Best practices for VR, from seven devs working with the Oculus Rift
October 29, 2013 Page 4 of 5
Knowing the constraints this project involved, how did you determine what concept you'd work on?
Kantor: I kicked around a lot of different ideas in the run-up to the competition, but the concept for Elevator Music was the one that I kept coming back to. One of the inspirations for the game's concept was a dream I had in which I was riding an elevator in an impossibly huge office building. The idea of incomprehensible scale is something that really fascinates me, and I think it is a perfect theme to explore in virtual reality.
Yang: When I jam, I usually gravitate toward the smallest self-contained idea. The lion simulator was only going to be interesting if stuff happened, or if I implemented an ecosystem thing where you could chase prey or be hunted, etc. The flight simulator has much less complex expectations: you need a plane and a world to fly around in and that's pretty much it. Working in a genre is useful because it guides players' expectations one way.
McNeill: I usually choose a project by finding a good combination of what I want to do and what I'm actually able to do. A cyberspace game was perfect, since (I figured) it would be awesome in VR, and it would be simple enough to prototype in 3 weeks.
Gunnarsson: It shapes everything from content creation, to visual effects to programming. For example we need to keep a very high framerate and the scale of objects in the game needs to "feel right."
If you were to develop your current prototype game beyond what we've seen of it so far, what would you like to improve?
Kantor: During the run-up to Indiecade, I changed quite a few details of Elevator Music -- creating more music and sound design, making usability tweaks and fixing lots of glitches.
I have tons of things I would want to work on if I got the opportunity to keep working on it, but I think I would start with lots of iteration and playtesting on the puzzle and narrative design. Because I only had 3 weeks to make the game, I mostly focused on the audio-visual environment of the game during the duration of the jam, which is the aspect of making games that most interests me. However, the navigational aspect of Elevator Music is really its core mechanic from the player's perspective, and it can only be figured out through analyzing and cross-referencing information you find on the terminals hidden throughout the game.
Right now, tons of information is doled out all at once, and the game expects the player to be able to synthesize it all right off the bat. I want to try to spread out the information drip and knowledge gates as much as possible, and work on the narrative design to make sure the player has a clearer understanding of what they're trying to do, and how to do it, at all times.
Julian Kantor's Elevator Music
Yang: Right now, [my game's] world is procedurally generated, but I also want to procedurally generate different setpieces and plot chains. I want a sort of "narrative-based flight sim stealth roguelike."
Korsgaard: Global highscores! Imagine if you could "own" www.cia.gov until someone else hacked it better than you! -- oh and I would also totally love to make a big campaign around the game with full motion video cutscenes and other 90s stuff -- distributed on CD-ROMs.
McNeill: At this point, I'm definitely planning to develop a full version of Ciess, which I'd like to launch alongside the Oculus Rift.
I think that the mechanics of Ciess could use a serious reworking. The gameplay in the prototype feel good, like you're exploiting vulnerabilities in a vast system, but it doesn't have much depth. I'd like to have gameplay that's truly rich and strategic, and it's just not there yet.
I'd also like to make Ciess a showcase for all that's cool about VR. The prototype's biggest strength is that tries to make use of all the Rift's features (head-look, 3D effects, immersion, fully-surrounding environments). I'm hoping to add a lot more moments of "woah".
Maguire: This is all bit of a process of discovery right now. We're trying to figure out what's going to work and what our conventions will be. Figuring how we're going to do the movement, how we're going to do the interface -- these are the problems that we're faced with, and that we want to solve. We have some ideas of how we want to do that but there will certainly be some discoveries along the way.
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