Independent development in Australia has been going from strength to strength over the past few years and the PAX AUS Indie Showcase serves to highlight some of the fantastic work being put out by local developers. Player2.net.au caught up with developers awarded a spot in the PAX AUS 2017 Indie Showcase to get a sneak peek at what attendees can look forward to.
PAX AUS 2017 Indie Showcase – Virtually Impossible
PC – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
Last but definitely not least, Player2 caught up with Ming Tung from Growl Interactive to discuss their Indie Showcase winning title Virtually Impossible, a VR mini-game collection that pushes players to the limits of their virtual coordination. We asked Ming about the challenges of running a VR enabled booth and future plans for Virtually Impossible.
Stephen del Prado: Thanks for speaking to Player2, Ming! First of all, how did you get involved in game development?
Ming Tung: I’ve always been an avid gamer but never really expected myself to become a game developer. After graduating I worked as a 3D Character Animator for film and TV. It was only in 2009 when the iPhone’s App store started taking off, me and a friend started making our own mobile games casually on the side. From there things just snowballed and I was fortunate enough to transition into a full time indie game developer and never looked back since.
SDP: Where did the idea for Virtually Impossible come from?
MT: It came from the sheer joy and excitement from playing the HTC Vive on launch day. I was overflowing with ideas for VR and wanted to make a game that could explore as many VR gameplay mechanics as possible. It would also have to be intuitive to not overwhelm first time VR users. Virtually Impossible features 10 challenges, each utilising a completely different VR gameplay mechanic, and we packaged it into a party game which would be fun to play and watch.
SDP: What was your reaction when you found out you had been selected in the Indie Showcase?
MT: It was like a sigh of relief to see your work being recognised, especially by PAX. We felt like all our hard work paid off. It’s such an honour being alongside such amazing games and talent in this year’s selection. It’s really renewed my passion and drive to keep doing what I love to do which is making games.
SDP: How has the response to the game been since launch so far?
MT: It’s been great, we’ve seen all types of people enjoy the game, from non-gamers to experienced VR gamers. Players are craving for more challenges in the game and we’re trying to keep up
SDP: What can PAXAUS attendees look forward to at the Virtually Impossible booth?
MT: Expect the unexpected and look forward to having a hilarious and absurd Virtual Reality experience.
SDP: Is it challenging to run a booth with a much more involved setup? Do you think that as VR tech has become more ubiquitous people are less apprehensive about trying it out in public?
MT: Well it’s really not that difficult to setup for VR, these head sets are designed for general home use and they’ve made it simple for that. I promise you that once you put on the headsets, you will completely lose all insecurities and any self-doubt you have in the real world. I’ve seen the most timid of people just completely let go and take on a new persona once the headsets are on. That is the power of immersion VR has that allows players to just be themselves.
SDP: Virtually Impossible is compatible with both Oculus and Vive – has there been any discussion about a release on the PSVR or is that not realistic given the use of the Oculus Touch controller?
MT: We are working on a PSVR version as we feel that a party game would work really well on a console living room environment. The game would use the PlayStation® Move controllers and have the same full body gameplay we have on the Vive and Oculus. Though we do not have a release date yet.
SDP: Can you share any information about the upcoming additions to Virtually Impossible that you have planned?
MT: We’re adding more and more mini games and we’re working on an online multiplayer mode as we see headsets becoming more popular
SDP: Is there anything you’re personally looking forward to seeing at PAX AUS this year?
MT: I’m definitely looking forward to try out Paperville Panic by Ultimerse. It looks like a great VR game and they’re from Melbourne.
SDP: What can we look forward to next from Growl Interactive?
MT: We’re deeply passionate about Virtual Reality and are working on a new title called “Mortars VR”. It’s an online artillery shooter where each player operates a cannon tower that grows in size as they dominate. There will be lots of funky weapons to destroy each other with.
SDP: Where do you see VR technology in the next 10 years?
MT: It depends on the content. I think to take VR gaming to the next level, the challenge is to create a loveable iconic character for VR. In the past we’ve seen how titles with iconic characters such as Zelda, Mario, Halo, Final Fantasy really drive console gaming to what it is now. VR needs an iconic game character to fall in love with and be part of our lives. Once there is a VR game like that, VR will be a must have to a new generation of gamers.
Virtually Impossible can be experienced by attendees to PAXAUS 2017 in the Indie Showcase section of the Indie Pavilion from October 27th to 29th. It is also available to buy right now on Steam.
Stephen del Prado
It was whilst toiling away in the bowels of the now mythical Australian Gamer forums that Stephen del Prados attempts at writing were recognised by then up-and-coming Matt ‘Hewso’ Hewson as “not terrible”. Since then Stephen has contributed to such sites as The Age’s now defunct Screen Play, the recently retired Black Panel and currently serves under Editor-in-Chief Hewso for Player2.net.au, at least until the pattern of decline obvious in his previous engagements is picked up by Hewso and he is exiled from games journalism forever