(This is an interview given by Tencent GAD on Vanimals’ co-founders)
We are sure that a substantial number of you have played the game series Eternity Warriors, which is a terrific action game for mobile platforms. In this section of Discussion of Tao, we have invited Vanimals VR Games, the developer behind Eternity Warriors VR—the winner of Best Game from the CAD Developer Contest—and its CEO Wang Kun and producer Zhang Yue to share with us their success story in developing an action VR game, and help us avoid the mistakes other developers make.
Why an action VR game?
When first starting a project, choosing the game genre is a very big decision. VR’s characteristics and its own limitations lead many developers to assume that VR is more suitable for FPS and room-escaping games, but Vanimals VR Games chose to make an action game. Here are more details.
According to Zhang Yue, the user base of VR games is limited, and they have not formed a gameplay stereotype yet. Every VR game has its own small user base, so there is no need for too much consideration. It greatly depends on what kind of game your team is fond of, and what kind of game it is capable of doing. A new VR team should make a game that best suit its strength based on prior experience. They should make the best out of their own advantages and avoid falling into the same catalog that other dev teams are working in. They should be one-of-a-kind if they have the chance.
When it was first founded, all the members of Vanimals VR Games came from Glu Mobile China. They all had many years of experience in developing action games. So when they chose the game genre, they decided on an action VR game. The team’s experience was mainly in card-battling games and strategy games that largely depended on economy systems, so when they turned to the VR platform to make an action game, they would face great challenges. That’s to say that standing by the strength of your development team will greatly reduce your risks and the difficulties during development.
How to avoid mistakes during the development of VR games?
Compared to traditional video games, playing VR games is more like seeing through a magnifier, which is to say it can magnify the game’s shortcomings, but also make their merits look better. Take the slow motion of enemies in action games for example—the frameskip and subtle but unnatural action switching. Overspeed actions or slow actions are less noticeable on the relatively smaller screen, from a watcher’s angle.
When seen in the first person angle in a virtual world, these flaws will instantly make the players upset, and greatly reduce their fondness of the games. The flaws will be magnified directly, just like a tumor that can’t be overlooked, something that has to be dealt with seriously. On the other side, the developers can hide some of their shortcomings, and show more of their advantages to players, to cover up or compensate for flaws.
How can you make players adapt to the gameplay quickly?
The team at Vanimals Games believes that each session of the game should be limited to around 15 minutes. Since the period is short, it’s important to make players adapt to the gameplay quickly. The VIVE controller has fewer keys than that of PS MOVE. Given that the gameplay of action games are fast-paced, they think fewer the key pressings, fewer the troubles, thus making it easy to pick up. At the same time, Vanimals Games didn’t adopt the directions of Thumb Pads. The latter was used as a press key. In this way, each controller has only three keys for control, which is given different functions.
The trigger is the main key to charge skills, including all the common skills like drawing a bow, firing an arrow, and shooting. The grip keys on both sides of the controller are defined as the barehanded keys, which can control actions like grapping and releasing. And the last ThumbPad key is in charge of switching weapons. These rules remain consistent to reduce the effort put forth by players to memorize the controls.
What’s the biggest challenge in development?
In action VR games, body gestures and movements of the players enjoy a high degree of freedom, so there are no standardized actions, especially with slashing. Different players slash their sword at different speeds and within different ranges. They reduced the difficulty of making movements for players by doing play-tests from time to time so as to lower the barrier of control patterns, and improve fault tolerance. For example, the swords The Warrior uses were originally designed as single-bladed. Thus, only hacking enemies with the blade could result in damage. Meanwhile touching with the back of the blade caused no damage. But after some VR café user testing, they found out that testers used the back of the blade a lot, and the waving motion was little. In the final version for the VR café, they decided to enable both edges of the sword, and reduce the range of movement in the player’s arms.
Some players reflected on the sword’s lack of collision feedback, which in itself is a defect of VR controllers. So they are now avoiding designs such as heavy hammers or long handled weapons, which require both hands (such as a long gun or long sword). When hitting a target, the vibration of the controllers, the soundtrack, special effect during combats, sound effects, and the motion haptics of the target—all of these elements are utilized to compensate the lack of feedback.
What should we expect in future updates?
Vanimals Games plans to add more heroes in the future, based on the current Warrior using shields and swords, and the Hunter. In the meantime, there will be two different color styles, red and blue, standing for the Angels and the Devils based on the background story. And the online edition will bring in more storylines, to make this game more fascinating。
We welcome any questions or suggestions: