We spoke with Schell Games principals behind IEYTD: Marc Tattersall, the Project Director; John Kolencheryl, the Tech Director, and Shawn Patton, the Design director. Here is what they told us about how motion controls changed the design of the project and the specifics behind their “Brown Box” process.
Upload: Schell Games has a history of doing mostly children’s game. How has making a VR game been different than past titles?
Marc: The hardest part is that when you are working on a game, generally, you have something to point to. ‘I like this aspect of that game‘ or ‘I kind of like how this game does that.’ Because VR is so new, there really is no place to point to. We were inventing rules as we go, as everyone in VR was. Even when we are talking about what games sell well, it’s all so new that we just don’t know. So you are really taking a chance on a lot of what you do. You have to figure out what works. If we were building a first-person shooter, it would be really easy to just analyze existing, successful first-person shooters and make a determination about what we like and what we don’t like. Trying to develop a fun game on a moving technology that is constantly evolving is extremely complicated.
John: And just keeping up with cutting edge technology, from a technical standpoint, means you have to constantly upgrade the engine you are working with and just be in constant communication with the hardware folks, be it Oculus or Sony. Just making sure things work. Does your game work well with the changes they make to their API? From a technical standpoint, that is something we have to keep up with. Previously, on projects, we don’t have to do constant upgrades to the engine. There’s a certain amount a risk that adds. But on a VR project, you just have to let go of that and be ready to make upgrades on a frequent basis. Just so the games can run.
The other big thing is the framerate; just making 90 frames per second is something new. We have to make certain decisions around that. Making people sick in VR is not good. So that is something that we have made a lot of effort to maintain. So figuring out the minimum spec and making sure the game runs at 90 at that min spec, those were the decisions that were made from the get go.
Shawn: From a design standpoint, the newness of VR for the players is the big thing you need to keep in mind. When they are immersed in this new world, they can get overwhelmed very easily. They have some expectations about how some things work because it is very similar to the real world. ‘Of course I can pick this up; of course I can do that.’ Anytime you don’t support one of those actions, it chips away at their immersion. And so from a design standpoint, which things do we need to support, and how can we ease them into this new world, and how can we make sure they are not totally confused and instead have a good time.
Read the full article at Upload VR.