Saturday, July 9, 2016

Exploring VR development with the HTC Vive

Like many other indie developers who have had the pleasure of experiencing the latest generation of virtual reality technology, we believe that it has the potential to become the dominant medium for the future of gaming. In particular, we are extremely excited about the new possibilities created by the combination of room-scale and motion controllers when coupled with a high resolution HMD. For anyone who has yet to try out this magical combination of technologies in the form of the HTC Vive, I strongly urge you to take a trip to a local retailer who is demoing the Vive and experience it for yourselves.

As soon as I unboxed my Vive, set it up, and played through the tutorial I knew that I wanted to play Yokai Scrolls in VR. Convincing the rest of the team took even less effort than I expected -- each person who puts on the headset immediately "gets it". So with that said, I'd like to present to you folks a small preview of what I've been up to as the official VR development leg of Overclocked Games. But first, a small bit of clarification to set expectations.

Will I need a VR headset to play Yokai Scrolls?

No. While we would love very much to convert all of our existing work to VR and make a complete Yokai Scrolls game as a native VR title, there are a couple reasons we won't be doing that. First of all, we've been cultivating a community around this game and we don't want to exclude anyone who has been following us from being able to play it when it is done. With the price of an HTC Vive and a beastly gaming computer required to run it, we are well aware that it is not yet an option for many members of our potential audience. Secondly, we've already done a lot of work creating the core features required to produce a non-VR game. Translating each and every system into VR is not a trivial task, and doing it right is even harder. We refuse to cut corners and shoehorn the game into VR -- if and when we produce a full VR experience we will insist on a high quality bar that can only be met with something that we have designed for VR specifically.

So, what ARE you guys doing in VR?

To sum it up, we want the future of Yokai Scrolls to include VR. To make this happen, we intend on producing small mini-games in the Yokai Scrolls universe that will enable players with access to the technology to experience it while we build up the VR components we will eventually need to produce a full VR title.

Now that that's out of the way, here is a little gif that showcases a bit of our work.

First, I apologize for the quality -- we don't yet have a good setup for recording better quality VR content to show and we didn't want to wait for it before talking about this. The major purpose of this work was to explore what our combat system could feel like in VR. There are several VR games out already that provide excellent gun or sword-based combat, but by comparison, punching enemies around is relatively unexplored. What you see in the gif above is me practicing charge punches to blast Ochimusha across the room, and it feels INCREDIBLE. Watching them shamble toward you, waiting for an opening, then landing a clean hit and watching them fly back into other enemies... there is simply nothing else like it. One of the major challenges developers face when trying to enable something like this with current technology is the lack of resistance when you hit something -- it can be immersion-breaking when your eyes see you punch something but your hand feels no impact. We believe the best solution to this problem for our game is to simply NOT try to mimic completely realistic physics. VR enables us to experience worlds different from our own in ways that we have never been able to before, and we plan to capitalize on that. In our experience, if you punch something and the controller vibrates a bit while the thing you hit flies clear across the room, it doesn't necessarily feel immersion-breaking; if you get into the role, it feels like you are some kind of god with incredible strength.

When can I play this?

There are still a ton of bugs and a little more core content we need to add to our first mini-game, so we aren't ready to give an official timeline yet, but we hope to put out our first mini-game soon (next couple months). If you are excited about this and want to play it, leave a comment letting us know! Our team is producing this on our own budget in our free time, so knowing you guys and gals are out there and wanting to try this stuff out is great encouragement to burn some more midnight oil!


  1. Looks like a very physical action packed game based on that quick .gif image. I'd defintely be interested in seeing more and playing once you have more to show. I can also help out with video playtests if you'd like.

    1. Yep, action packed is a great way to describe how this feels :) Thanks for the interest and we can't wait for you to be able to play it!

  2. Very nice. As a 58 yo empty nester I have rekindled my love of gaming with the Vive. I will be opening up some VR arcades and one of the programs we will be offering is a campaign membership. So definitely interested in where this goes. Thanks for your hard work, and hope to see you in the void.

    1. The possibilities that VR opens up to reinvigorate and revolutionize the gaming industry has lit a fire in a lot of us I think. Now combine that with an arcade like experience built with VR only in mind and the possibilities are immensely exciting to us. We truly cannot wait to see where this goes and we're thrilled to be even a tiny part of it. Thanks for the interest and we are looking forward to getting this in your hands and getting your feedback.

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