Virtual Reality gaming is taking over the gaming world and developers that are new to VR will be wanting to improve them by learning from their first releases. This is also true for The Mascoteers, who have carved out a niche in mobile gaming by producing a string of addictive arcade-style puzzle games that are very popular on mobile devices. The Melbourne-based company’s first VR release, Volkan, utilises the same arcade-like gameplay, with some noticeable adjustments to make it a more VR-friendly experience.
During the time of designing, development and testing the team has faced many challenges. There are stories of failed experiments, trial and error, and unfailed determination behind Volkan, which is now available in the Samsung Oculus store.
The player moves through a somewhat surreal environment that comprises of streets, buildings, mountains and plains and is surrounded by volcanoes. Lava flows below and the players job is essentially to avoid it at all costs, jumping from various platforms to continue forward.
VR technology allows us to have the player look in the direction they want to move and tap when they want to jump. The speed of the players movements is controlled by the game and increases as time goes on.
Behind The Game
Our goal was always to create a unique world, to give the player some sense of wonder and a feeling of exploring an unknown place. We felt this would enable players to engage with the virtual reality aspect that much more - this kind of setting for a game wouldn’t work nearly as well on a mobile for example.
With the player moving through a city that has been ravaged by volcanoes and lava, we felt we could get the most out of the VR system. This has made the graphics a very important aspect of the game as we want to give the player as ‘real’ an experience as possible.
New Tech for VR
We used Unity3D code structure, artwork and audio for the game, which was new for us and actually quite a challenge to adjust to. But it just takes time and practice to perfect!
Obviously the transition from creating mobile games to VR games is a big one, but we wanted to retain the general feel that all our mobile games have had since day one. It was tricky to come up with a concept that allowed us to make the most out of this technology without moving too far away from what made us The Mascoteers!
Another difficult decision was coming up with the ideal setting for the player to navigate through. The Volcano aspect was actually added quite late in the piece and we had drafted various environments including green hilly fields and an under-water style adventure. The Volcano-ravaged metropolis worked because it gave us more scope to justify aspects of the gameplay (such as ground being off limits) and it also just seemed to create a more unique and memorable setting.
VR gaming will allow us to do things we simply don’t have the scope for on mobiles. With VR, we’ll be able to create more of a mood or an atmosphere in our games, that helps to put the player in a certain mindset, whereas this is significantly more difficult with a game on a smartphone.
With Volkan, we have just scrapped the surface of what can be done and we are really excited for what future worlds we’re going to create in the months to come.
Volkan is available for download now and can be played with Samsung Gear VR.