What would you do if were for some reason, trapped with what seems like no way to escape? Would you get worried or try to make sense of the situation you were in? What if you could travel between dimensions along with being able to use magic to help solve in order for you to possibly find an escape? Do you think you would succeed or get lost traveling between the dimensions? For me, I think it would be interesting to see how the travel aspect would be and what things or creatures I might possibly come up against. But when I heard that Stitch Media and Silverstring Media made an escape room game that allowed traveling through dimensions and there would be magic involved. I wanted to know more. So I reached out and the Founder of Stitch Media, Evan Jones, was happy to talk about their game Flow Weaver and to also talk about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the Founder of Stitch Media, Evan Jones
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Stitch Media?
“Hi, my name is Evan Jones and I am the Founder of Stitch Media where we love telling stories using new technology. I’ve been awarded 2 Emmys for past new media projects, and currently, we have our sights set on making our mark in the VR industry. Our first foray into VR game development was with Flow Weaver which just launched on Oculus a little over a month ago. I am the Executive Producer of that title alongside our development partner, Silverstring Media.”
For those who may not be aware, what have been some of the projects you have been responsible for?
“Stitch Media has done so many cool interactive media projects in the past, that it’s hard for me to pick a few to highlight. On the game development side, we released a 3D puzzle platformer called Terrorarium in July of 2020. It’s a kooky little game perfect for anyone with a dark sense of humor because you play as this feisty alien gardener named Granny who raises expendable little mushroom creatures called Moogus that are hurled at enemies to solve puzzles. It’s available right now on Steam for PC, but we are also in the process of revamping the game with new content for release on the Nintendo Switch in 2021.
In addition to our own original IPs, Stitch Media does a fair amount of client work. We’ve created everything from mobile apps, interactive web-based content, web games, and Alternate Reality Games for clients like Warner Bros, Disney, Ontario Cannabis Society, HGTV, Reebok, and NBC Universal just to name a few.”
Your newest game, Flow Weaver released not that long ago. What can you tell us about the game?
“Flow Weaver is a multidimensional escape room VR game where you play as a mage-traveler called a “Flow Weaver”. We designed it as a seated experience to cater to a wide number of accessibility limitations, and being stationary is a part of the narrative. The Flow Weaver is trapped in a ring of binding by unknown captors in a strange new world. You learn more about the magical laws of this world and the reason for your capture as you play through the game’s puzzles. You are able to orchestrate your escape once you understand the relationship between the overlapping Flows (our game’s term for parallel dimensions/realms) and unlock new spells to set yourself free from the ring of binding.”
So how is Flow Weaver multidimensional?
“Kelemspar, the world in which Flow Weaver takes place, is comprised of multiple realms/dimensions (called Flows in the game) that share interdependent relationships. Doing something in one Flow may affect another, and we’ve designed our puzzles to be solved across dimensions. Players can have fun bringing different objects to other Flows or trying different spells to learn the logic and pattern for puzzle solving we’ve designed.”
Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about the puzzles in the game?
“Players will really have to think outside the box when it comes to solving puzzles. Almost all of them require some kind of cross-dimension interaction. We don’t have a hint system that will eventually spoon-feed you the answer, but we did leave enough visual and auditory hints for approaching the puzzles. If you enjoy games where puzzles are much more self-directed and exploratory, then Flow Weaver will be right up your alley. The players who really love our game are the ones that enjoyed the challenge of paying keen attention to everything, and that in itself is the biggest hint we can give.”
So you really have the vocal talents of Ciarán Strange among others in the game?
“Yes! We were very excited to get Ciarán Strange on board as the English voice of the main character. So much of the narrative and instructions in Flow Weaver are delivered via internal dialogue so it’s a big role and responsibility. Canonically the Flow Weaver identifies as non-binary and while there is no such thing as how a non-binary person should sound like, we cast Strange’s unique voice which offered an open interpretation of gender identity. For us and our partners at Silverstring Media, creating opportunities for diverse representation in games is important to us.”
Was the idea of Flow Weaver always about magic from the beginning or were there different ideas for the game?
“Flow Weaver was going to be about magic from the beginning. The lore of Flow Weaver is a part of a much bigger narrative that has been cooking in the minds of our development partner, Silverstring Media, for over a decade. Lucas W. Johnson, the founder of Silverstring Media, has had a longstanding love for Dungeons & Dragons, and the seeds of the Flow Weaver universe started from his early days of creating original campaigns to play with friends. This universe is called Flowforged and when Lucas introduced it to me, I knew we had to find a way to bring it to life. Hence the collaborative project of Flow Weaver was born.
We actually found a way to incorporate tabletop role-playing games into the Flow Weaver project by creating a complementary one-shot campaign called Escape from the Lawless Prison. It is based off of the D&D 5e system and serves as a prequel to the events in the Flow Weaver VR game. The PDF is free to download and we even created a Tabletop Simulator workshop mod for players to enjoy.”
