When you take a picture using your camera or phone, do you just snap the picture or do you try to use the best setting to have the best outcome possible? What are some of your favorite subjects when taking photos? Families, pets, and the city around us all have a story to tell and just waiting to be captured. Every moment can be a photographic opportunity if we allow for it. But when I heard that developer, Dogu, was coming out with a game that allowed you to take pictures of strange creatures and allow you to enter different worlds, I had to know more. So I reached out, and the sold developer, Andrew Fladeboe, was happy to talk about his newest game, Isle of Pan and Virtual Reality.
Interview with Developer of Dogu, Andrew Fladeboe
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Dogu?
“My name is Andrew Fladeboe. I am the founder and sole developer at Dogu. “
Growing up, what were some of your favorite games that inspired you, and what was that on VR game that drew you closer to Virtual Reality?
“The original SimCity, the Fallout series, and now Souls games have been inspirational to me. But for VR there isn’t one game that spurred my interest in it, because I started developing VR before the rift was released. I was in graduate school for fine art. I got in for my photography but I tried out some demos for the Oculus DK2 and was blown away. As an artist, I was like “I have to create things with this amazing new medium!” So I dropped photography and taught myself Unreal Engine. Since then, I think “Paper Beast” and “Virtual Virtual Reality” might be influential to me.”
You have a very good eye for taking photos, where have been some of your favorite places to photograph?
“Scotland, Norway, and New Zealand. All have out-of-this-world sublime landscapes that deeply resonate with me”
Speaking of photography, your new game involves taking pictures of creatures and opening portals called Isle of Pan. What can you tell us about the game?
“Explore an island in the Arctic Sea. Use your book to find out where creatures are and then go find them and photograph them. Find and open portals to explore smaller and surreal environments. If you like photography, chill games, trippy games, or paranormal stuff like cryptids, you might like my game.”
How many creatures and worlds are available in the game?
“100 creatures. A big island to explore, and 12 smaller worlds to find and open. There may also be some surprises.”
What would you say is your favorite character and the most challenging one to try and take a picture of?
“One of my favorites is the Tyreman, it’s based on encounters people had in Spain in the ’60s seeing a creature that looked like the Michelin man. I made them all so I can’t say any are too challenging, but some of the creatures will only appear at certain times of day, you’ll have to read the book to find out when to photograph them.”
What are some of the things that the players can do with the pictures that they take?
“Players can hang the photos in frames on their wall. Personalize the book with their favorite photo of each creature. Export the photos to their desktop to share with the real world.”
Will there be new cameras to unlock and can you customize your character or background in any way?
“As you photograph creatures, new camera models will be unlocked. There are also a couple of tools that can be unlocked to decorate the scene, such as fireworks and rainbows.”
Has there been any thought about adding an online aspect to the Isle of Pan?
“Originally I had multiplayer working, but as a solo dev I would have never been able to finish it.”
When working with VR, did you encounter any challenges or surprises you were not expecting?
“Game dev is fairly new to me in general, so it was all a challenge, but getting the scenes to run smoothly in VR required a lot of optimization.”
Is there anything special you have done to make sure the player is as immersed as possible?
“Real-time shadows and quality of light were important to me. One of the reasons why I stuck with PCVR.”
Isle of Pan is launching on Steam VR on January 10, 2023. Do you have plans to bring the game to other platforms such as the Quest/2, PlayStation VR/2, or Viveport in the future?
“I would love to bring it to PSVR2 but I’d have to make enough from the release to support myself while I port it. It can not run on standalone hardware like the quest. I made a decision early on not to compromise my artistic vision to get it to run on standalone headsets.”
Are there any plans to release even more creatures and worlds in the future?
“I have a few cryptids and monsters I like that I’d like to add. If it does well enough and I can spend more time on it, I’d like to bring in another portal or two. But otherwise, it feels complete to me.”
If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION and could photograph your ultimate creature, what would it be and why?
“Haha, I’m not quite sure what this question means, but if I could experience anything in VR, it might be the Hopkinsville Goblin event. Actually, that’d be too scary, maybe experience something like the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Isle of Pan?
“I think Isle of Pan offers a kind of experience that lends itself to the medium and is fairly rare in the market. A world that is nice to be present in, with relaxed gameplay and a focus on exploration and experience. I think we’ll see more of these types of games as VR gets more popular and more non-gamers to come to VR.
Also, a lot of media doesn’t take paranormal stuff seriously, so if you want a well-researched paranormal & cryptid game, this might be for you.”
I really want to thank Andrew for taking the time out of their schedule to give us a closer look into Isle of Pan and for talking about Virtual Reality.
Isle of Pan is out now on Steam VR.
Also, check out the Isle of Pan review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.