Do you remember first hearing about the movie Sharknado and maybe we’re thinking like many others, sharks and a tornado…how is that even possible. But then you started seeing the trailers and watched the movies and somehow, was drawn in. Then with each sequel, it seemed like more and more celebrities wanted to be apart of the experience. There was just something about the movie that didn’t take itself too seriously, but it was all about having fun and just seeing where it all can go. Ever since I first saw the first movie, there was something in my head where I thought about what if this was in Virtual Reality and how I would be with sharks coming at me. So when I saw that Sharknado was going to be unleashed on PCVR and PlayStation VR, I had to know more. So I reached out to Autumn VR, and they were happy to give a closer look into the mouths of Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm as well as some thoughts about Virtual Reality.
Interview with David Hansen, co-founder of Autumn VR.
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Could you please introduce yourself and let us know what you do at Autumn VR?
“My name is Dave Hansen and I am one of the founders of Autumn VR.”
Sharknado for anyone that has seen it, has this cult following that is just pure fun. In November 2018, Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm came out for PCVR. How has the journey been for you from the concept of the game to release on PCVR to now on PlayStation VR?
“It was an interesting and sometimes tedious journey but we learned a lot. We had a smaller team working on this, about 8 people in total, and near the end of development we needed adjust 2 levels out in order to meet timelines. When the whole game was designed to be wrapped up and developed as such it was a testament to the team that we were able to readjust and keep on rolling along. The build to Playstations lower newer dev system it took us longer than we had anticipated as we built for PC first. We really had to go in and optimise for the Playstation. There were different challenges that PSVR presented to adjust to get something on the Sony store. This is good for consumers but a royal pain for developers.”
For those that may not be aware of the word “Sharknado” and for those that may not be familiar with Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm, can you give us some backstory the game and when this might be taking place within the movies?
“When we started the game development, it was based on the first 4 Sharknado movies out. When we had the official game launch it was at the premiere of the 6th movie! So our game timeline covers the first 4 movies. We watched all 4 movies and picked out 4 iconic locations and set them within. There is not a lot of story to our game as it’s a wave shooter but we did create an opening cut scene that sets the mood.”
Will any familiar voices be heard within the game? Any surprise appearances from the cast?
Sharknado used some weapons that were just awesome when you come to think about in the midst of a Sharknado attack with weapons like the chainsaw. Can you tell us about some of the weapons that we may get to use?
“The chainsaw is the grand daddy of all the weapons, it’s REALLY BIG! We have a pistol, shotgun a couple automatic and semi automatic rifles, and a BFG. The best part is the ammo upgrades you can earn, that’s where the real power is.”
So there really is 360-degrees of up in your face action? Do you have any tips for survival?
“Yes, we use all 360 degrees! We give you some clues as to where the enemies are attacking from though. The best advice I can give is to keep moving and learn how to use your slo-mo and jump buttons wisely.”
Sound is always important when it comes to VR, what was the most important thing when it came to sound design for Sharknado VR?
“We brought in a sound company that had 360 audio mixings. That was really important for us. We needed the audio to be accurate in order to help the player determine where the next attack would come from. Music also played a big part. It really enhances the chaotic environment and anxiety we wanted the player to feel. The real trick was to get all the sound FX to be heard when there is always a Sharknado roaring around you ALL. THE. TIME!”
With as much crazy fun as Sharknado is, were there any crazy ideas or concepts that were thought about that didn’t end up in Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm?
“We had come up with a very unique level that was significantly different from all the rest. It took place in the belly of an insanely large Mutant Whale Shark, some aspects of this didn’t quite fit with the publishing criteria for VR on the stores (motion wise). Since we couldn’t have a Sharknado in the belly of this beast we made it a puzzle type of level where there was no end to the attacking enemies so you had to examine the environment to see how you could get out of this monster.”
What have you found to be the most challenging when developing for PCVR to PlayStation VR?
“Meeting deadlines was always challenging especially with a small team. In hindsight we should have developed for PlayStation first as it is way easier to upscale than to optimize whole scenes to get them to work on the Sony Dev machine (which they changed out half way through our development process – just bad timing unfortunately), we had accounted for the first Dev machine but not the scaled down second version we received. Also their scoring and trophy system is locked to their mandates, so it had to be changed from the PC version.”
In your experience, how important do you feel VR is in gaming?
“I think VR changes the way games are played. This is what I wanted ever since I started playing games but we still have a ways to go before we will see a large shift from traditional gaming to VR. Some of that is attributed to the way VR physically makes people feel as well as the entry cost. Those two things are rapidly changing so I see VR gaming becoming more mainstream within 3 years or less.”
What are the three things you would tell your younger self?
“Have more confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid to state your crazy ideas. You don’t need to eat chocolate… everyday!”
With the library of VR games and experiences growing, what would you say to someone on why they should play Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm?
“This is a game that is a good entry point for those just getting into VR. If you have 10 mins you can come and play and not feel like you’re missing a part of the story or play for hours and try to unlock all the upgrades! The way it is set up you don’t really need to move around a lot if you don’t want to. The nature of a Sharknado, 360 degrees of terror, makes this a natural fit for VR.”
I really want to thank Dave Hansen of Autumn VR for taking time from his busy schedule to share some of his experiences with Virtual Reality and to give us a closer look into Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm.
To learn more about Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm, please visit the site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. To learn more about Autumn VR, please visit their site.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy…