What if everything you worked for in your life got so intense, that you reached your breaking point? Do you think you would go into this mental state where your mind would close everything off around you or do you believe that everything and everyone around you would have no idea what was in front of them? Sometimes we may feel like we have reached a point of no return in life, but then there are things that remind us of who we really are. But when I heard that developer, MiroWin Studio was bringing the bullet hell action and adrenaline in a post-Soviet cyberpunk era, I had to know more. So I reached out and they were happy to talk about their newest game, Desperate: Vladivostok and Virtual Reality.
Interview with MiroWin Studio
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please tell us about MiroWin Studio?
“Desperate: Vladivostok” project is the result of cooperation between the Ukrainian studio MiroWin and the American publisher PM Studios. Founded in 2008 and based in Los Angeles, California, and Seoul, Korea, PM Studios, Inc. is an independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment and mobile applications. MIROWIN is a PC/VR/console game development studio, founded in Ukraine in 2017, creator of such titles as “Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR”, and “Boiling Steel”, employing skilled professionals and game enthusiasts from the video game industry. The studio’s core has over 10 years of experience in major video game development fields: design, art, programming, production coordination, and doing business.”
What were some of your favorite gaming moments growing up, and what was that one VR moment that really made you want to work with VR even more?
“In truth, virtual reality is exactly what formed the basis for the creation of the MiroWin Studio in 2017. 5 years ago we assembled a team of specialists who already had experience in game development to create games in VR, which was perceived as especially promising at that time. Virtual reality impressed us with the ability to create the most realistic worlds, both fictional and close to real ones, in which immersion for the player becomes much more full compared to traditional PC games.
And although VR is not as popular in Ukraine as it is in the USA, China, or Western Europe, we decided to conquer this industry and believe that we have succeeded in mastering it.”
Your new game is called Desperate: Vladivostok. What can you tell us about it?
“The game is developed in accordance with the philosophy of VR platforms and is made in the attraction format. It will definitely appeal to fans of such games as “Hotline Miami”, “Kingpin” or “Super Hot”, lovers of shooter mechanics and dynamic arenas.
Traditionally for this type of game, shooting at incoming waves of enemies with dynamic musical accompaniment is the main activity. The mechanics are based on the reactive principle of the gameplay, depending on the player’s reaction.
The design idea of the project was to combine the architecture and mood of the post-Soviet era of the 80-90s of the last century with sci-fi cyberpunk style.”
What can you tell us about the main character?
“The main hero is a hired killer, whose storyline you pass in the scenery of post-Soviet cyberpunk. From the very beginning, we immerse players in his story through comics in order to explain how the hero reached the extreme point of his life, a completely hopeless state, the only way out of which for him is only one – take the gun and systematically destroy everything that previously destroyed him. However, in trying to do this, he fell into a trap, the only possible savior from which seems to be … a biorobot doll from the sex industry.”
Desperate: Vladivostok is about bullet hell. For those players that have never played in this type of environment, what can they expect, and for those that have, are there some things those players will not be expecting?
“In our opinion, “bullet hell” in its final effect brings the “shooter” genre closer to energy-intensive VR applications, such as fitness games. In fact, we strive to live as long as possible in the arena to rhythmic music, coping with waves of enemies – shooting at them, fighting in close combat, dodging their bullets. And after all, you feel like after a workout.
Gamers familiar with such an environment expect high action dynamics and a test of their reaction – and they will get it.”
There seem to be quite a few different weapons in the game. How many weapons are there and can anything be used as a weapon?
“The player’s arsenal includes several types of traditional firearms and melee weapons with the ability to shoot both with one and two hands, the possibility of hand-to-hand combat.
In addition to the standard principles of shooting and hitting opponents, the player has the ability to attract objects by gravitational capture (game implementation of mechanics), with their further use as throwing weapons (use of the jet throw function), such as bottles, weights, etc.”
The game has two different game modes, what are they and what can you tell us about them?
“The game has 2 modes:
– Story Mode – a set of missions inspired by the Hotline Miami concept. By the way, the working title of the game, before the appearance of the storyline, was “Hotline Vladivostok”. However, in the end, we decided to give the main character a goal and a sense of his desperate actions, understandable to the player. Therefore, it’s “Desperate: Vladivostok” 🙂
– Arena Mode – an endless wave arena shooter with a leaderboard and a variety of locations. To successfully complete the arena, the player must constantly extend the time spent on it. The main task is to score as many points as possible and enter the leaderboards.”
There is something about the art style that is used that will allow the player to be immersed in the action. Was this style always the choice or did the game go through different variations of looks?
“We wanted to present a product that would visually stand out from other projects for Oculus Quest 1-2 and convey the essence of what is happening. Therefore, in our game, there are many hand-crafted environmental elements that show the surrealism of what is happening, and the opponents have a variety of appearances.
We understood what style we wanted to get from the beginning of the work, so there were several variations of that, but with minor differences. As a result, the team chose the most suitable option.”
Speaking of details, there really are 46 different scenario locations? Which one is your favorite?
“We have prepared 7 different biomes, each – with 3 zones on average. For each zone, the designers elaborated several battle scenes – a kind of puzzle, but in our own opinion, the most interesting was the segment with the battle in the meat shop. We believe that we get “juicy meat” in the result.”
10) Will there be leaderboards and different challenges in the game?
“Yes, the game has a competitive component – leaderboards and a system for multiplying points for the most effective combat operations.”
When working on the sound, what is something that you are most proud of when it came to the 3D audio?
“In relation to this game, we tried to create a synergy of sounds of the environment, theme music, and shooting. Creating a game flow that will keep the player and encourage him to move was an important task for us and we succeeded.”
What is the one thing that you have discovered that works very well and one thing that still doesn’t work so well when it comes to making games for Virtual Reality?
“The range of possibilities that can be implemented in the development of VR games, from the creation of shooters to art simulators, is very exciting. However, unfortunately, the power of the most common VR devices and modern video cards is still not enough to get a visually exciting picture.”
The game is coming out for Quest and Playstation VR this Summer. Do we have a release date and do you see the game coming to other platforms such as Steam VR and Viveport in the future?
“First of all, we plan to release it on Quest and PSVR, and after some time we plan to share the PC VR version on Steam too in order to make the game as accessible as possible for the VR audience.”
If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION but could be anyone from any time to be the main character, who would it be and why?
“Thanks to virtual reality, we can do something that, for one reason or another, we would never do in real life. To be yourself, but feel something that you would never want to face in life, without harm to yourself and the environment – that would be virtual & extremal. For example, to be in the eye of the hurricane or go into outer space.”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to expand, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Desperate: Vladivostok?
“One of the rare Ukrainian VR games that will be released this year, despite the difficult situation in our country. In it, you will find a total of about 3 hours of reactive gameplay to rhythmic music, which can even replace a set of physical exercises. After all, the need for constant movement is due not only to the task of surviving under the rolling waves of opponents but to the mechanics of scoring, stimulating the player to act. All this is added with a story about an ordinary loader, whose life path turned him into a “torpedo” – a hired killer.
Good luck, have fun!”
I really want to thank MiroWin Studio for taking time out of their day to give us a closer look into Desperate: Vladivostok and for talking about Virtual Reality.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.