Perth Games Festival 2014 is this weekend, and is set to showcase many great games being made in Perth!
In an effort to highlight some of our local talent prior to the day, we’ve reached out to several developers who will be attending the festival to talk about their games. Offpeak Games are a new start-up studio who are leading the charge for VR-development in Perth. To tell us more about their competitive VR-experience, Valiant, we caught up with the lead developer, Christopher Parkin, who was more than keen tell us about Oculus Rift and this exciting new project!
As a Perth-based developer, could you tell our readers a bit more about Offpeak Games?
Christopher: Sure. There are currently seven of us in the team, all located in Perth. We’re a bunch of friends with quite different backgrounds: engineering, programming, marketing and accounting. We formed in May 2014, and our mission is to create amazing multiplayer Virtual Reality (VR) experiences.
What was the primary source of inspiration behind your new game, Valiant?
Christopher: We are all mega PC-gaming fans. We love everything competitive and online, from FPS to MOBA. We’ve been PC gamers since the early Quake Arena and Unreal Tournament days. Also, we have currently fallen in love with Oculus’ Rift Developer Kits. Low-cost immersive VR is here. What inspires us is the idea of bringing together amazing multiplayer competitive gameplay to the exciting and immersive Oculus Rift platform.
How would you best explain Valiant to someone who is unfamiliar with the game?
Christopher: Valiant is a competitive, fast-paced and intense multiplayer VR experience designed for the Oculus Rift headset. It’s based around mounted medieval combat with social VR aspects. The simplest way I can describe Valiant is: You ride around a large medieval map on a warhorse, with friends, and kill the other team’s riders using weapons such as lances, swords and bows.
Creating a VR-game sounds exciting! Could you tell us more about the process?
Christopher: Creating a VR-game requires a lot of experimentation. Things that work well on a standard PC don’t work so well in VR and vice versa. For example, there is a lot of playing around with VR menus and unique ways to use the player’s head movements. It’s a very new platform, and it’s a level playing field: no-one really knows what works and what doesn’t, it just takes a lot of experimentation.
Also, a large amount of user testing is required. Every person reacts differently to VR; hence testing becomes even more important. Our general process is experimentation -> user testing -> discarding what doesn’t work, build upon what does work.
As a competitive VR-title, could you explain how a typical match will play out?
Christopher: Valiant currently features a team deathmatch game mode. Players spawn in their team’s castle, then ride around the map and slaughter players from the other team until the win-limit score is reached. We are also programming a few additional game modes such as capture the flag, as well as an entirely new game mode called “charge,” which features short timed-based rounds and a large team versus team charge to the middle of the map (huge head-on clashes are great fun in VR!)
Could you tell us more about more about the combat and the different class types?
Christopher: We currently have two classes in-game: the lancer and the archer. The lancer is your typical heavily armoured knight, wielding a heavy lance and riding a large warhorse that is trained for charging through enemy units. This class is built around top speed, correctly planning a charge, and correctly timing your attack for maximum effectiveness. The archer is more focused on quick maneuvering and correct positioning, and requires excellent aim and leading a moving target while firing from a moving horse.
The combat is very fast paced and can become very chaotic when a large group of players meet in a big brawl. The combat also requires a great amount of spatial awareness: you’re going to cop a lance or an arrow to the side of your head if you don’t constantly check your surroundings.
What do you feel makes Valiant stand apart from other well-known VR-titles?
Christopher: The majority of VR games available now are single-player titles. The few that have multiplayer gameplay are still designed as single-player games but have tacked-on multiplayer modes. We are exclusively focusing on online multiplayer gameplay: We believe there is nothing more fun than playing with friends against other players from around the world.
The second thing we believe makes Valiant stand apart from other titles, is that our game is very “in-your-face.” There are a lot of spaceship related VR experiences, and quite a few car/racing experiences, but none of those are as scary or exhilarating as close-quarters, fast-paced combat.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge working on the game so far?
Christopher: The biggest challenge has been getting all the VR aspects nailed. For example, developing a comfort mode to prevent nausea when turning the horse, fine tuning the user input control schemes, and optimising the game to produce a judder-free and smooth VR experience.
You’re going to be at the Perth Games Festival this month, will we be able to play it there?
Christopher: Yep! We’ll have two networked PCs and two Oculus Rift DK2s setup with Valiant. Come check it out and have a 1v1 battle with a friend or a stranger!
What is the estimated release date, and what platforms will the game be available on?
Christopher: We will be launching a greenlight campaign and public open beta in early November. Following this, we are aiming to release Valiant as a Steam Early Access title (hopefully, before Christmas!)
To stay in touch with any future updates related to Valiant, please follow Offpeak Games on social media!