The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie. The books have that twist to them. So when I found out back in October that Virtro Entertainment was making Run Dorothy Run, the world’s first endless rhythm runner game through OZ and that it would be on PlayStation VR, I had to reach out to them and learn more about this independent VR gaming studio so that I could get their thoughts and inspirations on Virtual Reality. And Jordan and Lee Brighton, the female Aussie duo of Virtro Entertainment were happy to help out.
Jordan and Lee Brighton of Virtro Entertainment
So tell us about Virtro Entertainment Inc. How was it started? About how many people are on the team? Any previous projects and games that Virtro has worked on that some of the gamers might recognize or be familiar with?
Lee – “We came to Canada from Australia on this really cool program called Start-up Visa, which is meant to help immigrants start and build businesses in Canada that are innovative, will create jobs, and can compete on a global scale. Prior to officially launching Virtro, we had traveled up and down the west coast of North America, learning EVERYTHING we could about VR at hackathons, conferences, industry meetings. We met with the hardware folks, early VR companies…it was so exciting. To us, it was pretty clear that virtual reality and augmented reality were (and still are) in pretty early days, and we wanted to be part of the ride. VR opportunities exist primarily in gaming right now, so we built a team to build a series of games. We’ve got 12 people on the team. Run Dorothy Run is our first title; we’ve got others coming out next year”
What were some of the inspirations that helped Virtro get into VR?
Jordan -“I hope this doesn’t sound crazy, but I see pictures in my head all the time and VR is a way to transcribe what I see in my head to actually share it with everyone else. It’s not just about making a game; it’s about creating an experience where everything just works together – the music, the story, imagery, and the whole experience. I love technology and I love the storytelling. Somehow VR lets me combine both”
What makes VR and the land of OZ a perfect match?
Lee – “It’s such a classic story with awesome elements of fantasy, beautiful imagery, and plot twists; the whole context of Oz seemed like a great fit for VR. And the story is well known enough that it’s attracting those who might not be into gaming right away. It’s an awesome story that lends itself well to the twists we’ve put in and it’s a visual feast. The game is an excellent way to try VR; it’s not an aggressive shooter game; it’s doesn’t contain horror elements or fight scenes (which truthfully is not the easiest way to try VR); it’s a toungue0in-cheek funfest that gamers and non-gamers will love. We’ve been told sooooo many times that Run Dorothy Run is what VR is meant to be.”
What are some of the challenges that seem to come with working with VR?
Lee – “It’s a bit like parenting in that there’s no instruction manual! VR is still in its infancy; there are not a lot of people who’ve gone through all the developmental stages before. There’s A LOT of trial and error with VR. The hardware is new and changing so fast, and everyone’s working super hard to get the content – whether it’s games or other apps – to catch up. One of the things we faced was the whole notion of motion sickness in VR. We had Jordy – who gets nauseous pretty easily – act as our main barometer for our game’s improvements in that area. Our early play-testers gave us a log of good feedback about parts of the game that were triggering them; it’s been hundreds of development hours to address the challenge that only comes in these new mediums. It’s critical to us that our players walk away with a wonderful experience.”
Did you find working with PlayStation VR easier to work with compared to others?
Jordan – “We approached Sony with our game and they said to us “We’ve got nothing like this in our portfolio; let’s go for it.” Sony’s development standards are pretty high, so we knew that if we could hit that bar, we’d be able to develop for other formats as well.”
Will there be any trophies in Run Dorothy Run? What about a Platinum?
Jordan – “Yes, and Yes. Just not on day one release date…We’ll keep you posted though!”
Do we know when the release date will be? What about cost and will there be a PlayStation + discount for the first week?
Lee – “As much as I would love to tell you, we’ve committed to Sony that we’ll announce that date with them first! But rest assured, it’s coming soon, at a price-point that’s a great deal for all the content in the game.”
Any future projects that you are working on that will be coming to PlayStation VR in the future or that you can talk about? Zombie Donuts perhaps?
Jordan – “Yes, Zombie Donuts will be coming out on Sony PlayStation VR. To continue enhancing our own team’s skills in VR, we’re ensuring that we develop proficiencies on all console systems and the mobile gear. Our first version of Zombie Donuts is for the mobile VR audience; it’s essentially the “candy apocalypse” where you’ve got a marshmallow shooter, and you’re trying to knock out the zombie donuts. IT’s silly, and it’s fun! We do have a few other titles in the pipeline for 2018.”
I really want to thank Jordan and Lee Brighton for taking the time out of their schedule and for being amazing and for their energy and passion. I also want to thank Alison Berg for helping to set this all up.
Also, check out the review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.