Side-scrolling shooters have always had a place in many of our hearts. From the high scores that we can try and achieve to the power-ups, we can gain to even the ways of trying to study the enemies. There is just something about them that has always interested me and I have always thought about how new ways of playing them could be incorporated. So when I heard that developer, Ivonvich Games was paying homage to the classic side-scrolling shooters, but in a way continues the story of 1976 – Back to Midway, I had to learn more. So I reached out and the CEO, Ivan Cascales was happy to talk about their newest game, 2076: Midway Multiverse, and also about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the CEO of Ivonovich Games, Ivan Cascales
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what a typical day for you is like at Ivanovich Games?
“I am Ivan Cascales, CEO of Ivanovich Games, a small studio in Barcelona focused on making Virtual Reality arcade games. Since the Covid suddenly appeared in our lives, we discovered teleworking and finally left the offices. So, our typical day is quite different now: all teleworking thanks to tools like discord or Monday allows us to move forward without all together in the same physical space. What has not changed is that we are playing in virtual reality all day. We love what we do, what are we going to do :-).”
Ivanovich Games has made some very good VR titles such as the optical illusions of Sea of Memories to bringing nostalgia with games like Operation Warcade and 1976 – Back to Midway. When you are thinking about your next VR project, what do you feel are the top 3 points it has to offer?
“We are focused on arcade games around these 3 points:
1 Fun. The most crucial point is that the main mechanics are fun, and we do a lot of tests until we find something fun.
2 Direct and without tutorials. We want the fun per minute to be high. Therefore we dispense with complex mechanics that require learning or long hours of training.
3 Retro and humorous: Most of our games have a strong sense of humor and a retro/nostalgic touch.”
Your newest game just launched on Steam called 2076: Midway Multiverse. What can you tell us about the game?
“2076 is a tribute to classic side-scrolling shooters (R-type, etc.): The ultimate space combat simulation experience combining the genre’s classic gameplay with new and original mechanics that only VR can offer: hit, grab, drag, push, etc. The idea is simple: Enjoy a classic retro VR experience innovatively.”
So would you say this is a direct sequel to 1976 – Back to Midway?
“No. 2076 in a way, continues the crazy story of 1976. But the game is different, so I could not say that it is a sequel to it.“
Our favorite Dr. Ivanovich is back along with an alternative version of him called Dr. Novichiva. What can you tell us about this alternative version and how they play a role in the multiverse?
“Novichiva is supposedly Doctor Ivanovich from the future. But there is a lot hidden behind this character, and it will be unveiled little by little in the story mode of 2076. I can’t go much further without making spoilers. I want to add that I am pleased with the duo formed between doctor Ivanovich and Novichiva and the abusive humor generated in their environment. I think we will see them again in future games.“
What can you tell us about the different immersive zones within the game?
“The immersion zones of 2076 allow you to pilot the ship in the first person. They are much improved over the 1976 zones, offering a better overall feeling. But in general, we can repeat the formula: They are concrete challenges, easy to understand, and short. But challenging.”
Are there really more than 200 different aircraft upgrades? What can you tell us about some of them and which ones are your favorite?
“The improvement system is very similar to that of 1976. And it fulfills a double essential function:
1) To make the game better, the more you play
2) To guarantee the progress of all players. More skilled players will need fewer upgrades to pass a certain level. And less experienced players may need more games to upgrade the ship further… but with enough upgrades and practice, they will eventually be able to pass the level.”
Are leaderboards in the game, and if so, what has been the most impressive one that you have seen?
“The leaderboards are always a lovely attraction. In the case of 2076, we have three levels of difficulty: easy, normal, and extreme. If you want to be at the top, you must play on “Extreme difficulty” where you only have one life to complete the level. But if you get it, you multiply the score by 10. So, we get an apparent reason to replay many times a level in an entertaining way.”
What kind of miscalculations did the good doctor and his team make about the Quantum Simulator?
“The script of 2076 raises the 1976 absurdist humor quotas to very high levels. Our scriptwriter, Dani, has been especially inspired, and overcoming the levels has its reward in the form of jokes and more jokes, each more absurd and funny. I don’t know what miscalculation Dr. Ivanovich made… but if you finish 2076, you might have a clue ;).”
When it comes to the graphics, what do you feel is the working formula for making certain things pop in Virtual Reality?
“We use several “tricks” to make it look better: fog, lights, but above all, we love to play with scales and camera changes. On a flat-screen, you can’t appreciate the scale of the world. But in VR, you can notice the presence in an obvious way: You notice that everything is small, giving the feeling of a model, and suddenly you are still in the same place, but everything is big, and you see the giant final boss. It’s cool.”
Sound is also important for the immersion, what have you found that you have implemented that seems to work very well, and what are some of the things where you feel may not work as much as you would have liked them to in VR?
“Yes, the sound is essential to provide a sense of presence in VR. In both 1976 and 2076, we used fMod with 3D spatial sound. Our sound specialist Ricardo has done a great job. In the case of 2076, I am delighted with the sound achieved when the ships pass close to you and the turrets firing. All together, it takes me to a star wars movie :-).”
What is one genre that you want to make a VR game in and what is one genre that you should not make a VR game in?
“For the moment, we will follow the line of “arcade games” fun, intense, and easy to play. But the truth is that I do not rule out any particular genre.”
2076: Midway Multiverse is coming soon to the Quest Store and PlayStation VR. Do we have any release dates or windows when players may expect these on platforms and will the game be coming to Viveport?
“The feedback from 2076 in Early Access has allowed us to identify what the game was missing to be “perfect”. We are working hard to provide the game with a new map mode with a new game mode called “ARCADE” which is looking spectacular. It will allow you to play the game differently, much more similar to the original retro games but much more spectacular and easier to play. I am excited about the progress, although this may delay the final release. For the time being, we are sticking to the Quest schedule of late January or February for Quest. The PSVR version for the moment, we have it instant-by waiting to see how it evolves with the PSVR2.”
If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION, but it was a live-action movie of 2076: Midway Multiverse, who would play Dr. Ivanovich and Dr. Novichiva?
“Hahaha, I can’t imagine a flesh and blood actor playing doctor Ivanovich. But this character was born inspired by the Doc from Back to the Future, so I guess the answer would be Christopher Lloyd.”
What’s next for you and Ivanovich Games?
“We are finishing 2076 (including the Quest version). On the other hand, we are about to release a general improvement of our best Quest games, including in all of them 90fps and 30% more resolution:
– Operation Warcade.
– Touring Karts.
– Beat Blaster.
All these improvements are thanks to the implementation of the new Quest SpaceWarp.
We are also redesigning the website to make it easier to access our games and, of course, working on several prototypes for the games to come.”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience 2076: Midway Multiverse?
“2076 captures the essence of the side-scrolling shooters like R-type in a new way thanks to the VR.
I am especially in love with the new arcade mode we will present in the next few days. I am very excited to see the feedback on this mode. I find it more fun, intense, and spectacular. I hope the general public will agree.”
I really want to thank Ivan for taking the time from his schedule and day to give us a closer look at 2076: Midway Multiverse and for also talking about Virtual Reality.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.