If you ever visited your Grandparent’s home, did you see some interesting things that you have never seen before? Maybe it was an antique, a picture of people you did not know, or maybe the phone they have, had a dial on it. You never know what kind of fun and secretive objects they may have laying around. But what if you entered a room you never saw before and found something so special that you didn’t know if you should continue to look or call out to someone to receive the answers? It’s interesting when you think about the possibilities of what if as you never know what someone may have that could be part of history. But when I heard that the developer, Mighty Yell Studios, had made a game about how curiosity is your reward and going on an adventure with a new take on the Knights of the Round Table story, I had to know more. So I reached out and the Director, Dave Proctor was happy to talk about their newest game, A Knight in the Attic and Virtual Reality.
Interview with Director at Mighty Yell Studios, Dave Proctor
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Mighty Yell Studios?
“Hey, I’m Dave Proctor, and I’m the Director at Mighty Yell Studios. I also do some writing and game design!”
Growing up, what were some of your inspirational gaming moments, and what was that one Virtual Reality moment that made you want to do more with VR?
“Inspirational gaming moments! Such a good question. I love any moment in a game that you can’t see coming. Things that really surprise and delight you. It can be something as memorable (for me) as discovering the golem village in Final Fantasy 9, or more recently almost all of Sword and Sworcery, and the way you have to play with and poke at that game to get it to reveal itself to you. I like to be surprised!
The VR moment that made me want to do more. I’m not an early adopter of ANY technology, so I hope it’s not uncool to say the Quest First Contact demo. Such a fantastic sense of emotion and place… I think when our tech director showed me that I finally got VR.”
For those that may not be aware, what are some other projects you have been a part of?
“Mighty Yell’s first game, The Big Con, came out in 2021 (and in 2022 on Switch), and before that, I worked as a freelance producer for games like Joggernauts, The Kings Bird, Super Crush K.O., Graceful Explosion Machine, and more! Before that, I was co-founder of 13AM Games, the makers of Runbow (my first title ever, back on the Wii U).”
Last year, Mighty Yell released The Big Con, and your newest game, A Knight in the Attic recently released. What can you tell us about the game, the characters, and Guinevere that you are helping?
“A Knight in the Attic is a game about finding a magical labyrinth board in your grandmother’s attic, and then discovering that a whole magical world is hidden underneath it (specifically the kingdom of Camelot). The game invites you to play with this old toy and roll a little marble Guinevere around on it, and before long the board falls away and you’re rolling Guinevere across hills and mystic forests. She is trying to find Arthur, and along the way you will get to meet Lancelot, the Lady of the Lake, and even Mordred himself, who seems to have kidnapped the king. Classic villain move.”
Puzzles are a big part of the game. Without trying to spoil anything, what can you tell us about them and why thinking outside the box will be to the player’s benefit?
“There’s some headscratchers in here that I think are so fun, and so rewarding to figure out on your own. We wanted to give you objects to play with, but always in service of solving something, progressing Gwen on her journey. I genuinely believe that we’ve got some puzzles in here that are unlike any I’ve ever seen in a game — that’s not to say they’re impossible, there’s just some really exciting stuff that will get you thinking. Watch out for the flowers in the Mystic Forest…”
Did you find any challenges with some of the puzzles that no matter what you tried, just would not work and had to be left out of the game?
“We like to iterate constantly on puzzles, so it’s not that something got cut, it’s more that the puzzles you play are the result of tons of playtests to get them to be approachable but still challenging. We had a bunch of mechanics that we wanted to add that ended up getting cut, but I won’t get too into those in case we ever get a chance to make more content for this game!”
There are collectible scrolls throughout the game. Can you tell us more about these and how they add replayability and challenges to the game?
“Outside of Gwen’s immediate story there’s also the story within the story, the what happened before Gwen got there, and that’s told in the scrolls. They’re always a little off the beaten path, and they’re fun to hunt for! On top of the scrolls too, I should mention there’s the story in YOUR world, told through drawings in one of your grandmother’s old notebooks. That one’s more about giving you layers, more and more story to send your mind racing. It was fun to ask Saffron to draw in these two completely different styles, medieval scroll, and child’s drawing.”
