Think about where you live and what would you change about it. Would it be something as simple as a fresh coat of paint or maybe it would be a new and interesting renovation? What if you woke up and were introduced to an empty canvas where you could grow and harvest your own crops to trading and selling to make your life and those around you become the idea, the dream you have been thinking of? What do you see that incision truly becoming? It’s kind of interesting if given the opportunity to turn those ideas and thoughts into something only dreams can be made of. So when I heard that developer, Abrams Studios was making a game where you can explore the environments to finding hundreds of unique items to fill that canvas, I had to know more. So I reached out and Community Moderator and Head of Social media, David Abrams, was happy to talk about their newest game, Morels: Homestead as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Interview with the Community Moderator and Head of Social Media of Abrams Studios, David Abrams
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Abrams Studios?
“My name is David Abrams. I’m the community moderator and head of social media now that the game has been released. I helped out where needed during the development process as well.”
Growing up, what were some of your most memorable gaming moments and what was that one experience that you knew you had to do more with Virtual Reality?
“I have always been an avid gamer. Some of my most memorable moments generally aligned with what I would consider “breakthrough” titles throughout the years. Playing Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 as a kid with my brothers (who make up the rest of the dev team at Abrams Studios) is one of my fondest childhood memories. I also was an avid RPG fan and the stories told in the Final Fantasy games always appealed to me as well. I remember quite well when Wesley Abrams, the project manager and head developer for Homestead, brought over an Oculus Dev Kit years ago. We all knew immediately, that one way or another this was a direction that video games would grow into. The immersion possible with VR is something that cannot be denied.”
Abrams Studios has a portfolio of games that players may recognize from titles like Battle Buggies, Harbinger, and Out of Time VR. Your newest game is called Morels: Homestead. What can you tell us about it and how does it fit with your other game, Morels: The Hunt?
“The games listed on Abramsstudios.com are still in various stages of development for the most part. Our singular previously released title is Morels: The Hunt available on Steam. We originally planned on Homestead being a direct port of Morels: The Hunt for the Quest platform. As we discussed the possibilities of the port, however, we realized that it could be much more. We ended up scrapping the port idea and recreating six of the levels from M:TH for Homestead and changing the game into what it is today.”
So you really start with a blank canvas of empty land?
“Absolutely. It can be a bit of a shock for some players who are used to a bit more handholding as it truly is a sandbox experience. You are able to choose the general geographical surroundings, but the homestead level itself is always a blank slate when starting.
What can you tell us about some of the harvestings the player will do?
“We’ve got a plethora of different crops you’re able to grow. Things like corn, tomatoes, cabbage, etc. You are able to grow them, harvest them repeatedly, and then sell your crop at the farmer’s market for currency that you can then use to buy things to improve your homestead.”
Players are also equipped with a metal detector. Without giving too much away, what are a few of the treasures that can be discovered?
“Items found with the metal detector can range from currency coins or spare parts (sellable junk) all the way to rare treasures worth a great deal.”
There is also a Farmer’s Market within the game. What are some of the different types of commodities that can be traded here?
“The Farmer’s Market serves as both the quest and vendor hub for the game. All of the games decorations for your homestead can be found here. You can buy various flora and fauna, fountains, ponds, streams, and even new larger and more robust buildings for your homestead. As your homestead grows, depending on what you fill it with, it will attract various animals to the level as well.”
One of the things that intrigued me is how time can go from day to night. Are there different experiences the player might encounter with the different times of the day?
“There certainly are. Without spoilers, I will say that there are many experiences (at least one per explorable level) that can only be experienced at day or night.”
Are there any dangers to be on the lookout for?
“There are no dangers per se in Morels: Homestead. Some animals might give you a scare if their approach went unnoticed. There’s no combat whatsoever in the game, however.”
With the game being single-player, has the thought about adding online players to interact with been discussed?
“We’ve discussed this at length at the studio and would have preferred the game to have launched with it. The usual suspects (time, resources, deadlines) got in the way of that, unfortunately. The entire workforce of our studio is only a handful of people so we weren’t able to add it to the game for launch. It is something we are keen on putting into the game if we’re able to during upcoming updates.”
Visually, Morels: Homestead looks like it is very pleasing to the eyes. When it comes to the graphics, was there anything that you are most proud of, and was there anything that just did not work to your satisfaction?
“We were actually inhibited quite a bit on what we were able to accomplish graphically with this release. There are many working parts in a large homestead and having moveable objects that could potentially number in the hundreds puts quite a load on the available resources of the Quest. We had to actually cut parts of certain levels to hit performance goals before release. The overall look and feel of the game is immersive and relaxing, however, so we are quite proud of that, as that was the ultimate end goal of the visual presentation.”
Knowing what you know about Virtual Reality, what are the top three things you would tell your younger self?
“That’s a tough question. Virtual Reality is still in its infancy in my mind so it’s more of a question as to “where is this all going?” Keeping that in mind, I would try to focus on these thoughts; Don’t be afraid to push boundaries in what is essentially an unexplored virtual domain. Find the void in which types of experiences are currently available to players and try to fill that. Always listen to your player base, they know what they want, even if it’s not what you originally intended on giving to them.”
Morels: Homestead was recently released for the Quest/Quest 2 on the Oculus Store. Are there any plans to bring the game to other platforms such as PlayStation VR/2, Steam VR, or Viveport?
“We are currently looking into a port for Steam VR with upgraded graphics. We haven’t gotten too far into the discussion regarding other platforms just yet.”
If you opened the door into THE VR DIMENSION and entered the world of Morels: Homestead, but had to be anyone else from any time period, who would you be and how well do you think you would do in this world?
“I would be a developer from two hundred years in the future and appreciate what was trying to be accomplished by such an antiquated method. I would crush the game with one hand while holding an I-phone model 2222 in the other, (just joking, I’m an Android guy).”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Morels: Homestead?
“It’s unique when compared to the majority of titles currently available on the Quest platform. It’s not another first-person shooter or rhythm game. Additionally, we’re not a studio that gives up on titles or doesn’t listen to its players. We intend on updating and growing the game based on player feedback.”
I want to thank David for taking the time out of the day and giving us a closer look into Morels: Homestead as well as talking about Virtual Reality.
Morels: Homestead is out now for the Quest/Quest 2 on the Oculus Store.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.