If there was a missing person that was locked up, what would you do to help? Would you break in knowing that the wrong move could be the last one? What about calling for help? What if the only way to help would be by just the guidance of your voice? Hopefully, none of us ever have been faced with that situation, as for me personally, I am not sure what I would do without being in that moment. But when I heard that developer Mendarion Games was making a game where you use your voice to help save a life, I had to know more. So I reached out and Kai, the solo developer, was more than happy to talk about their game, Ailana, as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the solo developer of Mendarion Games, Kai
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Mendarion Games?
“Hi, my name is Kai and I’m solo dev at Mendarion Games. Proud to be here.”
Growing up what were some of your favorite gaming moments and what was the one VR experience that really opened your eyes to VR?
“My favorite gaming moment? Definitely The Settlers. I played with a friend in the PC school club as a little boy. And my favorite VR moment was Richie’s Plank Experience, my boss put me in first and then scared me so I would fall off.”
For those that may not be aware, what are some of the games that you have worked on in the past?
“So far I’ve only worked on prototypes. Of the prototypes, I only published Swing Arms, a VR sports game that I created for Valem’s VR Jam. But Ailana will be my first finished game.”
Your newest game is an interesting one, Ailana. What can you tell us about the game and what was the inspiration for the game?
“Ailana was born from an idea of another prototype. First I wanted to make an escape room horror game. I had tried a little how to make opponents aware of the player. I thought it would be cool if the opponent could hear you, if you were breathing loudly or if you were scared too loud. At that point, I experimented a bit and found a solution for how the player can use the voice to influence things.
So you do really get to use your voice in the game?
“Yes, you control almost everything with your voice in Ailana.”
Without giving away too much, what are some of the objects that will be helpful in the game and what can you tell us about some of the enemies in the game?
“There are some puzzle-related objects that will lead you to your goal or make your life easier. Some weapons are also planned to defeat the opponents. Currently, there is only one opponent who is easy to defeat. But there are still some types of opponents to actively attack Ailana. But one type of enemy does not attack, it escapes and reports Ailana’s location to the other opponents.”
Being that Ailana is a horror game, do you have any jump scares planned throughout the game?
“I played with the idea, let’s see how I can implement the idea without it being annoying.”
Do you see the game coming to other platforms like PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest/Quest 2, or even Viveport in the future?
“It would be nice to see Ailana on other platforms. When the PCVR version is ready, I’ll see what can be done there.”
Graphics and sound are always part of the immersion in VR. Has the game changed graphically from when you first started creating it?
“Definitely, in the beginning, I still used Scifi Assets and Ailana was still intended as a Scifi game. In the first prototype, I had already thought out some core elements with main energy and shield energy. I had already programmed the redirection of the main energy to the shield energy with a voice command, as well as the behavior of the opponents towards Ailana. Only I didn’t want to come up with a real story in this setting at this point. So all over again and come up with a suitable story.”
What have you found to be the most challenging and surprising when working with VR?
“The biggest challenge, debugging, is why Ailana has also got a non-VR mode. The biggest surprise how easy it is to do things in VR.”
Do you see Ailana being part of a series?
“No, Ailana is self-contained. But I can imagine doing another voice-controlled game.”
So where are you with the progress of the game and do we have a date or quarter when the game might release?
“I still have a lot of ideas that I want to implement in Ailana so it’s hard to say when it will be ready. But I hope to be ready by mid-22.”
What are the top three things that you wish someone would have told you about creating content for Virtual Reality?
“That’s a good question. My education was geared towards VR / AR, and I have a lot of help getting started with VR / AR.”
If you entered a door into THE VR DIMENSION where you took the place of Ailana, but could have anyone from any time using their voice to lead you out to safety, who would it be and why?
“Definitely my wife, hopefully, she won’t let me run into an opponent’s arms.”
“With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Ailana?
“A good question. I think Ailana will be an experience that should be played, on the one hand, you have to control Ailana with “your voice”, later Ailana gets a voice herself, you have to “listen to it”, then there is the interaction with “your hands” and you have to “see” for Ailana.”
I really want to thank Kai for taking time out of his day and for giving us a closer look into Ailana as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Ailana is scheduled to be released in the middle of 2022 for PCVR.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.