If you could take your favorite toy growing up and let your imagination go wild, what would happen? Would it be some type of adventure at sea fighting pirates or possibly in space as you try to stop an alien invasion? Regardless of the scene or story being played out, it is pretty much good vs evil in the scenario. But in those battles regardless of what side you and your friends would be on, the action was pretty much always much bigger, faster, and more explosive thinks to our imaginations. So when I heard that developer, Arvore was making a game where the mix of bullet hell and roguelike genres come together that unfolds within a kid’s imagination, I had to learn more. So I reached out and Production Designer and Creative Director, Kako, was more than happy to talk about their newest game YUKI and Virtual Reality.
Interview with Kako, Production Designer, and Creative Director at Arvore
Your newest game is called YUKI. What can you tell us about YUKI the toy and how the player will use YUKI in the game?
“On YUKI you will impersonate a kid playing with her favorite toy, an action figure from her favorite anime. This is the core fantasy of the game, an emulation of what we all did when we were kids. We all held a spaceship or any other toy in our hands and started running around imagining it flying through the air, fighting against all kinds of evil forces that came across us. So in the game, you’ll hold Yuki in our hands and take her on a ride across a very unusual universe that happens in this kid’s imagination. It is a different way to play, players won’t have to worry about their heads or bodies being hit, just keep your toy safe and you’re good to go!”
So with a game that is a mix of bullet-hell and roguelike, how insane will the action get with the dodging of the bullets and obstacles that are coming at you?
“It can get pretty insane, I tell you that. We made sure players will face challenging bullet patterns to dodge. But I want to assure you that as much insane the game can get, we built it in a way that everyone can enjoy. We were very careful about locomotion, making sure at every step players won’t feel any dizziness. And we’ve been studying the importance of how much it costs the players to use their bodies in VR since we worked on The Line. We know there is a real commitment to it when required, there are games that push you too hard and players react instinctively in a VR environment. We want every kind of gamer to be able to enjoy, from casual to experienced players, younger and older. I’m a 46 years old VR gamer, I know my limits, for example. Sometimes I get pretty beaten up after a VR session. To achieve our goal we focused on how to balance movements with a constant variation of obstacles and enemy formations, so you can enjoy your experience longer and with a low impact. It is all about knowing the pacing of the experience, when to push and when to make everyone relax and breathe. We want you to move all-around firing at everything that is shooting at you, we want you to dodge and duck each and every obstacle, but we also want you to not hurt yourself!”
What can you tell us about the different power-ups, charms in the game?
“As we worked on the bullet-hell aspect of the game we felt the need to allow the player to engage more with it, not physically but also mentally. We wanted more ways for them to strategize, to prepare themselves before each run, to explore other ways of playing.
The roguelike genre was a way to bring that to the game. We knew both are very difficult genres by nature, so we toned it down more to a roguelite, with a partial permadeath and a more generous power progression. Both features are part of this power progression, but different in their nature. Power-Ups will work as any other power-up in roguelike games, making you explore different ways of playing each run you face, while Charms will give you permanent bonuses allowing you to constantly increase your power across all runs. It’s a balance, always thinking about who will play it. YUKI is a pick-up and play game that builds up to a very challenging experience, allowing both casual and experienced players to enjoy it, as stated previously.”
Music and sound help with the immersion of Virtual Reality. What can you tell us about the music in the game and how important was sound when coming up with the game that has you dodging bullets and obstacles?
“The music is one of my favorite parts of the game. For a long time, Diogo Rodrigues and I wanted to work together. We are long-time friends and huge fans of each other’s work. He is an amazing composer, choir conductor, and musician, with a great knowledge of music history and I, wanted to bring this depth to YUKI. I knew from the start that it would be a very difficult task to expose a story in a bullet hell. We avoided cut scenes to keep a good game pacing so we had to heavily rely on environmental storytelling and music. Diogo worked with us from the very beginning, building the curve of emotions for each level along with our narrative designers and artists. The result is such a rich and intricate work. So as you said, while bullets are being shot at you and obstacles are coming your way, we made sure that you will be able to catch with the corner of your eyes changes in the environment while the music builds the whole atmosphere to the scene. We hope you feel inspired by it!”
Visually YUKI looks like it is going to come alive in VR. Did you find any challenges when creating the game for PCVR, Oculus Quest, and PlayStation VR platforms that you were not expecting, and did you bring anything special that worked well in VR previously for you into the world of YUKI?
“YUKI benefited a lot from our past experiences, The Line and the Pixel Ripped series. We were fortunate to explore all sorts of ideas and techniques before and during the arrival of the standalone VR headsets. We grew together and we are still growing and learning. It is amazing how technology rapidly evolves and we always have to reinvent ourselves. You have to keep up, you have to be very aware of all the limits of the hardware, the compromises you have to make while still having the urge to bring something powerful and striking to the world. In my career as an artist, I limited myself to work with a very strict color palette and that made me step up and find ways to express myself that led me into finding my own voice, my own style that later became a recognizable trademark. I find this to be a very beautiful thing and I really believe that we as a company will also achieve that. YUKI is one more step towards it.”
I really want to thank Kako for taking time out of their day and for giving us a closer look at YUKI and for talking about Virtual Reality.
YUKI is out now for the Oculus Quest/Quest 2 and Oculus Rift/Rift S on the Oculus Store and Steam and coming to PlayStation VR.
To learn more about the game, please visit the site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and follow them on Instagram. To learn more about ARVORE Immersive Experiences, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.
Also, check out part 1 of the YUKI interview and also check out the YUKI review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.