VR Nerds: Why are you developing for VR?
Vincent Martel: My first contact with virtual reality two years ago involved a roller coaster demo, an Oculus DK1, and a bunch of people laughing at me because I couldn’t stand up during the ride.
Even though I was mind-blown by the experience, I felt that VR would be the next gimmick that everybody forgets after a few months. The severe case of VR sickness that stuck with me for several hours after the demo surely didn’t do anything to change my mind.
Needless to say that it took me several weeks before I was ready to give VR a second try, but I’m definitely glad I did.
This second experience also involved a DK1 and a bunch of people laughing at me, but this time for a whole different reason.
I was in the middle of a not-so-great horror demo when suddenly I was literally paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t move forward, even though I knew I was in a game, and I had to remove my VR-headset.
This experience totally changed my opinion of VR. From that moment on, I knew that VR would change the way we tell stories and touch our audience. I knew I had to work with virtual reality. I had to create a meaningful experience that puts storytelling and emotions in the forefront.
VR Nerds: What is the biggest difference between normal games and VR games, in your opinion?
Vincent Martel: Virtual reality gives the player the opportunity to live a story as if it were their own. Not as a spectator, but as an active member of the cast. This is unique to this new medium, and definitely something we wanted to explore in FATED.
VR Nerds: »Fated« is a story-driven game. What’s the biggest challenge for these type of games in virtual reality?
Vincent Martel: Being able to “roleplay” and be part of the story is amazing. However, storytelling in VR is full of challenges. For example, you can’t move the camera or do cutscenes in VR, so we had to find others ways to draw the player’s attention. Triggering events only when the player is looking in the right direction, using spatialized audio, and doing slow-motion were some of the tricks we used to make sure that the players saw what we wanted them to see.
You also need to create a lot more content, just because the players can look all around when they should be focusing on what’s happening right in front of them. There’s a lot of stuff in FATED that nobody will ever see.
VR Nerds: How are you trying to create emotions in VR?
Vincent Martel: That first horror game demo I tried on the DK1 got me on the VR hype train. However, scaring people in VR is easy; too easy, I’d say. What we wanted to explore with FATED are other, more complex emotions like happiness, compassion, and sadness.
Being a father, I always wanted to explore kinship in a game. The protective instinct that comes with being a parent is the groundwork of FATED. I wanted to see if that kind of connection could exist between the player and a virtual character; and based on the feedback we’re getting, it can!
VR Nerds: You’re going to release »Fated« on PS VR too, are theire any differences in programming for Oculus and Playstation VR?
Vincent Martel: Not really. We built the game from the ground up knowing that we would release on all three platforms, so we made decisions that would facilitate that process. For instance, we decided to use a gamepad because we knew it would be a common denominator for all the platforms. Building the game with Unreal Engine 4 also helped a lot. Epic is doing a fabulous job supporting VR development on all the major platforms.
The only thing that took a bit more work was porting the audio from PC to PS4. We were using Two Big Ears’ plugin for PC and had to switch to PSVR’s plugin for PS4, so we had to redo the sound mix for PS4. I don’t think there are any good cross-platform audio solutions for VR right now.
VR Nerds: What can a Developer do, to avoid motion sickness in VR?
Vincent Martel: The two most obvious things are keeping performance high and steady, and never taking control of the camera. The rest depends on how sensitive the player is to VR sickness. FATED is considered an intense experience due to our use of first-person locomotion. As long as it is well communicated to the player, I personally think it’s fine.
VR Nerds: Are you going to make »Fated 2« or is this the end of the story?
Vincent Martel: FATED: The Silent Oath, the first story arc of the franchise, follows the life of Ulfr and his family. This first story arc will be a two-parter. After that, we would like to explore other characters within the same universe and tell their stories.
VR Nerds: If you would have an infinite amount of money and ressources – what would you do to create the best VR experience?
Vincent Martel: I would probably do a game like FATED. Storytelling in VR requires a lot of resources, but experiencing a story as if it were yours, as if you were really there, is what defines VR as a new and unique medium.
All Pictures: Frima