When you hear the words sea, ships, treasure, and even islands, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Adventure, uncertainty, and even danger come to mind. But another word also comes to mind and that is pirates. Something about being out at sea on your own ship looking for treasure with the uncertainty of it all does kind of put that thought in your head and makes you think for a moment about what if you could be a pirate yourself. How do you think you would do and how would you handle the dangers that you would face? We would all like to think we would be the best pirate of them all and who knows, anyone one of us could. But that’s when I heard that developer Moonshine Games was bringing the adventure and be able to control a ship in The Cove, I wanted to know more. So I reached out and the founder, Mark Ledson, was happy to talk to us about the game and also about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the Founder of MoonSine Games, Mark Ledson
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at MoonShine Games?
“Hey. I am Mark Ledson, the Founder of MoonShine Games, as a lone developer I do pretty much all jobs Art, Design, Sound, Music, Code.”
What were some of your inspirations that made you want to get into games and what was that one VR experience you had that you knew you to work within VR?
“I have worked/played on computers since the Spectrum days, and when I found I could do art and animation with deluxe paint on the Amiga and music with Soundtraker I was away. I love any new technology and want to work with it all and when the DK1 came out I had to try it, and never looked back. VR is something I have dreamed of for years and now, with the Quest 2, where I can pop in anywhere in the house, is still amazing in my eyes. Could be sat in my front room which needs a quick hover or be in a cockpit flying a X-Wing yeh the tidying up can wait 30 mins.”
MoonShine games have been responsible for titles such as Buggy Bump and Jake and the Giant. How has the feedback been like and what would you say has been the most surprising thing you have learned from those two games?
“The most surprising thing with Jake and the Giant which was my first true release on Steam is that it all started on a Sunday morning where my son wanted to play a Fortnight like game 3rd person and I wanted to play something in Vr together and within 45 mins we had come up with the basic idea for JATG. To see that game, which didn’t sell a great amount come from idea to full game was amazing and still holds dear to me, I would like one day to return to that idea and push further. Buggy Bump was different, as it had many different ways to play like split-screen, VR, Online, and single-player and they all had to work within the same game, looking back I think I should have split the game to be VR and screenplay separate. I really want to update Buggy Bump, but lost a load of work due to a faulty hard drive.
Your newest game, The Cove is coming to the Oculus Quest 2. What can you tell us about the game?
“The Cove is a VR adventure. Set in the area of the Cove, A deadly Pirate known as Black Beard has taken over the whole area which you are unable to leave, until you work out how the defeat him and make the Cove safe again”
In the trailer, it looks like we will get to sail our own ship. What can you tell us about the ship’s mechanics and will there be any battles out at sea?
“The little trailer I made was a quick video I made that night just to show ideas already in the game, Yes there will be a ship to control and travel to different islands in the Cove. You may encounter the Ghost ship of Black Beard in which you could start a fight with, but until further in the game its better to run, well sail away. At the start, the ship you control does have two cannons but against Black Beard normal cannon balls don’t do much…..hmm insert secret.”
Pirates sometimes receive a bad rep for all the trouble they get into. Without telling too much, will the player be able to partake in any pirate shenanigans and what can you tell us about the weapons in the game
“Well, in the Cove you will be able to partake in the number of piratey things and some not. Like controlling your boat when island hopping, fighting skeletons who protect the buried treasures, swords and guns will be available to help you fight back at the moment pistols, rifles, and a sniper are in the game, could be more to come. If you find some Gems or little treasure’s hidden all over the Cove you can take them back to the gold seller and he will give you coins to buy treasure maps from Matty the map man in which you will need a shovel and maybe a sword to find the hidden chests, Xmarks the spot or some riddles to work out. With The Cove being an open type game I have also included things to do dotted around the world but you will have to find those in your travels (check my Twitter for a look at Whack a Bone).”
Will this be a solo adventure or is it possible that some friends could come along for the adventure?
“At the moment it is a solo adventure, I would LOVE to make this bigger and online but I will see how it goes before diving in.”
Will there be any famous pirates that the player will come up against or any pirate bosses to deal with?
“Yes, you will come up against Black Beard and his crew around the islands.”
Treasure is something else that pirates really like. Do we have to worry about any other pirates trying to steal your treasure?
“At the moment simple answer is no, but this could change.”
One thing that looked really beautiful in the trailer is seeing the sunset as a shark is hanging there as you sail by. What have you found to be the most challenging and surprising when creating the atmosphere of the world of The Cove?
“That’s one of the great things about Vr, is that when testing just pop the headset on and make the world as you want. I want to have The Cove really atmospheric where players could just sit in the bar get a mug of rum and watch the sunset (Yes I have done that) and forget the time spent and just chill or have a nice walk along the beach as the sun comes up. Or just smash a few skeleton’s heads together with your sword, the options there.”
Music and sound also play an important part in the immersion for VR. Was it difficult trying to find some of the sounds when creating the game?
“I am a trained sound engineer and love working with sound and music, I haven’t done the music this time as no time to work on it at the moment. Even went on Ebay to check how much a hurdle girdle was and nop not getting one…yet. Again, like above Music and sound play right into the atmosphere I want to push into this game, I have in the bar a little music player to help set the mood while having a few drinks, seagulls, ocean all play their part in creating the mood I want.”
In your experience, what do you find that works very well and what is still challenging to make work within VR?
“It depends really want type of player you are, as sometimes I like to play VR sat down, and my kids jump around the front room. Because VR is its own unique experience I think most styles of gameplay could be turned into VR but you just have to think in a different way to make it work.”
If you could go anywhere in VR, where would you go, who would you be, and what would you do?
“I started working on The Cove when Covid kicked in last March and was unable to see my parents who live in Portugal, so I started doing a quiz with them and my brother each Saturday afternoon dressed as a pirate? I wish I had the money to buy them all the right equipment to have us all in VR and would still dress up haha.”
Do we have a release date for The Cove and do you see it coming to other platforms like PlayStation VR, Steam, and/or Viveport in the future?
“No release date yet, and would love to see on it on different platforms but will see.”
With the catalog of VR games continuing to rise, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience The Cove?
“I think The Cove offers something just a little different, as not many open-world games on the Quest 2. So if you want to Sail a ship, fight skeletons, search for treasure, solve riddles, fight Black Beard, buy a rum at the tavern, play SkullGolf? Whack a Bone and much more to come then you’re all welcome to come and visit The Cove.”
I really want to thank Mark for taking the time to give us a closer look at The Cove as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
The Cove will be coming to Oculus Quest 2 on the Oculus Store.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.