Experience in developing VR games for gaming centers around the world

Published on November 23, 2016

Experience in developing VR games for gaming centers around the world

    My name is Anton Zaitsev, I am the product owner in the company AVATARICO. Last year I wrote about our first one, and in October of this year we released the second cooperative VR game for VR gaming centers. Now we are doing the third.

    I wanted to talk about our development experience for BP and asked Olya, our copywriter, to interview me. That's what happened. If after reading you have any questions - I will be happy to answer in the comments.

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    Anton, please tell us a little about your team and company. What do you do?

    Since 2014, we have been developing virtual reality games. A script writer, concept artist, programmers responsible for logic, a level designer engaged in designing locations, as well as setting up lighting, effects, as well as product-owner and team-lead, work on the games.

    We sell licenses for the commercial use of our games around the world. More than 40 gaming centers are now working on the globe with our games: in the USA, Europe and Asia.

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    What equipment do you develop games for? What are you writing?

    In terms of software, it is Unity, C Sharp.

    The equipment is the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion (hand motion sensor) for the first two games (COSMOS and MIND HORROR). For the third - ALICE IN VR - this is the HTC Vive. Instead of Leap Motion, we use controllers and walk around the room, which gives perfect tracking in any space.

    What is in your VR games, which is not in others?


    The most important thing is teamwork. I saw VR games with multiplayer, but they do not need interaction. There you can still play without a partner, especially not listening to their opinion. In our games without the advice of the team will have to be difficult, because some problems can not be solved alone. The ability to play with friends is a powerful factor for creating an exciting experience. All over the world, our clients have gaming centers with our games, where people come to, as they used to go to computer clubs.

    Secondly, we make games for the mass consumer. Not for the geek, not for the gamer, our games are played from small to large, regardless of the experience of computer games.

    Third, we make people experience emotions that they can hardly survive in real life: flying in weightlessness, fireballs from their hands, creating objects from the air.

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    Does the complexity of the development of the choice of setting?

    I think yes. In MIND HORROR, we have a profitable setting in terms of development: players dive into the mind of a maniac to find out where he is holding the kidnapped child. In fact, we can set the rules of this world ourselves, and this allows us to use all the "chips" of virtual reality: we do not need to explain why in this scene we fly, and in this shoot fire balls at nightmarish spiders, because everything happens in the head of a maniac .

    Where does the development start?

    With the script. Although it can be modified until the end of work on the game.

    For example, when we did COSMOS, the scenario of about 70% was redone in the middle of the project development. According to the plan, we had such mechanics that the players had to move objects with the help of telekinesis. But tests have shown that managing an ordinary person is hard enough. And there were a lot of similar cases, so we either refused them, or thoroughly reworked them.

    After coordinating the script, the artist draws concept art. According to it, the level designer makes locations, in parallel, programmers begin to draw up the logic of the project. That is, they begin to check what works and what does not. For example, the transfer of items. We are "on the cubes" build the stage and pass each other objects. If it works, then go to the next task.

    After the location is ready, taking into account the unprepared mechanic, there is a binding of game logic. Actually, the level designer creates a location, and programmers tie the entire architecture.

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    Why did you choose such genres for your games?

    When we did COSMOS - we thought: where can a person fly? From the fantasy world and space, we chose the latter. MIND HORROR is simpler: comedy and horror are two of the most popular film genres for a reason, fear and laughter are most effective in terms of emotional relief.

    Flexibility in the development process is a major plus when you make a project for virtual reality. Being engaged in innovations in this field, you never know how it will work. Nobody did this. You have to experiment. We can say that the development in BP is a big-big experiment.

    What problems did you encounter during game development? All managed to translate that conceived?

    In MIND HORROR many times reworked the final location. Players enter the childhood home of the maniac who kidnapped the child. Initially, it was a house with a children's room, in which players had to create cubes in the literal sense of the air. Then it turned into an open location of 20 x 20 meters, where you need to create cubes and build a city in which the kidnapper grew. It turned out a huge city in the sky.

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    What seems perfect in the head can easily be uncomfortable for the end user. For example, we could add to the game dizzying effects, where a whirlwind twists us, but the vestibular apparatus will suffer.

    We conduct tests, check what works and what does not, what works well, but is not tolerated by the human body normally. We can make a boat, put people there and add the effect of “rocking”, it will be cinematic, but the person will not tolerate it.

    At the same time, we have scenes with flights and falls - we minimized the risk of motion sickness in them. Conducted tests among different categories of people. By the way, we found out that girls are swayed more often.

    So you listen to the wishes of the players?

    On the wishes of the players lined up a lot. For example, it was difficult for players to figure out how to transfer items. Although the main gesture - grab (capture) - seems intuitive. He previously worked well, and 20 hours ago, spent on improving the system. But the players are doing what is more convenient for them, and not as it seems to us that it will be more convenient for them. Therefore, we have added a few tricks. First, the subject can be taken with two hands. Secondly, if earlier at the expense of physics the subject fell out of hands, now it is well fixed.

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    We are testing ourselves, but now it is difficult for us to evaluate, because we can easily execute those mechanics that are not obtained from ordinary players. Or here we are not swayed in virtual reality. Totally.

    And finally, what would you advise developers to create a high-quality VR game?

    Use in the design of Agile. For such a new area as VR, it is doubly relevant. The market is changing, experiments with mechanics are changing the scenario beyond recognition - you need to be able to be flexible.