What can you tell us about the spells in the game?
“Each spell introduces a new function or mechanic that will help open up more interactions in the game. At the beginning of the game, you are rather limited in what you can do so, that helps focus the player on a small amount of reachable tasks. The first spell you receive is called Shadow Hand and that was our solution for a distance grab if the player has to remain stationary. This will end up being the main spell players will use to interact with the various environments. Each Flow has its own “signature spell” with the corresponding ability being themed after the Flow. For example Shadow Hand is obtained from the Shadow Realm and has a dark and ghostly appearance to it. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the spells obtained in later parts of the game, because I don’t want to spoil it for new players.”
Sound in VR is as important as visuals. When it comes to the sound, what do you feel is the most important to make sure the player has the best experience?
“VR is such an immersive medium so the sound design of a game must complement that experience. Devin Vibert, the composer for the Flow Weaver soundtrack, did a great job creating a score that conveyed the mood of each Flow, and the headspace we wanted the player to be in through various stages of the game. The Material World acts as the player’s home base and it is set in a lighthouse. Aside from being verbally told you are in a lighthouse, you also hear the sounds you’d associate with being near the sea. The background music in this Flow is also purposely neutral and pensive to form a baseline for the player. When the player travels to other Flows like the Feylands, Underworld, Shadow Realm, or Skybridge the sound effects and music change drastically to communicate the vibes of those places. Is it Frantic? Anxious? Unsettling? Awe-inspiring?
Sound is a very powerful tool for selling an immersive experience to a player, and it needs to help simulate a version of reality even if a game is grounded in Fantasy. Our audio designers researched sound effects from the real world to suit each Flow.”
Did you find and develop Flow Weaver for the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 surprising compared to other headsets that are out there?
“We started our VR journey with development for Oculus Quest, so unfortunately I can’t comment much on the comparison between headsets. We are hoping to get Flow Weaver on other headsets in the future, so we can certainly revisit this question later on once we’ve crossed that bridge!”
Flow Weaver is also scheduled to come out for the Oculus Rift/S. Do we have a release date and are there any plans to bring the game to other platforms such as PlayStation VR, Steam, or Viveport in the future?
“Flow Weaver was actually released simultaneously for Oculus Rift/S in March. If you search for it in the Oculus Rift store you’ll find it there! As for launching the game on Steam, we expect to have that ready by the end of April 2021. Support is still only for Oculus Rift, but we know there are gamers out there who prefer to have their purchases consolidated on a single platform like Steam.
We would love to expand Flow Weaver to other headsets and have promising talks with some publishers, but nothing has come to fruition yet on that end. For us, it is a matter of time and budget. We are keeping an eye on how Flow Weaver performs on Oculus first. If there’s anyone reading this that would like to help us make additional headset ports a reality though, please reach out!”
Where do you see VR in about 5-10 years?
“We’re hoping to see VR become a lot more prevalent in average households within the next 5-10 years and with the advancement in market penetration we’ve seen Oculus make with the Quest 2 we are optimistic that more people are going to adopt this technology and more companies will jump in with their own R&D for headsets. We are already working with hand-tracking for our next project, and it would be cool to see eye-tracking being implemented in the future to open up even more possibilities. Developing for VR is so exciting for us because there are even more ways to redefine the gaming experience.”
For those looking to develop experiences for Virtual Reality, what would be the top three tips you would give them?
“The top three tips we would give to developers looking to get into VR are: 1) Set-up source control & version matching, 2) optimize your XR render settings, 3)rethink your approach to design especially if you are coming from flat gaming development. If anyone would like expanded explanations, we’ve actually written a blog post on our Top 5 tips for getting started in VR development. Link: https://stitch.media/blog/5-tips-for-getting-started-in-unity-for-vr.”
So what is next for you? Anything special you are working on?
“Our next project is titled Broken Spectre which is a first-person cosmic horror adventure game designed for hand-tracking Virtual Reality and mobile devices. We look forward to exploring themes of isolation, madness, and unreliable narrators. We are currently writing the story and finalizing the outline of the game while determining which types of game mechanics we’d like to include. We plan on releasing more information about Broken Spectre at the end of May 2021 so keep an eye out for that on the Stitch Media website and socials!”
WIth the list for VR games growing, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Flow Weaver?
“Beyond being an absolutely gorgeous game for people who like environmental eye candy, Flow Weaver is quite a challenging puzzler. If you enjoy slower-paced experiences where you can take your time to observe your surroundings, listen to the story, and engage your problem-solving muscles, it is a fun 2-4 hour game.”
I really want to thank Evan for taking the time to give us a closer look into Flow Weaver and for talking about Virtual Reality.
To learn more about the game, please visit the site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, join the Discord, follow them on Instagram, and subscribe to the YouTube channel.
To learn more about Stitch Media, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. To learn more about Silverstring Media, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.