Syndrome was our first survival horror game.
A lot of people enjoyed it, while others didn’t, but I guess that can be said about pretty much every game out there.
Our next game is being planned for quite a while. We’re actually changing the way we create our games.
While Syndrome was being developed, it was played by different groups of people: friends and public at exhibitions and game events. We got great feedback that we used to improve to game.
However, if we really want to increase the quality and balancing of our next title, we need to have more players and more testing sessions.
One of the things that we have in mind is to perform extensive gameplay sessions with a tech school in Lisbon that we’ve partnered with (ETIC).
What makes these sessions complicated to organize, is that a large part of the game has to be done with high quality – art, sounds, balancing – so we can see if we’re getting the mood we want in a particular scene.
Our next game (let’s call it Project X) has been in development for about 6 months.
Although the images that we’ve shown before might point to it being a survival horror game, it isn’t.
It’s a dark adventure focusing on narrative and emotion.
The market is full of horror games, survival games, etc so it’s not feasible anymore to make a survival horror game. We do love the genre, but we also need to make a profit so that we can take care of these annoying tasks like eating, paying bills, etc 😊
So, what’s a dark adventure game?
It’s an adventure with a strong focus on the narrative, where we explore both the character’s and the player’s emotions, and where we give the player choices to advance the narrative in one direction or the other. Which means different choices equals to different end scenarios.
We’re powering the game with high quality scenarios, lighting and creatures, and also VR.
When we started Syndrome we were totally confident in getting VR working in the game, and at some point the game was indeed working with the old Oculus DK2.
But Unity was very unstable and we were having a lot of issues like shadows not working in both eyes, for example.
Every new release of Unity would break something else in the game (updating a game engine during development is a bitch) so eventually we dropped VR from the game.
We made a major mistake: getting VR working when a game is already done is not a trivial thing.
There are many situations in the game that don’t work in VR, like interacting with computer consoles, crouching inside the vents, the death sequences, scripted animations, etc
But as you may know Syndrome is coming to PS4 and Xbox One next month, and the game does have VR support.
VR was implemented by our co-development partner Bigmoon Entertainment, but it’s not covering the full game because of the reasons that I explained before.
What this version has is a really fun last man standing mode inside the ship with full VR support.
But moving along to the present, Unity is now stable enough to start the production of a VR title, and this is what we did.
VR obviously has issues specific to that platform, so we decided to split the game builds.
We have the game in two branches, one with VR and one without.
The game framework was prepared in advance, and everything is working quite nicely.
So the screenshot on top is obviously from our “Project X”.
As you can see, light and darkness has a major role in the game, and the balance between both is actually one of the gameplay mechanics.