By Xav de Matos, Director of Editorial + Community | Follow @GamingInsiders on Twitter
Being abandoned in space and struggling to survive is at the core of one of the most anticipated Oculus games arriving at launch. ADR1FT from developer Three One Zero and published by 505 Games is led by designer Adam Orth who offered his opinion on virtual reality tech, ADR1FT‘s potential on PlayStation VR and how the new hardware must shed its peripheral perception in a new interview with Gaming Insiders.
Xav de Matos: I understand from previous interviews that ADR1FT was born, at least somewhat, out of a professional dust-up and the internet’s mob mentality after you made some misunderstood comments regarding the (at the time) plan to make the Xbox One always-online. Tell me through the process of going from that moment to developing the idea for ADR1FT.
Adam Orth: The process was fairly quick for me. I wanted to say something about what happened but I didn’t know how to do that in the moment when it was happening. It was too chaotic and painful. After a week or two I just began working and pouring my experience into a game concept and design.
Like all good art and creative endeavors, the best things are born from real experiences and feelings. It was just natural to express how I was feeling and what was happening though something creative.
Why was it important for ADR1FT to be a VR experience?
Because VR can put you in places you’ve never been able to go before, and ADR1FT at it’s core is a fantasy about exploring physical, mental and emotional landscapes. ADR1FT as a concept is built for VR. When you are transported to space, floating outside this destroyed space station, it’s powerful.
Playing the game non-VR has the same overall effect, but the way we are able to tap into primal emotion through the combination of VR and ADR1FT is really unique. I feel like we were lucky to have started this game right at the start of the new wave of VR. We absolutely understood what was possible and built as much into the game as we could to take advantage of that. Once we saw our 1st primitive prototype in VR, there was no question, no going back..
Does the story/situations within the game maintain its intended emotional impact outside of VR?
Absolutely. It’s expressed differently because of the platform differences, but it’s the exact same game, same story, same everything. It’s worked out really well. You can play the same game but have two very different and engaging experiences.
Where is VR technology today as you see it in terms of quality, user experience, entry costs?
Most of the VR hardware and software I see today is very high-quality. From a hardware perspective, the screens in the Oculus Rift, for example are very, very good. The Vive too.
As with any technology, what we are seeing now will seem primitive in a year or two’s time, but what we are seeing now is pretty incredible already. So far beyond the last time up at bat. It’s exciting. Developers are finally able to do things we weren’t able to do before and many talented developers are creating some of the most amazing things right now. I think the excitement around what is possible is making this a revolutionary moment in our industry and beyond.
Will ADR1FT make it to PlayStation VR?
Yeah, we hope to get it out on PlayStation VR for sure. We’re working out how to try and do that. There are unique challenges there, but we are trying. Fingers crossed.
What is the greatest challenge the medium of VR must overcome in the next five years?
That VR is “ just a peripheral”. It’s not. It’s caught in a strange place between peripheral and platform, It’s it’s own unique thing and the doubters are not going to be able to make up their minds until they have an HMD on their face melting their brain.
It’s really important for the hardware companies to get kiosks out into retail locations so that people can try VR and become believers. You can’t explain VR to anyone. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. You are going to need dedicated people to man these kiosks. You can’t just leave VR sitting out and hope it works right after a day of people trying it out. It has to be carefully demoed or on-boarded, otherwise it’s just another broken kiosk and another non-believer.
What is your vision for the future of virtual reality?
I’m not really concerned with the overall future of VR because nobody knows and making that statement now doesn’t make sense to me. VR has changed so much over the last six months, what I thought then is completely different now.
Instead, I’m looking to the short term by releasing ADR1FT and trying to be the best ambassador for the tech and medium that I can be. It’s more important to get people invested now through hardware, software and experiences so the foundation for the future actually exists to dream about.
What has been the biggest challenge during the development of the game?
Without question, making a VR/non-VR game in parallel. There are just so many unknowns in terms of VR, so we made best guesses, most of which panned out. Some didn’t, though and it was an awesome learning experience. It’s been really great for our team and our game to be working so close with Oculus as a featured launch title. They’ve really pushed us to be great … or greater than we want ourselves to be and I think the collaboration shows in the software. Through feedback from them we were able to creatively address and overcome some challenges we were facing, so it’s been a great experience. It was very hard, but very rewarding.
ADR1FT is an Oculus launch title so it may be one of the first VR experiences players will ever take part in. Is that something that adds pressure to its development or is it a sigh of relief that it will have increased visibility?
We don’t really think about that.
Pressure exists in every aspect of game development and releasing a product. Our goal is to make the best thing possible at the highest quality possible, no matter what it is and where it’s released. I’m a big believer in “if you build it, they will come.”
This interview was edited for content. Learn more on the official ADR1FT website.