users encounter the 'Coal' exhibit, and learn about an energy source that was once very common but which no longer exists (in the game's narrative universe).
Next, users might encounter the 'Petroleum' exhibit, and learn about primitive technological creatures called 'automobiles', and a city called 'Lost Angelese' where people lived inside of these creatures.
The user might then encounter the 'Uranium' exhibit -- and as more powerful energy sources are displayed, the user hears more and more extreme stories of sociopolitical conflict and environmental degredation.
Exhibits become increasingly fantastical, and the stories become absurdly hyperbolic, as the user approaches exhibits like this one, which houses Hedron's patented Uberfungus.
It's best that we don't talk about this exhibit. Or look at it. Let's move on.
The entire museum was built around its final exhibit, the first stable Microstar in the known universe. It was this technology that allowed humankind to begin exploring outside its solar system -- and the energy source that finally destroyed the planet Earth.
The game level was designed to slowly and subtly bring users both up and toward the centrally-located Microstar. In this way, the architecture of the space is designed to reinforce the game's narrative: an historical progression through increasingly powerful and dangeous energy sources, which culminated in the destruction of Earth via the creation of a Microstar.
A close-up shot of the Microstar, which was built of tens of thousands of particles being simulated in real time.
Ultimately, we hoped that Microstar would give VR users the chance to slowly and carefully consider the future of virtual reality--and of new technologies in general--in relation to the dominant narratives around technological progress in contemporary culture. And we hoped they'd laugh, too.

After winning the competition, we ported Museum of the Microstar to the original Oculus Rift "Development Kit 1" (DK1), and it was the third published game to function on the groundbreaking VR device. In an ironic twist, Oculus frequently used Microstar when giving public demonstrations of their original Rift headset. The project has been exhibited in conferences and galleries around the world. I was the narrative designer and lead writer on the project, and also contributed as a level designer and worldbuilder.

The original trailer for Museum of the Microstar.

It is now nearly impossible to play Museum of the Microstar in virtual reality, so I have here included two walkthrough videos to illustrate the nature of the experience. In the first video, two people affiliated with the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) explore the level, and discuss and contextualize the project. In the second video, a YouTube reviewer conducts a long form walkthrough of the VR experience, talks about what he sees, and listens to most of the game's narrative content.

Two curators from the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) talk about Microstar as they play it on the Oculus Rift DK1.
This is a high-quality, long form walkthrough of Microstar, in which you can clearly hear most of the game's narrative. Gameplay begins at 3:10 into the video.


  • GLOBALE: Global Games Exhibition at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany from Aug. 2015 to April 2016
  • "Aesthetics of Gameplay" exhibition at ACM Siggraph 2014
  • "GameFest 2013" at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselear Polytechnic University
  • 2013 Game Developers' Conference
  • 2013 Games+Learning+Society Conference
  • 2013 Computers and Writing Conference
  • 2013 Transcriptions Research Slam at UC Santa Barbara

Awards and Honors

  • Grand Prize, Unity DirectX11 Competition, Feb. 2013
  • Runner-up, 2013 Unity3D Awards (Technical Excellence)
  • Official Selection, Science of Fiction Contest, 5D Conference 2013 at the University of Southern California


  • "The Best Oculus Rift VR Games, Demos, and Experiences", PC World, 14 July 2014
  • Other articles and videos appeared in Cinema Blend, Engadget, Giant Bomb, and other early VR-focused publications

“I have to say, I was not expecting that at all.... More than anything, the crew at RUST LTD. actually put forth real-world game design philosophies that could play huge roles in the way both mainstream and indie teams approach game design mechanics for upcoming [VR] titles.” -- Will Usher, Cinema Blend