With the upcoming releases of the Oculus Rift, Microsoft’s Hololens, and Sony’s Project Morpheus, the VR phase of gaming is about to happen, and even though I personally haven’t found a lot of the VR demos to be that impressive, it’s only because people aren’t doing a whole lot with the VR stuff that we haven’t seen before. You can count with multiple hands how many first-person horror games are out there and have VR support. Unless I haven’t seen these kinds of projects, I can count on one hand how many take the first-person games with VR support, and actually do something different. This is why I was glad to find out about this Kickstarter for a VR game called Pixel Ripped. The developers got in touch with me, and I thought that I would support this Kickstarter with an interview. The game’s funding goal is over $60K and it is currently at over $15K. If you like VR games and already have an Oculus Rift, or are planning to get one or the other VR headsets, you should back this game.
Cam’s Eye View: For the gamers that may have not heard about Pixel Ripped, how would you describe this game in a paragraph?
PR: A game about being a gamer, you will be travelling back in the 80s to play Nicola's favorite game Pixel Ripped, and for this you will have to deal with the challenges of episodes of her life.
Cam’s Eye View: I really love the set-up. What was the inspiration behind the nostalgic trip down memory lane being the main set-up of the game?
PR: It came from a dream I had, where I was playing a game on the TV, and this game changed and involved making the whole room change around me, together with the game graphics on the TV. Then I started working with this idea, and put together a lot of life experience as a gamer to get to the gameplay we have today.
Cam’s Eye View: Was Pixel Ripped going to be a different kind of VR game before settling on the final product?
PR: It was going to be about you playing a game on TV, and this game changing and evolving as you get older. But then I had a bug that changed everything. The character from the 2D arcade game appeared in the living room. That bug made me realize that having 2D characters in the 3D world was the way to go to have a unique VR experience.
Cam’s Eye View: I like that you are a female character in this game. Was this the original plan from square one, or was it a choice because of the current gaming politics? Either way, I love the main character.
PR: Thanks :) It wasn't on my first plans to be a female gamer, it was supposed to be a classic gamer stereotype character. But then I was struggling with my friend writer to come across with a nice narrative, and then my head of the course asked me: "Why you don't change the main character to a woman, and then you will be able to add your personal life experience more easily to the game". And that worked pretty well, because after that, I could bring more personality to the game with my life experience, and it flowed really well.
The gaming politics never crossed my mind when I made that decision.
Cam’s Eye View: I really love the look of the game, and people that I have shown it to love it as well. What was the decision to make it a 3D VR game? Was there thought to make it like a sprite-based game, or were other art directions up for consideration?
PR: Thanks, I really appreciate that. It was since the beginning planned to be a VR game. After I had that dream, I knew it would feel really well with VR. The main goal of this game is to transport people back in time to experience the eras of Video Games. And VR is the perfect media for it. It is the only one that it gives you the ability to put the player inside a time machine, really inside the world you created. For feeling like they are really there, I needed the 3D world, but to feel like they are playing the game, I needed to build also the 2D world.
To have the feeling that the arcade game you are playing really exists in the 80s, I had help from a professional pixel artist, William, who does all the 2D sprites for us. This helped a lot to make this game feel real, and I had even some people asking me if this is a game I just got the emulator and added it in the game. And no, Pixel Ripped arcade game was also created, and programmed from the ground to feel like it is a real game. It needed that touch.
So, I have to constantly work with this 2 game worlds, the Nicola's 3D reality and Dot's 2D reality(arcade game main character). It is so challenging, and sometimes give my brain headaches but I love it.
Cam’s Eye View: Since this is a VR game, how you are going to handle the problems with motion sickness?
PR: We had a lot of people saying that this was the first game they played on Oculus Rift that they didn't feel motion sickness.
I worked since the beginning to avoid motion sickness as much as I could during the development process.
I knew that the closer I could get the simulation with the conditions that the player would be playing the game in reality, the least likely it would be to feel motion sickness. So, I tried to have the virtual body (Nicola) always in a sitting down position with a joystick controller in the hands, which is the position that everyone that plays my game will be.
If your senses send the message to the brain that your body is sitting down, and in the virtual world your vision sends a different message that you are in movement, the brain gets confused with incompatible information, and this causes the break of the immersion in the simulation, causing the player to feel dizzy.
If things match in both worlds, then the player will more likely believe in that virtual environment.
Cam’s Eye View: Of course, you want to have the full experience by playing this game on a VR peripheral, but I take it that anyone can enjoy the game even without the headset?
PR: There is a non-VR version that will be available just for the Kickstarter backers. So everyone that pledges can enjoy the game, without being forced to buy a VR headset.
Cam’s Eye View: Besides PC, are there plans in the future to put it onto consoles with VR headsets, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4? Or maybe try and make it work on the Wii U? Like use the Gamepad for the Game Girl or something?
PR: At the moment, there are plans to release the game for all the major platforms, like Gear VR, Oculus, Vive and Project Morpheus.
Cam’s Eye View: If there is one or more element(s) of the current virtual reality scene, what would you like to see change? For example, would you like to have more variety in terms of what kind of VR experiences are offered?
PR: At the moment, we are all learning the best ways to use Virtual Reality, and there are a lot of developers just trying to repeat the same recipe that they know it works for traditional gaming platforms, and when transporting to VR, they expect it to just work.
We all need to adapt ourselves for this new media.
Cam’s Eye View: Was there any concern about putting this on Kickstarter after some negative reactions towards certain Kickstarter or questionable elements of some of the big Kickstarter hits?
PR: There is always a risk on Kickstarter. We never know. We are having a lot of difficulties because our game is for VR, and there are no VR headsets out yet. So, that is our biggest disadvantage because people don't want to commit to buying a game if they don't even know if they will buy a VR headset.
(If you want to support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)