It has been a very eventful few weeks for Outhouse Games. Last weekend we were at OrlandoiX showing off our latest game, ‘The Ancient Remains’ to attendees. We attended OiX last year, but this year we wanted to create an interactive exhibit to bring people in and give us feedback about our game. We upgraded our standard booth with a new backdrop, two TVs to display active gameplay, an iPad kiosk for surveys, along with a computer to run the VR station with the HTC Vive. “We really wanted the space to feel open,” said Chris Borden, co-founder and business manager, “Phil and I spent a lot of time designing the layout so that we could interact with people more directly instead of over a table.” The layout of the booth was extremely important for the VR experience, as there had to be plenty of room, but also because the team had to get close to attendees to put the VR gear on them. Chris explained why so much thought went into the layout. “The team had to build a level of trust with each person because we were essentially blindfolding them. We wanted them to be comfortable and feel like they were being taken care of while playing the game.”
Our mission during the event was to gather information on how we could make the game better and feel more immersive. We did this by collecting survey information, but also by watching the players interact with the game. A great example of this is the wand in the demo. The wand shoots fireballs by pressing the trigger on the controller. However, the team noticed that a lot of people were flourishing the wand and were trying to flick it in order for the fireball to come out. “This isn’t something I would have thought of and didn’t think it would end up being such a thing, but when you watch people do it over and over and over, that means the game has to change,” said Chris. Overall, the feedback was fantastic, especially on the bow and arrow mechanic. In the demo, you were able to use a wand, torch, and a bow and arrow. We wanted to make sure these mechanics felt natural to the player, especially since VR is still a new experience to many people. “We are not only teaching them how to use a bow and arrow in the game, we are also teaching them how to move in a VR environment altogether,” Chris explained, “we are focusing on the quality of gameplay, not quantity. We really want to lessen complication and just allow the player to play.” Quality is a high priority for our team. We spent real time on each mechanic. A month was spent on the bow and arrow mechanic and a few weeks on the fireball and wand. The plan has been to focus on each system individually and think them through all the way to the end, so the player can pick up a controller regardless of having any experience playing a VR game, and have it feel natural and give a positive experience.
The biggest surprise of the event was the team winning ‘Best in Show’ for our VR title. When we asked Chris about winning the award, he said “It was awesome, I felt honored. I was very appreciative and proud of our team and the hard work we put into the booth.” This is the first big award for the game studio and it means a lot to the team. “It means we are on the right track, we are doing the right thing and it feels great to be recognized for it,” said Bethany Borden, our Sound Designer & Composer.
The next steps after sharing the demo is to take time and really dig into the data and feedback we got not only from OiX, but from the other events we have been attending. From there, the team will tackle any changes and start adding more features, characters, real-time lighting, additional sound elements, and polish existing systems. “We heard from people who played the demo that they thought it was a finished game when it is far from finished,” said Chris, “what we have looks good, but we want to work on what we have to make it look even better.”
Stay tuned for our next Live Story where we introduce another member of our amazing team, Pam!