I do like how with the quest and helping Guinevere, you are in VR, but almost like you are looking through a window of sorts of a world within a world to help guide her. Was this always the vision for the game?
“Our creative directors, Andy and George, had this vision for the game for years, and it’s been really amazing to see it come to life just as they’d hoped. That visual trick of unfolding the world as you roll the board was a bit of a hurdle to overcome but I’m really glad we stuck to it.”
For those players who may be new to VR or the puzzle genre, are there different difficulty levels within the game?
“Not for the puzzles themselves, but again, I think they’re designed in such a way that shows you that we WANT you to find the solution. The speed of Gwen and the friction of the world can be tuned in a patch coming out very shortly after launch though, in case you want a little slower motion. If you are new to VR, we at Mighty Yell (thanks to our UX Director Tabby) worked hard to make sure this game felt comfortable playing seated, one-handed, and with control schemes ranging from tilting or using the thumbsticks on your Quest controller! We want this to be the VR moment that a lot of new players look back at as an approachable and accessible experience!”
Part of the immersion in VR is the visuals. What do you find that is special about the art style used in the game that you hope the player appreciates?
“I’ll take any opportunity to shout out Andy’s Art Direction here. I think it’s so grounded but whimsical, so colorful, and so full of tiny little details that I think really shine through. Just hold the board up close to your face and look at this beautiful little world in your hands, seriously there’s nothing like it! There was also a point late in development where we started to add the little things, particles, and effects on things like water and lava, that I think make the game feel so complete. We left Mike, our programmer, to his own devices and he came back with these gorgeous water effects and it still blows me away.”
Sound also helps with immersion. Was there anything extra that you did to make sure the sound was kept as immersive as possible as well as keeping the player engaged in the story?
“I think the music hits the perfect mix of old-school fantasy and adventurous, but the way that Neil built the soundtrack to trigger off of things the player does I think really makes you feel like you’re in the world, like you’re hearing something that might not be diegetic but feels right for the moment. I think that’s such a hard balance to strike. On top of that the whole audio team just really focused on making something that felt like you were there, that you were in this creaky attic but also that there was a waterfall right in front you.”
When it comes to VR, what are the top three things that you find are important to have the best possible experience?
“As I said up above, I’m not an early adopter, so you can take my answers with a grain of salt, but I think the most important for me is surprise. What’s the benefit of strapping your head into a completely different world if you already know what can happen in that world? I think also VR games need an emotional center, something that makes you want to stay in that world once you’ve strapped into it, characters you want to help, and mysteries you want to uncover. And on top of that I think if you’re able to make people smile, I think that’s the big ticket. I think it feels great to be joyful in VR. There are tons of games that make you feel fear and stress, and that’s awesome… but joy. Joy’s pretty magical.”
A Knight in the Attic is out for Quest 2 and Steam VR. Are there any plans to bring the game to different platforms such as PlayStation VR/2 and Viveport in the future?
“Definitely on our big wants list, and I will not stop anyone reading this article from tweeting at Sony about how badly they want this game! We do want to add additional headset support in Steam beyond Quest soon too, so stay tuned to our Steam community page for that news.”
If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION but were in the world of A Knight in the Attic, and could pick anyone from any time, who would you pick to be the main characters and why?
“Once you play the game, I hope you agree… I want to be Guinevere. I like the way she tackles problems and doesn’t let any of it bother her. She’s the hero the VR dimension needs!”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience A Knight in the Attic?
“If you’re looking for a comfortable VR game that’s going to delight you, and give you that experience of just needing to share it with friends, and tell you a story that makes you feel inspired, get this game. I am so proud of what our team did and you are going to love it.”
I really want to thank Dave for taking the time out of their day to give us a closer look into A Knight in the Attic and for also talking about Virtual Reality.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.