Let’s think about something we all pretty much have in common, games. Do you remember the first game that you played? How about that one game that had such an impact, that maybe it made you view things differently or actually hit closer to your own personal experiences than you could have ever possibly imagined. Maybe that one game is part of your favorite genre or because the actors and actresses you have been admiring are part of it all. Games can allow us to have that fun while all this time, practicing social distancing like nothing else. When you get into the Virtual Reality aspect of gaming, we get to explore, visit other places, and sometimes, more importantly, we get to escape in new ways. So I started to think about the games and wondering about the ideas for the concepts of the games. So I reached out to Vertigo Games and Paul van der Meer was happy to give us a deeper look into Vertigo Games and talk about Virtual Reality.
Interview with Producer, Paul van der Meer of Vertigo Games
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Can you please introduce yourself and let everyone know what you do at Vertigo Games?
“Hi, I’m Paul van der Meer and I’m Producer at Vertigo Games. In short I keep check on all the projects and make sure the team has what they need to keep meeting the milestones. One day I’m working on voiceovers, then outsourced models or help out testing. And I even get to do some level design when time permits.”
For some that may not be aware, Vertigo Games has been responsible for some good games from Arizona Sunshine and Skyworld, what are some of the other games that you have been responsible for or a part of?
“We made a spin-off called Skyworld: Kingdom Brawl, focussing more on the battles with a way bigger deck of cards to choose from. We designed a huge free-roaming Arizona Sunshine LB VR experience. People went crazy playing it, a lot of shouting and laughing. That was so fun to see. We also worked with the team at Innerspace to publish their title A Fisherman’s Tale. That game was love at first sight.”
Arizona Sunshine came out on PCVR a few years ago and then to PlayStation VR and now Oculus Quest. What have you found to be the biggest challenge in bringing Arizona Sunshine to different platforms? Can we expect any future DLC that is in the works?
“Both platforms have completely different restrictions compared to the PC when it comes to drawcalls and available memory. So each model and each level had to be redone in order to get it to work. It’s easy to compare it to the original and look at the visual downgrade. But the work they did to get it to run was incredible. And on Quest being able to experience Arizona Sunshine without needing a cable gives it an unprecedented sense of freedom.
We just released the Damned DLC on Quest as an Oculus Cross-Buy. At the moment there are no further plans and we want to focus on making After The Fall. But never say never. We would love to go back to Arizona.”
One of the welcomed features on the PlayStation VR is the Aim Controller. What challenges did you find when trying to incorporate it for Arizona Sunshine?
“In a way, it was similar to the Dualshock support. There are lot of buttons you can assign, which is nice. But you also have a peripheral that binds you hands, so we had to redesign some interactions. Such as working with the menu, equipping a flashlight and so on. But it also allowed us to focus on a two-handed mode, which is where the AIM really shines. The weapons match your physical grip and the thumbsticks give easy access to whichever form of movement you prefer. It was a great fit and received well by the community.”
When Skyworld came out it really added to the strategic genre for VR. Was the idea always to have a mix of cards and battle or was there originally a different concept for it altogether?
“It was always the idea to battle with cards and have a turn-based overworld. Of course along the way the implementation changed a lot. But the main idea stayed the same. It was just an intriguing mix of concepts, but both felt very native to VR.”
What would be your best tips for hopefully a successful win in Skyworld?
“Don’t rush things. Make sure you have a well-balanced deck and a good running economy before you charge towards your enemy. Also, keep an eye out. You can learn a lot by looking at your enemy’s buildings. During battle, make sure you have sufficient mana to respond. And analyze your opponent’s deck. See how you can take advantage of it.”
Virtual Reality really has grown over time. What have been the biggest surprises that you have seen from a few years ago? Has there been anything that you developed in VR that you didn’t think it works and actually was taken back from how well it did work?
“I think it’s a constant string of little surprises as we’re discovering the medium together. From locomotion controls, third-person cameras or physics-based interactions there is just a lot of exciting stuff going on.
For me there it wasn’t something I thought wouldn’t work, but I was surprised how well it worked. In one of our LB VR maps for the Arcade market, we have a high placed metal beam that players need to cross. Just walking across elicited such a powerful positive reaction from players. Yelps and laughs every time. It almost felt like cheating because it was the simplest thing to implement; a fixed metal beam. But then you remember, depths are scary. And VR does depths really well.”
What would be your number one suggestion that you would give someone who was looking to start developing for VR?
“There are so many suggestions, from the business perspective to the technical side. But I guess my main one would be: make sure that you’re developing something that is fun in VR and works best there. If you’re explaining the concept and within 10 seconds the other person’s eyes light up, you’re on to something special.”
What are the top three things you would tell your younger self?
“Invest in bitcoins, wearing your jacket inside-out does not make you look cool and be kind to your knees. But I doubt he would listen.”
And for someone who is looking for a new VR game/experience on why they should look at the games from Vertigo Games?
“We always offer a complete game. Not a glorified tech-demo as you saw a lot in the early days. And we try out new things. From figuring out how to do a shooter for Arizona Sunshine, or adapting strategy gameplay in Skyworld or 4-player co-op in a shared world for After The Fall. Like Kennedy said: “Not because they are easy, but because they are hard. And also friggin’ cool.” But I may be misremembering that last bit.”
I really want to thank Pal van der Meer for taking the time and giving us a look into Vertigo Games and his thoughts about Virtual Reality.
Also, check out the review.
Also, check out the review.
After The Fall is coming in 2020
Until next time, please enjoy…