When it comes to Virtual Reality, the horror genre can take some happy times in your life, invite you into its world, and then scare you as it plays your heartbeat like a bass guitar. When you add sci-fi with that horror, it can take you to places never thought possible when trying to figure out what happened and why. So when I heard about a new game coming to Virtual Reality called WREST, that will not just give you nightmares but will throw you into them, I was intrigued. I had to know more. So I reached out and Ted Biggs, the VP of Technology at Shaftesbury was happy to talk about WREST and to talk about Virtual Reality.
Interview with VP of Technology, Ted Biggs
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about Shaftesbury Lucid?
“I’m Ted Biggs VP Technology at Shaftesbury – a media production company based in Toronto. WREST has been a large part of my focus since we started this project in 2016.”
So you have a new sci-fi horror title that just released on Steam called WREST. Can you give us some of the background and what players might expect without giving too much away? Any chance that WREST could be coming to places like PlayStation VR or Viveport?
“With WREST, we aimed to create a compelling narrative in a dystopian future world—Sci-fi horror with a big backstory. Based on Hard science, in the world of WREST, humanity has permanently destroyed the planet. The earth is only habitable in the areas at the extreme north and south fringes of the continent – in this case, the arctic. Our hero Andy Bishop is in Alaska at the start of the game. Though as the narrative unfolds, we learn that everything is not quite what it seems. We learn that two factions of humanity have been in bitter conflict – the Titan Collective, a collection of the remaining oligarchical families, corporations that have decided humanity needs to survive by leaving earth. And the Earth Firsters, who are violently opposed to using humanity’s resources for anything but trying to save the remnants of earth’s environment. As part of the population searches for new resources in outer space, we see the repercussions of these past actions impact the lives of the crew aboard the Neptune.
Viveport is certainly a real possibility!”
Pretty much any genre can work in Virtual Reality, but two that can work extremely well are sci-fi and horror. What was it about the concept of WREST that makes this such a great fit for Virtual Reality?
“It’s a psychological horror game set in a science fiction future. We played a lot with the sense of dread delivered beautifully (or horribly) in VR and the suspense with a chilling mystery narrative.”
For those that are brave enough or at least seem to be brave enough, is WREST going to challenge the brave and possibly bring tears of fear to players all while bringing laughter to those that may watch the player and their experience?
“It will certainly make you jump. Some will cry. I yell typically. My team liked to get me to try new sections of WREST early in the morning. I grew to dislike how far they were pushing my limits for horror. They’re brilliant VR game developers.”
Have there been any players that had to stop because of the scares that they encountered?
“Yes, several. There is one gamer who posted their reaction video on YouTube, threw his headset down. I find myself closing my eyes.”
What can you tell us about the ship’s AI and how that will make a difference in the player’s gameplay?
“The ship’s AI, LULU, is designed to guide peoples’ dreams in long sleep cycles for deep space missions. The trick with LULU is that you become unsure if they are on your side or not. I won’t give spoilers – but be careful who you trust., and don’t be too sure…”
It really looks like lighting as well as the sound plays a big part in WREST, how important was it to get the sound and lighting just right? Were there any sounds that took more time to perfect?
“Sound is crucial, and we worked with some independent composers, Felipe Sena, the sound designers from Paracachute, and Technicolor. The sound design works on a few different levels, and we’ve gone for a very cinematic treatment for the game – we think it really elevates the journey. A lot of attention and care went into the score, and we plan to release that with some additional content in the coming weeks. So stay tuned if you need a haunting soundtrack to clean your house to.”
When developing WREST, were there any challenges that you came across with working in Virtual Reality that you didn’t think would be as challenging?
“Translating a vast sci-fi world into specific story points, into gameplay was a challenge but a great one. We challenged ourselves to push the creative and create a new kind of game narrative – we took a lot of inspiration from some of the great dystopian story-driven 2D games. But we aimed to anchor it a future history that has a scientific basis deserts where there were forests, anoxic oceans, and a diminished human population.”
To you, what is it about Virtual Reality takes gaming to the next level that non-VR games and experiences cannot produce?
“Immersion is a sense of being inside a new world, a horrifying new world in this case, and persistence. Good VR stays with you and is proven to have a more lasting effect than 2D media.”
What has been the most surprising when it comes to working in Virtual Reality?
“The freedom to create new forms of content from horror games to therapeutic experiences for young people – we do a lot of work with hospital researchers on with immersive media, and we’ve learned a lot with that. We’ve used everything we learned building games that support healing in VR and applied it to WREST with evil intent – it’s terrifying.
For me, its been the power of the medium to convey mood, even alter emotions – we also work on the other end of the spectrum in immersive therapy.”
What are the top three things you would tell your younger self?
- “Do what you love
- If you can’t find the right medium of expression, create a new one
- You don’t need the second cheeseburger.”
For someone looking for that VR game to pull them in and bring them into a world, what would you say to someone on why they should experience WREST?
“Because it’ll scare the pants off of you and give you a glimpse of a new story world that will be expanding in the years to come…”
I really want to thank Ted Biggs for taking the time from his busy day to share his insight and for giving us a closer look at WREST.
WREST is out now on Steam.
Also, check out the WREST review.
To learn more about Shaftesbury Lucid Inc., please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Also, make sure to like WREST on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.